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Shrill by Lindy West
Essays

Shrill

Debut
We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Lindy West, on your first book!

by Lindy West

Quick take

Takes the shallow style of Internet comment boards and harnesses them into an original, intimate voice. She manages to be self-righteous but also self-deprecating.

Aidy Bryant stars in the television series Shrill

Why I love it

Joel Stein
Guest Judge

One of the reasons I read is to learn what it's like to be someone very different than I am without actually going through the unpleasantness of talking to someone very different than I am. So I've been fascinated by Lindy West, an overweight, feminist writer who loves wizards and all-things Disney and spends so much time on the Internet that it is as real to her as the not-Internet.

I imagined that spending time in such a person's head would be tedious. But it's hilarious. And delightful. And enlightening. Best of all, I finished Shrill a little less judgy than I began. Toward fat people on airplanes. Toward people terrorized by anonymous Twitter users. Toward people who like wizards.

Most surprising was how relatable West's stories are. They add up to a story of someone who went from being too afraid to express herself to someone who embraces the "shrill" label with which she was saddled. Her writing is ALL CAPS struuuuuung out words, exclamation points, cultural references and talking about her friends as if they're famous; she takes the shallow style of Internet comment boards and harnesses them into an original, intimate voice. She manages to be self-righteous but also self-deprecating. I didn't know that fat people come out of the closet, but Lindy has a moment when she came out – when she was comfortable telling people she's fat. And I didn't know it could be so emotional and so funny.

I first heard West on This American Life confront a troll who tormented her by pretending to be her recently deceased father, and it was brave, kind and funny – all the things that trolling someone as someone's dead dad is not. I've seen her read her stories in person, when her experience as a local standup comic helped her. But I did not imagine she could keep that level of honesty going when recounting more mundane stories about work, dating, her period. Like Gloria Steinem, Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, West makes feminism funny, which makes it more approachable. I have rarely wanted to spend more time with someone who is yelling at me.

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Member thoughts

All (1623)
All (1623)
Love (889)
Like (584)
Dislike (150)
1655 ratings
  • 54% Love
  • 35% Like
  • 9% Dislike
  • Lakewood, CO

    This book hurt. The near-constant injustice Lindy has had to accept is crushing. But her sense of humor, compassion, and fair perspective are so admirable. She’s unflinching but not bitter. Inspiring.

  • Seattle, WA

    Hell yes! Definitely a book outside of my go-to genre. Painfully honest. I love that it's local to me. I have recommended it to others even before I finished it! Men, women alike, this is a must read!

  • Steilacoom, WA

    At times you read something, & it just completely gives you a new perspective. I never heard of Lindy prior, and though loud & opinionated she is still true to herself & beliefs, & that is respectable

  • Royal Oak, MI

    This book is a can’t put it down kind of good! I thought of so many people in my life I wanted to share this with. It made me laugh and look more introspectively at my own relationship with myself.

  • Marysville, WA

    Wonderful! Extremely relatable in MANY parts. Really loved Lindy's strong, insightful, and spirited personality/writing! Page after page I felt so happy that someone was saying this shit so perfectly!

  • Woodinville, WA

    What an inspiring story telling you to stand up to the man, because even in the difference is small, it's worth it. This made me laugh, cry, be inspired, and reminded me that I'm great just how I am.

  • Seattle, WA

    A sharp reminder of why it's so important to think before you speak, especially when speaking about someone or something you don't know/haven't experienced. My takeaway: have empathy but take no s**t

  • CHICAGO, IL

    Mandatory reading for all women identified folk. Important (and hilarious) collection of feminist personal essays. I laughed so hard, I got dirty looks while reading this on a plane. Sharp & crackly.

  • Spokane, WA

    Lindy West is hilarious and has a knack for writing about serious subjects in a way that shares her strong opinions with the world and makes you uncomfortable and filled with laughter simultaneously.

  • Seattle, WA

    A reminder about how much stronger women have to be than men just to live. How we all must constantly fight to be the best versions of ourselves. How forgiving someone who has hurt you is powerful.

  • Saginaw , MI

    I don't agree with all of Lindy's ideas, but pretty much most and my god, she is hilarious. She speaks her truth. This felt like a deep conversation that lasts all night with your sassy best friend.

  • Tilton, IL

    I have loved Lindy West's work since she wrote for Jezebel and she's only improved. She had so many important things to say and I'm glad she put them in a book because I got a lot out of reading it!

  • Salem, OR

    I love a good book of short, yet related stories. This one was not only thought provoking but funny and sad all at once. Lindy's take on the modern woman/feminism gave me pause - all with lightness.

  • New York, NY

    A great collection. Lindy West's account of confronting a stranger who cruelly trolled her is just one of many poignant shows of her strength through language and compassion, for herself and others.

  • Phila, PA

    Lindy chips away at the barriers that constrict women in modern society. She is strong, unapologetic, and calls “bullshit” when she sees it. Her work is inspiring; I want to be brave like Lindy!

  • Chalfont, PA

    Lindy West's voice is loud, intelligent, hilarious, and unapologetic. These essays gave a much-needed perspective on feminism and fat-phobia, addressing the issues that no one else has the guts to.

  • APO, AE

    I have great panic about putting myself out in public, little worth of who I am as a person. Reading West's accounts of acceptance started to break the anxieties I have and told me I can be more.

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    I watched the Hulu series first, and fell in love! Then I found out the show was actually based on the book. It was a wonderful book. It made me happy, it made me sad, and it made me want to read.

  • Euless, TX

    That women in comedy have to suffer through all the indignities of womanhood WHILE still being funny about it makes them the Ginger Rodgers dancing in heels backwards to every man's Fred Astaire.

  • Lawrence Township, NJ

    This book, on numerous occasions, made me laugh out loud as I received concerned looks from passers-by. West said so many things that I needed to hear and I'm grateful to have finally heard them.

Essays
  • Calypso
  • Trick Mirror
  • Shrill
  • Fair Play
  • What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker
  • Thick