The top 5 of 2017; books version

Let’s just get into it shall we? Here are the top five books that I read in 2017, not all of them were released this year but they were new to me so that’s all that matters.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER BECAUSE I CAN NEVER PICK FAVORITES.

1. what is not yours is not yours stories by Helen Oyeyemi

whatisnotyours

In the past couple of years I have gotten to love collections of short stories and this book has soared to the top of my favorites list. First of all, this book will fuck you up. This book made me laugh, cry, cringe, think and gave me nightmares. It didn’t leave my brain for days and honestly is still wedged in there a little. I’m not even sure how to talk about this book because it’s just such an experience.

The stories are sometimes mystical, funny, scary, beautiful, heart wrenching, supernatural and wow all the adjectives in the world could apply to this book. The characters are also so diverse, different ethnicities and sexualities are represented throughout and the fact that some characters from one story pop up in others will leave you wondering how the worlds connect.  I loved this book and it’s definitely one I will reread over and over.

2. i hate everyone but you by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

ihate everyone

All of my best friends live miles and miles away from me so a book about two best friends going to colleges across the country from each other appealed to me in a huge way. The book’s format is that of emails going back and forth between the main characters so having them talk and fight and figure life out through text was relatable as hell and it never felt out of place to only hear the two main characters voices.

There are so many reasons I love this book but the main one being I absolutely loved how the two main characters fought. Whenever the characters would fight it was as if I was reading my own texts between my best friends and I. The bickering back and forth and also instantly making up was so spot on, I loved it. This book doesn’t stop there though with its authenticity though, the authors tackle LGBTQ+ and mental health in such a way that never felt forced like some other YA novels have felt to me.

3. The Gallery Of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

gall

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it’s a slow burn. This book took me a couple of days to finally finish (as someone who usually reads a book in a day this was a big deal) but at the end it was worth it. I’ll be real, one huge reason this book is on this list is because the main character is bi and as a newly come out bi female this representation was important to me. Other than sexuality this book is about art, as the main character is also a painter and her sister a musician and her best friend a dancer. I loved the way the book tackled enjoying art and being your best self and what that all means. Overall, a great YA fictional read.

4. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

whathapep

Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election and the world has never been the same. This book hurt. Her insight into the election and after and her hopes and dreams to what could have been was like a stab to the gut. I’d go from reading about gun violence and what she would do to help prevent it to reading Trumps latest ridiculous tweets and that difference was painful. This really is a must read for anyone who cares about what happened during the presidential election.

5. Brain on Fire My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

brainonfire

I am so late to this book. It came out in 2012 but man is it SO FUCKING INTERESTING. It’s a nonfiction memoir about Susannah Cahalan, a young reporter living in New York who suddenly develops some crazy symptoms and his in the hospital for a month. The book is an honest, crazy, and fascinating look at what happened to her and how she was able to get back to herself.

I just want everyone to read this book because it really blew my mind, from how her early symptoms were ignored by doctors to the simple test that finally gave an insight to her diagnosis. By far, one of me favorite nonfiction books ever.

So there you have it, my favorite books of 2017. If you want to keep up with all the books I read check out my Goodreads, I’ve been using it since 2009 so it’s a pretty accurate account of what I’ve read, what I’m reading and what I want to read.

https://www.goodreads.com/kendylgoodman

 

First Kiss, Female version

I don’t remember the name or the face of the first boy I ever kissed (see First Kiss post for an explanation of that) but that is not true for the first time I ever locked lips with a girl.

It was freshman year of college, soon after my male first kiss, and I was partying with my roommate and her friends. The girl was close with my roommate, she was older, had her own apartment and everything which seemed huge and glamorous compared to my dorm room. She was artsy, a painter with canvass sprawled throughout her apartment and a cluster of paper cranes as a chandelier. She was beautiful and outgoing and free in a way I’d never been before.

So the night in question, we were at a party getting drunk when we all decided to go to the nearby park to play hide and seek in the dark. I had been flirting with one guy most of the night but really only at the insistence of my roommate and her friend when really I just wanted to stay by their side. So the boy, can’t even remember him which is a growing trend I’m realizing, all I know is we made out a little at the park and it was…bad. Even in my little kissing experience I knew that one was just not a great kiss. This is where the girl comes in.

She’d been sitting in the jungle gym with my roommate drinking or smoking and I crawl up to tell them I just made out with that guy. They start laughing as I say how awful it was and then I start wondering if it’s actually ME who’s the bad kisser. That’s when the girl pulls me towards her and says, “well lets find out!” I can see the girls face, I can hear the laughter of my roommate and various drunk people in the background, I can feel the closeness of us sitting on the metal of the jungle gym and I can feel her lips on mine.

This first kiss made more sense to me than the others. My heart was beating out of my chest once she let me go and said “no I liked that it definitely isn’t you who’s the bad kisser.” I laughed in relief and a little bit of fear, then crawled out of the jungle gym to make out with the boy who never became a better kisser.

It took me a couple of years after this to be comfortable with labeling myself as bisexual. My attraction to girls as always been there, no matter how deep I buried it but this first kiss with a beautiful artsy drunk girl got me one step closer to accepting who I was.

The year of 100 books.


– Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Throughout 2016 and in the months into 2017 I have said that 2016 was the worst year of my life. Even though there were bright spots of beauty and life that happened that year, it was also a year full of loneliness and trauma. Really, the only way I was able to deal with all that I was going through, was reading.

