Becoming by Michelle Obama

Holy crap, that was the longest book of all time. I love doing these types of book on audio and it does help that Michelle reads it herself, but wow. Not only, was it way too long, but boy do you have to speed her up! I had her at almost x2 speed! I’ve never listened to someone that fast before.

Now I know, there are going to be constant glowing reviews of this book. And that is deserved, it was really good. But seriously, it was way too long! I remember when I tried to listen to Condoleezza Rice’s book and then I decided to check it out from the library, I saw how big the book was and immediately decided not to read it. I wasn’t that interested in her life. Now, Michelle’s life I was very interested in. I honestly am not sure what I would have had her edit out. (Although I can think of one scene that features a dream…. not cool, Michelle, I thought that was real!). But all I can tell you is that it was too long! I will also tell you, that it was really interesting. It was interesting to hear what she thought of the Bidens, her impressions of Hilary, and her impressions of Trump. It was especially interesting to hear about her impressions of the Bush’s because I liked their interactions. I would also call out her time with the queen as somewhat memorable and fun to learn about- although that could be because I’m just getting excited for the next season of The Crown.

There were parts about the whitehouse life that I found to be very interesting. Like, did you know that the Obama’s paid to furnish the house with their own money? They weren’t required to do that at all, they just chose to! Did you know that each month they are provided with a bill for a breakdown of all of the food they consumed and they do have to pay for that? I know! So interesting! What… you didn’t find that interesting? Well, I did.

I liked how much emphasis she put into showing that constant love and high expectations drove her to succeed and made her feel secure enough to change paths when necessary. This is a small thing, but when Michelle would travel, she would meet with kids at school who weren’t at the top of their class, who wouldn’t necessarily get a scholarship to college- but it was those kids she wanted to inspire to keep going, and to graduate and try to get a degree. It was those kids that she would take to Oxford to look around at what they could still accomplish and impress upon them that it wasn’t too late for the students to expect something great of themselves. I just loved that! I think that story capture’s the heart of Michelle Obama that you’ll find in her book. Did I like her husband’s two books better than this one? Yes. Am I happy I took the time to finish this one even when I thought I would give up because I listened to it for like a year and half (literally)? Yes.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Okay, I know you’ve seen this book everywhere because I have too.  And guess what? I finally actually read it!  I will tell you that this makes my list for REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY AMERICAN.  

Shall we get into the review? Okay let’s do it!  This book is a tough read.  There are a few reasons why it’s so tough.  I’ll start with the obvious- the subject matter is heavy.  There are a LOT of trigger warnings in this book. Abuse, neglect, rape, mental illness, child endangerment, bomb threats.  A lot.  Another reason why this book is tough to read is… well quite frankly, it’s poorly written.  I know, you weren’t expecting that. And how did it make the list for required reading if it’s poorly written?!  Well, that’s because the content is so incredibly important to read!  It just simply must be read.  BUT honestly- some parts were repetitive, the sentences were long and confusing. I would often have to reread a long sentence that had multiple commas and a parenthetical statement included.  I think it’s quite clear that this book was written for the common reader- so I personally think the author and editor did a disservice to the audience by publishing it the way it was written.  Overall though- what everyone says about this book is true.  It’s subject matter is eye opening and shocking.  The stats in it were mind blowing.  I have exactly 97 highlights I made while reading this book! So I’ll end this review with some quotes from the book.  But pick up a copy yourself it will open up your mind to how comfortable we’ve all become to living a life with bias!  It’s REQUIRED!

“For years, we’ve been the only country in the world that condemns children to life imprisonment without parole; nearly three thousand juveniles have been sentenced to die in prison.”


“The State of Idaho banned interracial marriage and sex between white and black people in 1921 even though the state’s population was 99.8 percent nonblack.”


“Even though the restriction couldn’t be enforced under federal law, the state ban on interracial marriage in Alabama continued into the twenty-first century. In 2000, reformers finally had enough votes to get the issue on the statewide ballot, where a majority of voters chose to eliminate the ban, although 41 percent voted to keep it. A 2011 poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 46 percent support a legal ban on interracial marriage, 40 percent oppose such a ban, and 14 percent are undecided.”

“Only a handful of countries permitted the death penalty for children—and the United States was one of them.”

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

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5 out of 5

what i liked

I listened to this on audiobook after I was gifted it by a friend. Man am I glad that I listened to it! I think reading this book would also be great, but Trevor Noah does read this audiobook and it is so good.
This book is titled Born A Crime because Trevor is born of mixed races in South Africa during the apartheid. So his birth was literally a crime. His insight into living during this time period was incredibly interesting! I didn’t know very much about the apartheid other than referencing Nelson Mandela and his prison time. I feel like I know quite a bit more now, but I’m still interested in learning more.
Trevor grew up in South Africa and has since moved to the states. He references just how different his life was from the typical life here in the States. It was all just really eye opening. (Let me preface that I have been to Africa- a few countries in southern Africa, so I did have a good frame of reference from how different their lives are from my own.) There is just a huge power in hearing someone’s personal story and how much that can show you about the world.
I loved hearing stories about Trevor’s mom, and his extended family. His intense and alcoholic step dad. All of the scenes that he describes are written so well, and they feel so real while you’re listening.
He’s a strong writer, in fact, part way through the book I actually forgot he was a comedian/celebrity. It just seemed like a regular memoir.
Fun fact, this book as been optioned to become a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o as Trevor’s mom! I can’t wait to watch it!
Pick this book up, (and on audio!) you won’t regret it!
This book is REQUIRED READING for memoir lovers!

