I love reading about what other people do all day. How do they make ends meet? Are they happy doing it? How did they end up choosing the jobs they do? If you like reading about other people’s working lives, I suggest checking out Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, edited by Marisa Bowe, John Bowe, and Sabin Streeter. The book is made up of short interviews with Americans who work jobs that include the Walmart greeter, the UPS driver, a drug dealer, a heavy metal roadie, a porn star, a tofu manufacturer, a casino surveillance operator, a second-grade teacher, a doula, and more. It’s a tiny bit dated, but the stories are fascinating.
If you like reading about people’s jobs and you like the idea of traveling across the country, you might like Pete Jordan’s Dishwasher. Pete made it his mission to travel the USA and get a job washing dishes in every state. It’s interesting to see how his travels and his work meld. More interesting to me, though, was just how much of an asshole he was about the whole thing. I’ll leave it at that.
My favorite movies have two big things in common: they feature teens as main characters and they serve up a hefty dose of dark comedy. Think Juno or Election. If that’s your cup of tea, you might like Pretty Persuasion, one of my favorite underrated films. Here’s a girl who wants to go all out to make a name for herself. And I mean all out. Bonus points for featuring Ron Livingston.
Now that I’ve eased you into dark comedy, how about we just go straight up dark and twisted films featuring teen main characters? You might want to check out Hard Candy or Teeth. Neither of those are for the faint of heart. I am not allowed to mention Hard Candy in the house when my husband is around. If you likeTeeth, you might like Ginger Snaps and vice versa. G Snaps bonus: werewolves (and if you like Ginger Snaps you might like Kathleen Peacock’s Hemlock which is also a werewolf story but more important, references the film).
I don’t feel qualified to offer good music recommendations because my taste is a little all over the place, but I have two bands to mention. If you like male-lead bands like Guster, Carbon Leaf, or Dispatch, or you like Pete Yorn, you might like Jump, Little Children. I know. They’re not new. In fact, they aren’t even playing together anymore. But their music is perfect. Their songs break my heart (this version is devastating),break it even more (this song is so, so gorgeous), and then they sing about super sexy times (no really).This song is one I perform regularly while driving, and this one just makes me happy. Like their sound? You might like the band Hey Marseilles, too. This is my favorite song of theirs (“all I want is love eternally / with your heart facing me”) but the video for Rio is pretty fantastic. Let me slip this one in, too (it makes my heart swell when it gets to the middle....I’ll leave it at that).
If you prefer your music of the female vocal persuasion and you are over Tori Amos, you might like Marina and the Diamonds -- my favorite song is this one (“Better to be hated than loved for what you’re not”) but I also really like this one and this one. Another female singer worth checking out is Erin Ivey.
I’d be making a huge mistake if I didn’t recommend a woman named Courtney Summers in this space as the kind of author you’d like if you are a fan of the strong-voiced female. The characters in each of her books have a hell of a voice, and they’re each coming from places of pain and honesty and maybe even a little place of hope (some more than others). I put her books in camp Marina and the Diamonds. I’ll then go ahead and suggest if you’re more of the Erin Ivey sort -- who also sings of the highs and lows but maybe in a different kind of key with a bit of a different vibe (just as powerful though) -- check out Siobhan Vivian’s books.
My favorite candy in the world is black jelly beans. I love and adore the bitter, burning taste of anise. If you like black jelly beans, you may also like Good and Plenty and black Twizzlers. You may also like Katjes Kinder, which I found in a little shop in small town Wisconsin not too long ago. Black licorice cats from Germany. They are amazing.
If you like anise flavor and you want to go the opposite route, have you tried bok choy? You might like it. I love vegetables, and bok choy is one of my favorites because it tastes like licorice. It’s a little less bitter, but it’s got a crisp taste to it and it’s such a better flavor profile than celery.
So now that you’re sufficiently under the influence of the most amazing candy out there and some, uh, mind altering liquor (and enjoying your bok choy), you are prepared to delve into the weirder world of magical realism with your reading. You can absolutely enjoy these books without any of the above-mentioned aids, but I think you get even more fun out of them when you can really enter those worlds. Who better encompasses the genre than Haruki Murakami? You have talking cats, sleep walkers, and a world that is all at once familiar and totally foreign. I recommend After Dark to warm you up, then head on over to Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World. Don’t want to go that wild? Just going to enjoy some Good and Plenty without the alcohol? Dive into Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls. Want to ONLY have the booze without the candy? Perhaps you’re looking for Hello, Jell-O. Fair warning, though, is some of the recipes in that book will require you to have enjoyed a few shots before they sound half way appealing.
You now know way more about me than you ever wanted to know. It starts with going to the darkest places, enjoying the bitter humor, listening to good tunes, and eating really satisfying food along the way. I haven't even started in on The Jersey Shore yet, either . . .
Don't forget to visit Kelly in her natural blogging habitat, Stacked. Today, in honor of her anniversary, she's done a wonderful post over there about books that remind her of significant points in her relationship with her husband.
What do YOU think of Kelly's recommendations? Anything you plan on reading,watching, listening to, or trying in the future?