Shayla, a light skinned woman with reddish brown hair, reads Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2. Her hair is up in Princess Leia buns and she's wearing a white robe.
Princess Leia, where are you tonight?

TL;DR: I like Kirkus’s book reviews but really, just the final sentence. 

Too long, maybe read

I’m a library transplant by way of journalism recovery. Books are not my expertise, though I’ve been reading them since before junior kindergarten. I read a lot when I was a kid — escapism, right? — and then the internet came into my Millennial life, and now I help represent a public library on the internet while struggling to remember how to read for pleasure. It’s a black fly in my chardonnay, Alanis.

It’s probably not surprising that I read many book reviews, reading lists, and literary essays. Some are quick and snappy, and I pick up what they’re putting down, and it’s great. Unfortunately, some are impenetrable walls of jargon. 

Maybe it’s because I had Grade 8 level reading comprehension drilled into me by my first newspaper editor. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on the internet since the mid-90s, and my brain probably melted at some point. Maybe it’s because I ran screaming from academia (ask me about Boolean logic; actually, don’t ’cause that’s why I quit). Whatever the reason, I can’t deal with complicated language anymore.

Well — I don’t think people are being complicated with it on purpose. I suspect there’s some mental shift when you get super-into academia, publishing, and the literary world, and you understand appeal terms FOR REAL. It’s not weird to you anymore. It’s how journalists can talk about nut grafs Very Seriously without laughing because they’re saying the words ‘nut graf.’ 

I don’t judge. It’s me, not you. I’m reasonably bright and love language, but I don’t want to dissect it constantly. I just want to read, yo. I can figure out what an intensifying tome redolent with disputatiousness is. But I just want to know a) what this book is about and b) if it totally sucks. Should I read this, or should I doom scroll on Twitter?

I am lowbrow. The reality is that I like awful television and crunchy Cheetos, my sheets are covered in cat hair, and Giant Tiger is my jam. I forget most big words because that space in my head is now devoted to TikTok songs. More often than not, I pluck the checkout receipt out of my unread library book just before returning it unread but renewed thrice. 

That’s the vibe I’m bringing here: I can barely bring myself to read for the joy of it these days because it’s 2022, and wtf is joy? If I’m going to read a book I don’t like, I will say that I don’t like it, in plain terms. I’m not going to provide a grade-school-style book report.

I’m sorry if you’re my English Lit teacher reading this and cringing. I didn’t take over the world as once predicted, but I did go very viral on Twitter one time, if that counts. Now I’m leaning into “Shayla is intelligent but unmotivated.” 

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