The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
Ann Rule was working on the biggest story of her career, tracking the trail of victims left by a brutal serial-killer. Little did this future bestselling author know that the savage slayer she was hunting was the young man she counted among her closest friends.
Everyone’s picture of a natural winner, Ted Bundy was a bright, charming, and handsome man with a promising future as an attorney. But on January 24, 1989 Bundy was executed for the murders of three young women – and had confessed to taking the lives of at least thirty-five more women from coast to coast. Ann Rule, who kept in constant contact with Bundy throughout the investigation, tells his story as no other person can, capturing the essence of his magnetic power, unholy compulsion and demonic double life.
The Stranger Beside Me is a true crime novel that I had been meaning to read for ages. With the new Ted Bundy movie starring Zac Efron coming out, as well as the Netflix docu-series, I finally decided to pick it up.
I ended up having very mixed feelings about it. It was interesting and very informative, but I am not sure how I feel about Rule’s personal narrative that she includes throughout the book. I understand that she was friends with Bundy so it was difficult for her to accept that he was a serial killer, but it would have been nice if she was a little more introspective and pointed out some of the red flags that she missed in hindsight. I also have to wonder if she exaggerated her friendship with Bundy and if she used him in a way because she knew it would be a good story.
That said, it was a more personal perspective of Ted Bundy which I thought was fascinating. I believe that this book, along with the Netflix docu-series, will tell you all you need to know about who Ted Bundy was. Now, I would love to learn more about his victims and their lives.
Heavy: An American Marriage by Kiese Laymon
In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.
A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood—and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.
Heavy was everything that I look for in a memoir. Kiese Laymon bears his soul and does not shy away from sharing his truth. I have not read a memoir this raw since Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhoot.
Laymon’s memoir in written as a letter to his mother, and you almost feel guilty reading it because it feels so personal. Once you read Heavy, and you really should, I highly recommend you go to Laymon’s blog and read his mother’s response. It brought tears to my eyes that she ends her letter with “I hear you.” Aren’t those words we all want to hear?
In 256 pages, Laymon takes on a lot of difficult topics, from his difficult relationship with his mother and her expectations, to his experience with sexual violence, and his relationship with his body and food. He talks about his university career, and the prejudices that he faced there. He also owns up to his own mistakes and shortcomings.
There is so much to gain from Heavy, and it is incredibly written.
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman
The year: 2000. The setting: Los Angeles. A gorgeous virtuoso of an actress had agreed to star in a random play, and a basement-dwelling scenic carpenter had said he would assay a supporting role in the selfsame pageant. At the first rehearsal, she surveyed her fellow cast members, as one does, determining if any of the men might qualify to provide her with a satisfying fling. Her gaze fell upon the carpenter, and like a bolt of lightning, the thought struck her: No dice. Moving on.
Yet, unbeknownst to our protagonists, Cupid had merely set down his bow and picked up a rocket launcher. Then fired a love rocket (not a euphemism). The players were Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, and the resulting romance, once it ignited, was . . . epic. Beyond epic. It resulted in a coupling that has endured to this day; a sizzling, perpetual tryst that has captivated the world with its kindness, athleticism, astonishingly low-brow humor, and true (fire emoji) passion.
How did they do it? They came from completely different families, endured a significant age difference, and were separated by the gulf of several social strata. Megan loved books and art history; Nick loved hammers. But much more than these seemingly unsurpassable obstacles were the values they held in common: respect, decency, the ability to mention genitalia in almost any context, and an abiding obsession with the songs of Tom Waits.
Eighteen years later, they’re still very much in love, and have finally decided to reveal the philosophical mountains they have conquered, the lessons they’ve learned, and the myriad jigsaw puzzles they’ve completed, in a book. Featuring anecdotes, hijinks, interviews, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery, this is not only the intoxicating book that Mullally’s and Offerman’s fans have been waiting for, it might just hold the solution to the greatest threat facing our modern world: the single life.
If you do not know or do not care about Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman than you will not care about this book. If you are like me and you adore them, I think you will love it! They are both so great individually and as a couple. I loved reading their perspective on life, love, careers, etc. I was not expecting to come away with so much advice and insight! Like you would expect, it was absolutely hysterical. It was written in a unique way- like a transcript of their conversation. I could see that not working for some people, but it made the book feel much more genuine in my eyes. I think the audiobook is probably fantastic and I might listen to it as well in the future!