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Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service

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A fearless and darkly comic essay collection about race, justice, and the limits of good intentions. In this stunning debut collection, Catapult editor-in-chief and award-winning voice actor Tajja Isen explores the absurdity of living in a world that has grown fluent in the language of social justice but doesn’t always follow through. These nine daring essays explore the s A fearless and darkly comic essay collection about race, justice, and the limits of good intentions. In this stunning debut collection, Catapult editor-in-chief and award-winning voice actor Tajja Isen explores the absurdity of living in a world that has grown fluent in the language of social justice but doesn’t always follow through. These nine daring essays explore the sometimes troubling and often awkward nature of that discord. Some of My Best Friends takes on the cartoon industry’s pivot away from colorblind casting, the pursuit of diverse representation in the literary world, the law’s refusal to see inequality, and the cozy fictions of nationalism. Isen deftly examines the quick, cosmetic fixes society makes to address systemic problems, and reveals the unexpected ways they can misfire. In the spirit of Zadie Smith, Cathy Park Hong, and Jia Tolentino, Isen interlaces cultural criticism with her lived experience to explore the gaps between what we say and what we do, what we do and what we value, what we value and what we demand.


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A fearless and darkly comic essay collection about race, justice, and the limits of good intentions. In this stunning debut collection, Catapult editor-in-chief and award-winning voice actor Tajja Isen explores the absurdity of living in a world that has grown fluent in the language of social justice but doesn’t always follow through. These nine daring essays explore the s A fearless and darkly comic essay collection about race, justice, and the limits of good intentions. In this stunning debut collection, Catapult editor-in-chief and award-winning voice actor Tajja Isen explores the absurdity of living in a world that has grown fluent in the language of social justice but doesn’t always follow through. These nine daring essays explore the sometimes troubling and often awkward nature of that discord. Some of My Best Friends takes on the cartoon industry’s pivot away from colorblind casting, the pursuit of diverse representation in the literary world, the law’s refusal to see inequality, and the cozy fictions of nationalism. Isen deftly examines the quick, cosmetic fixes society makes to address systemic problems, and reveals the unexpected ways they can misfire. In the spirit of Zadie Smith, Cathy Park Hong, and Jia Tolentino, Isen interlaces cultural criticism with her lived experience to explore the gaps between what we say and what we do, what we do and what we value, what we value and what we demand.

