Berkshire Eagle Book Club

Our reviews: 'Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered'

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The Book: "Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide"

Publisher: Forge Books (May 28)

The Synopsis: Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation. In "Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered," Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being "nice" or "helpful." They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.

Karen and Georgia are the two best friends I've always dreamed of having — witty, not afraid to talk about their failures, therapy, weird hangups (like needing to have all the downstairs windows locked) or their obsession with true crime. When I found their podcast, "My Favorite Murder" two years ago, I was amazed by these two women, who week-after-week were not afraid to bare their souls and admit very loudly they had made mistakes. So, you can only imagine how happy I was when another member of the Berkshire Eagle Book Club recommended "Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide" for our next book selection. For those of you who don't listen to their true-crime comedy podcast, "Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered" is how Karen and Georgia end each episode, so it was only fitting that they named their book that. Going into the book, I did, somewhat, know what to expect, as a few recent episodes of the podcast were recordings of live shows where the pair read excerpts from the book. I was fully aware they were not compiling stories they have told on the show (they'll be the first to tell you there are smarter and more qualified people out there to do that, and then name drop, Billy Jensen). What I wasn't prepared for was getting to know these two women so intimately. And I'm so thankful that they did that. In a world where we're constantly bombarded with success stories and images of "perfect" moms and families and bodies on social media, its wonderful to have two women tell you that they've struggled, with addiction, eating disorders, bad relationships, job security, body image, anxiety disorders and more. But more importantly, they've shared how, in the darkest of times, they made it through by asking for help from a friend, a parent, a therapist. While I fully enjoyed this book, I'm not sure how someone who doesn't listen to the podcast will react to it. There are a lot of inside jokes and references to the podcast. (Like, if you don't know that Georgia constantly says the word attic instead of addict, you won't get the joke when you see it in print.) But on the flip side, there's some really sound, practical advice in there (and one really great chapter explaining what it was like to be a latch-key kid). As someone who's not a huge fan of memoirs, this one is one I'd recommend, especially if you're a Muderino like I am. SSDGM.

Jennifer Huberdeau, UpCountry Magazine editor

I approached "Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-to Guide" from the perspective of someone who has listened to exactly zero episodes of Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff's podcast, "My Favorite Murder," who has no interest in true crime, and honestly, very little patience for memoirs. It turns out, the book does stand on its own, you don't have to be a listener to follow it at all. Hardstark and Kilgariff are both informal and honest, and have put together a memoir that's less literary and more blog-y, but they are writing to their audience, and I'm in no position to say it didn't hit the right notes. In the end, I liked the book, but it didn't convert me into a listener.

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Meggie Baker, calendar editor

There are a bunch of podcasts, books and shows my wife tries to introduce me to that never take. "My Favorite Murder" is the exception to that rule. I gave an episode a try last year and have been hooked to varying degrees ever since. My wife came home earlier this summer with Karen and Georgia's new book, and since I'm listening from podcast episode 1, I'm still a little behind and was unaware they were publishing one. Thus, I wasn't sure what kind of book it was. As I'm sure you may be wondering, as well. "Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered" is certainly an eye-catching, albeit confounding headline, but for those who have heard the podcast, it's the perfect description. Karen and Georgia aren't your typical authors or advice columnists. They aren't your typical anything, really, and that's what makes their pairing and the content they produce so craved among their fans. The book, while definitely not directed at 30-year-old men like myself, is no exception. Those two have lived an incredibly varied life, and do a good job boiling it down to chewable chunks of lessons they've learned that you can choose to heed or not. Their voices come through in each personalized section — though, I'm still struggling to be 100-percent positive on which voice belongs to which face. It's written in a conversational manner that can be jarring at first, but eventually finds its groove in the stories they rehash. SSDGM, like their podcast, brings out a myriad of feelings for me. They can hook me in with a story, or get me reminiscing about my own days fighting with my brothers as a latch-key kid. They can also border on being annoying in a "look at me," preachy and, yes, "Valley girl" sort of way. But, the bottom line is this book is filled with relatable stories, woke opinions and good advice from two women whose experiences make them uniquely qualified to write an advice book in 2019. If you're cool with adult language, I'd definitely recommend this as a book for younger women. Boys and men might have a bit more trouble relating, but there is certainly something here for everyone.

— Mike Walsh, sports reporter

As someone with an overactive imagination who has trouble watching any kind of horror film, yet can't get enough true crime docuseries on Netflix, I felt a strange, almost immediate connection to Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I'm not a listener of their podcast, "My Favorite Murderer," though I'm thinking after this book I should be. This memoir-part-advice book was conversational, funny at times and a quick read. I appreciated the boiled down "lessons" they've learned along the way, such as "F---- politeness," yes, you read that correctly. The chapter title is in-your-face, but the advice is solid: we as women shouldn't worry about being polite if something feels strange. In other words, trust your gut and get out of there. In the middle of gems like, "You're in a cult, call you dad" — a chapter all about the importance of having someone in your life who will be honest with you, but will also help you out when you're in trouble — there are the authors' stories about dealing with addiction, eating disorders and unhealthy relationships. They are honest, self-deprecating and often dead on with their assessments. If you're looking for a literary masterpiece this isn't it — full disclosure, Margaret Button, associate features editor, simply couldn't read this book past the first chapter because the casual language grated on her so much — but if you're looking for a book to take on vacation or a plane ride with a little humor and a good dose of insight, this is it.

— Lindsey Hollenbaugh, managing editor of features

To find out what we're reading next, click here.


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