Books That I Love in an Oprah Kind of Way

At the risk of being hated by responsible grown-ups everywhere, I’m gonna go ahead and admit that I’ve been sleeping in a lot lately. Except for yesterday when I woke up at 6:00 am with my roommate so we could beat the rush for the kickoff of Super Doubles at Harris Teeter. All coupons with a face value of up to $1.98 were doubled… It was GLORIOUS. But my newfound couponing obsession is really deserving of its own trilogy of blog posts, so I won’t get into that right now.

When I’m in New York, my life is as follows: I wake up early to go to the office, I attend class at night, and I do my graduate work on the weekends… all while still finding the time to abuse Facebook, overeat, and drunk-text ex-boyfriends. Impressive, I know.

But what to do when all of these responsibilities melt away in the summer heat for three months?


Yes, before Heroes (and sleeping, couponing, and blogging) took over my life, I spent much of my free time reading about other peoples’ lives (in print, like the olden days). I thought it would be fun to share some of my new favorites. I’ll try not to get all Oprahbookclubby on y’all — though I pretty much do love these books as much as Oprah loves Dr. Phil, The Secret, and pre-debacle James Frey.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker.  This memoir finally answers the age-old question, “What do a neurotic Mormon woman from Seattle and a gay Democrat from Connecticut have in common?”  As it turns out, quite a bit. Also, Elna is an NYU gal, so that helps to mitigate the fact that we fundamentally hate each other.

Here’s the thing: I adored this book. I found myself relating to her humor and overall struggle as she ran around New York City losing her innocence and desperately searching for the love of her life — only to meet him and find out that he’s an atheist! Elna, girl, I know the feeling. Granted, my version of this would be the time I met the man of my dreams and discovered he was into water sports.

Moving on.

I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.  This is one of those books that’s been recommended to me many times, but I always avoided it because people tried to sell it to me by using the phrase “fish boobs.” I know, right? Happens all the time. But I’m glad I finally came around, because it is truly the best thing I’ve read in a long time. An incredible and somewhat heartbreaking story, yet it is so hilariously told that I nearly peed myself about 17 times throughout.

Is it too soon to joke about pee after just making the above water sports reference? If so, I apologize. In any case, this book ultimately serves as further proof that I absolutely love things like prostitution, drugs, and alcohol abuse — as long as I’m not actually involved.

Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner.  Yet another NYC memoir. Joel Derfner is hysterical, and I’m jealous of his awesomeness. There’s so much truth on every page — like when he writes about wanting to get sex over with so he can eat some raw cookie dough, and then follows it up with, “I worry that my priorities are misplaced.” Basically, if the entire book-reading world turned gay and had my sense of humor, this would be an all-time bestselling sensation — right up there with What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

Borrowed Time: An AIDs Memoir by Paul Monette. I stopped reading at page 50 because that’s when I started awkwardly sobbing in the middle of Starbucks. Monette recounts his experience as the last-man-standing from his entire circle of friends — including his long-time partner — until he himself falls victim to the disease. I don’t know what it says about me as a person that I can’t bring myself to read about one of the darkest periods of gay history, even when it’s this beautifully written, but I can’t. Maybe someday — when I’m really depressed, perhaps — I’ll be able to finish it and contemplate life’s big questions. Until then, I’ll stop acting like I know anything about what it means to feel hurt and start thanking God for the daily blessing we call life.

…Is that something vaguely inspirational I just wrote? Damn you, Oprah! Sorry, everyone — I failed in my attempt to not get all Oprahbookclubby.

Just kidding about the “damn you,” O. I love and worship you always.

  • Formatting side note: I miss bullet points.

Alrighty. If anyone found this entry to be boring and/or irrelevant, worry not. No one misses reading about my life more than I do! My next post should be somewhat interesting, as my week ahead involves things like returning to the Nashville gay bar where I met Martin (who, by the way, hasn’t texted me since I declined his offer), driving 900 miles, and finally reuniting with my real boyfriend, New York City.


  1. As always, I enjoy you writing. It’s elegant yet light and humorous. I predict your own memoir soon, sans depressing dying circle of friends and water sports…I hope. Anyway, count me in for buying a copy.

    • Seriously, thanks so much! And I too hope that any such memoir would be free of those topics… fingers crossed. Haha. Also, I would most definitely be first in line for any future published collection of rants and/or any other writings of yours.

  2. I think I need to check out all of these books, based on your review. Also, never fear – drunk texting is not something many can escape!

    • Haha — right?! It’s like cell phones and binge drinking just cannot co-exist without ex-boyfriends being contacted!

  3. I haven’t read any of these, but your recommendations are so well written, I might need to do just that.

    I live in the land of the man with big pick-up trucks and who love their GOP, so, I’ve had to lower my standards. Not many liberal-progressive straight cowboys in these here parts. watersports might still be a deal breaker, though

  4. I love book recommendations, and the ones you talk about sound great. I have so much down time at my (very quiet) office job that I usually go through a couple books per week, so I will get to these soon! Watch out Edgewater bookmobile (our library is being torn apart currently), here I come!

    • Yay! I’m so glad to have inspired a trip to the bookmobile. I went through quite a few duds to find these gems — hopefully you’ll love ’em as much as I did!

  5. Ade John Leader says:

    I absolutely love your style of writing! Something I aspire to!

    • I’m honored to receive such an awesome compliment — especially since I admire your blog/writing quite a bit myself!

  6. I may or may not be able to closely relate to the cookie dough priority syndrome 🙂 I may have to pick that one up and check it out…

    And thanks for stopping by MustReadMondays!

  7. I’ve been looking to read some new memoirs! I just read Tina Fey’s, Kathy Griffin’s, and Chelsea Handler’s back to back to back (and, in doing so, increased my own gaydom so much that I might actually be turning into a woman). I think I’m gonna try Swish next!

    • Haha — I have read the Kathy bio and two of Chelsea’s books — and let me say, though I love them both, I laughed out loud more during Swish than any of the others! Prepare for awesomeness.

  8. I loved The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance too!!!


  1. […] for my most recent post, about my Oprah-esque fascination with personal memoirs, it can be found here. Please whore me out by clicking these buttons!TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  2. […] I’m alone and miserable and on the verge of a breakdown. Plus I finally finishing reading Borrowed Time last week, so really I was in no position to blog lightly. Oh and Connor still […]

  3. […] it came from one of my all-time favorite authors, Joel Derfner (read my review of his book Swish here) after he read “Not OK, […]

  4. […] Then I read a few books and reviewed them, which led to the revelation that I’m basically just a Mormon gal trying to find love in the Big Apple. […]

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