The Lazy Genius Collective

Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't.

Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't.

11 Summer Books You Don't Have to Wait For

Summer reading has become my new favorite industry. We're lawfully required to have a book in hand if we're within ten miles of water, and I'm all...

My favorite spot to get book recommendations is my friend Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy, and she just put out her annual summer reading guide and I'm all...

Some of my favorite reads have been in past guides - The Secret Keeper, Ready Player One, Eligible, Jane Steele - but the bulk of her suggestions are new releases, i.e. library waiting lists are months long and hard copies won't be on sale for awhile.

So what's a girl to do? If you're impatient, here are some beloved books to read this summer while you wait for your turn at the library. A few of these are currently just a few bucks on Kindle, so click the title and see if your favorite is super cheap right now.


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Token YA Pick

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Have you seen JunoMosquitoland doesn't resemble it in terms of plot, but do you remember how you felt after you watched it? How it was unlike anything you'd ever seen but still seemed so familiar? That's how Mosquitoland feels. It was quirky and quick, lighthearted and heartbreaking, and a delight to read. 

The story follows a teenage girl who runs away from home after her parents split up. It's a self-discovery road trip story but without being dumb and predictable. I laughed, I cried more tears than a person should, and the cover is super dreamy. I adore this book.  


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Weird Psychological Thriller

Black Chalk by Christopher Yates

The premise is head-scratchy but super interesting. Six college students create a game, a social experiment of increasingly embarrassing and even dangerous social situations, to see how they react, how they withstand ridicule, and maybe a little because they're insane? Who knows. The story is fascinating, the characters are rich, and the writing is solid. The ending? Meh. Until the last few pages, this book was one of my favorite page-turners ever, but the ending didn't do it for me. I'm still glad I read it, but if a lame ending ruins your experience, skip this one. Otherwise, crazy good. And also crazy. 


Even Creepier Psychological Thriller

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

You've heard the name because Gillian Flynn wrote Gone Girl. This didn't get the same buzz, but man is it good. The story centers around Libby Day, a woman who's lived an oddly secluded life ever since her mother and sisters were murdered when she was seven. The murderer? Her 15 year-old brother. But there has been a vocal group of people who believe Ben is innocent, and 25 years later, they come to Libby hoping to unofficially open the case. The story is dark because it's about a murder but even more so because Libby's soul is tragically wounded. Her angst, anger, desperation, and vulnerability ooze off the page. Super engrossing, creepy, dark, and awesome.


Dystopian Series You'll Forever Be Obsessed With

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I still don't understand why more people haven't read this trilogy. It's one of my favorites EVAH. It's if The Hunger Games and Star Wars had a spy thriller baby. Y'all, it's so good. SO. GOOD. Darrow lives and works in a mining colony on Mars, preparing the planet for habitation. After his wife is accused of treason and executed, he joins a secret society trying to overthrow the government that took his wife and has been lying to him his whole life. And, y'all, that's like the first couple of chapters. It's rich. In all three books, I'd read a climactic scene and think, "I can't believe the book is almost over!" and suddenly realize I wasn't even halfway through. It's such a ride, so well written, full of characters you love to root for, and the story is unlike any I've ever experienced. READ THIS SERIES NOW, OH MY GOSH.


Dystopian Series That Feeds the Divergent/Hunger Games Hole In Your Heart

Legend by Marie Lu

The United States is in turmoil (obvs), and 15 year-old June is a prodigy being groomed by the government to help bring peace and maintain control for The Republic. Day is The Republic's most wanted criminal. When June's brother is murdered and Day is the prime suspect, the manhunt leads to surprising results. Of course it does. This story is fantastic. It's really easy to imagine, the characters are believable, and there's always someone to root for, a quality that's important for a lot of readers. This entire trilogy made me so happy and narratively satisfied. 


Light and Fun

Garden Spells  by Sarah Addison Allen

Anne recommended this book to me when I was on her podcast What Should I Read Next, and it was a perfect read to counteract all of the dark dystopias I usually go for. The Waverleys have odd abilities, magical even. One sister, Claire, is a caterer who uses ingredients from the secret family garden to make delicious food that also makes the eater feel any number of feelings. Another sister, Sydney, is recently returned to the Waverly house with a daughter in tow and a mound of emotional problems that zipped-up Claire isn't ready for. It's a story about sisters, romance, and wonky Southern social circles with a few magic flowers thrown in. A perfectly lovely summer read.


