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Trick Mirror

Reflections on Self-Delusion
Written by: Jia Tolentino
Narrated by: Jia Tolentino
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (105 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

"From The New Yorker’s beloved cultural critic comes a bold, unflinching collection of essays about self-deception, examining everything from scammer culture to reality television." (Esquire)

"A whip-smart, challenging book." (Zadie Smith)

“Jia Tolentino could be the Joan Didion of our time." (Vulture)

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for Best First Book

Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Public Library and one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book ReviewTime The Washington Post • NPR • VarietyEsquire VoxElle Glamour Good HousekeepingThe Paris ReviewPaste Town & Country • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • BookRiot

Jia Tolentino is a peerless voice of her generation, tackling the conflicts, contradictions, and sea changes that define us and our time. Now, in this dazzling collection of nine entirely original essays, written with a rare combination of give and sharpness, wit and fearlessness, she delves into the forces that warp our vision, demonstrating an unparalleled stylistic potency and critical dexterity. 

Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die. Gleaming with Tolentino’s sense of humor and capacity to elucidate the impossibly complex in an instant, and marked by her desire to treat the listener with profound honesty, Trick Mirror is an instant classic of the worst decade yet.

Finalist for the Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

"Jia Tolentino is the best young essayist at work in the United States, one I’ve consistently admired and learned from, and I was exhilarated to get a whole lot of her at once in Trick Mirror. In these nine essays, she rethinks troubling ingredients of modern life, from the internet to mind-altering drugs to wedding culture. All through the book, single sentences flash like lightning to show something familiar in a startling way, but she also builds extended arguments with her usual, unusual blend of lyricism and skepticism. In the end, we have a picture of America that was as missing as it was needed." (Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me)

©2019 Jia Tolentino (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Jia Tolentino narrates her own collection of essays with precision, clarity, and urgency.... Listeners receive an intense onslaught of sophisticated diction and syntax, but, thankfully, Tolentino uses vocal intonation to make her words accessible in the audiobook format.... Listeners will feel that Tolentino is talking directly to them, making her arguments even more compelling." (AudioFile magazine)

“It's easy to write about things as you wish they were - or as others tell you they must be. It's much harder to think for yourself, with the minimum of self-delusion. It's even harder to achieve at a moment like this, when our thoughts are subject to unprecedented manipulation, monetization, and surveillance. Yet Tolentino has managed to tell many inconvenient truths in Trick Mirror - and in enviable style. This is a whip-smart, challenging book that will prompt many of us to take a long, hard look in the mirror. It filled me with hope.” (Zadie Smith) 

“I worship at the altar of Jia Tolentino, who is undoubtedly the sharpest and most incisive cultural critic alive. Jia is a for-real genius, so damn funny it's absurd, and her ability to cut through all the noise to reveal the heart of the matter is unmatched. What a gift to the universe that, in Trick Mirror, one of the subjects is herself.  This book is a master class in how to think about the world in 2019.” (Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

“In Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino’s thinking surges with a fierce, electric lyricism. Her mind is animated by rigor and compassion at once. She’s horrified by the world and also in love with it. Her truths are knotty but her voice is crystalline enough to handle them. She’s always got skin in the game; she knows we all do. Her intelligence is unrelenting and full-blooded, a heart beating inside every critique. She refuses easy morals, false binaries, and redemptive epiphanies, but all that refusal is in the service of something tender, humane, and often achingly beautiful - an exploration of what we long for, how we long for it, and all the stories we tell ourselves along the way.” (Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering

What listeners say about Trick Mirror

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Dont believe the Hype, it's trending for no reason

This book was part of my book club. First book of 2020. 10 of us bought it. Most couldn't finish, I switched to Audio (because I like to finish things). It felt like reading someone's college essay with too many references to "examples" or "research"..We really didnt like it.
The tone felt like like the author has a grudge with life, very one sided and in my opinion she purposely went out of her way to find pieces of "research" to narate the negative story she was trying to construct. Didn't offer an alternative view or opposition. It was very "American" too with American problems with society. Not exactly riveting material if you've travelled seen the world or know better.
A huge thumbs down and a disappointing read/listen considering it is on the Obama Reading list.

