Books, Real Life

2019 Democratic Debate Book Tag

Due to my personal political frustrations, I sometimes fantasize about setting the current political system on fire.

Luckily, I won’t have to; the Democratic party is doing that for me.

With more than 20 candidates in a party that can’t agree on its priorities, I don’t have much hope for the 2020 election.

How do I typically vent my frustrations?


This feels like a proper channel for my chaotic neutral energy.


To simplify things, I limited the prompts to candidates that participated in the Democratic debates.

Yes, including Marianne Williamson.

Are you as fed-up as I am? Please join in.


Joe Biden

A book that felt out of touch

How have you fallen so far, Dear Evan Hansen?

Allow me to submit this passage for examination (emphasis mine):

 I barely had a handle on the way things were last year, and now there will be so much newness to absorb. New wardrobes, tech, vehicles. New hair styles, colors, lengths. New piercings and tattoos. New couples. Whole new sexual orientations and gender identities. New classes, students, teachers. So much change. And everyone just marches on like nothing’s different, but for me, every new year feels like starting from zero.


Have you MET Gen Z? This sounds more like a Boomer perspective!

This book makes MULTIPLE school shooter jokes.

In 2019? Are you KIDDING?

ALSO, how clueless do you have to be to rely on Jared “Gay Joke” Kleinman for your comic relief?


Kamala Harris

A book that challenged a dangerous and/or harmful worldview

(CW: rape, graphic sexuality)

Not That Bad messed me up.

I think most often about Meredith Talusan’s essay “Invisible Light Waves.”

Her essay exemplifies the entitlement found in rape culture.

Meredith describes her complicated feelings about a past partner penetrating her without her consent.

She mentions survivors becoming distracted by questions of “real” or “legitimate” rape when the real issue is ENTITLEMENT, VIOLENCE, AND LACK OF CONSENT.



Julián Castro

A book that took on a difficult topic

I reread the plot synopsis for Elizabeth Keenan’s upcoming book Rebel Girls and OOF.

This book promises to tackle religion, abortion, Riot Grrl feminism, slut-shaming, sisterhood, AND MORE.


Amy Klobuchar

An “edgy” book that toed the line

Meredith Russo fully admits in her author’s note that she tried to make Amanda’s story more palatable for readers unfamiliar with trans issues.

Specifically, she made Amanda an attractive white teenager who can “pass” successfully.

To some extent, I can understand why Russo chose to do this.

Unfortunately, these choices watered down the message of acceptance.

As someone who’s been reading queer YA fiction for a long time, this supposedly revolutionary tale felt more typical than groundbreaking.


Jay Inslee

A book that involved nature

Wikipedia classifies Carl Hiaasen’s books as “humorous crime fiction.”

I know him as a middle-grade environmentalist author.

Save the owls from the pancake house!

Wait…this book was made into a movie…

It’s all coming back to me now.


Kirsten Gillibrand

A second-wave feminist text

Aside from The Feminine Mystique, I’m not familiar with iconic women’s lib books from the second wave.

I had to google this one.

It makes me think of The Stepford Wives.

(It’s the ’70s motif. Go with it.)


Bernie Sanders

A book that kept repeating itself

It’s no secret that I dislike Divergent.

I reread it four years after its release and the plot doesn’t make sense.

Most egregious, though, is a cut-and-paste internal monologue from Tris that shows up MULTIPLE TIMES and only gets MORE annoying.

She’s not Dauntless…she’s not Abnegation…SHE’S DIVERGENT.


(Unrelated: the Abnegation community is founded on spiritual abuse. Stop romanticizing this community.)


Beto O’Rourke

A book that felt out of its league

Who else thought Fawkes was trying too hard?

Creating a fantastical religious allegory out of the War of the Roses was already ambitious.

Piling on the “No one UNDERSTANDS me!” energy DID NOT HELP.


Elizabeth Warren

A well-respected new release

Red, White, and Royal Blue is everyone’s new favorite book.