Memoir

Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

My favorite memoir ever is The Glass Castle. If you haven't read it, you're welcome for the bonus pick. P.S. The movie comes out soonHalf Broke Horses is Walls' second book, but the story is technically a prequel to the first. Can memoirs have prequels? That feels weird. It's about her grandmother and mother, both of whom we experience as much older people in her own memoir, so it's fun to see their origin story. Well, maybe fun isn't the best word. It's heavy with atmosphere and drama. Half Broke Horses reads like a dusty Kevin Costner film; you practically need a glass of water as you read. But Jeanette's grandmother is AWESOME. Like, one of the coolest ladies ever. So hardcore, willing to make the tough choice, totally flawed, and a feminist before her time. I luuuuuuved this one.


Family Drama

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

This was the first Oprah Book Club choice I ever read, and I think about it to this day. Astrid and her tortured artist mother, Ingrid, live a colorful but unpredictable life. When Ingrid is convicted of murdering an ex-lover, her teenage daughter is sent from foster home to foster home, dealing with situations she never asked for or deserved. From the foster-for-profit home to the desperate-to-have-a-baby home, Astrid keeps looking for what her mother never gave her, and we wonder if she'll ever find it. It's beautiful, tragic, and hopeful. And after you read the book, the movie's actually pretty good. 


Emotional Mystery

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Susie Salmon has been murdered. Now she lives in an unusual version of heaven, watches over her grieving family, her confused friends, and her murderer who's still at large. All of those things make her an excellent narrator. This story is riveting, the writing is my favorite kind - beautiful and descriptive but not flowery and over the top, and even though his performance was lame in the movie, I like imagining Mark Wahlberg as the dad taking justice into his own hands. Y'all know how I feel about Mark Wahlberg. I have this one on my shelf and have grabbed for a reread more than once.


A Classic

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Yes, you get a Jane Austen pick. But have you read this one? Most people I know haven't. And if you're in those ranks, you're missing out on an amazing part of life. Persuasion is a masterpiece. If you're into unrequited love, DUDE. This one has it in spades. And the crazy part? Persuasion is said to be majorly autobiographical. Score.

Anne Elliot is plain, well mannered, and part of a respectable family, a family which persuaded her to long ago reject the proposal of a poor man she loved. When that man returns to their lives as a wealthy, successful admiral, oh man. It ain't pretty, y'all. But it's SO PRETTY. This one is a dollar on Kindle and four in paperback. Click that title up there, and get it. Right now.


Heartwarming Fantasy Series

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

Here's what I want you to do. I want you to read the first book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and just trust me. Yes, it's a little slow in places, and longtime songwriter turned novelist Peterson is finding his way. But I PROMISE he finds it midway through the first book and KILLS IT in the final three. I love this four-book series more than Harry Potter. And Narnia. It's sacrilege I know, but it's the truth. It's BEAUTIFUL. Hopeful, engaging, exciting, fantastical, and everything you want in a series. I can't wait to read this to my kids soon, but even if you're on your own, it's well worth it. Prepare to sob like a colicky baby.


What would you add to the list? What's a great summer read that we don't have to wait for? And don't miss this week's podcast episode: The Lazy Genius Reads.

Bracket of Guys: THE WINNER

I hope you guys have had fun. I know the last few weeks have been a little turbulent with your favorites dropping like flies. The emotional ties that bind us to our favorite famous guys are as strong as a Chris Hemsworth bicep. 

That said...

Our collective winner...

Our favorite guy...

Maybe not the hottest or most talented of all...

But he hasn't lost a vote yet.

Congratulations, Matt Damon. 
You are our Favorite Guy.

Matt: 52%
Colin: 48%
Amen.

I'm so glad you guys have stuck around with me every single Friday for the past 10 months. This has been way. too. fun. 

And in case you need therapy after all of this, here's Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel in couple's therapy. I hope it helps you celebrate or heal.

All together now...

Our favorite Matt, John, Steve, James, Matthew, Michael, Tom, Daniel, Hugh, Jason, Kevin, Brad, Mark, Colin, Will, Ryan, Robert, Zach, Bill, Andrew, David, Chris, Josh, Ed, Patrick (who I accidentally left out of the bracket I'M SO SORRY), Jim, Ben, Adam, Guy With a Singular Name.

Bracket of Guys: Round One (regions one, two, three, and four) and all the winners, Round Two (parts one and two) and their winners, Round Three and the winners, The Final Eight and the winners, The Final Four, and The Final Two

When the Laundry Eats You Alive

Laundry is never done.

Ever.

I think most of us want to DIE when we're stuffing yet another mismatched load into the washer because it's a reminder of the hamster wheel life we lead.

Don't you love how positive I am on a Monday?

Here's what happens:

1. You wake up and try that whole "one load a day" thing and frantically gather disparate pieces of clothing from all the rooms to cram in the machine before breakfast. 

2. You remember the load when it's dark outside.

3. And now it smells like a swamp.

4. It's too late to wash them again, so you leave the load there until the morning.

5. The next day, when you remember to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, it's tangled mess of cotton and anger.

