Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl

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‘Not That Kind of Girl’ is a collection of personal essays by creator and star of HBO’s Girls, Lena Dunham. This memoir covers everything from bad sex to mental health, which will make you laugh out loud and want to die from second-hand embarrassment in equal measures. 

I love Lena Dunham. She’s successful, ambitious, feminist and she doesn’t take any shit from those who criticise her work. She’s everything a 20-something might hope to be.

But I also hate her.

Lena’s on-screen persona, Hannah Horvath is selfish, privileged, spoilt, self-involved, and generally, a hot mess, and until I read ‘Not That Kind of Girl‘, I had separated Lena from Hannah entirely. However, the more I read, the harder that became. Because Lena seems to share all of these attributes, if not with a shred more self-awareness.

However, much like Girls, this book is entirely real. And painstakingly relatable.

Lena’s stories of how she would platonically share a bed with men all through her early 20s to plug the void of feeling alone, and descriptions of obsessively chronicling her food intakes in a desperate bid to lose weight are almost too close to home.

When ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ first came out, accusations were made against Lena that she had referred to sexually abusing her sister when she was a child. To that I can only sigh and think people should read the chapter on her sister Grace again. Lena clearly adores her sister, and spent her childhood, as the older sibling, wishing Grace was more dependent on her. Does she do some weird things? Absolutely. But it can hardly be classed as sexual abuse. She was a weird kid and a curious one, and when you read that chapter within the context of the entire memoir, it’s just one thing on a long list of evidence that Lena Dunham is, and always has been, obsessed with the human form.

I devoured this book. Where often I’ll spend months dipping in and out of autobiographies and personal essay collections, I read this in three days. I’d recommend it to any of my female friends who might ever have longed to be cooler, thinner, more talented, less bizarre. I’d even recommend it to some of my male ones who are curious about the female condition.

But expect to roll your eyes and think to yourself ‘what a brat’ more than once.

RATING: 4/5

2015 Reading Challenge

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The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge is happening, and this year, I will complete it. Mostly because I actually remembered to set myself the challenge this time.

50 books seemed unrealistic. That’s almost the equivalent of one a week, and until the invention of a three-day weekend, where would one find the time? Therefore I chose 40 as the more reasonable target for my challenge.

Due to a combination of factors working against me, I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions this year. So let this be my only one. Armed with my new Kindle (thanks bro!) and the stack of books my housemates and I have accumulated over 2014, I have made the following list. You’ll note, no doubt, that the list isn’t the full 40, but I decided to leave some space for books that come to my attention during the course of 2015.

  1. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
  2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime – Mark Haddon
  3. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  4. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  6. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John le Carré
  7. A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
  8. The Scorch Trials – James Dashner
  9. The Death Cure – James Dashner
  10. The Kill Zone – James Dashner
  11. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer
  12. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
  13. Yes, Please – Amy Poehler
  14. The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
  15. Just Kids – Patti Smith
  16. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman – Nora Ephron
  17. The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  18. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
  19. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris*
  20. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris
  21. Insurgent – Veronica Roth
  22. Allegiant – Veronica Roth
  23. City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
  24. Ugly Girls – Lindsay Hunter
  25. Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
  26. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
  27. Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
  28. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John Le Carre
  29. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays – David Foster Wallace*
  30. Morrissey – Morrissey
  31. The Black Echo – Michael Connelly
  32. The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman
  33. The Amber Spyglass – Phillip Pullman
  34. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

*In the interest of transparency, these books I in fact started in 2014, but due to their nature (i.e. short stories/essays), I tend to read them on and off. Is it therefore cheating if I include them in the list? NO.

Albums of the Year – 2014 edition

Firstly, these are in no particular order, and as always, I will have none of your music snobbery around these here parts. If you so wish, I’ve also made a Spotify playlist with these albums, which you can find here.

1. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

2. Beck – Morning Phase

3. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

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Pinterest’s most coveted #2: Travel porn

There’s something inherently addictive about travelling. Maybe it’s the fact that seeing other parts of the world opens your eyes to how much you’ve been missing. Or possibly the heat and sunshine has infiltrated your brain, making your life in little Dublin suddenly seem monotonous. Either way, I’ve been bitten by the bug, and my travel board on Pinterest is only proliferating my addiction.

In this, the second instalment of ‘Pinterest’s most coveted’ (read the first instalment here), I bring you: Travel porn – beautiful places to visit, according to my Travel Pinterest board*.

 

Sorrento - Krka - Budapest

From left: Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Italy; Krka, Croatia; Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest, Hungary.