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This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps

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official blurb
Busy Philipps’s autobiographical book offers the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that her Instagram followers have come to know and love, from growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona and her painful and painfully funny teen years, to her life as a working actress, mother, and famous best friend. Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all. I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it?

my blurb!
A memoir from a used-to-be actor turned late night host.
Trigger warning: Rape, physical altercations, abortion.

1.75 out of 5

This book started out really strong for me. I actually listened to it on audiobook and was very much enjoying it, but the audio expired from my library. I went back on hold and then listened to the rest of the book.  I say this because I have a long list of things I didn’t like about the book.  But for the first 1/3 of the book or so, I would have recommended this!  Also, for a confession- I have NEVER seen Freaks and Geeks- which I know was her initial claim to fame.

what i liked
Busy talks about her sister Lianne, and I was very intrigued by her sister.  I really liked all of the sections that mentioned her.
Busy says at one point that what drives her is a hole that needs to be filled, always trying to get to the next thing.  I found this so incredibly sad, and vulnerable.  It was this aspect of her writing that I really enjoyed.  She tried to identify her behaviors and was putting it all out there for you to read/listen to.
I loved the real world look into the acting world!  She mentions that at one point she auditioned NINETY times before getting a role.  This wasn’t auditioning for the same role 90 times, this was going on 90 different auditions before finally getting a part.
There were a lot of throwback memories for me.  She had a long term relationship with Tom Hanks’ son, Colin. And Colin starred in Roswell.  Remember Roswell?! I had totally forgotten about it!
She gives you some solid celebrity gossip.  Here’s some tidbits that I wrote down:  Busy and Colin Hanks both cheated on their back-home significant others in college and then got together.  Kristin Chenoweth potentially turned down a role in Rent for religious reasons.  James Franco was annoying, intimidating, selfish, a bully and a prick.  I mean, honestly the stories about James were AWFUL.  If he hadn’t already fallen from grace during the #metoo movement, he would have simply because of this book.

what i didn't like
She reads her own audiobook so you get a really good idea of exactly the way she would like to come across in the book.
Wow her voice is annoying.  That may be harsh, but I am a California girl- and some would say a valley girl (you should hear my husbands impressions of me!) – and to ME her voice is annoying.  Which is saying something.
She cheats on multiple boyfriends throughout this book. Like every single boyfriend.  When she is finally dating her husband, he is written of poorly. So poorly that when you finish the book you actually google if they’re still married.  (FYI- they’re still married).  She uses the excuse that she is really bad at quitting things, to explain why she keeps cheating on her boyfriends.  I hated this so much.  I can’t tell you how much I got tired of hearing her cheat on her boyfriends!
You know when you watch a teen drama and the kids are having sex, drinking, and doing drugs and you say to yourself, “Who does this?! Hollywood is so out of touch with reality…”  This was Busy’s actual life.
She is cocky.  Now I know that a lot of you will read that, and say that it’s confidence and it’s needed in the industry.  I will counter and say I know people in the industry and they’re not cocky. Busy is cocky.  And real talk- cockiness is one of my least favorite things in the world.
She has quite the potty mouth- this book is NSFW (not safe for work). At all.  Headphones ARE required while listening to this.
Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to mention this next part!  Busy is best friends with Michelle Williams (who sounds like a total sweetheart btw), and she was around Michelle during her whole Heath Ledger relationship.  She talks about his death (a little) and how she comforted Michelle.  She talks about a friend from high school who had a boyfriend die and how she comforted him.  She talks about comforting her husband, Mark, as he dealt with a death.  She then mentions how she’s always been there for people in these times and how she is good at it!  I’m sorry, what?!   Ya… she is as annoying and out of touch as that breakdown made her sound.
At the end of the book she goes into why she decided that she would make an awesome late night host.  She specifically mentions that she will host the tonight show.  I was walking around Costco while I was listening to this part and I literally said out loud, “Over my dead body!”  I know, what an insanely strong reaction!  I should mention that I love Jimmy Fallon. And in fact, my 30th birthday party was a Tonight Show themed party.  I had such an awful taste of Busy in my mouth by this point in the book that the idea of her taking over for Jimmy Fallon made me mad!
So here is the crux of the issue with the whole book.  I don’t know if I’ve ever read a memoir or autobiography from someone (who I basically had no opinion of prior to reading the book), and finished it really disliking the person in the end!  In fact, I have read plenty of political memoirs, where I’ve actually disliked the author prior to reading the book, and then finished it loving them!  Busy became so incredibly unlikable to me that I immediately removed her late night talk show from my DVR.  In fact, I thought about ranking this book one star, but I really did enjoy the first 25%- 33% of this book, so 1.75 stars it is! haha.

while reading you should
Stop.  That’s it. You need to stop reading this book and burn it.

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Books They Tell You to Read: Memoirs, Biographies, and Autobiographies

Here, in no particular order, are the memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies They tell you to read:

  • The Glass Castle–Jeannette Walls
  • The Story of My Life–Hellen Keller
  • Negroland: A Memoir–Margo Jefferson
  • What Comes Next and How To Like It–Abigail Thomas
  • The Story of My Experiments with Truth–Mahatma Gandhi
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X–Malcolm X
  • Eat, Pray, Love–Elizabeth Gilbert

Continue reading “Books They Tell You to Read: Memoirs, Biographies, and Autobiographies”