Hello Bookworms! I’m super excited about today’s blog post. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club. Have you met The Well Read Wife? She’s kind of a big deal in the world of book bloggers, and she’s really nice. I mean, she bought 20 copies of Jessica Grose’s Sad Desk Salad and sent them out to strangers from the internet out of the goodness of her heart! Can we all just take a moment to shower some love on Mandy for being awesome and sending me a free book? (Applause!)The only rule of Mandy’s Blogger Book Club? Blog about the book. I know! I already DO THAT, right?
Let’s talk about the book, shall we? Sad Desk Salad is a novel about a career blogger. Alex is 25 years old and working for a popular women’s website called Chick Habit. Alex lives in Manhattan with her boyfriend Peter. She works from home, rarely changes out of a grungy black muumuu, and has been sucked into the black hole of internet drama. When she receives an anonymous tip containing incriminating footage of the daughter of a prominent parenting author turned politician, Alex has to wrestle with her morals in posting the footage. She has to deal with the consequences of going public… Or not. To add to the bubbling stew of chaos, a hate blog has popped up attacking Alex and the rest of the Chick Habit staff. She has to deal with all of this while her relationship with Peter hits a rough patch and her friendships are put to the test. I’m having anxiety just writing that all out. Reading this book was rather intense for me.
It’s been a while since I read a book that I could not put down. I typically get most of my reading done in bed before my brain turns off for the night. When I start getting tired, I go to sleep. Makes sense, yes? Needless to say, I spent two rather sleepy days at the office this week. It’s okay, because, you know. Coffee.
I really enjoyed this book. It was sort of like The Devil Wears Prada meets… all of my own personal neuroses about blogging. (Jessica Grose can see into your MIND, people!) Alex gets completely absorbed into her own digital world. She has this insane demanding boss, Moira, who, while not being nearly as nuts as the boss in Prada expects her staff to be glued to their laptops at all times. Just reading about the frantic pace at which the “Chickies” are required to write causes my blood pressure to rise.
A little something about me. I have a “grown up” job. 8-5, Monday through Friday, I can be found in my office, at my desk, surrounded by an army of wind-up penguins. I work with numbers (I’m crazy good at algebra. But only basic algebra.) On the rare occasions where I’ve worked from home, I’ve hated it. When I’m at the office, it’s not a big deal if I have to run to the bathroom or take a break to dog shame Dakota. When I’m at home with my only connection being digital, I feel chained to the desk. Moira expects Alex to be at her beck and call, so Alex rarely takes even 10 minutes to shower. I cannot tell you how many times during the reading of this book I BEGGED Alex to shower. Oh, the humanity! And that muumuu? Don’t get me started. But, being high strung like I am, I completely GET Alex’s drive to do well at work.
But Alex’s work? Oye. I’ve never been so happy that my blog is just a hobby. Bloggers tend to learn the hard way that everyone’s a critic. Heck, I’m probably an author’s worst nightmare. Who do I think I AM dissecting people’s work on the internet?! And yet, here I am- writing my thoughts, making bad jokes, misinterpreting symbolism all over the damn place. I haven’t had much experience with negative commenters, but MAN does it sting. Alex struggles with that. She struggles with commenters attacking her work, and often, her personally. When she’s upset and tries to discuss her boundaries with Moira, she’s told to “grow a pair.” (Can I just take this opportunity to thank the universe that my bosses are far more likely to give me a hug when I’m upset than to tell me to “grow a pair?” Because wow.)
Alex gets so sucked into the digital drama that she forgets all the important REAL stuff in her life. Like eating food not obtained in a rush from the local bodega. Like having actual conversations with her life partner. Like basic hygiene and laundry. When threatened by a hate blogger with exposure from her past, she absolutely panics. She begins to get suspicious of her friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. She’s just exposed someone’s dirty laundry, what’s to prevent someone from exposing hers? (And no, I’m not talking about the black muumuu, but DAMN girl, laundromats exist in big cities, don’t they?)
If I had to put Sad Desk Salad into a category, I’d call it smart chick lit. It’s not Shakespeare, but I’m not smart enough to read Shakespeare anyway. I think most of you bookworms would enjoy this book. Certainly, these isn’t a blogger among us who couldn’t relate to some of these situations. I encourage you to give it a whirl, and be sure to let me know how you like it. I know I’ll never look at my own “sad desk salads” the same way again! Thanks for the great pick, Mandy!