30 review for Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service

  1. 5 out of 5

    fatma

    3.5 stars Some of My Best Friends is a collection of lucid, accessible essays on the many contexts in which the concept of "lip service"--talk that's not backed up by action--manifests. The contexts Isen looks at here are wide-ranging, and a lot of them are, to varying degrees, inspired by her own personal experiences. The first essay, "Hearing Voices," for example, draws on her time working as a child voice actor in order to explore how recent discourses around race and representation have stymi 3.5 stars Some of My Best Friends is a collection of lucid, accessible essays on the many contexts in which the concept of "lip service"--talk that's not backed up by action--manifests. The contexts Isen looks at here are wide-ranging, and a lot of them are, to varying degrees, inspired by her own personal experiences. The first essay, "Hearing Voices," for example, draws on her time working as a child voice actor in order to explore how recent discourses around race and representation have stymied (or overlooked) the kind of creative potential that voice acting has an art. Another particularly personal essay is "Barely Legal," where Isen talks about how law school changed her relationship to the written word and the ways in which it could (or was expected to) enact change. More broadly, Some of My Best Friends explores a lot of topics with clarity and sensitivity. That said, what you get out of these essays is really going to depend on your level of familiarity with their respective topics of focus. As someone who spends a lot of time in bookish circles, for example, I found that the ideas in Isen's essay on representation in the publishing industry weren't particularly new to me. The essays that I was more drawn to, then, were the ones that were more unfamiliar to me--namely, "Barely Legal," which was the one on law school; "Some of My Best Friends," which is about white feminism (not a topic that's new to me, necessarily, but which I think Isen really deftly explored); and "This Time It's Personal," which looks at the role that the personal essay plays in today's digital publishing (and political) landscape. Isen has worn a lot of hats--child voice actor, law school student, author, editor--and I think this is reflected in the kind of flexible, multifaceted approach that she brings to all her topics, regardless of subject matter. Her writing is also more conversational than academic or formal in tone, which makes these essays very digestible and easy to get into. And though I appreciated this, I think I also wanted a bit more from these essays--specifically, more critical analysis. I enjoyed reading these essays, and I found a lot of them really interesting, but on the whole I can't say that any of them really delivered any insights that I personally found especially memorable or striking. That's not to say that I am super well-versed in these topics or anything, but more that the nature of Isen's essays--short, survey chapters that tend to take a broader, more top-down approach to their topics--meant that they couldn't go into as much detail as I perhaps wanted them to. That being said, I still think Some of My Best Friends is an engaging and well written collection of essays, great if you're looking for something that's quick but still analytical; conversational, but with a critical bent. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a review copy of this in exchange for an honest review!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    I could not put this book down. Isen has had such an interesting and layered life as a law student, a journalist, and a voice actor (many on cartoons I have watched with my kids!) Her writing sparkles, and her insight on so many different topics is both cutting and poignant. I learned a lot from the essays and her perspective, especially on Canadian people and the society there that many in the US think is just "north north America." I could not put this book down. Isen has had such an interesting and layered life as a law student, a journalist, and a voice actor (many on cartoons I have watched with my kids!) Her writing sparkles, and her insight on so many different topics is both cutting and poignant. I learned a lot from the essays and her perspective, especially on Canadian people and the society there that many in the US think is just "north north America."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    This sounds amazing and I WANT

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    *This book shook me up and woke me right the fuck up. It made me uncomfortable and at certain points I felt myself getting defensive and I had to stop myself and ask myself why I was getting defensive and work through it to realize I was feeling that way because everything Isen was saying was true and I was guilty of doing the things she so eloquently and concisely spoke about. I clearly have a lot of learning and working on myself to do and this book was an invaluable tool and will continue to *This book shook me up and woke me right the fuck up. It made me uncomfortable and at certain points I felt myself getting defensive and I had to stop myself and ask myself why I was getting defensive and work through it to realize I was feeling that way because everything Isen was saying was true and I was guilty of doing the things she so eloquently and concisely spoke about. I clearly have a lot of learning and working on myself to do and this book was an invaluable tool and will continue to be towards changing my way of thinking and acting. Isen is unapologetic throughout this book and the way she writes is so accessible and real. She speaks about her experiences as a Black woman throughout and she truly opened my eyes to things I had never seen or considered or thought about before. This book is a game changer and everyone should be reading it! *Thank you Simon Schuster Canada for the free review copy. This in no way changes or affects my review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Verity O'Connell

    would give this five stars anyway cause she voiced jane the dragon but this was SO good

  6. 4 out of 5

    Danielle | Dogmombookworm

    SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS | Is absolutely fantastic. Isen writes about a range of topics in 10 essays on how people or businesses pay "lip service," saying they'll do better as a purely performative pre-meditated measure, knowing full well that they will not follow through with anything beyond the performance. In the first essay, Hearing Voices, Isen discusses the tight box that POC voice actors get put into. For instance, she recounts how many times she was told to sound "more street," because the SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS | Is absolutely fantastic. Isen writes about a range of topics in 10 essays on how people or businesses pay "lip service," saying they'll do better as a purely performative pre-meditated measure, knowing full well that they will not follow through with anything beyond the performance. In the first essay, Hearing Voices, Isen discusses the tight box that POC voice actors get put into. For instance, she recounts how many times she was told to sound "more street," because the character should be fiesty and fierce. In effect she must exaggerate a stereotype to supposedly be "more authentic" to play out the expectation for a white audience. From Diversity Hire, What We Want and When We Want It and Do You Read Me (about #publishingsowhite) she goes into the emptyness with which certain words have lost any value (diversity, anti racism) as people and businesses bandy them about in attempt to gain virtue points. She raises the good question of can we actually use language to make any substantive change? Epistemologically, when we talk we are attempting to express deeper truths and meanings, but how hard are we thinking about what these words mean, what the words' definitions mean, especially if we've never truly carried out the true definitions to fruition. What use is talking, signaling the right words or posting your beautiful words into an IG post without changing anything of substance? Especially when the whole thing is rotten to the core and systemically broken? There's the hypocrisy of publishers saying that they are committed to substantially changing how they hire and what books they'll publish, then turning around and announcing a book by Breonna Taylor's murderer. In the end, they are committed to continuing to make profits and wherever and whenever that aligns with "doing better," there will be a cost benefit analysis to determine by how much and by what means. The eponymous essay is about white women capitalizing on their power and on their lesser power with respect to white men to bemoan how they can empathize a lower station yet continuously exploit everything that gets celebrated as white feminity. It's to such a point that it's as Isen says mimetic, "sad white women looking at other sad white women looking at themselves in the mirror." Strongly recommend (5)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel León

    What a fantastic essay collection! Isen explores the idea of lip service—words not backed up with action—and the social and cultural implications. Tackling different industries—including animation, publishing, and law—these essays engage with conversations that are timely and necessary, while also being a pleasure to read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Viral

    I'm always looking for a good book to recommend to people that I feel like effectively touches on how I feel about a topic. Tajja Isen has written this fabulous collection of essays about the limits and flaws of "representation" and "diversity" as the end all be all of modern social justice movements. She shows excellently how ineffective so much of this "lip service" is at actually making a difference and how it does fundamentally nothing to change the world, all while leaving minoritized peopl I'm always looking for a good book to recommend to people that I feel like effectively touches on how I feel about a topic. Tajja Isen has written this fabulous collection of essays about the limits and flaws of "representation" and "diversity" as the end all be all of modern social justice movements. She shows excellently how ineffective so much of this "lip service" is at actually making a difference and how it does fundamentally nothing to change the world, all while leaving minoritized people in an uncomfortable bind. It's a very personal and powerful collection of essays, commenting on all kinds of different cultural discourses. It's approachable, accessible, and doesn't beat around the bush. I highly highly recommend this for most of the people in my life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Tajja Isen's essay collection is about "lip service," "performative activism," "virtue signaling," whatever term you might prefer to describe the constant cycle of companies, people, and institutions co-opting social justice terms to signal that they're "woke" without actually putting in the meaningful work to change those institutions and the white, patriarchal, capitalist norms that underlie them. I found it to be interesting, certainly a topic I've thought about before, but a bit niche and la Tajja Isen's essay collection is about "lip service," "performative activism," "virtue signaling," whatever term you might prefer to describe the constant cycle of companies, people, and institutions co-opting social justice terms to signal that they're "woke" without actually putting in the meaningful work to change those institutions and the white, patriarchal, capitalist norms that underlie them. I found it to be interesting, certainly a topic I've thought about before, but a bit niche and lacking some of the critical analysis or takeaways I would have wanted to leave this book with. In terms of it being niche, Isen discusses the circles that she runs in and knows best, such as how diversity has emerged in voice acting (e.g., the Netflix show Big Mouth getting flak for having a biracial character voiced by Jenny Slate), law school on-campus interviews and "diversity" cultures of big law firms, and the death of the personal essay and how this claim harms writers of color who often write personal essays about their own lived experiences. Of course, these are the spheres that Isen knows best, but on the other hand, it makes it hard to empathize with the (righteous) anger with which Isen talks about the injustices in these communities if you have very little exposure to these issues in the first place. Of course, I want to learn about injustice in all sorts of communities, not just the ones I live in, but I wasn't able to connect these essays with wider topics because of my second point... The lack of critical analysis and solid takeaways within the essays prevented the points from really sticking with me. Even after reading a given essay one or two times, I can't really summarize it in a few sentences, telling you what the issue is, why it's a problem, and what can be done to fix it. Perhaps that's a fault of my own reading comprehension, but I also think it's the job of the author to help you get there, to lay out the points in a clear way that gives you the facts and gets you fired up about the problem. I know the problem with lip service and performative activism in general, but I can't exactly tell you how that lip service relates to the niche topics covered in each essay. Overall, this was a solid read on the topic of social justice, but I wish it gave me just a little bit more than it did. Thank you to Atria Books for the ARC via Netgalley.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    This was such an interesting and excellent collection. Isen has experience in a wide array of industries - from voice acting, to law and publishing - and offers unique looks into the shortcomings of these areas. There were definitely some sections I enjoyed more than others. This book is SO 2022, with many of the essays referencing extremely recent pop culture moments, political events, and television shows. I found that the sections that contained references I was more familiar with were a lot This was such an interesting and excellent collection. Isen has experience in a wide array of industries - from voice acting, to law and publishing - and offers unique looks into the shortcomings of these areas. There were definitely some sections I enjoyed more than others. This book is SO 2022, with many of the essays referencing extremely recent pop culture moments, political events, and television shows. I found that the sections that contained references I was more familiar with were a lot more engaging for me. The fact that I had watched Big Mouth and Schitt's Creek, for example, helped all of her analogies become that much stronger. My favorite essays were the first one, the last one, and the one about the publishing industry. I also loved her insight on the fact that, too often, writing by black authors is evaluated only as activism, instead of as art. **Special thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review**

  11. 4 out of 5

    sarahí krichel

    “Isen’s forte in Some of My Best Friends is taking these first-hand experiences and following them with sharp, clear-eyed, often funny analysis. Her writing makes you take stock — almost with a breath of relief — of not just the harm of racism, but its awkwardness, its absurdity, its ludicrousness. Some of My Best Friends will also shake off any residual neoliberal fantasies readers have about how woke Hollywood treats its actors; how publishing edits its post-summer 2020 slew of Black writers; a “Isen’s forte in Some of My Best Friends is taking these first-hand experiences and following them with sharp, clear-eyed, often funny analysis. Her writing makes you take stock — almost with a breath of relief — of not just the harm of racism, but its awkwardness, its absurdity, its ludicrousness. Some of My Best Friends will also shake off any residual neoliberal fantasies readers have about how woke Hollywood treats its actors; how publishing edits its post-summer 2020 slew of Black writers; and how the law in 2022 views and shapes society, to name just a few examples.” I interviewed Tajja and reviewed this book for thetyee.ca! Check it out here: https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2022/05/04...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    In "Some of My Best Friends", Tajja Isen explores a number of her own personal experiences growing up as a Black female in Canada in a series of essays, but takes them all an additional step further - citing legal cases, literary examples, studies in media and history, to support her perspectives. There are a number of weighty and complicated issues covered in her writing, including race, gender, femininity and toxic masculinity, and representation - topics that are extremely relevant today, and In "Some of My Best Friends", Tajja Isen explores a number of her own personal experiences growing up as a Black female in Canada in a series of essays, but takes them all an additional step further - citing legal cases, literary examples, studies in media and history, to support her perspectives. There are a number of weighty and complicated issues covered in her writing, including race, gender, femininity and toxic masculinity, and representation - topics that are extremely relevant today, and can be easily glossed over. Isen has clearly had a breadth of experiences, many of which she pulls from in her writing. From a childhood of being a voice actor, which gave her an opportunity to voice white characters; to studying and being accepted into law school; to being an established writer and editor - she's able to use her own history as a starting point to segue into more critical arguments and studies. There's a number of thought-provoking points she's able to make, and she utilizes a number of different sources to further explore and support her perspectives. While I enjoyed her writing and prose, there were times I had a hard time keeping track of the various tangents she went on. Her experiences are also quite specific and niche, so for those of us who don't have similar backstories, they can be hard to fully understand. Thank you Atria/One Signal Publishers for the advance copy of this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    bubble butt book lover

    Tajja Isen is an author that truly makes you think about the world around us today. She makes you question what true social justice and diversity really mean, and what we have to do in order to be able to get there. She has done phenomenal work in exposing the kind of surface-level, fake wokeness, we see all around us today, especially as it's so prevalent on social media. I would strongly recommend this read to anyone who's interested in genuine social justice and change. Tajja Isen is an author that truly makes you think about the world around us today. She makes you question what true social justice and diversity really mean, and what we have to do in order to be able to get there. She has done phenomenal work in exposing the kind of surface-level, fake wokeness, we see all around us today, especially as it's so prevalent on social media. I would strongly recommend this read to anyone who's interested in genuine social justice and change.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    i know the author had some mixed feelings about indulging in memoir (she mentioned this in a few of her essays) but if she had done so, i would not have minded at all. voice actor slash law student slash essayist editor? please, tell me more!!! such a compelling set of essays from an even more compelling writer.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bronwyn

    Tajja Isen's collection of essays is fantastic. Through her exploration of 'lip service', Isen relays her personal experiences as a Black woman in the entertainment industry, law school, the publishing industry, and growing up in Canada, coupled with astute observations and witty analysis. I especially liked her final essay, where she discussed Canadian moral superiority. Overall I found this book hard to put down and very engaging! Isen also provided lots of great references to other books and Tajja Isen's collection of essays is fantastic. Through her exploration of 'lip service', Isen relays her personal experiences as a Black woman in the entertainment industry, law school, the publishing industry, and growing up in Canada, coupled with astute observations and witty analysis. I especially liked her final essay, where she discussed Canadian moral superiority. Overall I found this book hard to put down and very engaging! Isen also provided lots of great references to other books and articles that I look forward to reading. Great for fans of "Trick Mirror" by Jia Tolentino! Thank you Atria books and #NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review!

