I was cruising on the carefree energy of summer when my hands landed on Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino and I had to put everything else on pause. One of the most-anticipated book debuts this summer, Trick Mirror made a major impact on me and some of my favorite #bookstagrammers this year.
This innovative new book packs a major punch with nine essays on pop culture, navigating life as millennials, identity and the internet, feminism, literature and more. The more you read Tolentino’s writing, the easier it is to see yourself on the page. The Filipina writer from Texas dissects so many of the major and minor struggles many of us face every day – from how we engage with social media to understanding what moves us politically.
I’m not the only one who has experienced the reality of what Tolentino’s talking about in Trick Mirror. This September, it was evident that others in the #bookstagram community had a lot to say on the topic of this impactful book too. Here are a few of my favorite book bloggers’ posts on Trick Mirror:
One that I just finished (TRICK MIRROR) and the other which I am currently reading (MY TIME AMONG THE WHITES). Both bringing the word intersectional to mind because as I am reading I can’t help but to see myself in these words fitted for my experience as a millennial first-generation brown woman and excessive user of social media (?)
But if I am being honest, I didn’t really understand or use the word intersectional until recently. In fact, there are so many words that through reading I have adopted to help me describe how I fit into this world. Words are so incredibly powerful and I am feeling particularly grateful for writers willing to write about their experiences that have in turn helped me further define myself. All that to say, that I have enjoyed these two essay collections very much. What’s the last book you read that helped you learn about yourself?
Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino: 5/5 (!!)?
Spandex- the material in both Spanx and expensive leggings – was invented during World War II, when the military was trying to develop new parachute fabrics. It is uniquely flexible, resilient and strong. (“Just like us, ladies!” I might scream, onstage at an empowerment conference, blood streaming from my eyes.)
Jia Tolentino’s mind… we don’t deserve her, or this book. Trick Mirror is a compilation of cultural criticisms, which straddle the line between personal essays and academic papers. While definitely not for everyone, I was amazed at how deeply Tolentino forced me to think, at the critical lens through which she sees the world around us. She’s one of the only millennials critically considering and reflecting on the internet, what it means to come of age in a recession, and why empowered women are still so susceptible to the beauty industry. Her ability to be razor-sharp, wickedly funny and effortlessly relatable is amazing; I dog-eared so many consecutive pages that this book got thicker. I want to grow up and become Jia Tolentino, for lack of a better way to describe my admiration for her work and this book. If you’re looking for a read that will challenge you, this is the one – you won’t see the world the same way afterward.”
I’m currently reading Trick Mirror by @jiatortellini and it’s feeling very much like the right book at the right time. I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with social, especially in light of having so many friends and family in town this month and little time to post. I’ve been enjoying the distance and the ebbing of my anxiety and the perspective. I’m doing a lot of low-key prioritizing of my time and emotional energy, spending more time offline and outdoors. The first essay, The I in the Internet really got me in the gubbins. There’s this phrase: “selfhood has become capitalism’s last natural resource.” Just one example of the crystal clear writing that whittled down the big complex mess that is the internet into an essential point. There’s lots to think on here, and I’m getting through the book slowly because my brain keeps gravitating to my experiences, analyzing my actions and what I’ve seen play out on the internet. How I interact and communicate and how others do as well. I needed a book that made me take a critical look at current culture, especially one that dives into social and identity – the ties between the two are so ingrained into life as I know it; it begs examination. I’ve only just begun but I can already say I’ll be thinking about that first essay for a long time.”
We are all defined by our historical terms and conditions, and these terms and conditions have mostly been written by and for men.
This book challenged my thinking on so many things: my use of social media, this culture’s veneration of “difficult” women, internet activism, marriage, the whole concept of a #GirlBoss… I also learned more about the history of white fraternities, the intersections of sexual assault and race, the history of the institution of weddings, tropes of heroines, scams (including Fyre Festival, corporate-friendly feminism, the election of Trump, the ’08 recession)… But as of now, I think what challenged my thinking most was Tolentino’s critique of our culture’s fear of teasing women for their looks, or even pointing out their looks in general (ex: when Melania wore heels to visit hurricane victims and people from both the right and the left emphasized that it was her choice to wear them). Tolentino points out that this wariness simply reiterates that female appearances are precious, paramount, not to be touched. As I read it, it was like I could actually feel my brain making new folds and synapses (is that how that works?). I want to be friends with Tolentino. I want to read everything she’s ever written. The dust jacket isn’t lying when it calls her a ‘peerless voice of her generation.’
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