Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (audiobook)

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

born-a-crime

Synopsis from GoodreadsTrevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Feelings: This audiobook was the highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers and was the winner of Audible’s Best of 2016 – Celebrity Memoirs. And I completely understand why. I’m a fan of Trevor Noah. I especially kept up with The Daily Show during the presidential election process. He has a way of sifting through the political BS and in a way, he made sure I was really seeing what was going on. He has such a unique perspective, which you learn all about in this book, and I now have a deeper understanding of where he’s coming from during his commentary on American politics and culture.

He has a great ability to paint a picture of a world I’ve never experienced. In no way can I say that I now suddenly totally understand what it’s like to be considered colored in South Africa, but I do finally have a surface level understanding…which is more than I had before. I also was completely unaware of the number of languages and stigmatisms throughout South Africa. In the book, he talks about how black people in South Africa hated John Cecil Rhodes more than Hitler, because of the difference in impact for their people and I wanted to hide under a rock. (See my last name to understand.) I’d always heard that he “founded” or “established” Zimbabwe (once called Rhodesia), but I was completely naive to the negative side of what he did. Now I”m interested in learning more about someone who may have been my ancestor.

Issues: When I picked up this audiobook, I’d just finished another collection of essays. I think this may have tainted my experience with this book. The only issue I really had was with the way the essays were organized. I tried to figure out why they were in the order that they were, but I couldn’t really track with it. They weren’t necessarily in time order, so sometimes it took me a minute to figure out when it was in relation to what he’d already shared.

Narration: No one else could have done this book justice. His accent and personality make this an easy listening book. He does different voices for the people he quotes, speaks in multiple languages, and adds little quirks that, to me, have become trademark Trevor Noah. Rating him as a narrator independent from the actual story, I’d give him 5 stars.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this audiobook. I think it would be great on its own, if you aren’t into audiobooks, but his narration really adds something special. I’m now really interested in audiobooks from authors who had very different experiences for me. There’s something about hearing it in their own voice that adds more life to their story. I also want to say, that even if you don’t watch The Daily Show for whatever reason, this book isn’t loaded with political commentary. So it’s still a great read.

This is a great video posted by Audible.com where he talks about his writing process!

 

Goodreads rating: 4.57/5

Audible.com rating: 4.9/5

My rating: 4.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham

“But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine.”

lauren-graham

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn her first work of nonfiction, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood recounts her experiences on Gilmore Girls – the first and second times – and shares stories about life, love, and working in Hollywood. This collection of essays is written in the intimate, hilarious, and down-to-earth voice that made her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, a New York Times best seller. “This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling working years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. You probably think I’m talking about my incredible achievement as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! as a Langley High School junior, a performance my dad called ‘you’re so much taller than the other kids.’ But no! I’m talking about Lorelai Gilmore, who, back in 2008, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick.”

Feelings: There were a lot of great moments in this book. I’m talking about nuggets of pure gold hilarity that let me to literally laughing out loud in my car or while I was folding laundry. Lauren Graham has a way of writing and reading in a way that makes you feel close to her, like you’re old friends and you’ve always been this way. There was 1 chapter in particular where I felt like she was speaking directly to me, encouraging me in the exact way that I needed her to.

One thing I really appreciated about this book was Lauren’s candidness. (I’m calling her Lauren. Look at us, we’re friends already!) She talks about what interviews are like, how Hollywood people view food and what not to eat/wear/exercise with, and she reveals what the casting and network communication process is like. Those are things that most of us wonder, but never really get insight into. I also loved when she talked about the writing process. I’ve always tossed around the idea of writing a book, but just thinking about the time commitment and pressure stresses me out. She gave me some really practical ideas.

Issues: She references pictures like 20 times. That’s a downside to the audiobook specifically because we got zero visuals. Sometimes when you get an audiobook, you also get something to download that shows you pictures of footnotes. That would have been really nice to have with this book. (You guys….after posting this review, I realized that when you get the audiobook, you also get a PDF of all the pictures. Would have been nice to know that sooner! So my advice is to make sure you download them BEFORE you hit that play button.)

She covered quite a few topics and seasons of her life throughout this collection of essays. However, she doesn’t really dig too terribly deep in any of them. She digs deep into her memory bank, yes, but it all ended up staying on the surface level overall.

Finally, she talks about the time crunch she was under the write the book MULTIPLE times. In the end, it made me feel like she was rushing just to finish. I mean I get it..she had a lot going on…but it took away from the realness and warmth of the book itself to constantly remind us that she needs to hurry and finish.

Narrator: I love when authors narrate their own audiobooks especially when it’s a work of non-fiction. We as human beings are able to relate our own memories better than anyone else ever could. As a narrator, independent of the writing itself, I’d give Lauren Graham 5 stars. She’s quirky and funny. Her voice changes as the tone in the writing does. She made me laugh out loud and sit in my car before work to mop up my tears. I probably wouldn’t have had the same reaction if I’d been reading the print version on my own.

Final thoughts: If you’re a fan of Gilmore Girls or Parenthood (especially if you’re fans of both) then I’d recommend this book simply for the insights into behind the scenes of those shows. If you’re interested in a short, fun audiobook listen then I’d recommend this book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book!

Pick this up if you liked:

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Goodreads rating: 4.15/5

Audible.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 4.25/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

“But sometimes you have to be brave. Sometimes you have to show people what’s important in life.”

got your number

Synopsis from GoodreadsPoppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect! Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

Feelings: I wasn’t expecting this to be any more than fluff. I recently read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and really enjoyed her style, so I thought I’d try out one of her adult books. I really enjoyed this book. Sure, it’s one where you think, This can’t all really be happening, can it? but I had a blast reading it. I laughed and sighed and smirked…all things I love to do while reading.

When Poppy’s life began to take a downward spiral, it made me feel like somewhat…ok. Not because I enjoyed watching her suffer, but because it was a nice escape to get caught up in someone else’s issues for a while. You know what I mean?

Sophie Kinsella is the master of story weaving. I’m telling you…by the end when the truths began to unravel, I realized how many hints and clues I’d missed! That never happens to me!

Issues: I liked all the footnotes at first, but then I just ignored them after a while. I thought the concept was engaging and interesting, but it was a bit overkill at times.

There were a few instances in the book that had me really annoyed. Poppy made some choices that made zero sense to me on any and all levels. They added drama and suspense, sure…but I was glad when they were over. I don’t want to spoil anything, but just know that I was annoyed sometimes. But it’s chick lit…let’s be honest…there’s always something annoying in chick lit but we get over it, just like when we marathon Hallmark movies.

Characters: I wasn’t sure what to think about this particular cast of characters at first. Honestly, I didn’t know who I could trust! Everyone seemed so shifty and self-interested. I love when the chicks in chick lit go on a journey of self discovery, self empowerment. What was unique about this book was that Poppy had a man encouraging her on this journey, not judging her or pushing her, but giving her sound advice and guidance. In doing so, he didn’t define her or tell her who she was – she found out for herself. I love that!

Final thoughts: I read this book in a short amount of time (and stayed up until 2 am to finish it) simply because it was great. It was entertaining and heartwarming…a great read. I highly recommend to anyone looking to get swept away.

Pick this up if you liked:

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Prada and Prejudice by Katie Oliver

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Goodreads rating: 3.92/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.4/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn