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review 2019-10-27 22:32
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (manga) by Nagata Kabi, translated by Jocelyne Allen
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness - Kabi Nagata

Content warning for this manga: discussions of cutting, binging, and anorexia, and, if it wasn't obvious from the cover, there's on-page nudity and sex.

This volume begins with the author's first sexual experience, at age 28, in a love hotel with a woman from a lesbian escort agency. Only a few pages in, Nagata interrupts this scene to explain how she got to that point. After high school, nothing seemed to go the way she expected. She dropped out of university after six months, became depressed, developed an eating disorder, and couldn't seem to hold down a part-time job, much less the salaried position that her family expected her to have by that point. She gradually comes to the realization that a lot of her internal pain was the result of wanting love, comfort, and unconditional acceptance from parents (particularly her mother) who seemed unable to really understand her. And yes, the story does eventually get back to the scene in the love hotel, and it is awkward.

I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I figured it'd be depressing and emotionally exhausting. Nagata was so fragile at times that it was painful to read, but she somehow managed to keep the tone relatively light. It also helped that this was clearly a look back at worse times in her life - Present-Day Nagata had done a lot of thinking, had figured out better paths to take, and was actually eating regular meals and feeling more like her own definition of "adult." She wasn't "cured," necessarily, but she was doing better.

I liked Nagata's frank and unflinching look at self-harm, eating disorders, her mental health issues as a whole and the toll they'd taken on her body (scars, a bald spot from hair pulling, etc.), the inadequacy of her own sex education (she realized after the incident at the love hotel that most of her expectations came from m/m erotic doujinshi, of all things), and more. I was a little surprised that she was willing to put so much of herself out there, but she even addressed this. Her explanations made sense, I guess, but still. I can just imagine the awkwardness after her parents read this volume (if they read it?).

The one part of the volume that threw me a bit was Nagata's somewhat Freudian exploration of her desire to be touched and held by women, which she decided was rooted in her constant clinging to her mother. She never quite came out and said it, but she seemed to see her lesbianism as being connected to all of this, as though it was a childish fixation she'd never grown out of.

Overall, I thought this was really good, and I plan to read Nagata's My Solo Exchange Diary as well.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-06-04 17:46
Anthropomorphic leisurewear
Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It - Grace Helbig

So I had the bug to try reading more audiobooks and I only got as far as 2...for now. After thoroughly loving Yes Please by Amy Poehler I was all set for some more hilarity. To that end I picked up Grace Helbig's Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It. This is part memoir (a very small part) and part irreverent fashion and beauty guide. If you're unfamiliar with Grace she's a comedian with a super funny YouTube channel (as well as a YouTube series with fellow comedian Mamrie Hart) and this is actually her second book. The book starts off with Grace relating some very personal stories about her struggles with body image but lest you get the idea this is a very serious book it's more about trying to take things less seriously and accepting yourself flaws and all. I really enjoyed the personal anecdotes and how they related to her changing opinions and tastes when it comes to mainstream fashion and beauty standards. She also discusses how differently she views herself now that she has increased visibility due to her career. I think this would be especially good for a young woman in high school or just starting college as that's when we're most vulnerable to the pressures from media. (Note: I don't ever think we're completely immune to it but I do think there are times in our development when it's an especially powerful influence.) Because I consumed this book via audiobook format I felt I was at a bit of a disadvantage when she talked at length about specific beauty products, tips, and how-to's because I'm fairly sure the physical book had a plethora of visual aids. I do want to point out that there was a large portion of the book dedicated to a 'sweatpants diary' which I suppose was meant to be a metaphor for the pressures of the media effecting how we perceive fashion but I found it exceedingly odd. (Also, I found myself nodding off more than once during it.) For those that need reminding that fashion and beauty in general are completely subjective this is a great resource. For someone looking for a hilarious pick-me-up it's a bit short of the mark. 5/10


The back. [Source: Simon & Schuster]


What's Up Next: Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham


What I'm Currently Reading: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-01-22 00:15
Deep dive into cult life
The Boundless Sublime - Lili Wilkinson

 Disclaimer: reviewing a pre-publication digital proof via NetGalley.


Ruby's mother is no longer functioning. Her dad's in prison. For killing her baby brother in a drunk driving accident. She's holding it together on the outside, not so much on the inside. When she makes a connection with innocent, sheltered, cult-raised Fox, she gets drawn into the supportive, seemingly open-minded and health-conscious public branch of a local cult. When she follows Fox into the inner enclave, things take a turn for the weird.


Extremely well-written story by a new-to-me author. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, and mostly requested the galley based on that awesome cover (isn't it cool? so atmospheric!) But there's a lot to like in the storytelling as well. Ruby's in a bad place, and the way the author explores her thinking and how she moves step-by-step deeper into the land of crazy is really illuminating.


While I think most of us would agree on how insane the choices Ruby and others in the book make, the reality is that people around us are pulled into real-world versions of this, and get drawn into radical thinking and extremist behaviours every day. I have friends who've gotten really into things like Landmark (a leadership program with cult-like practices), CrossFit (an example of extreme fitness trends that can inspire cultlike devotion, also see: SoulCycle) and even things like detox cleanses or mindfulness programs that ride the line of eating disorders and abuse. The relatability and plausibility of the characters that Wilkinson draws out is impressive. Many people - maybe everyone - are looking for answers, for meaning, for a way to gain control over their lives. This story explores how someone could, out of a place of brokenness and searching, go down a route they never would have imagined for themselves.