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The Edinburgh Itinerary

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In keeping with my New Year’s resolution to go exploring (one of the few that I’ve managed to obey), and sticking firmly to my list of places to visit in 2014, I spent three days in Edinburgh, Scotland last week. When I say it’s one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, I do not exaggerate. For anyone considering making the trip, here follows a short and cheerful review.

Accommodation

We stayed in Brodies Hostel on the Royal Mile. I picked this particular hostel more so for the location than anything else, however the pictures looked pretty good and it had decent reviews. Beyond being sufficient for our needs in that it was a place to stay, the hostel itself wasn’t great. Brodies has two buildings; our room was located in the second building, which appeared to be much older and dreary-looking than the main building. To avail of the WiFi you had to pay extra, and there was no towel hire – something that I genuinely believed was available in every hostel. The location also proved to be as much of a curse as it was a blessing, because the Royal Mile is LOUD. So unless you’re a heavy sleeper and not at all fussy, I wouldn’t recommend Brodies to future travellers.

The-Edinburgh-Castle--007Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle was the first stop on our three-day adventure. Situated on a hill, at the top of the Royal Mile, the views from the Castle are spectacular. Unfortunately, you have to pay through the nose for the privilege of actually going inside. An adult ticket to enter the grounds will set you back a hefty £16.

In defence of the price, there is a huge amount to see once you actually get inside, including the National War Museum, the War Memorial, the Regimental Museum, and the Royal Palace Crown Jewels. Even if history isn’t particularly your thing, these are still fascinating attractions, if only for the beautiful badges of honour and soldiers’ uniforms.

Helpful tip: Try to avoid visiting the Castle on a windy day. I was in danger of blowing off the side in several instances.

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Pinterest’s most coveted #1: Style

Pinterest is my addiction. I can (and, all too often, do) spend hours at a time scrolling and pinning. It’d all be harmless fun if I didn’t so regularly buy the things I see. That, however, is only possible in the case where the pin in question links to the website where the piece of clothing/pair of shoes/cute handbag is available for purchase.

Unfortunately, this is seldom the case with pins, thus my boards are full to bursting point with things that I either have no idea where to buy, or I never have a hope of being able to afford. Never before has there been a first world problem of such a magnitude.

With this in mind, I bring you the first in a series of blog posts of the items on my Pinterest boards I most want, and can’t have; the individual pieces from my Style board.

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Tokyo Crystal Wrap Watch

This Tokyo Crystal Wrap Watch is definitely one of the items on my Style board that I most long for. Coral and gold are so beautiful together. Yet, I don’t own any coral or gold clothes or accessories. This could have been the purchase to change all that.

The pin originally came from Shopbop.com, with the watch costing €125.51. Unfortunately, it’s sold out, and has been for the last four months since I originally pinned it. I have yet to come to terms with this heartbreak.

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Haute Hippie Beaded Snake Halter 

Another item from my board that is cruelly out of stock. I have the biggest grá for maxi dresses because of their ability to flatter any figure and make you feel like you’re wearing jammies. This particular dress is just a beautiful cut/shape/fabric.

The dress and belt are from revolveclothing.com. Regardless of the status of the dress, its sale price is €587.89, and frankly, no matter how many times I open my purse and shake it, I can’t seem to find that kind of money in it.

3abe0d489ea2a54897c49488e6302f9dEmbellished Jacket

This is one of those pins I repinned from some other gal’s board and I haven’t the foggiest idea where it might be from. My guess is somewhere expensive though, because look at that detail. No, really, just sit back and appreciate the whole jacket for a second. It’s flawless.

The model should close her mouth though. She’ll catch flies.

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New Year’s Resolution: Explore

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I’ve made a thousand New Year’s Resolutions, all of them clichéd that go along the lines of ‘put away the Haribo and go to the gym’. None of them, however, are worth boring anyone with a monotonous blog post about.

With possibly the one exception.  This year I’ve made the resolution to travel more.

Very soon, thanks to my new job, I’m going to become re-acquainted with something called a weekend. Apparently it’s where you get two days off work at a time, one after the other.  Believe it or believe it not, I’ve worked more or less every weekend since I was 15 so this is a BIG DEAL to me.

Thus, in the hope of not actually wasting this valuable time off, I’ve decided that in 2014, I’m going to make use of these weekends and visit a few places that I’ve always wanted to see, be them near or far away.

Glendalough, Co, Wicklow

Monastic city, Upper Lake and Lower Lake, Glendalough, Ireland

I have little to no excuse as to why I’ve never been here before. It’s an hour drive from my house in Dublin, or alternatively an hour and a half drive from my home in Kilkenny.

For those who have no idea what Glendalough is, it translates literally as ‘The Valley of the Two Lakes’ and is home to an early Christian monastic settlement.

It sits pretty in the Wicklow Mountain National Park and there’s even a round tower. Everyone loves a good round tower.

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