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Lived up to the hype

A wonderful and calming listen. Every essay kept my attention and full of perspectives I never considered. Recommend to any and everyone!!

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Rewarding and exciting

I couldn't recommend this book more. Her eloquent insights into internet culture and western society are brilliant and, at times, chilling.

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Must Read For Anyone With A Head Full Of Thoughts!

Brilliantly written and observed, his book has essays on everything from Reality TV to scammer culture. The author tackles the conflicts and contradictions that define the times we are living in. She boldly digs into how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through the forces warping our vision.

While I imagine the intent was to reach her own age demographic (thirty something), I found plenty that applied to my own (fifty something). I was relieved that thoughts I attributed to my inner curmudgeon were shared by smart thirty somethings!

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  • Alice
  • 2019-08-25

Couldn’t stop listening

I sense that IRL Ms. Tolentino & I would disagree about many cultural and political issues...but I deeply valued and respected her opinions and sharp intellect. This was a fascinating book that I listened to in two days following which I purchased a hard copy. I love a read that helps me appreciate alternative perspectives without feeling toxic or critical or making me want to punch the person in the uvula. She is a wizard at accomplishing this.

8 people found this helpful

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  • ILoveAmazon
  • 2020-02-20

I want Jia to talk to me about everything

Loved every line of this and wished it didn't end as soon as it did

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  • Em
  • 2020-05-08

Timely and excellently written

The essays fit together to provide insights into the political moment. It's a deeper dive into subjects I thought I understood, and I learned so much.

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  • Jeffery Delmas
  • 2020-01-05

Reflections of the Obvious

Social media can be toxic? Surprise surprise.

Big corporations are self interested? Another big surprise.

This book was recommended to me as insightful. But I found it little more than a toddler discovering her navel. I liked the part about UVA. I wish I had 7 of my 9 hours back.

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  • Savina hawkins
  • 2020-01-05

A must read

This book elegantly articulates the reality we live in today in a way that resonates at a personal level. In the same moment that one feels deeply disturbed by the reality that Jia’s writing makes visible, one is also left profoundly comforted. She makes visible what we all already recognize to be true in such a clear and poignant way, it is as if she is articulating my personal experiences and thoughts with more grace and with better prose than I could muster to do for myself.

It is a breathtaking work. Best of all, it is filled with references to the world of literature that would make any book-lovers heart sing. This book has taken its place among my all time favorites; a must read for all.

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  • Terra
  • 2019-12-26

It's mixed for me.

I love a lot of the messages Jia delivers in this book - and there are some truths nestled in here that are important ones everyone should hear.

That said, the pacing and organization was a bit off for me. At times it felt like rambling, directionless. I wish it had been a little more neatly assembled. It would have been easier to focus on. A few times I had to re-listen to chapters, unsure of how I ended up where I did. But maybe she intended it to be this way.

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  • William
  • 2019-09-19

engaging

Comfortable enough that I think "I could write like that."

Erudite enough that I know I can never write like that.

I enjoyed it enough to purchase a written copy as well.

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  • Danielle D
  • 2020-07-10

Seems slightly inauthentic

I generally like Jia Tolentino’s writing, but she’s much better at making judgments of others and their behavior than turning the lens on herself. She attempts to tell humbling stories about herself, but they feel protected and like she’s only giving the version she wants you to know. She raised many good and valid points about internet culture, but seemed to be more easy on herself than the others she criticizes.

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  • Andie Sablosky
  • 2020-06-23

I am blown away!

WOW WOW WOW! This book is like a hug of information and validation. It’s like someone’s head opened and spewed out what I feel and how much I’ve read, but do not know how to organize. Incredible! I didn’t want it to end.

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  • emilize
  • 2020-06-14

Honest, insightful, beautifully written

I reference these essays in almost every conversation I have. By framing the curveballs society has thrown us through self-aware and clear storytelling, Jia Tolentino calls us out with patience and understanding, while connecting us and our realities to those if women from throughout history. Bonus points for the exquisite writing and the numerous literary references.