Surznick Reads: December 2016 - The Surznick Common Room

Friday, December 23, 2016

Surznick Reads: December 2016

Surznick Reads? With a week left in December? That's right! We're taking next week off but wanted to share what we read this month (thus far) before we head out to unwind, relax, and spend time together for the holidays.

Unlike in past years, we aren't going to be sharing a recap of book goals and how we did, but we'll just say... not our best reading year. Working on a house is kind of a time-suck. Regardless, we read some great things this year and this month was especially superb. See more below, tell us what you're reading in the comments, and most importantly - have a safe and happy holiday!

Sarah's Reads!

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
From "Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and '10 percent defiant...' In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations. With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can - from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial 'dating experiments' (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual 'man-child.' Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from 'scrappy little nobody' to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page - with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious)."

We all love Anna Kendrick, right? I've been excited about Scrappy Little Nobody since I learned Anna was writing it. She's smart, hilarious, and pretty much says whatever she wants. She's one of those celebrities that you already feel like you're best friends with. While there were times in the story where I thought she was trying to come off as annoyingly relatable, I otherwise found the stories inspiring, funny, and heartwarming. I cried, I laughed, I wanted to shake Anna and tell her that paying bills on time is not that hard. Overall, a quick, fun, and easy read - if you like Anna, give it a try!

My Rating: 4 Stars

Nick's Reads!

Tranny by Laura Jane Grace
From "It began in a bedroom in Naples, Florida, when a misbehaving punk teenager named Tom Gabel, armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a headful of anarchist politics, landed on a riff. Gabel formed Against Me! and rocketed the band from its scrappy beginnings-banging on a drum kit made of pickle buckets-to a major-label powerhouse that critics have called this generation's The Clash. Since its inception in 1997, Against Me! has been one of punk's most influential modern bands, but also one of its most divisive... But underneath the public turmoil, something much greater occupied Gabel-a secret kept for 30 years, only acknowledged in the scrawled-out pages of personal journals and hidden in lyrics. Through a troubled childhood, delinquency, and struggles with drugs, Gabel was on a punishing search for identity. Not until May of 2012 did a Rolling Stone profile finally reveal it: Gabel is a transsexual, and would from then on be living as a woman under the name Laura Jane Grace. Tranny is the intimate story of Against Me!'s enigmatic founder, weaving the narrative of the band's history, as well as Grace's, with dozens of never-before-seen entries from the piles of journals Grace kept. More than a typical music memoir about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll-although it certainly has plenty of that-Tranny is an inside look at one of the most remarkable stories in the history of rock."

I'm not even sure where to begin. There are literally countless reasons why I loved this book. The inspiring chapters about making it in a punk rock band, DIY ethics, sharing anarchistic values with a close-knit community, self-identity, substance abuse, mental health, breaking out of your small community to find meaning and purpose on a larger scale, you name it. Laura Jane Grace is a flat out inspiration with an incredible story. Her journey through not only gender liberation and identification, but also as a successful underground punk and as a commercial punk rock "sellout" is told through some of the most captivating writing I've read in a long time. I'm a better person for reading this book, and I think everyone can take something away from her experience, be it creatively, personally, socially, politically, or morally. A truly important book, and I urge all of you to read it.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Again, have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday! We are so grateful to you for reading The Surznick Common Room. It's been quite a year - for this blog, this world, for everyone. We are thankful to have this space where we can share what's going on with our lives and we hope that you'll continue to stick around in 2017. Thank you.

Sarah & Nick


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