I stopped reading Sweetbitter and this is why

sweetbitter_cover-e1464024275288I’ve read a lot of coming-of-age stories in my lifetime. I’m still reading a lot of coming of age stories because at 31, I don’t know if I’ve actually “come of age.” I don’t think I will ever stop reading them or never not want to pick one up. However, there’s some stories where I start to lose focus or empathy for the main character and their troubled post-graduate life. Currently, that book is Sweetbitter.

In a nutshell, Sweetbitter is a novel by Stephanie Danler about a young woman who moves to New York City after college. She finds herself an apartment, gets a job at a restaurant, and contemplating what her next move will be. It sounds like your typical story of growing up and experiencing growing up in the big city.

I picked up this book at my bookstore a few months ago excited to read something about food, the restaurant industry, and a side of growing up. When I first read it, I was swept away by the language and the writing skills Danler uses to portray her character. The descriptions of the food and how it tasted to her character and the depth of knowledge that some of her characters had was a beautiful amalgamation.

However, this book wasn’t the story I thought it was going to be. Instead, it felt like I was reading the typical Girls story where they don’t know what they’re doing, don’t care about the job they have, and therefore don’t have the competency to do the job right.

It reminds me of this scene from Girls where you watch Lena Dunham’s character break down a box at a law office she’s working at part time. I get that coming right out of college and moving to a big city is tough. I did the same thing. After college, I moved into my first apartment in the East Village with no assistance from my parents. I made a lot of junk meals and worked in customer service. I wasn’t sure what my plan was going to be and that was fine. I used my intuition and brain to learn to adapt, pay my bills, and actually have some money leftover at the end of the week to go out at night. It’s not a romantic life and not something that we should be praising as interesting or heroic. It’s just a temporary blur of time where no one knows what they’re doing.

I don’t relate to girls like Lena Dunham’s character or the main character in Sweetbitter because while I was wondering what I want to do with life, I didn’t spend my time clumsily serving food and not understanding that when a guy didn’t like me, I should continue to pursue them. It’s not innate in me to act this, but I do know that there are a ton of post-graduates living in Williamsburg going through the same thing. I know this because I live in Williamsburg. Hah, that might also be the reason why I’m so determined not to like this book.

I don’t want to bash this book. I think that many people will enjoy this story and I’m in the minority of people who huffed, said “another one?” and promptly put the book down. I don’t like stories about people who come to New York, transplant themselves in Williamsburg, and then do nothing but drink and do drugs and live a “lifestyle” instead of a life.

I put down the book halfway through. I hate doing that, but I realized that I wasn’t really invested in knowing what happens to the main character here. Perhaps the story gets better. Perhaps she finally pulls up her boots and does her best with the situation she’s given. Perhaps I need to be more forgiving of the world and their faults. I’ll never know what happened and to be honest, I think I’m ok with that.

 

July 2016 Book Haul

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Back in June, I told myself that this would be my last book haul in a little while. Finances have been rough the past few weeks so buying more books felt like an extravagance that I can do without.

I honestly think I might have a problem.

I sometimes feel like I’m “deprived” from living in the city. You can’t honestly be deprived of anything in New York unless you’re actually deprived. I wouldn’t call myself deprived. I’m getting off the topic. I’m just saying that there are things that come easier to those who live in smaller cities….and have a car.

Bookstores in the city are great, but they’re always so crowded. The Barnes and Nobles are always dotted with homeless people trying to spend a little time in air conditioning or heating. You can also never find a place to sit and you can’t sit on the floor (I’ve personally been yelled at a few times because of that).

So when I’m in the suburbs of some town and I have travel arrangements, I make a trip to a bookstore.

Anyway, I found myself hauling back my haul from Florida to New York over the weekend. Here’s my picks:

  1. You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour – I have heard great things about both of these authors separately, so I’m excited to know what they can do together. This definitely seems like the “slice of life” YA that I enjoy thoroughly.
  2. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – Honestly, I picked this book up because it’s about food. It only has 3.5 stars on Goodreads and that worries me a little bit. Hopefully, I’ll walk away from this book with a higher appreciation.
  3. Dreamology by Lucy Keating – Oh this one I’m really excited about. The premise of this book is that a young woman dreams of a dude and he was awesome. Then, this dude becomes a reality. Sounds like my high school dream.
  4. milk and honey by Rupi Kaur – I was a little bit hesitant on picking this one up mostly because I’m not a fan of reading poetry. I did a lot of that in high school and reading poetry sometimes means you have to find some hidden secret the writer is leaving for you. I read a few lines before I decided to pick it up and I think this might be a little bit off the beaten path.
  5. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon –  For some reason, when I think of this book premise I think of that movie Bubble Boy with a young post-Donnie Darko Jake Gyllenhaal. Obviously, this book isn’t about that, but you can’t help but to imagine it.
  6. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead – I don’t know how this happened, but there are some YA books I missed while I was in college and a lot when I was in middle school and high school. Vampire Academy appears to be one of them (I was too busy wrapping up finals in college and there was no booklr at the time).
  7. My Lady Jane by a bunch of people (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows) – This book has been getting a lot of press lately. While it isn’t the most accurate portrayal of Lady Jane Grey, it’s supposedly hilarious and beautiful. I’m excited about this one for sure.

Now, I’m not a big fan of making TBR lists because I end up straying from that, buying a brand new book, and reading that. However, I will say that I’m excited about these picks and I hope to read them before the end of the summer.

Ok, no more buying books until Comic Con.