Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Shrill by Lindy West

At bookstores, I scan every shelf like someone beachcombing for buried treasure. At Goodwill, the price tags allow me to be indiscriminate. I toss a couple dozen paperbacks in my basket and head to the checkout counter, maybe picking up a weird lamp along the way, because if I’m not reading books on a Kindle, I need a lamp, right? Logic. I am one of those people who believe it’s never possible to own too many books, although it’s starting to dawn on me that owning too many lamps might be a sign of lunacy. Anyway, last summer at the Elliott Bay Bookstore in Seattle, I had to be a bit more selective. (The books are new and pricey.) I chose Shrill, a book by Seattle comedian and enchantress, Lindy West. I had never heard of her before, but it seemed fitting to buy a book by a Seattle author while visiting Seattle.

That was one of the smartest book purchases I ever made. Shrill is a collection of essays about Lindy West's life experiences. I really admire her bravery, first for challenging the status quo and standing up to people on issues she cares about, and then for writing all those stories down to make this book. She is an inspiration and she is funny as hell. 

I now consider myself a Lindy West fan and I will forever associate Lindy West with the great city of Seattle. She is now tied with the opera for the top reason why Seattle is cool, followed by a fountain that plays Beethoven and the fact that Seattle is the most well-read city in America.

Shrill is such an important and hilarious book. I’ve read reviews that state it’s an important book for women, but it’s actually an important book for everyone. It’s important for anyone who loves comedy, anyone who feels sad about the world right now and needs something uplifting to read. It’s important for the high school students I teach. It’s important for reaffirming the belief that we actually shape culture and that we don’t have to accept rape jokes and fat shaming and sexism because that’s just what people find funny and that’s the way the world is. And for people who think that’s just the way the world is, then this book is important for combatting their despondent attitudes and perhaps giving them some ideas on how we can make the world a more hospitable, less discriminatory place for everyone.

Yay Lindy West! 

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