This book won’t have a lot of relevance for you unless you listen to the podcast My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. It’s one of the few podcasts I listen to, and it’s basically true-crime with humour mixed into it (which sounds weird, but it actually ties into a coping mechanism for people with anxiety, and really you just have to listen to it to understand). Anyway, in the podcasts Georgia and Karen each tell eachother about one true crime story they’ve researched, and they discuss it at length. But this book, their first, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered isn’t really about true crime, it’s a book of essays written by two women who have experienced some tough things in their lives, and want to help other women by doling out advice based on what they’ve learned.
So a word of warning; this book is written in a very colloquial style; the word ‘super’ is used quite a bit, as in ‘I was super scared’, that sort of thing. But if you’re familiar with the podcast, this book is written exactly how the two women talk, and exactly how I talk to my friends, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest. The chapters are about pretty random things, but all hold a life lesson; some examples are: “You’re In a Cult, Call Your Dad”, and “Fuck Politeness”. In these pages, we learn about some of the most vulnerable moments of these women’s lives. Karen struggled with alcohol addiction, Georgia did meth when she was a teenager (!!!), and they both floundered in careers they loathed before their podcast became insanely popular. But the overall message of this book (and quite honestly their podcast) is the strength of women and the importance of supporting one another. It’s a form of feminism that seems to really hit a mark with many at the moment; refusing to be the polite and soft-spoken woman we were once taught to aspire to, instead following our own interests (even if they’re creepy, like true-crime!) and becoming one’s own safety net through financial independence. A wide range of topics are addressed here, all with the goal of raising up women.
And although I never did meth, or any type of hard drug as a teen (as my Dad lets out a sigh of relief) I found these essays entirely relatable. Karen and Georgia both talk at length about the value of being in therapy, and how much it has helped them. Georgia’s therapist told her at one point “You worship at the alter of doubt” and dear reader, this is me to a tee. In fact, Georgia states her life motto in the following terms, and I related so fully to this, I gasped out loud when I read it:
“Stupid people are optimistic. Positivity is for cheerleaders and youth group leaders. I’m negative and cynical, man. It’s part of who I am. It’s punk rock and gen X, and it’s someone who can’t be fucked with. But it turns out it’s a defense mechanism so I’m never disappointed, just pleasantly surprised when good things happen (p. 184).
Now before you think there is something seriously wrong with me, or that I’m angry and negative all the time, that’s definitely not the case, but I understand what Georgia’s getting at here; it’s easier to NOT get our hopes up in the first place so we protect ourselves from that feeling of crushing disappointment.
So this is all to demonstrate that this book is actually quite deep, and holds many valuable lessons within its pages even though it may seem shallow at first glance. But that’s what the podcast is too-only those who follow it regularly will understand its inherent value to listeners, and how informative on so many different levels it can be. If you’ve never listened, definitely do it before you pick up this book, and even one episode will be enough to get you hooked.