I love how this story conveys a sense of empathy. You learn about others, and maybe yourself, in a way that's engaging, fast-paced (it's not a preachy dissertation on the evils of cults or anything), solidly in-character (Ruby's perspective feels natural, age-appropriate, and allows for some great reveals and twists at the end), and balanced. You come away with a clear understanding of why people behaved as they did, even if that behaviour was absolutely insane. Potential trigger warnings for various things like debilitating depression/suicidal thoughts, abuse and eating disorders. There is some sexuality and language that might make this better suited for older teens and adults - parental guidance recommended - but it's not pronounced or explicit (e.g. there is weird sex stuff in the cult, but it's not salacious or described in detail).


Highly recommended read that bridges entertainment and discussion-group-worthy literature.

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text 2014-03-02 13:47
The Story of an Eating Disorder by anonymous.

National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week started on February 24th and goes through May 2nd. As someone who has struggled with this disease, it is extremely important for everyone to be aware of what it can do. A countless number of people have died from it, starving themselves to death. This is my story:

I’ve struggled with this disorder, this disease, for eight years. Seven of these past eight years have been spent with the voice of Ed screaming in my head. Don’t eat! You’re so fucking fat. You’re disgusting. You need to lose five more pounds. Five more pounds. Five more pounds. Five more pounds. Five more pounds. Everyday I threw away my lunch. Every day I fought my parents whenever they tried to get me to eat. Lies became my normal life. I was forced into therapy and sent to a registered dietitian. I lied to the therapist. I didn’t care what the RD said. Who were these people to tell me what to do? My life, my body.

Finally, at 17, I was sent inpatient for two months. It was a safe place. I came to understand why Ed was in my life. It was not about the food. It was about the control. It was about the desire to be numb. It was the desire to forget the trauma from my past. The desire to not feel my pain. Ed was my friend and my enemy. The problem with recovering from eating disorders is you have to eat. You have to eat every day. Alcoholics and drug addicts can recover by not using. Food, the ultimate enemy, is required to live.

I left inpatient and completely relapsed. The mirror showed my fat. If only I could cut it off. If only I had the money for diet pills. Any food I consumed I threw up. In the end I screwed up my stomach and my esophagus. My brain didn’t work and school became difficult. My body still has lasting damages from the abuse I put it through. It’s something I will deal with for the rest of my life.

I spent seven years in therapy. Seven years of misery, facing my past. Seven years of putting my parents through hell. Thousands of dollars have been spent on recovery. I’ve now been in recovery for about a year. The thoughts are still there just not as loud. It’s still hard to love my body and to believe people when they say I’m beautiful. My relationship with food and the number on the scale will never be normal but I know how to cope now. I can feel now. I can be happy. I want to live again.

The world needs to know about this disease. It needs to know its dangers and its true causes. It can affect anyone, no matter the gender or age. It kills.

  • - Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
  • - An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.
  • - An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime. Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia
  • - Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders
  • - 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.
  • - The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
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review 2014-01-22 13:38
Big Fat Disaster - Beth Fehlbaum

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Well where to start. Let's say this book was a mess. I came for the whole overweight/eating disorder story, but I got a whole lot more than that. Embezzlement, adultery, bullying, family problems, rape, violence, suicide and various other things.


I really had to drag myself through the book. I am sorry to say, but all the other stuff was just too much. I felt like I was watching one of those tv drama/soap opera things, that I only watched a few times and hated. It wasn't even real any more. I only got confused, since every time we had gone through one thing, POP there was another problem. Dear Lord, I can imagine why Colby just kept eating and eating. Everyone was just bitching about her fatness, but no one actually tried to help her.


The family, the teachers, everyone was seriously messed up in their heads. Not willing to listen to each other, blaming each other for things, even just bluntly ignoring things even when proof is stuffed in their eyeballs. Rape??? Ah I am sure it was the girl's fault. After all she was drunk and she should have watched out with that. And hey, who says it wasn't consensual??? *rolls eyes* Sorry but that just pissed me off. Sure, the girl is stupid for drinking so much, that she is practically unconscious, but that doesn't mean you can just do what the hell you want with her.


And then we also got Drew. God I wanted to smack that kid. I can imagine, she is a little kid, so much is changing. But come on, that kid never understood anything, was just whining, begging, crying, acting like a spoilt brat.


Then you also have Ryan, aka the sad misunderstood and pissed off teenager who just does everything to make Colby’s life a fricking hell. Seriously bro, maybe you should be angry at the adults and not shove the blame on the kids as well.  Luckily it seems he isn’t a total prick since he saves Colby around 2/3 in the book. But still, if he didn’t do all those things, he wouldn’t have needed to save Colby.


In short, I didn’t like the book. I felt it would have been better if it only handed one or two topics, not like 10 or more in one go. So hereby: 1 star out of 5 for this book.

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