6. During the wrestling match, you're reminded of how lame your clothes are and that your kids are way better dressed than you and it's fine it's fine everything's fine.

7. When the clothes are done, you try and teach your family teamwork and responsibility by recruiting everyone to help clean up.

8. Repeat for infinity.

The daily grind and failure of laundry is a reminder that we live the same day over and over again and most of the time it makes us crazy.

When I get frustrated by the repetition of my life, I turn into an Ann and attempt yet another approach - lighting candles, changing detergent, buying a prettier laundry basket that's so nice to look at of course I'll be motivated to wash my clothes now! Because, sure, there might be other ways to do laundry that don't end in mildew and tears, but sadly, a better system isn't the answer. Remember, systems can't save us. Dang it.

My problem is 10% actual laundry and 90% not letting myself be okay hating it. I get resentful because I'm not letting myself feel sad. 

But once we let ourselves feel the feelings, it's an easier step to being grateful, to seeing the repetition as home keeping and not house cleaning, to laughing at the pile of solo socks and not yelling at our seven year-old to get his act together.

So if you hate laundry, own it. If the repetition makes you crazy, don't act like it's not there. If staying home with kids is supposed to be a privilege but some days you're just ready to kick every last one of them out, don't believe the lie that you're a bad mother. 

Truth is always where it begins. Truth sets us free.

Is there a domestic truth you won't tell yourself that actually might make things easier?

And don't forgot to check out this week's podcast episode: The Lazy Genius Does Laundry. 

Bracket of Guys: THE FINAL VOTE

Well, guys, we're here. 

We've reached the end of this almost yearlong journey, a collection of obsessive Fridays we didn't know we needed. 

I'm sad. Now I don't have a good reason to Google photos of hot celebrities without looking like a creepo. But I'm also sad because Fridays will be a bummer for awhile as we detox from the dumbest, most important voting ever and hang out with our fangirly opinions.  

That said, it's with simultaneous horror and pleasure that I announce the final two candidates for our collective all-time favorite Guy. I say horror and pleasure because, frankly, any outcome would've been disappointing, but here we are. 

And the winners are...

Wait... one more thing. Please remember your fellow Lazy Geniuses who will be either heartbroken as you celebrate or elated as you're shocked. We're all doing important work here. And it all hurts.

Okay, here goes.

Is everyone okay? I recommend being out in nature, dark chocolate, and angry bowling as ways to process any negative feelings you might have. That said, it's done. And while the votes were competitive, they weren't nail biters. Both matchups were about a 60/40 split.

Goodbye, John. Goodbye, Hugh. You are kings among men, and you represented your names with great honor and beardedness. 

So at the risk of entering into the final vote on Code Red Emotional Alert, we're jumping in. 

The Final Two: COLIN FIRTH vs. MATT DAMON

I'm not sure I can say anymore than I've already said over weeks and weeks, so I'm going to let them guys do their own talking. And click the arrows to scroll through all the photos we've used throughout the entire vote. It's a sight to behold.

Overall #1 Seed: Colin Firth

 

Valiant #3 Seed: Matt Damon

 

And now we vote for the final time...

Bracket of Guys: FINAL FOUR

You guys, it's so real right now that I can't feel my face. This is such a solid final four - three #1 seeds! - and the fact that I've been staring at their faces for the last million years IS NOT A PROBLEM AND SUCH A PROBLEM. 

They're so hot, y'all. And so awesome. It defies description.

Okay. Here we go. We'll make it through this.

#1 Colin Firth vs. #1 John Krasinski

First, Colin.

Shall we evaluate all the things? Because that's what normal humans do?

Talent: In spades. An Oscar, a Globe, and other nominations. A quietly bankable star with very few career mistakes.

Personality: Self-assured but not pompous, dry sense of humor, humble.

Good Human Quotient: No scandals, been married to the same woman for 20 years, philanthropic, not a jerk.

Hotness: Not that much until you look at him for longer than a second and then can't stop looking.

Other: Tall. British.

 

Next, John.

Talent: Decent and definitely ambitiously well-rounded. Acting, directing, writing... he's doing what he loves and learning as he goes. But, yeah, he's made some questionable career decisions.

Personality: Perfect.

Good Human Quotient: So high. Super in love with his wife, supportive of her and his colleagues, kind, zero scandals, the perfect regular guy.

Hotness: Again, not obvious until you look for awhile. Admit it, when you first met Jim Halpert, you did not think, "Man, he's so hot." He grows on you. (Shirtless in 13 Hours not withstanding.)

Other: Tall. Jim Halpert.

 

#3 Matt Damon vs. #1 Hugh Jackman

First, Matt.