  16. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service by Tajja Isen is a collection of essays that use the personal to examine the broader society. In doing so it leads the active reader into examining their own personal worlds for similarities. These essays draw the reader into Isen's own world enough that we can step at least a bit into her shoes as we learn about what she has seen and experienced. From there we are given both her personal reflections and the various research and data that has influen Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service by Tajja Isen is a collection of essays that use the personal to examine the broader society. In doing so it leads the active reader into examining their own personal worlds for similarities. These essays draw the reader into Isen's own world enough that we can step at least a bit into her shoes as we learn about what she has seen and experienced. From there we are given both her personal reflections and the various research and data that has influenced her understanding. This aspect of the book is what makes it a good read, we can chuckle or shake our heads (or scratch them) while we also learn about the industries within which she has worked and studied. The strength of the book and what makes it even more important is how, for an active reader, we can take her specific experiences and use the new perspective we have at least partially been offered and look at the various communities (geographic, work, study, leisure, etc) we inhabit. Claiming an inability to relate because Isen's experiences are different from ours is disingenuous at best and makes a much bigger statement about you. I have yet to read a book where the writer's experiences align with mine, if I want to seek difference I can always find it. But I hope I can find whatever lessons or ideas in a book that I can apply to my life and my part of the world. The same holds true here and it was not difficult to see parallels between what I was reading and things in my life, albeit from very different positions. I think one question someone like myself (older, male, mostly and almost always perceived as white) should keep in mind while reading this book, and probably most books, is: how often have I, intentionally or not, just paid lip service? This shouldn't be looked at as accusatory, especially if you're asking it of yourself. It should be exploratory so you can see where you could have done better, and then maybe do better next time. Isen does not write in a way that makes a reader like myself get defensive but rather she makes me want to look beyond the kneejerk reactions we often use to substitute for actual nuanced engagement with a less than ideal situation. While not a memoir (I echo another reviewer who would welcome a full-fledged memoir) this will appeal to those who like to read about someone's personal history in relation to the topic they have chosen to tackle. For those who simply enjoy the essay form, this is an excellent collection. Most of all this will resonate with readers who want as many perspectives as possible on race, justice, and what we can do. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    *CANADIAN* • 🌿 "Even though the tools of language are cracked and dull, the work is still important. If you're in the only one in the room, it's your job to get somebody else in there with you. I'm not going to dig up the foundations or even repaint the walls, but I can wedge open the door."~pg.70 • "In the long, halting process of slouching toward equality, certain premises are easy to implement: Representation matters. Higher diverse people. To put these ideas into practice can look like the start *CANADIAN* • 🌿 "Even though the tools of language are cracked and dull, the work is still important. If you're in the only one in the room, it's your job to get somebody else in there with you. I'm not going to dig up the foundations or even repaint the walls, but I can wedge open the door."~pg.70 • "In the long, halting process of slouching toward equality, certain premises are easy to implement: Representation matters. Higher diverse people. To put these ideas into practice can look like the start of reform. But too often, such efforts are treated as ends rather than first steps, leaving an even bigger mess in their wake."~pg.180 • 🌿 Thoughts ~ A smart, engaging, honest, darkly funny collection of essays on race and social justice intenions. From the first few pages I knew this book was going to be excellent! Isen examines societies many good intentions or "lip services" without action or the ways they fall short on diverse representation, and equality. Isen's writing is accessible and really cuts deep in these nine essays. As a white woman I try to always acknowledge my privilege and this book was a great reminder of the toxicity of white feminism and the ways us white people need to do the work, follow through, step up and not just provide lip service. Some of what she writes was familiar of other accounts from bipoc authors I have read but some was newer to me and I really enjoyed her writing and the way this collection is written. I cant reccomended this book enough! It is cutthroat and necessary reading. Cultural criticism at its best! If you enjoyed Trick Mirror or Minor Feelings I think you will enjoy this too. Thank you @doubledayca and @penguinrandomhouse for sending me this book opinions are my own. For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    This book was my first experience with a collection of essays. I am so excited to be able to say that I LOVED an essay collection, because this opens up a whole world of reading opportunities. This collection is a deeply personal set of essays that dive into representation in and behind media. Tajja Isen has experience working with both, so her voice is filled with experience. My favourite, I think, would have to be Do You Read Me. This one dives into the publishing world in such a good way. It This book was my first experience with a collection of essays. I am so excited to be able to say that I LOVED an essay collection, because this opens up a whole world of reading opportunities. This collection is a deeply personal set of essays that dive into representation in and behind media. Tajja Isen has experience working with both, so her voice is filled with experience. My favourite, I think, would have to be Do You Read Me. This one dives into the publishing world in such a good way. It uses real examples, talks about actual books/authors, and isn't scared to throw in a couple names and situations that we're familiar with. I think that's one of the things this collection did best. It connected to a world I'm familiar with and made sure I understood exactly where we were. This Time It's Personal and Hearing Voices were the other two essays that I especially took note of. I haven't highlighted this much in a book for a while. I really hope we get more essays from Tajja Isen. Ok I’m going to write a full review sometime soon, but my favourites were: Hearing Voices This Time It’s Personal Do You Read Me

  19. 4 out of 5

    are we there yet

    I came across this book accidentally, and although I didn't like the cover I'm glad I gave it a chance. I assumed the title was a shot at the phrase some racist people say to claim they're not racist (don't worry, some of my best friends are racist), and I wasn't disappointed by the general temperament of the author. I will say that a couple essays didn't interest me enough for me to finish reading them, but the ones that that did were really impressive. They were incisive, clever, and self-aware I came across this book accidentally, and although I didn't like the cover I'm glad I gave it a chance. I assumed the title was a shot at the phrase some racist people say to claim they're not racist (don't worry, some of my best friends are racist), and I wasn't disappointed by the general temperament of the author. I will say that a couple essays didn't interest me enough for me to finish reading them, but the ones that that did were really impressive. They were incisive, clever, and self-aware. Plus, the sentences are obviously constructed by someone who reads a lot of Serious Literature. For some reason I find it so strange that a person can be a voice actor, a dedicated writer, and a law school graduate all at once (I am none of the above), but that's just an aside. It's a relief anyway knowing that someone could have been so accomplished in her early 20s, and yet seems to have shared the same struggle I did of not having the foundational knowledge to understand things despite being the stereotypical straight-As nerd in high school.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne | read.gram.repeat

