I had never been to a Literary Event before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Actually, to be completely honest, I didn’t even know that was a term–or even worse–that the events were so frequent and popular before this semester. (For my Creativity & Innovation class focusing on Literary Citizenship, one of our assignments was to choose and attend a Literary Event).
I started to look through the then-upcoming events on campus, at a variety of bookstores, and at the Boston Public Library. I was simply scrolling through hoping that something would catch my eye.
I have always been a fan of little and local bookstores–I find them super extraordinary and unique and get a little bit of relaxation just walking around in silence, admiring the work so many people have put into the millions of works of literature, and digging through little trinkets that you can only find at little hole-in-the-wall places (which is always my fav part, but certainly not my wallet’s). Therefore, I was specifically looking through events at Brookline Booksmith and Paper Cuts Bookstore in Jamaica Plain.
One of the events at Brookline Booksmith was a featuring of Mona Awad reading from and discussing her new book, “13 Ways of Looking at A Fat Girl”, which seemed like something I could be interested in. Therefore, I planned on attending this event on Tuesday March 1, 2016 and purchasing the book to read beforehand, which didn’t happen until 5 days ago, since the book just recently came out on February 23. There was something about the way the book initially felt in my hands before I even opened the cover that told me I was going to enjoy it.
I got on the T, the Green Line, C Train to be specific, and headed for Coolidge Corner with my book in hand and mind ready to be refreshed. I had never been on the C Line, and therefore had never been to Harvard Square before, never been to a literary event, and never met an author, but I was definitely ready to explore!
Right across the street from my stop was Brookline Booksmith, and right next to the bookstore was a Starbucks–yes! I stopped in Starbucks, grabbed a hot-chocolate, my go-to to relax and enjoy time by myself, and headed in ready to have a night to myself. I instantly felt like I walked into a magical world of my own–mostly because of the christmas lights strung along the ceiling, such a cute idea.
In a little corner of the basement, about 10 of us gathered around a small podium to hear Mona Awad discuss one of my new favorite books. I’m the type of person who enjoys easy-read, light-hearted, realistic-fiction novels about little love stories and real-life happenings, therefore this book was perfect for me.
Her novel consists of 13 stories, all focusing on certain aspects of life that may be difficult for a “fat girl”. The book is told over about 30 years, and each story, although sequential in manner, describes a different struggle with relationships, self-esteem, society, etc. that women, (and men) in society may face with their weight. It is such a great novel captivating the emotions of many of us in today’s society, with a very humorous and light tone. One of my favorite themes throughout the book is that she doesn’t ever specify the weight of the “fat girl”, she leaves it to the reader to decide, and I think that’s really important. Because of this, the reader, no matter their size, can personally relate to each story, and there are no judgments made about what “fat” consists of. The book is so great, I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I will stop here!
For me, part of reading more and more is to find the perfect book for the genre you like, but Mona Awad hit the nail right on the head. I might need to pick a new genre, because I finally found the perfect book for what I love to read, all because of a completely random choice for a class assignment!
Awad is beautiful, let me just begin with that. Along with her skill, her voice in her novel and her ideas, she is absolutely stunning and admirable. She has many published writings, and has a masters degree in English Literature that she received while studying in Scotland.
She began by reading a chapter of the book, one specifically about an oversized girl trying on a tight-fitting dress in a fitting room, and the judgements made by the store clerk.
She then opened a discussion and left the floor open to any questions we may have had. Most of the questions hovered over the topic of inspiration. Awad described how her inspiration was her own internal struggles with the image of herself, and along with that, those among the female’s in her family. She wrote this book over a course of 6 years to relate to others who have struggled with this obstacle and to essentially get some answers as to why so many are concerned and unhappy with how they look.
One of the things I found most inspiring within her answers was when she said, “The stories weren’t working for me until I became emotionally invested”, meaning that when she put heart and experience into the stories, they became relatable, easier to write, and real, and that’s when the books started coming together. This is a piece of advice I will carry with me throughout all of my writing from now on.
An author deserves the same credibility for talent as a musician, or an actor for example, but meeting a celebrity almost always seems like so much more of a big deal. While listening to Mona Awad read tonight, I decided that meeting an author is just as special–to me at least. Music artists are always given thanks for altering lives and creating relaxation outlets with their music, but I think author’s do the same.
Just like (almost) every other college freshman in the world, this has been a very stressful few semesters for a number of reasons. Being able to put my infinite amount of thoughts aside for a few hours each day and read Awad’s book made me feel so relaxed (for at least a little while). Not only did she write such a magnificent book, but she was able to give me a new technique to relax within my incredibly hectic schedule that sometimes seems like a never-ending black hole.
Before I left the store, I of course had to wander around, silently relaying positive affirmations to myself with the voice inside my head like I always do, reading titles of colorful books that popped out to my eye on various shelves, fiddling with almost every trinket within the store, and this time, looking for a book that I could use to escape reality for a few hours again.
I left the store with a new book (and more specifically, a new outlet to relax), a warm heart, a cleared mind (which doesn’t happen very often) and a new hobby. I’m so thankful for my professor who required this amazing experience, and for Mona Awad for opening my heart and re-sparking my interest in reading and I’m so excited to return!!
Brookline Booksmith not only features an overwhelming assortment of books, but it also carries jewelry, note cards, accessories, household trinkets, and much more. If you have a chance, please check it out! **279 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446
By Mia Mancini