Talent: Seriously? So good. Oscar and Globe nominations for acting and producing, plus a writing Oscar for Good Will Hunting. Well-rounded, immensely bankable, and every single flop is forgivable... even that stupid zoo movie.

Personality: I can't, y'all. I can't talk about it. He is my everything.

Good Human Quotient: He married and loves a normal, has a million daughters that he's obsessed with, founded Project Greenlight to give aspiring filmmakers the chance to direct a feature, and founded water.org to end the global water crisis. I mean, you know. He's okay I guess.

Hotness: Don't ask me this. I don't have the emotional fortitude to look at his face for another second. Translation: SO HOT.

Other: On a personal note IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW THIS ALREADY (you totally know because I say it constantly) he's my most marryable celebrity. I love him. I mean, I LOVE HIM. If I saw him on the street I would literally die. Tell my husband I love him, but Matt Damon just killed me.

Next, Hugh.

Talent: Nominated for an Oscar and a couple of Globes for acting, plus Emmy nominations and a win for hosting the Tonys and Oscars. He sings, dances, acts, and has dipped his beautiful toes in the producing pool, too. He's had a few bombs, but I posit they were not his fault. Plus he's played Wolverine for 77 years without us getting tired of him.

Personality: Umm, it's not even fair to lower ourselves to evaluate his perfectly perfect personality. He's funny, charming for DAAAAYS, so stupid humble it's almost annoying, and in the literally hundreds of interviews I've watched, he's never awkward or mean. Amazing.

Good Human Quotient: Yeah, so he hits this one out of the park, too. He adores his wife who he's been married to for over 20 years, he had a hard time playing Wolverine because of how dark he was which is not how Hugh is in real life, and he basically makes grass grow when he walks upon dirty roads. He's PERFECT.

Hotness: So I mean obviously he's hot. But, y'all. Have you looked at him? Has he garnered your attention over these last few weeks like he has mine? Do you SEE those photos up there? This man is possibly one of the hottest humans to ever walk the planet. It's ridiculous. And I'm not even showing any of his muscles. What is happening.

Other: Australian. Also perfect. 

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO THIS IS KILLING ME. I will choose Matt because I have to choose Matt, but Hugh? Huuuugggghhhh. But at least that's the only decision to make WHAT I FORGOT ABOUT COLIN AND JOHN WHY ARE WE DOING THIS THIS IS SO STUPID.

Voting is closed. Mend your broken hearts.

Bracket of Guys: Final Eight Winners!

I feel like this announcement should come with some kind of medication. A balm. Perhaps a straight jacket when some of you see the results. Whatever remedy you need, I offer it humbly and at no charge. 

We have been through it, ladies (and four dudes). We have split open the deepest recesses of our pop culture hearts, spilled blood, and wept Pacey-shaped tears.

The end is near.

Hold fast. 

We have two decisions remaining... four men, two weeks, one winner, and hundreds upon hundreds of heartbroken Lazy Geniuses who no longer see any meaning in a Friday, but we'll cross that depressing bridge when we come to it. 

Without further ado, the winners of Round Four.

#1 Colin Firth vs. #3 Jimmy Fallon

This was not close. Like, at all. Jimmy couldn't even pull in a third. I knew it would be tough which is why I gave him the dogs, but even the golden retrievers couldn't save him. P.S. Team Colin. And for the rest of you who are Team Colin, you will enjoy tomorrow. I have plans.

P.S. All remaining match-ups were razor thin. An average of 53 votes separated the following pairings. If you see your favorite has met his end, his fight was valiant. There is no shame. Jimmy is the only one who should feel shame.

 

#1 John Krasinski vs. #10 Benedict Cumberbatch

I am broken. Again. I watched my favorites in danger round after round, often pitted against each other in a simultaneously soulless and soulful battles that no one could win. This region was a rabid cat and I its dispensable ball of yarn. I bear the scratches. They will never heal. 

Congratulations, John. May you carry this region with the pride it deserves.

 

#1 Ryan Reynolds vs. #3 Matt Damon

PRAISE!!! The sun has broken through, and the birds and windswept leaves join together in a chorus of jubilation! My dear Matt's victory is the only thing to rescue my broken heart (see: Benedict Cumberbatch).

 

#1 Hugh Jackman vs. #3 Chris Pratt

I know. I had Chris in my Final Four, too. But I hope that you, like me, have developed a surprising love and respect for Mr. Jackman. He has quietly cultivated my affection over these weeks, and I feel honored that my beloved Chris lost to such a worthy opponent. And if you're sad about the loss, I offer a token... tomorrow. Hold fast until tomorrow when you will lift your eyes to the Aussie sun and marvel at its splendor, blessing it for shining down upon so beautiful a specimen for the last 48 years.

Until tomorrow, peace be with you.

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