I read a paperback version of Everything I Know About Love.
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Originally published: February 1st, 2018
Pages: 336 (paperback)
Audiobook length: 8 Hours 33 Minutes
Blurb by the publisher:
A spot-on, wildly funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way
When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown-up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognizing that you and you alone are enough.
Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humor, Dolly Alderton’s powerful début weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age – while making you laugh until you fall over. Everything I Know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty.
I walked into Waterstone’s at Trafalgar Square, just wanting to browse (as if book lovers ever JUST browse) through the books, and while I was making my way through book heaven, a table with yellow covers and red sprayed edges was screaming for my attention. And that’s how I got to know Dolly Alderton. I got to know her even more through this hilarious, sometimes sad, somewhat disturbing, but also heartwarming story of how she learned what she now knows of love.
I started reading this book in a top third bunk in a London hostel, while feeling in a place in my own life where I’m not even sure what I think I know about love anymore, and I fell into this book like Alice into Wonderland, finding the world of dating to be just as a peculiar and weird place for Dolly as it has been for me. Well, maybe a bit more extreme and weird for her, but still.
There was a lot throughout this story of her way into adulthood that I could relate to emotionally, although a lot of the experiences in itself was quite different.
I think we all struggle to come to terms with love and what exactly it is that it means to us, because of reasons that have to do with the weirdness of modern dating, but also our own demons (don’t tell me you don’t have any, because I won’t believe you).
I laughed and cried throughout this, and there were moments where I found myself rooting for Dolly as if I was reading something that was happening in that precise moment, and then having to remind myself that the happenings that were unfolding on the pages had already happened a good while ago, and so much more after that.
The most heartfelt and wonderful thing about this book to me was not the hysterical and absurd dates and episodes of casual hookups, it was how Dolly told the story of her friendships, and especially the one she has to her best friend Farley. I miss that in “love stories”, both non-fiction and fiction, hearing about the importance, the wonder and the purest love of all, the one that can only be found in those kinds of friendships. It’s so beautiful to read about, and it’s so special to find how much she, and so many of us, learn more about true love through our friendships than we do through dating. It is easily overlooked because it comes so natural to us, and we love them so much that having to work for it is not something that feels like a struggle. It’s something that you want to do, out of love.
I’m rambling now, so let’s get back to the book.
There were passages in the book, like the recipes for foods, that I found myself almost skipping through just because I wanted to know more about what would actually happen next. To me, those parts just weren’t that interesting, but I could still appreciate the way Alderton created something a bit more original by adding them.
I hadn’t heard about Dolly Alderton before our destined “meeting” in a random Waterstone’s, but somehow it feels like I’ve gotten a new girlfriend into my life, even though we’ve never actually met.
It’s just wonderful to see someone daring to be this honest and vulnerable when sharing their own experiences. It makes me as a reader feel like I know that writer. Like we’ve had a grown-up slumber party and in the middle of all the cakes and prosecco, she suddenly said:
Let me tell you a funny story!
And then me sitting there with a bucket of ice cream, and every time she finished a story I would ask her for another one. And what a sleepover it turned out to be!
I highly recommend All I Know About Love if you enjoy nonfiction/coming of age reading with a little bit of a twist!
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“What can I do with my happiness? How can I keep it, conceal it, bury it where I may never lose it? I want to kneel as it falls over me like rain, gather it up with lace and silk, and press it over myself again.” ― Anaïs Nin, Henry & June
I read a paperback version of Henry and June.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd.
First Published: 1986
Pages: 273 (paperback)
Audiobook length: 2 hrs and 51 mins
Blurb by the publisher:
Drawn from the original, uncensored journals of Anais Nin, “Henry and June” is an intimate account of a woman’s sexual awakening. It covers a single momentous year – from late 1931 to the end of 1932 – during Nin’s life in Paris, when she met Henry Miller and his wife, June. She fell in love with June’s beauty and Henry’s writing and, soon after June’s departure for New York, began a fiery affair with Henry, which liberated her sexually and morally but undermined her marriage and led her into psychoanalysis. One question dominated her thoughts: what would happen when June returned to Paris? That event took place in October 1932, leaving Nin trapped between two loves
– Henry and June.
"A woman with so much love to give, and so much lust to share,
makes for interesting reading."
When I first started my Exploring Erotica project, Anaïs Nin was one of the authors that I first came across. I read Delta of Venus, which I really enjoyed. And when I was recommended Henry and June by a good friend, I just had to check it out.
There’s no doubt about the fact that Nin writes beautifully. She has a very straightforwardness combined with poetic writing that I find quite fascinating. Knowing that this was first written in the early 30s makes it even more special.
This is a story of sexual awakening, and I found Nin’s journey to be a very interesting one. A woman with so much love to give, and so much lust to share, makes for interesting reading. Her emotions are so raw and unfiltered that it’s easy to feel some of her frustration and her love/lust.
That being said, when I got through the first 100 pages I found my mind to often drift afterwards when reading it. The beautiful writing is still very much present, but it does get a bit repetitive. It goes back and forth, and then back again multiple times. It sometimes felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again, just written in a slightly different way.
Because I found myself drifting, it took me way longer than normal to finish this book, even though it’s quite a short one. I enjoyed Nin’s openness, her boldness and fascinating mindset around open relationships. I love her writing style, but this memoir fell a bit short when it came to grabbing my attention unfortunately.
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