Books have always been a crutch of mine, a source of stability and escape that I’ve sought out ever since I was kid. My mom always nurtured my love for reading and never censored the content that I read, which looking back on, was a huge blessing. Growing up, my family moved around a lot and as cheesy as it sounds, I found my home in the books I read, and the characters I grew up with. There are books that I read as a middle schooler or high schooler that I’ll still reread today because it takes me back to a sense of comfort and familiarity.

Last year though, reading became a lifeline, or a drug. I had dropped out of college and moved home at the beginning of the year, after a traumatic death happened in my family. My mental health was the worst it had ever been, and I was really overcome with depression. It was a struggle to get out of bed every single morning, and as soon as I would get home from work I would crawl right back under the covers.

I was depressed and numb, and extremely lonely. So as always, I turned to books. I read with an intensity that I have never felt before. When I read, I became so enthralled in the world I was reading about that the characters were able to make me feel the full spectrum of emotions that was missing from my every day life. I would read in every spare moment, riding in the car, while eating, on breaks at work, and until I went to sleep. I filled every moment I had to myself with words, as if I was afraid to be alone with my own thoughts.

My go to genre was fantasy novels, worlds so unlike my own, with characters that had amazing powers and strength who would have to overcome ridiculous obstacles in order to survive. I love the “chosen one” concept, and romeo and juliet type love stories. I love warring kingdoms, and magical battles, I devoured it all.

There’s probably a conclusion  I could draw here about the strength of the characters I read giving me the strength to overcome my depression but that’s not really the conclusion I want to make.

Reading was the healthiest way I could escape my life. It was a door that was always open to me, and I don’t think I could’ve survived 2016 without walking through that door every day.

When I tell people that I’ve read 100 books in a single year, they’re so impressed and say things like “wow I wish I could read like you do, or had the time.” I usually say something like thanks, I love to read so it wasn’t a big deal. Really though, I want to tell those people that I hope you never get to the point that you need to escape your life as much as I needed to. I hope you can live with your thoughts without seeking someone else’s. I hope you can find strength in real friends, and not fictional ones.

But if you do get that point, let me know, I have plenty of book recommendations for you.

 

 

First Kiss, an explanation

The guy was blonde and he was definitely a fraternity pledge, which makes sense considering I was in a frat house, at a frat party, surrounded by frat dudes. I have no idea what his name was but I’m sure it was somewhere along the lines of a Jason, Matt, or Andrew. Actually typing the name Andrew seems right so maybe his name started with an A? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that this forgotten name blonde frat boy was my first kiss.

Romantic, I know.

I was 18 and a freshman in college, it was my first or second party EVER; my eye shadow was heavy and my flirt game was strong. I’d only had a couple of sips of alcohol before this so chugging four lokos with my roommate gave me enough confidence to conquer the world. Which was how I ended up in some random dudes room, sloppily making out with Andrew(?)

I don’t remember if the kiss was any good or not, considering I was drunk for the first time and also having my first lip to lip contact, I’m sure it was awful. The clearest thing from this encounter that I can remember is that my eyes were wide open and I was actively thinking “this is my first kiss, so this is what kissing is? oh his eyes are closed, my eyes should be closed too right? but how can I close them when this is my first kiss! I need to see what’s going on!”

I also was very aware that at any moment this boy could open his eyes and catch me staring at him and realize that this was my first kiss and he’d, god forbid, laugh at me. But that didn’t happen and luckily, nothing else did that night either. It wouldn’t be until later that I realize going off with a boy you just met while drunk is not always the smartest thing to do, no matter how cute and nice they seem. (But that’s a lesson for another day)

I ended up seeing that boy randomly around campus for the next couple of months and then promptly forgot everything about him until this moment when I really had to strain my memory to come up with an image for him.

I can picture my younger self being extremely disappointed in this story. I mean your first kiss is supposed to be memorable right? You should at least, remember the guys name! Well sorry younger Kendyl, but you should really stop putting a lot of stock into first experiences because they are almost always going to be very, very disappointing. (You really don’t want to know how losing your virginity goes, just get rid of any and all expectations now kid)

Really though, I wish I could tell my younger self that the first moments aren’t really going to matter, sometimes not even the last ones will. Milestones are relative, and you shouldn’t live life as if you’re checking things off of a list, because lists are boring and life isn’t always laid out neatly like that.

Sometimes your first kiss is in a loud frat house with a guy whose name might or might not be Andrew, and you probably couldn’t pick him out of lineup but that’s okay, because that first kiss led to many more memorable kisses and at the end of the day those are the ones that count.

Deleting

Looking around my room I can spot only three sentimental items that I keep out; a framed picture of my dad, a bottle of bonfire ash from my first college homecoming bonfire, and a necklace from my first communion (please don’t be fooled into thinking this is because of religious reasons, I had that necklace hanging from my rearview mirror all throughout high school and only think of that every time I see it.) I don’t keep birthday cards, ticket stubs, or letters, I donated all my shirts from high school and college, and I don’t own a single high school yearbook.

I’m not someone who’s afraid to get rid of things. Whenever I go through my old journals and see all the ripped out pages I don’t mourn the loss of my adolescent thoughts, I know teenage Kendyl needed to tear up those pages as much as she needed to write them.

And yet I have started and deleted a countless number of blogs, and this frustrates me. Blogs are different than personal journals. I actually want people to read this, even if I’m just shouting to the void I want my shout to echo and not be snuffed out by that big white delete button. I want to commit to writing, no matter how shitty, embarrassing or just straight up bad it is.

Even with the countless number of blogs out there I don’t want to feel ashamed to be writing mine. So, this is my promise in attempt number one that I will not delete this blog. I might lose the pictures of my dad, I might break the bottle of ashes, and I might drop my communion necklace somewhere to never be seen again but this blog will stay on the internet.

At least, I hope it will.