An introduction

Before I get started: the kindle version of the Beastie Boys Book is only $1.99 right now. As much as I enjoy the audiobook, there are pictures and graphic design in the actual book that are also a goddamn delight. But it’s also almost $30 and a brick. So the $2 kindle version, read on the iPad, works pretty good.

There are almost no cultural touchpoints in Wild Card, the introduction to the Beastie Boys Book (with the exception of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts). But it’s a lovely tale of friendship between the three guys in The Beastie Boys, Michael Diamond (aka Mike D), Adam Yauch (aka MCA), and Adam Horovitz (aka Ad-Rock).

This chapter was written by Adam Horovitz, and it could have been Yauch’s eulogy (he passed away from throat cancer in 2014). His love for one of his best friends comes through in every sentence – from being amazed at him going off to go snowboarding after a 16-hour flight to Australia to him knowing how electric guitars worked to Yauch being a guy who always amazed Horovitz.

It’s a great, positive picture of male friendship, and it’s also super-moving. I want to have been Yauch’s friend after reading this chapter, and at the same time to be more like Yauch. He seems like he was a good person.

And that’s one of the things I really like about this book: the love. So much popular culture is about people being cool or angry with each other or making fun of something. This book is not that at all, and we need more love in the world.

It’s one of the reasons The Beastie Boys Book makes me so happy.

I need to go think about something happy

Museum of Intangible Things

The Museum of Intangible Things is the third of four YA books that I’ve recently read. Three of them are all about dealing with depression and depressed people. (The fourth is a Rick Riordan adventure book.) It’s getting hard to write about them using different language.

So what sets this one apart? One of the two main characters is so manic, she’s actually starting to have visions – most other books don’t go that far. The other main difference is that the characters in this one are sort-of throwbacks to the stories from the 1970s and 1980s: they’re not wealthy and their parents are messed up so that they’re both functionally running their families. You don’t often see that in modern YA, though Judy Blume is all about that (Tiger Eyes, I’m looking at you).

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I urge you to seek it out? No.

Friendship and roller derby


Rollergirl is a not-quite-YA book about a girl who signs up for roller derby camp one summer. Her best friend doesn’t. And so, while it is about the awesomeness of roller derby, it’s also about friendship and growing up and growing apart and taking risks and developing who you are. It’s good if you’re 11 or if you have an 11-year-old.

Networking is really about making friends

never eat alone


What’s it about?
Never Eat Alone is about having friends and their importance to your success. The book has some basic guidelines about how to be successful (set a three-year-out goal, create sub-goals that can be achieved every 1-3 months to keep yourself on track) and also how to meet people (hence the never eating alone because meals are a great time to get to know someone). Making and having friends is really how you get ahead in the world – the ambitious parents around here who insist their child get into this or that school often say, “It’s not that they’ll get a better education, it’s that their classmates will be the kids who are also successful.” It’s all about the networking in that case. But your friends will make reaching your goals easier, it won’t magically transport you to a place where all your goals are met.

Why should you read it?
I liked it because of its project-based approach to achieving your goals, and how the book emphasized that you have to work hard in order to get ahead. Networking is part of it – it helps to know the right people – but networking in this case means making friends. It’s not some weird business-only relationship. This book is full of advice about meeting people and being open to new people and being generous towards them. That was refreshing. I did skip the bits of the book that were more about “the brand of you” – creating an online persona that reflects what you want people to know about you rather than what you’re really about. That was all eyeroll-worthy. But overall, there are enough good parts of the book that it’s worth reading.

Derring-do in WWII

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinWhat’s it about?
A young woman – about 20 if my math is correct – becomes an Allied spy in WWII Britain. Her best friend, Maggie, is a pilot. The young woman is captured by the Germans whilst on a mission in France and forced to write a confession. The first half-ish is her confession, and the rest is Maggie’s experiences of the same time frame. It is, as the NYTimes says, “intricately plotted.” After you finish, you want to go back and read it again, just to make sure you got it all.

Why should you read it?
Code Name Verity is a rich story and a great thriller. Will they make it through?  What, exactly, is going on anyway?  I certainly hope that Hollywood adds it to their growing spate of movies from YA novels. It could make a great female action movie that passes the Bechdel test in spades; there would be plenty of women having conversations about war and jobs and family amongst all their derring-do.