Hey hi hello! Today marks the first in a week that I’ve had coffee, due to spending the holiday weekend with a raging cold/flu bug, so I still feel kind of crummy, but in like…a motorized way? Anyway, I think it should be noted that anything I say about the following books should be taken with the consideration that I read them during a weekend in which I also fell asleep at one point thinking “the fever is all I hear!”
To my great chagrin, this also meant that I didn’t have the chance to see Booksmart this weekend, which I’ve been hearing INCREDIBLE things about and will definitely be featured in Pop Culture Pen Pals sometime soonish! ALSO the movie Always Be My Maybe comes to Netflix this Friday and I have watched the trailer oh I don’t know about 84 times. It looks so fun and I’m excited to watch it. I’ve heard it might be showing in some theaters, so if you have that option I would also encourage you to look into that!
The Well of Lost Plots: A Thursday Next Novel – Jasper Fforde
I’ve spoken before about my abiding love for these literary detective novels and that love just keeps on growing! This is the third in a series about a special agent named Thursday who has a pet dodo named Pickwick, a husband who doesn’t technically exist, and also happens to spend a great deal of time solving mysteries and saving lives in BookWorld.
The series starts with The Eyre Affair and each one builds more into the world, deepening the mythology and logic of the alternative reality in a way that continues to impress and delight me. The characters are a hoot, the humor is both clever and gentle, and as a bonus there’s both a not-so-subtle anti-capitalist bent and a deep affection for the book Rebecca!
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyrou
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the last six-ish months, you’ve probably heard about Theranos (which is not, as it took me wayyyyy too long to figure out, just a misspelling of ‘Thanos’). The crash and burn of the mysterious [shady] “we’re going to change the world!!!” healthcare startup is fascinating, and part of the fascination comes from the straightforward and engaging reporting in this book. [There’s also a podcast called The Drop Out and an HBO documentary called The Inventor…and a miniseries in development starring Kate McKinnon!]
Carreyrou tracks the Theranos story from the beginning, and the amount of red flags present at literally every step needs to make the rest of us feel much less bad about most decisions we regret because WOW. There’s quite a bit of biochemistry and financial jargon in here that I didn’t understand, but the book does a pretty good job of explaining in enough detail that you can get the gist if that’s all that matters to you or REALLY dig into understanding it if that’s what you’re into [I obviously took the first option, see above: fever]. As others have pointed out, a missing element to the book seems to be an examination of the underlying structures that allowed in particular the founder Elizabeth Holmes to get so far, but there have definitely been thinkpieces aplenty on the topic. I liked reading it and am definitely going to get into that podcast and documentary when I get the chance.
[TW: suicide (in the book, not the video)]
Also for anyone already familiar with Elizabeth Holmes, I found this Tavi Gevinson video hypnotizing and hilarious.
That’s all for this week folks! I did notice while I was linking back to the first time I talked about Thursday Next here that it was in a post in which I also mentioned my pal, Enneagram mob boss, Hannah Paasch, who recently published a whole goddamn book on the topic. It’s called Millenneagram [she also has a podcast!] and though I haven’t had time [emotional fortitude] to get into it quite yet, it’s sitting on my desk smiling encouragingly at me and I already wholeheartedly recommend it!