    Thank you DoubleDay Canada for my copy of Some Of My Best Friends! I didn’t know who Tajja Isen was before receiving this but now I think she is absolutely fascinating and brilliant. She’s been a voice actor since she was a child, went to law school, and is editor-in-chief of a magazine 👏 Sometimes I struggle with cultural criticisms because I don’t know the references, but Isen touches on multiple book topics such as anti-reading lists, lack of diversity in the publishing world, and mentions au Thank you DoubleDay Canada for my copy of Some Of My Best Friends! I didn’t know who Tajja Isen was before receiving this but now I think she is absolutely fascinating and brilliant. She’s been a voice actor since she was a child, went to law school, and is editor-in-chief of a magazine 👏 Sometimes I struggle with cultural criticisms because I don’t know the references, but Isen touches on multiple book topics such as anti-reading lists, lack of diversity in the publishing world, and mentions authors I enjoy like Ottessa Moshfegh and Melissa Broder. She even discusses the book Severance (which I highly recommend) and the controversy surrounding American Dirt (please don’t read that book.) As an American and Canadian Permanent Resident, (and Schitt’s Creek fan,) the last essay about Canadian moral superiority hit close to home too. So, if you’re looking for an extremely current, relevant, and thought-provoking book about race and the limits of good intentions, this is it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I read a galley of SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS in January and can already tell it’s going to be one of my favorite books of the year. Isen is a brilliant thinker, reckoning with topics ranging from cringey corporate allyship to the soul of Canada; fraught representation politics in animation to how it feels to “be living the first line of your obituary” and to realize that maybe you want a different first line. Her essays deftly blend cultural criticism with legit laugh out loud humor. Phrases like I read a galley of SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS in January and can already tell it’s going to be one of my favorite books of the year. Isen is a brilliant thinker, reckoning with topics ranging from cringey corporate allyship to the soul of Canada; fraught representation politics in animation to how it feels to “be living the first line of your obituary” and to realize that maybe you want a different first line. Her essays deftly blend cultural criticism with legit laugh out loud humor. Phrases like “minor gynecological snafus” and “justice à la carte” are going to live rent free in my brain for years to come.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Isen's collection of essays is not short on layers. She has lived such an interesting life as a voice actor, lay student, and editor. She does am amazing job of weaving in pop culture — books, essays, and other media into her personal narratives. My favorite essay was Some of My Best Friends. I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publ Isen's collection of essays is not short on layers. She has lived such an interesting life as a voice actor, lay student, and editor. She does am amazing job of weaving in pop culture — books, essays, and other media into her personal narratives. My favorite essay was Some of My Best Friends. I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publisher. This did not affect my rating or review in any way.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    A smart, timely and culturally relevant collection of essays. Isen has such sharp observations and layers it with critical analysis to make her observations even sharper. Be prepared to read commentary on the arts, the law, publishing and other topics of interest. For readers of essays, but especially those readers who enjoy honest commentary from authors such as Cathy Park Hong, Alicia Elliott, and Jia Tolentino. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer JV Houselog

    I picked up this book with no intention of being educated on subjects that I’m blind to in my daily life. Tajja writes like someone that is here to mentor us all, but with the luck of knowing more than most at the age of 30. She has strength in her words, and dedication to her research. If you didn’t learn something by reading this book, then you were asleep the whole time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was honest. I appreciated the attention drawn to the things I never noticed (or took for granted). The author's writing style is conversational and I felt like I was in the stories with her. I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was honest. I appreciated the attention drawn to the things I never noticed (or took for granted). The author's writing style is conversational and I felt like I was in the stories with her.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    In this wide-ranging essay collection, Isen uses smart explication of literary and media culture, along with her personal experiences of racism, to reveal the disappointing gap between social justice verbiage and the level of noticeable anti-racist change allowed by whiteness.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    3.5 stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    The author creates a narative that allows the reader to evaluate their own concerns about various issues.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ben Moosher

    As funny as the title suggests

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