I read sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. Two things impede my ability to get lost in a story. First: the selection process. There are so many options out there that I get overwhelmed, and I don’t always trust the reviews. Sure, a book that is a bestseller with tons of stellar reviews is likely to be a winner for most readers. But I’m still a skeptic. I didn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey and the closest I have come to reading a popular series is Gossip Girl. And I am not ashamed of that. It was wildly entertaining and I was young(ish) when I took them down. Second: typically I am way too distracted to focus on what I am reading, which leads me to lose all of the content and get lost. (I was never diagnosed with ADD, but I’m starting to think that was a missed step. Either that, or it’s a perpetual case of FOMO.) I am not the type of person that has to finish a story if I start it. If I am bored, I will waste no more time. But through the lovely world of social media and my new blog, an author came to my attention.
This author, Emily Belden, wrote the book Eightysixed. She lives in Chicago, used a food term as her book title, and is my age (holy hell--what an accomplishment). I had to give the book a shot. The description told me that this was going to be about a 20-something trying to figure it all out in the big city. I figured it would be a decent read, but I didn’t expect to be glued to the pages. Before purchasing, I sized Emily up a bit and visited her blog, Total E-Bag (RIP... it was retired 4/1/15). Within two entries I could tell I liked this one. She was honest, sarcastic and cursed openly (but not just to be cool). I knew if we crossed paths in the real world, we would get along swimmingly.
So I bought the book on Amazon Prime: a partial commitment. My vacation was just around the corner, so I waited to dive in until my flight. When I finally did, I couldn’t even hear what was going on around me. As stated prior, I can rarely block out the noise. But while reading this, I didn’t even have to try. It all just turned into a distant murmur. This was working for me. Maybe I can do this whole reading thing after all.
Eightysixed tells stories of a post-grad girl who thought she had all her shit together with her perfect boyfriend. But then it all changes. The life she thought she would lead with this guy just isn’t in the cards. And after a bunch of second chances, she bounces, and hilarity ensues. At times you’ll think she’s the luckiest girl in Chicago, and then you’ll realize that the opposite is true. We have all been rejected by the person we knew was right for us. We have sent that obnoxious drunken text message, only to wake up with a knot of regret and nausea in our stomachs.
Emily is foul-mouthed, raw about her feelings and puts her whole self out there. Her writing is unintimidating but still remains interesting and magnetic. I related to this girl on so many levels. From being a young girl in Chicago and just wanting to make a connection with a good guy… to being so broke on my $25k salary that I wasn’t sure how I would write that rent check... to not knowing a damn thing about good food.
Emily had simple tastes (i.e., microwave tortellini from the corner market with a pint of ice cream for dessert). But all of the sudden, someone came into her life and shoved her into the Chicago culinary scene full-throttle. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was eating at Alinea, but she knew she liked it. Growing up, my meals of choice were grilled cheese, mac & cheese and Party Pizza. When I got to Chicago, I started cooking real meals with my roommates and exploring the many restaurants that our neighborhood had to offer. People came into my life that taught me what good food was. What real food was. My family is shocked I know what escargots are and even more petrified that I eat them. And love them. And tell you guys about them.
Reading this book reminded me that being my true authentic self should be above all else. That it’s ok to put myself out there and take risks. That if you allow yourself to get out of your comfort zone – even if that’s nothing more than taking a bite of something different – your world can change. And you just might find something really special. We all have our own version of a memoir, we just might not be lucky enough to put it so wittingly down on paper and publish it. Emily had me laughing through the whole book and crying by the end.
I will be interviewing Emily and sharing my Q&A session here on the blog soon. What questions should I ask her? Are you convinced you need to read Eightysixed yourself? I thought so! You can purchase it with the coupon code 2NPRU7QM for 20% off. Head over to this link to get it. And of course, let me know what you think.
I hope you love it too!