What to Read on the Subway This Week: 1/9
This week, grab some laughs with a chick-lit favorite and a prankster’s podcast, take a look into the life of the first lady, and conclude with a classic novella about the pursuit of the American Dream.
On Your Kindle
Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
For all its sugary stature as the reigning queen of chick-lit, Bridget Jones actually gives its readers something substantive to chew. The novel borrows its structure from the timeless Pride and Prejudice, changing the setting from the early nineteenth century to the late twentieth, giving the heroine complete narrative autonomy, and adding more than a dash of modern British humor.
There is much to think about here: Bridget-the-narrator’s power to completely command her readers’ attention juxtaposed with Bridget-the-character’s debilitating insecurities; Bridget’s ironic self-identification as a “feminist,” even as she constantly reinforces the values of a patriarchal society; Bridget’s obsessive need to count calories and “alcohol units” coupled with her inability to demonstrate any real self-control. Bridget is a heroine we root for and love, both because her imperfections make her relatable and because we thank goodness that we are not Bridget Jones. A fun, entertaining, and—certainly—thought-provoking read.
On Your Smartphone
Michelle Obama and the Evolution of a First Lady, by Jodi Kantor
As the 2012 election approaches, newsy and gossipy pieces about the different campaign personalities will begin to emerge. This long-form article, adapted from Jodi Kantor’s forthcoming book, The Obamas, examines Michelle Obama’s experience grappling with the social and professional repercussions of living in the White House. The article is ultimately supportive of Mrs. Obama, but it also offers a nuanced portrait without passing judgment. The piece raises questions in a reader, particularly a professional young woman: What should be the role of a first lady who is successful in her own right, wrenched from a high-profile career and her desperately-guarded private life?
On a Podcast
Prank it Up! Pranks Plus the Kitchen Sink!, by Tom Mabe
Billed as the “ultimate prankster,” Tom Mabe is an American comedian and professional prank phone caller. He hosts a brief weekly podcast—just 10 to 15 minutes per show—to share his past exploits with an adult version of a childhood pastime. Mabe’s hoedown accent and endearing guffaw make the listener smile in spite of herself, and the clips of phone calls he shares—in this episode, gems in which he prank calls telemarketers—will surely elicit an early-morning chuckle.
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Rare is the novella that is both humorous and heartbreaking, explicitly situated in time yet timeless. This Steinbeck classic details the pursuit of the American dream, as imagined by two migrant workers during the Great Depression in California. Steinbeck explores themes of hope and despair, love and goodness, and raises the question of what it truly means to do the “right” thing. This gem is an easy subway read, shorter and more accessible than some of the Steinbeck epics, including The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.
Photo courtesy of Mo Riza.
Molly is The Daily Muse’s resident bookworm. She currently works in communications and is begrudgingly learning to be a grownup. She likes coffee shops and (the bakery aisle of) grocery stores, reading about other places but not necessarily traveling to them, keeping things clean, and stalking the Harvard Opportunes, her beloved college a cappella group.More from this Author