Title: Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

Author: Lindy West

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Summary: Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible, writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she didn’t fit in. With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, West boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss—and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

Your body is never yours. Your body is your enemy. Your body is gross. Your body is wrong. Your body is broken. Your body isn’t what men like. Your body is less important than a fetus. Your body should be “perfect” or it should be hidden. Yeah, well, my name is Lindy West and I’m fat and I bleed out of my hole sometimes. My body is mine now.

I underlined a lot of quotes while reading Shrill—more than I normally do when reading an essay collection—but I still can’t articulate why. Because I found the language refreshingly honest? (Or perhaps honestly refreshing?) Because I related to West and how she has been forced to navigate the world? Or because she’s just a really great writer and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with her work?

Perhaps it’s all three, or maybe something else entirely.

If you’ve heard of West—through her work on Jezebel or appearance on This American Life—reading Shrill is something you should consider. And if you haven’t? Please pick up this book. I only started reading it because of the Hulu adaptation, but I’d wish I’d done so sooner. It was something I fell into each time I sat down to read, so totally engrossed in whatever life event West happened to be writing about that the minutes flew by.

I know that she would absolute hate the sentiment, but I admire West a lot, so totally open and unabashedly herself that it doesn’t matter if people don’t like her. (She’d probably be like, “actually, fuck ‘em.”) Everyone should be able to find themselves in the books they read, that one particular character or voice that just speaks to them. I’m happy to have found one for me.

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