According to most reviews I’ve seen, it’s the jam.

I…don’t want to read it.

The early 2000s produced a number of political hate-to-love romances that were JUST awful.

I also read the horrendous Red Girl, Blue Boy. (Mini essay forthcoming.)

I’m not about to read another romance about political enemies. Nope.


Marianne Williamson

A book with an “out-there” plot

Black Leopard, Red Wolf sounds…off-putting.

I hear it’s a nonlinear stream-of-consciousness mythology-inspired fantasy.

Entertainment Weekly’s review mentioned dubiously consensual sex and an interplay of sex and violence, sooooo…I’ll pass.

Oh…Wikipedia likens Marlon James to Quention Tarantino.



Pete Buttigieg

A well-known LGBTQIA+ book with a white, male protagonist

*heavy sigh*

To be fair, Boy Meets Boy came out in 2003, a time when gay white males in YA fiction were a relative rarity.

My English teacher and I read this book in 2008 and compared notes.

We didn’t think the book was all that special.

Despite the NUMEROUS awards and YEARS of hype, Boy Meets Boy read like a generic love story.

I suppose that was the POINT; gay kids deserve straightforward, boring love stories, too.

Still wasn’t into it.


Tulsi Gabbard

A book about war

A war forms the backdrop of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now.

After their parents disappear, the kids are left alone to brave disaster.

Also, two first-cousins fall in love?

Saoirse Ronan and Tom Holland starred in the film version.

Oh, and it’s rated R!

Have fuuuuun!


Cory Booker

A book you feel conflicted about

Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here took me on a journey and I’m STILL not sure how I feel!

On one hand, the narrative called out the characters’ bad behavior.

On the other hand, I felt a certain character was too easily forgiven.

I feel like the author TRIED to subvert the Bad YA Boyfriend trope.

I wish she’d gone a TINY bit further with it.


Bill de Blasio

A book with an aggressive worldview

Welcome to my dinner party! Do you like socialism?

I’ve taken enough left turns that the message annoys me less than it once did…

…but was that 30-page treatise really necessary?


Eric Swalwell

A book that tried to become the next big thing

Hey there, Red Queen.

You think you’re SOOOOOOO special.

You’re so vain, you probably think the YA dystopian trend is about you.


Tim Ryan

A book no one paid attention to

Oh…I guess This is What it Feels Like just came out in November.

But still! I haven’t heard about this one at ALL!


John Delaney

A book with lukewarm reviews

Even positive reviews of We Contain Multitudes cite the story’s iffy elements.

The age difference sounds questionable and the plot sounds thin.

Happy to excise this book from my TBR.


John Hickenlooper

A book with a memorable title but a forgettable plot

I remember bringing Love Letters to the Dead on vacation with me.

I have high expectations for vacation reads. If I’m excited enough to travel with a book, it better deliver.

(Past vacation betrayals include The Tiger’s Curse. THAT was a fun trip.)

The frustrating thing about Love Letters to the Dead: reviews call it “inspired” by The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Stephen Chbosky even supplies the blurb!

In reality, this book WAS The Perks of Being a Wallflower, down to the “twist.”

The author gender-flipped The Perks of Being a Wallflower, watered-down the original emotion, and tried to pass it off as original.



Michael Bennet

A standard, by-the-numbers book

I didn’t end up finishing An Ember in the Ashes.

I’d heard it described as special and I didn’t have that experience.

The book is fine. The plot is fine.

It’s just…we’ve done this before.

Oppression, resistance, historically-inspired fantasy, love triangle… It’s all been done.

I used up all my dystopian interest on past series.

Resistance literature needs a new twist to make it interesting.


Andrew Yang

A book that featured impressive technology

I might have hated All the Birds in the Sky, but my least favorite character did create a sentient supercomputer.

Good for him…I guess.

Choosing those gifs made me feel better.

Maybe this election won’t be so bad.

Trump Tweets.JPG

…never mind. I’M GOING BACK IN MY HOLE.

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