Tales From the Ledge: What I’m Reading

I read a lot. When my alarm beeps obnoxiously every morning, I immediately reach for my Nook or whatever library find I’m currently devouring. I also don’t have a nightstand, so I keep my latest book on the window ledge next to my bed (hence the title of this post).

I mostly write about film and theatre, but for my inaugural PMag post, I thought I’d share the top five books battling for space on my ledge these past few weeks.

This is what a nerdy feminist's ledge looks like.

Share, Retweet, Repeat (John Hlinko)

After I reviewed Chris Hardwick’s The Nerdist Way on my former blog, the nice people at Berkley sent me this social media guide written by Hlinko, a public relations professional who was with in its earliest days. It’s a quick but informative read, and really useful if you need to promote anything ever, from your small business to your pop culture blog. Some of the info about Facebook and Twitter comes across as a little basic, but overall I found it a fun yet comprehensive tutorial on crafting and spreading content.

Now You See Her (Jacquelyn Mitchard)

I adore contemporary young adult fiction. The angst! The drama! The feelings I totally remember having and still have sometimes! Now You See Her is somewhat unusual for YA, in that the protagonist–aspiring actress Hope Shay–isn’t relatable. As we learn from the diary she’s required to keep at her prison-like private school, Hope will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Whether it’s a coveted lead role or an older boy’s heart, Hope is relentless in her pursuits–and her ambition quickly takes a dark turn. Mitchard’s suspenseful unfolding of events had me unable to put this book down: no matter how reprehensible Hope’s actions, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Big Girl Small (Rachel DeWoskin)

Like Hope Shay, Big Girl Small‘s main character Judy Lohden is an artistically gifted teenager who finds herself at the center of a scandal. But Judy has a whole other challenge: she’s only three feet nine inches tall. DeWoskin does a fantastic job with Judy’s sarcastic, funny voice: she’s dealt with a unique set of circumstances her whole life, but she’s not a cautionary tale or a Lifetime Original Movie. I tore through Big Girl Small, and when it was finished, found myself thinking about Judy and hoping she’d make it after all.

Island of Lost Girls (Jennifer McMahon)

Beware: Island of Lost Girls is creepy. Don’t believe me? One of the first scenes involves the abduction of a little girl by an adult dressed as a giant white rabbit. Yeah. What follows is a wonderfully chilling mystery that flip flops between the present and past: as twentysomething-Rhonda, who witnessed the abduction, frantically attempts to find the child, while remembering her friend Lizzy, who disappeared when Rhonda was a teenager. Does this have anything to do with Lizzy’s older brother Peter, once the neighborhood thespian and now a drifting mechanic, and the life-changing production of Peter Pan the kids staged one fateful summer? I’ll tell you this: after I finished Island of Lost Girls, I immediately wish=listed the rest of McMahon’s books. Spooky indeed.

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit (Robert Ben Garant/Thomas Lennon)

Yes, there’s an awful lot of cleavage on the cover. No, I’m not thrilled about it either. Yet this was one of my favorite reads of 2011–and not just because Tom hails from my neck of the woods and I want to do dirty things to Ben. Because smart, funny pair of dudes have conquered everything from the New York comedy scene (remember MTV’s The State? Ben’s impersonation of Sid Vicious pretty much jump-started my puberty) to Comedy Central improv (Reno 911! Tom’s the one in the short shorts) to the business of mainstream movies (the Night at the Museum franchise and many more). They penned the disaster that was Herbie: Fully Loaded and survived, and that chapter alone makes this worth a read. I’m a sucker for behind-the-scenes stories and writing advice that isn’t pretentious. As an added bonus, the writers share the In-N-Out secret menu. Yum.

What’s gracing your ledge (or Kindle, or sofa arm, or bookshelf) these days?

By The Unprofessional Critic

Lauren Whalen is a freelance writer living in Chicago. She reviews plays for Chicago Theater Beat ( and talks about movies on The Film Yap ( Lauren's young adult novel is represented by Chalberg & Sussman Literary Agency. Say hi to her at maybeimamazed02(at)gmail(dot)com. (Photo by Greg Inda)

11 replies on “Tales From the Ledge: What I’m Reading”

I am all about library ebooks or whatever Barnes & Noble has on sale, so I feel ya. I loved The Bell Jar – I first read it when I was sixteen for Honors English summer reading. My teacher was one of the first self-identified feminists I’d ever met (not always an easy feat in a small farm town). Such a good book.

“The Philosophical Baby” has been on my nightstand for about three months. I’m about halfway through, and the subject matter is interesting, but I keep falling asleep every time I pick it up. I’m on book 3 of the Castle TV show tie-ins, which are surprisingly good even though I’m not a big mystery reader. (The “author” picture of Nathan Fillion doesn’t hurt!) I can’t decide what to read next; I want to read “Inheritance” but it’s been so long since I read the first three books in the Eragon cycle that I ought to re-read them. Problem is, they’re in storage. Hopefully I can download them from the library, otherwise I’ll do one of the science books on my list.

Leave a Reply