T10T: Books I Saw Myself In

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s theme was about characters we related to, and I thought I’d take it a step further by talking about diverse books I saw myself represented in.

The rest of this post includes TWs for brief mentions of depression, sexual assault, domestic partner abuse, self-harm, and fat-shaming.

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1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (review)
“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”
Evelyn wasn’t the first book I read with bisexual representation, but something about it really resonated with me. One thing in particular it tackles is the way bi people sometimes face biphobia within the LGBTQ+ community, which is such an important and difficult issue that doesn’t get discussed much.

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2. Blood Water Paint (review)
Is this all I get?
BWP is about the painter Artemisia Gentileschi’s life — and notably, the rape she suffered. So many lines felt like they could’ve come from my own heart, but the quote I chose for this post was, for some inexplicable reason, the line that broke me most of all. The frustration, the hurt, the confusion… is this all I get?

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3. How to Make a Wish (review)
I thought that was how every girl saw other girls – this mix between beauty and awe and curiosity, a thin layer of lust just underneath.
HTMAW was the first book I EVER saw bisexual rep in, and if I’d had this book as a teen, I know it would have helped me so much. I related so hard to Grace’s thoughts, especially in this quote, when she talks about how surprisingly sensible it felt to finally realize she was attracted to women.

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4. To Be Honest (review)
“News flash: fat isn’t a bad word, Mom. It’s the twenty-first century. I have blue eyes. I have blond hair. I’m fat.”
First of all, let me go ahead and say that I would love to say I own my body as well as Savannah does. I don’t yet, but I’m getting there, and I’ve come a long way in self-acceptance over the last few years. Reading TBH was just incredible because it was so good to finally see a fat girl get the happy ending she deserves, and Savvy is so inspiring and brave that I couldn’t help but love her. ♥

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5. Nice Try, Jane Sinner (review)
Hatred or love – either would have been enough to keep me going. But the slushy indifference I felt for everything and everyone wasn’t on the hate-love spectrum. The indifference is what I couldn’t stand.
I don’t hear people talk about this book enough, but it has some of the best depression rep I’ve ever read. I related so much to Jane’s character and the ways her depression manifests — especially the numbness that pulls her into the dark. I also feel like Jane’s hilarious and sarcastic attitude is such a valid representation of how people suffering from chronic or clinical depression learn to hide behind laughter.

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6. Hyperbole and a Half (review)
“Тo me, the future doesn’t seem real. It’s just this magical place where I can put my responsibilities so that I don’t have to be scared while hurtling toward failure at eight hundred miles per hour.”
Damn, what don’t I relate to in this book? Allie Brosh is so funny that it’s easy to forget how much of her work was actually based off of her own mental illnesses and the struggles she faces every day with not only depression, but also a debilitating anxiety and fear of how people perceive her, what will happen to her, and everything else in the world. I pick H&aH back up every so often just to remind myself I’m not alone.

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7. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy (review)
“People do not tend to know when I am pretty freakin’ unwell. For a lot of reasons. I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or burdened or—often, I just don’t want to talk about it.”
(D)CMC is a collection of nonfiction essays about mental illness, and it is an absolutely wonderful collection, but there are two stories in particular that have just nestled under my skin and stayed there: 1) Emery Lord’s discussion of her depression and how well she hides it from her loved ones, and 2) Victoria Schwab’s explanation for why she has to stay so busy, because our flavors of obsessive thoughts simply won’t allow anything else.

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8. That Kind of Guy (review)
“In the days before he’d vowed to stop hurting himself on other people’s lust.”
Zach, the character in question, is demisexual, which I’m not; however, he talks about how long he spent hooking up with people for the purpose of filling a void and making them feel wanted, even though it hurt him. A lot of people don’t know that casual sex is a form of self-harm for some people, as we find a way to “punish” ourselves with it, and I spent several years in a dark place like that. Self-harm in general has always been a struggle for me, but this was such a specific portrayal of it, in a way that so rarely is discussed, that I was stunned by how seen I felt.

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9. Bad Romance (review)
This is something else I will learn while I am with you—not now, but later: there are so many ways to drown.
I spent several years in one abusive relationship after another, with one of them being four solid years of physical, sexual, emotional, mental, and verbal abuse every single day. There were things in that relationship that, even years later, I still had not recognized as abuse until reading this book. I’m telling you, Heather Demetrios could have written Grace’s story from being a fly on my wall. It’s one of the hardest books I’ve ever read in my life, but it was so damn cathartic.

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10. The Near Witch (review)
“They are closer to nature than any human, because it is a part of them.”
I know a lot of these have been heavy, so I wanted to end the list on a happy note. As a witch, I don’t get to see my craft represented in a positive light very often, which means that TNW’s positive and loving depiction of the witch sisters, Magda and Dreska, made my entire year.


What’s a book that made you feel understood? Let me know in the comments!

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Just a 26-year-old children's librarian trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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