Posts Tagged Sara Benincasa

Entertainment Realm’s 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2012

the lean

1. The Lean by Kathy Freston [Weinstein Books]
–Despite already being a vegan, this gave me tons of wonderful tips. I continue to use it as a reference. Freston writes in such a friendly, useful, refreshing style. I recommend this to anyone who would like to pursue a vegan/ plant-based diet. Freston’s goal is to change our our relationship with food and to make us feel better, be energetic and healthy by consuming a plant-based diet.


2. Guts by Kristen Johnston [Gallery Books]
–honest, self-deprecating and wonderful. What differentiates this memoir from other celebrity memoirs is that Johnston doesn’t consider herself a celebrity [she refers to herself as a B-list celebrity] but a hard-working actress and acting teacher. She gets dirty and detailed particularly when she describes the destruction drugs caused to her digestive system.

charlotte au chocolat

3. Charlotte au Chocolat: Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood by Charlotte Silver [Riverhead]
–if you ever ate at Upstairs on the Square this is a must-read. it’s a sweet restaurant behind the scenes. although sometimes I wonder how a child could have such clear memories.


4. I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern [IT Books]
–simultaneously funny and poignant. sweet.

lizz free

5. Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead [Riverhead]
–a collection of essays about family, friends and Winstead’s journey in her chosen career in the comedy world: both in stand-up and in television and radio. She’s a pioneer with her irreverent ideas and approach. She’s a leader and role model. She’s a tireless advocate for women’s rights. The essays are poignant, humorous, enlightening and insightful.


6. Agorafabulous by Sara Benincasa [William Morrow]
—- an honest and heartfelt recollection of Benincasa’s experiences with anxiety in college and her early twenties. She writes about her recovery and maintenance through meds, therapy, meditation and a support system of friends and family. provides relatable circumstances while addressing serious mental health concerns with flair and compassion.


7. loose diamonds by Amy Ephron [William Morrow]
–delightful collection of essays with deft observations about a multitude of subjects including her childhood, her mother, giving birth, fancy shoes, shopping (particularly at Saks), affairs, flying, her first marriage, divorce and her second marriage. She loses things—sometimes objects, sometimes relationships, sometimes emotional states– and through heartfelt, witty, insightful and clever means, she explains to the reader how she’s learned from those losses. It’s a sparkling memoir.


8. Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton [DaCapo, 2012]
–user-friendly, family-friendly positive cookbook with recipes that appeal to all age ranges and varied palates. straightforward recipes with“Kid Friendly” and “Adult Minded” tips on certain recipes to make them more appealing for whomever you’re serving. an entire section devoted to veggie burgers.

falling for eli

9. Falling for Eli by Nancy Shulins [DaCapo]

smart girl's guide to gspot

10. The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot by Violet Blue [Cleis Press]
–everyone woman needs to know this!

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book review: Agorafabulous! Dispatches from My Bedroom

Agorafabulous! , by Sara Benincasa. Publisher: William Morrow (February 14, 2012). Memoir.

Having suffered through agoraphobia and panic attacks since I was 16, this memoir definitely interested me. Particularly as I’m not that (intentionally) funny and I’ve started to write down my own rough and painful experiences. Agorafabulous! is an honest and heartfelt recollection of writer Sara Benincasa’s experiences with a debilitating illness. She writes of her horrendous rock bottom moment that traps her in a Boston bedroom while attending Emerson College. She also details another major panic attack while teaching in Texas. Despite her agoraphobia and anxiety, New Jersey-native Benincasa works on a farm in Pennsylvania, transfers to a college in North Carolina and then teaches for a year in Texas for AmeriCorps before moving to New York for graduate school.

Benincasa writes about her recovery and maintenance through meds, therapy, meditation and a support system of friends and family. It does seem Prozac became her cure-all. Perhaps I’m jealous that I’ve tried every SSRI and have been in therapy for twenty years and I’m still dealing with many of the same issues that I had when I was 19. She makes herself a mix-tape to take the train into Manhattan. She intersperses Liz Phair songs with encouraging messages such as: “This is fucking awesome! Look, you’re on the train! Look around. You’re safe. You took your medicine today.” Pretty rad idea. Sometimes that inner voice needs to be really hyped so as not to be ignored. Agorafabulous! provides more comical observations than mental illness moments. For the most part, Benincasa provides relatable circumstances while addressing serious mental health concerns with flair and compassion.

Some superb points:

I wondered how it had taken me so long to realize that I was broken beyond repair and that I didn’t belong on this planet with all of the real humans. I imagined my future as one of dependence, fear, and disability. I would always be a burden on the sander individuals charged with my care. I would always be different, in a bad way. I might kill myself, if only I could summon the courage to choose death.

There are a few items that should never be left near a person in a state of nervous breakdown, including but not limited to: knives, guns, drugs, babies, credit cards, and scissors.

I accidentally stumbled upon actually helpful information in the form of a book about Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD’s work at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I credit Full Catastrophe Living and the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program with adding speed and sense to my recovery.

To my enormous surprise, I found the strange manic pace of life in New York oddly soothing. Perhaps my anxiety was not only crowded out by my daily obligations but by the wild quirks of my fellow New Yorkers.

What I do remember is sitting on the toilet and rifling furiously through my purse, looking for the bottle of Xanax. I always carried it with me, like a talisman. I used it so rarely that the bottle expired months before I emptied it, but I liked knowing it was always there.

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purchase at Amazon: Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom

Sara’s website

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