Disclaimer: I was provided with an Advance Reading Copy of this book for free from the Penguin First to Read program. All opinions expressed in the following review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin.
Lately, the book market has been saturated by fun, humorous, and self-deprecating memoirs written by young women. Compared to all the similar memoirs I’ve read, Alexandra Petri manages to write her version in a more entertaining and unique way.
The main reason that Petri’s book stands out also makes parts of her book inaccessible: she dives deep. Petri was the nerdy child that a lot of bookworms tend to be and identify with, but the beauty of nerdiness is that you dive so deep into your particular subject that sometimes the only people who can talk to you (read: stomach you) are your fellow specific nerds. This means that when Petri spends an entire essay detailing one sect of her nerdiness, you can feel left out if you’re not familiar with the topic being discussed. However, when Petri discusses a nerdiness you experienced, reading the essay feels like curling up with a cozy blanket and chatting with your best friend on the couch for hours.
Overall A Field Guide to Awkward Silences is a pretty enjoyable read as long as you skip the essays that you feel don’t jive with your own particular brand of nerdiness or humor. Unfortunately, I’m one of those annoying people who feel like they need to read every chapter, even within a set of unrelated essays, and force myself to slog through things that don’t really interest me. If I hadn’t done this, I probably would have enjoyed Petri’s memoir more than I ultimately did. The essays I enjoyed the most were “Ten General Rules”, “How to Join a Cult, by Mistake, on a Tuesday in Fifty-Seven Easy Steps”, “Trivial Pursuit”, “We Are Not a Muse”, “The Dog in the Manger”, and “So Far, So Good.”
If you’re interested in finding out what you think of A Field Guide to Awkward Silences before its release date, the publisher is currently hosting a giveaway on Goodreads. They’re giving away 150 copies so you have a decent chance of being selected if you reside in the US! You can enter the giveaway until 15 May 2015.
Publication date: 2 June 2015 (expected) by New American Library (NAL). Format: Ebook, Advance Reading Copy