The Meaning of Sunglasses (and fat envelopes)

On my lunch, I’ve just finished reading:

28. Fat Envelope Frenzy, by Joie Jager-Hyman (Harper, 2008).  I found this book very interesting, although I’m almost glad it wasn’t around when I was applying to college.  Jager-Hyman follows 5 Harvard applicants through their senior year as they apply to and hear from Harvard and other colleges.  Because she used to be an admissions officer, she adds a lot of great, honest information about the process that enriches the individual anecdotes.  The book definitely reinforced my belief that the American college application process has gotten completely out of hand–I mean, really, when an Olympic-level gymnast who is also a great student can’t get into Harvard, you know life has reached a certain level of absurdity.  But it’s alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming to follow the students (all graduated in May 2007, so this is very up-to-date) through their lows and highs, and Jager-Hyman does a great job of pacing throughout the whole thing.  This might actually be a better book for parents of top-tier college applicants, rather than the applicants themselves, although I think it would also sit well with rejected applicants, to see that they are in distinguished company.  It’s worth reading just to gain a better understanding of how admissions and financial aid decisions are made, and luckily it happens to be a well-written and engaging book to boot.

While I’m sitting at work (don’t worry, I’m on my lunch, so this is unpaid blogging!) let me share with you another book that I forgot to blog, but that I have as a staff pick at the moment:

29. The Meaning of Sunglasses: and a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable by Hadley Freeman (Viking, 2008).  I’ll just cut and paste my staff pick review (we use a certain format that’s a little different than how I normally blog):

This book is perfect for: fashionistas, non-fashionistas, secret fashionistas

Because: Freeman strikes the perfect balance between skewering and admiring the very silly world of fashion.  It’s written in small bites, making it perfect for flipping through, a lunch break, or traveling.  If you’ve ever stressed about finding the perfect coat, wondered why people pay money to be walking billboards, or laughed at a ridiculous fashion spread in Vogue, you will love this book so that you’ll feel the need to read it out loud to friends over the phone.

If you like laughing so loudly and frequently that people look at you funny, then you will love this book.

Seriously, though.  I haven’t laughed so much at a book perhaps ever.  I was reading it at my desk and laughing raucously at every page (and then annoying everybody by reading it aloud, as noted).

Note to booksellers: both this and Predictably Irrational are selling very well as staff picks.  Other staff picks that are doing well in the store at the moment are Practical Magic, Charlatan, and The Book of Lost Things.

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