I’m Special and other lies we tell ourselves to get through our twenties by Ryan O’Connell: Book Review

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Synopsis: This hilarious part-memoir, part-manifesto reveals what sets apart the latest generation of young people coming of age in an all-wired, overeducated, and underemployed world.

People are obsessed with Ryan O’Connell’s blogs. With tens of thousands reading his pieces on Thought Catalog and Vice,watching his videos on YouTube, and hanging on to each and every #dark tweet, Ryan has established himself as a unique young voice who’s not afraid to dole out some real talk. He’s that candid, snarky friend you consult when you fear you’re spending too much time falling down virtual k-holes stalking your ex on Facebook or when you’ve made the all-too-common mistake of befriending a psycho while wasted at last night’s party and need to find a way to get rid of them the next morning. But Ryan didn’t always have the answers to these modern day dilemmas. Growing up gay and disabled with cerebral palsy, he constantly felt like he was one step behind everybody else. Then the rude curveball known as your twenties happened and things got even more confusing.

Ryan spent years as a Millennial cliché: he had dead-end internships; dabbled in unemployment; worked in his pajamas as a blogger; communicated mostly via text; looked for love online; spent hundreds on “necessary” items, like candles, while claiming to have no money; and even descended into aimless pill-popping. But through extensive trial and error, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood.

Sharp and entertaining, I’m Special will educate twentysomethings (or other adolescents-at-heart) on what NOT to do if they ever want to become happy fully functioning grown ups with a 401k and a dog.

Date of Publication: June 2, 2015

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Date Read: February 25, 2015

No. of Pages: 208

Source: Net Galley.

Review:

Truer words were never spoken.

I got a copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. All I can say is: truer words were never spoken. Ryan O’Connell was able to present the life of twentysomethings in this wild, messy, complicated roller-coaster ride, and I couldn’t help but agree on the majority of the book. Being a twentysomething myself, I, too, have been to toxic friendships, unrequited love down to ugly relationships, and to read something like this serves as an affirmation that despite the shitty hands that we were dealt with, we can bounce back, it is just a matter of discipline and our eagerness to make a difference out of our chaotic lives. Yes, that classmate in high school who constantly posts happy photos from a vacation spent with dear friends in some exclusive island is probably as lost and as unsure of her life as you are, that college friend who posted a picture of her bright shiny red car is probably living on crackers to tide her for the week – this book made me realize that twentysomethings, including myself, loved to live in a big facade. Constantly itching to show the world only the nice things that are happening to their pathetic lives. Being a twentysomething is like being in a Britney Spears’ song Not a girl, not yet a woman. The transition is scary and more often than not, we like to stay at the shore than swim against the waves, but once we’ve kissed the ocean we are so desperate to stay afloat that we forget to breathe for a while, to enjoy how the sun kissed your skin, we forget the simple things. This wonderful made me realize that there are far more important things in life than trying to please everyone, that people will perpetually fail you in ways you cannot imagine, that at the end of a tiring day all you truly have is yourself. This book can be the bible of twentysomethings, and I am really glad I read it! Kudos to the author for writing such an incredible book!

Rating: 5 stars

“I don’t regret anything. And neither should you. You should remember all of it. You should remember all the time you wasted in your bed, or someone else’s bed or at some bar where you overheard the same drippy conversations. You should remember how thin you once were despite subsisting on beer and pizza. You should remember all the people you tried to love all the people who tried to love you. All the awful overpriced apartments, all the toxic friendships, and all the money you spent on things you can no longer recall. Then I want you to remember the moment you developed a keen understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t. I want you to remember being comfortable in your own skin and not feeling like you have to apologize for every little thing, I want you to remember the first time you decided not to put the entirety of your self worth in someone’s careless hands. Because moments like those are the most valuable – instances in which you felt yourself no longer becoming the person you want to but already being it. That’s pretty fucking special.”

Candy Darling: Memoirs of an Andy Warhol Superstar by Candy Darling, James Rasin (Book Review)

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Synopsis: A look into what moved Andy Warhol’s greatest muse

Located at 33 Union Square West in the heart of New York City’s pulsing downtown scene, Andy Warhol’s Factory was an artistic anomaly. Not simply a painter’s studio, it was the center of Warhol’s assembly-line production of films, books, art, and the groundbreaking Interviewmagazine. Although Warhol’s first Factory on East 47th Street was known for its space-age silver interior, the Union Square Factory became the heart, brain, eyes, and soul of all things Warhol—and was, famously, the site of the assassination attempt that nearly took his life. It also produced a subculture of Factory denizens known as superstars, a collection of talented and ambitious misfits, the most glamorous and provocative of whom was the transgender pioneer Candy Darling.

Born James Slattery in Queens in 1944 and raised on Long Island, the author began developing a female identity as a young child. Carefully imitating the sirens of Hollywood’s golden age, young Jimmy had, by his early twenties, transformed into Candy, embodying the essence of silver-screen femininity, and in the process became her true self.

Warhol, who found the whole dizzying package irresistible, cast Candy in his films Flesh and Women in Revolt and turned her into the superstar she was born to be. In her writing, Darling provides an illuminating look at what it was like to be transgender at a time when the gay rights movement was coming into its own. Blessed with a candor, wit, and style that inspired not only Warhol, but Tennessee Williams, Lou Reed, and Robert Mapplethorpe, Darling made an indelible mark on American culture during one of its most revolutionary eras. These memoirs depict a talented and tragic heroine who was taken away from us far too soon

Publication date: February 17, 2015

Date Read: January 15, 2015

Source: Net Galley

Publisher: Open Road Media

No. of Pages: 230

Review:

Inspirational as it was tragic. 

I requested a copy from NetGalley and they were more than willing to approve said request. And I was more than happy to have read such an inspiring and moving book. I particularly loved that I could identify with the book in more ways than one, though there are close to none similarities between Candy Darling’s life then and my life now. I guess everything she said in her letters still hold true today. The fact that Candy Darling stayed true to who she was, despite the few setbacks and despite that her being a transgender was not as openly accepted as it is today – she was her own beacon of hope, her own light at the end of the tunnel. She truly believed in herself and her capabilities – she took the word respectable to whole new level. I loved how this memoir depicted her struggles to be accepted and respected, and to be loved – in which until today these are what people truly long for, just in a different circumstance. Her passion in everything she did will never go unnoticed. She was a dreamer and a pursuer, I loved how this book was able to send its message across – that life is what we make of it, and in the end it will always be our choice that would matter.

Her diary entries and letters shed a light on how she lived her life, how there were struggles and there were victories, how there was longing for acceptance and validation. It is very inspiring, her voice is so alive as if she was the one talking to you. It was tragic that her life ended too soon at the age of 29, she could have seen better days. Through her diary and letters her life lives on, she left a legacy, she left something truly amazing.

The cover is amazing, showed how colorful Candy Darling’s life was. I had issues with the format of the whole book, but I overlooked said fact, as I was after the contents of the memoir.

RATING: 5 stars

You must always be yourself no matter what the price. It is the highest form of morality. We should both try to live it. You’ve got to always keep your heart and mind open. You can disguise your emotions, you can even numb them, and finally you can paralyze them. And that is tragic. Our emotions are the only clues to our identity. The only true meaning in life is passion. The passion to learn, to paint, to love, etc. Don’t dare destroy your passion for the sake of others. When you do you’ve lost the beauty of life, and that’s what a sin is. By robbing yourself of your very reason to exist, you have cheated. You must laugh when you must laugh, you must weep when you must weep, and you must love when you must love.”