Shrill by Lindy West

Read This, Watch That: Shrill & Obvious Child

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy WestShrill Lindy West 
Published by Hachette Books on May 17th, 2016
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Buy From IndieBound

In early 2015, Lindy West confronted one of her most horrific internet trolls on This American Life. But long before that confrontation, West wrote her way into the public eye by taking on rape jokes and fat shaming. (She also wrote about the outfits in Troop Beverly Hillsawful commercials, and re-watching Garden State, just to drop a few of my personal faves.)

In her new book, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Lindy West digs deep into her own experiences with sexism, fat shaming, and harassment (in hilariously titled essays, like “You’re So Brave for Wearing Clothes and Not Hating Yourself!” and “Why Fat Lady So Mean to Baby Men”) while also touching on her childhood and the recent loss of her father. Each essay in Shrill feels like a vital read, particularly in an election cycle that adds fuel to the garbage fire of internet comments and online harassment. While West fights against the bigotry that stokes that fire, she also highlights the importance of seeing humanity—even the humanity of internet trolls.

“This story isn’t prescriptive. It doesn’t mean that anyone is obliged to forgive people who abuse them, or even that I plan on being cordial and compassionate to every teenage boy who pipes up to call me a blue whale. But, for me, it’s changed the timbre of my online interactions. […] It’s hard to feel hurt or frightened when you’re flooded with pity. It’s hard to be cold or cruel when you remember it’s hard to be a person.”

Shrill had me rolling in giggle fits on one page, furious with rage on the next, and reaching for tissues by the end. And isn’t that how life is? All those emotions are wrapped up in one little package made for a more than perfect way to spend the weekend.

Obvious Child

I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for the right book to pair with this movie, which is a favorite of mine, and Shrill is the perfect match. After a major breakup, Donna randomly hooks up with Max, who she meets in a bar following one of her stand-up shows. Donna ends up pregnant from the one-night stand and decides to have an abortion while still dealing with the fallout from her previous relationship and the loss of her job.

It sounds more than a little bleak, but the brilliance of Obvious Child is in its humor. And how incredibly real it feels. Like Lindy West in Shrill, Donna doesn’t agonize over her abortion, but she does struggle with paying for it and deciding whether or not to tell Max. Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy (you’ll recognize both if you watched the last season of Girls) are perfect and the movie touches on a number of the issues highlighted by Shrill in a similarly hilarious way.

  • Garbage fire is right!

  • I knew I had to have this one when Rebecca mentioned it on All the Books last week, and now I’m even more in!

  • I’m so excited about BOTH of these now, Shannon! I’ve had Shrill on my list, so thank you for the recommendation and the fantastic movie pairing!

  • I’ve been interested in Shrill and added it to my wish list, but now it appeals to me even more. Side note: I really do need to turn on my t.v. more. It looks as if I’m missing out on so much.

  • I love it when a book makes you feel the full range of emotions!

  • I love good movie recommendations for those times when I just can’t think what I want to watch. This one looks good!
    I don’t read a lot of memoir-typed books, but this sounds like a good one – adding it to the list! (I can also think of the perfect person to gift it to!)

    • It definitely pushes more to the essay side (very similar to Bad Feminist, actually) over being a memoir.

      • Oh, that sounds even better!

  • Shrill sounds amazing, and will definitely get added to the list. Troop Beverly Hills… what a blast from the past!

  • This book AND this movie will be new to me. I’ve been hearing so much about Shrill, can’t wait to get to it.

  • OMG I need to read this book. And then watch this movie. Thank you!

  • I’ve been debating about adding Shrill to my giant list of books. I think I’m going to have to give in and join the club!

  • Ahhhhh I can’t wait to read Shrill! I think I will save it for my family vacation so that I can read parts of it out loud to my loving family members and they can’t escape because we’re all in a cottage together. I reread that article about Garden State and it made me laugh SO MUCH. Like Lindy West, I saw that movie as a young uncritical baby person, believed it to be my favorite movie in the world, and now feel ashamed of it. I tried to get rid of it once but I was plunged into an existential crisis like “Can you get rid of the person YOU ONCE WERE, Jenny?” and I decided that I could not and kept the DVD after all (andlistenedtothesoundtrackshutupShannonnobodyaskedyou).

  • I love Jenny Slate! If Shrill is anything like Obvious Child, I know I’ll love it. I love the idea of pairing a book to a movie!
    Did you see her camio on the last season of Girls? Her part definitely stole the show.

  • I have been seeing Shrill all over the place lately. I think that is the world telling me I need to read it!

  • I wasn’t sure about Shrill because I thought it might just be a collection of previously published essays, but then I realized that Lindy West is the author of many of my favorite pieces on The Guardian, so I don’t think I’d mind! Definitely going on my to-read list :)

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  • This sounds like a book I would really get into. Thanks for the recommendation.