What’s Making Me Happy This Week, fourth edition

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a What’s Making Me Happy This Week—the world has been so weird and sad and incomprehensible lately that all I’ve wanted to do is bang my head against the wall and yell, “OMG, NEWS, WHY MUST YOU SUCK SO MUCH?” But this is the week FOR REAL became a real book people can actually BUY, which is extremely happy-making, so it seems like a good time to get back on track. Here are some other things that have been making me happy these past few weeks:

1) Big Hero 6. Much like Frozen, the trailer for this movie looked incredibly stupid, and I wasn’t planning to see it until Pop Culture Happy Hour raved about it. But those NPR pop culture geeks have excellent taste, so I decided to give it a shot, and I am so glad I did. It’s clever, it’s action-packed, the animation is amazing, and it has such a big heart. I cried like six times during it. (“But Alison,” you say, “you cry during every animated movie.” Well, yes. You’re not wrong. But still.) It was a thoroughly delightful experience all the way around, and I highly recommend it for kids and grownups alike, especially ones who like robots.
2) Jane the Virgin, which has also surprised me with its excellence! I totally wrote this off after seeing the posters, but so many people I trust were talking about it that I gave it a try. The premise is absolutely ridiculous—it’s about 24-year-old virgin who ends up pregnant due to an error made by a distracted gynecologist. But the show turned out to be hilarious, smart, goofy, and really sweet. Jane is so relatable and flawed, and she acts (and looks!) like a real person, which I so appreciate. And only TWO of the main characters are white, which is pretty amazing for a show on the CW. I’ll be watching the rest of the season eagerly.
3) Margaret Atwood. Margaret’s 75th birthday was last week, and I went to an event in her honor. Erin Morgenstern and Chuck Wendig read things they’re written in her honor, Lev Grossman read a section of The Handmaid’s Tale, and then Neil Gaiman interviewed Margaret. It was extremely strange, at times—they went on this long tangent about a machine that enables long-distance kissing and didn’t actually talk about writing very much—but it was pretty delightful just to be in the same room at someone who has been one of my literary idols since high school. At the end, we all sang happy birthday to her. I’m also in the middle of reading her new short story collection, Stone Mattress. One of my friends picked it up the other day, read the first sentence, and shouted, “Oh, screw you, Margaret Atwood, why do you have to be so GOOD?” Yup. That pretty much sums it up.
4) Allie Brosh, author of Hyperbole and a Half, did a long interview on Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF, and it was extremely interesting. Allie has been really open about her struggles with anxiety and depression, but this was possible the most honest interview I’ve ever heard about anything. I strongly urge you to check it out, whether or not you struggle with those issues yourself. (Skip the first 20 minutes—Allie’s not in those.)
5) This past week, I got to go to two events for My True Love Gave to Me, the holiday-themed anthology edited by the amazing Stephanie Perkins. (They were on the same day, back to back. I’m kind of a fan.) Holly Black wore a Krampus sweater and ranted about how mistletoe is parasitic. David Levithan asked whether a turtle dove was a bird with a shell on it. Gayle Forman wore a blinking Christmas sweater AND blinking earrings. I finally got to meet Kelly Link, who’s been one of my favorite authors for years and years. Everyone signed my book. It was delightful. Plus, I got to spend the whole rest of the day at the Met Museum with Myra McEntire, a contributor to the anthology and my most excellent friend. She was so excited about the Byzantine Art I thought her head was going to explode.
6) I’m a huge fan of Sarah Enni’s podcast, First Draft, which consists of long-form interviews with middle grade and YA authors. And a couple weeks ago, Sarah came to my apartment to interview me! I felt like a total celebrity. She asks such good questions and is so good at putting her subjects at ease, and the 90 minutes we spent talking flew by. My cats also loved her and purred on her lap the entire time—you can hear them in the recording. I’ll post a link to my interview as soon as it goes live!
7) The Least Wanted Song. Back in 2009, This American Life interviewed Dave Soldier, a composer who polled the public about what they liked most and least in a song, and then they created the “most-wanted” and “least-wanted” songs based on their data. I just rediscovered this, and every time I hear the least-wanted song, I laugh until I cry. Start listening around 14:30. You will not regret it.
And last but not least…
8) FOR REAL came out on Tuesday! I’m very excited for my launch party tonight at BookCourt in Brooklyn. Come if you’re in the area! If not, you can buy the book here, here, or here. Thanks for all your support!