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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)

Book Club Pick for Now Read This, from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times

"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) 

“The millennial Susan Sontag, a brilliant voice in cultural criticism.... She remains engaged with her subjects even as she scratches her head and wonders why we do what we do. Even better: She writes like a dream.” (The Washington Post)

“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

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What listeners say about Trick Mirror

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  • Rov
  • 2021-02-08

Reflection on the book

Strange is the imprint of the book. You ride this feeling of slippery slope through out the book. The stories are hard to relate to but you are embroiled in them. It is possibly the rocking of my own self-delusion that gives rise to this uncomfortable feeling. I find myself wanting to recommend this book to everyone, yet very difficult to actually convince them to read the book.

The book ultimately is Jia's self-reflection and thus should not be read in a way to find resolutions. Rather, the value of this book comes from the demonstration of effort required to self-reflect. This book should demonstrate complexity of society and how ideologies are morphed and integrated into a society straying from original intention. It should motivate you to understand the lives around you beyond the surface and superficial. This book should trigger you to evaluate your commonsense and belifes regularly and find the underlying truth.

I will close this with my own thought on our self-conduct "I encourage individuals to express themselves however they want to because I express myself similarly. I admire the individuals that having understood how they want to express themselves, choses to express themselves in a way that upholds the confidence of their valued others, this is the growth I seek."

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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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Profound, honest, and accessible reflections

Brilliant exploration of feminism, capitalism, and race in an accessible and stimulating essay collection. This work is deeply personal and relatable with honest critiques of self and society.

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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.

22 people found this helpful

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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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  • 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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth Knox
  • 2020-10-02

Fascinating

Fascinating essays on our current culture and Zeitgeist. Some of the chapters felt very theoretical and textbook-y but overall I really liked her writing style and voice. She intersperses good bits of humor into some heavy topics. I read this with a book group. The younger people in my group really liked the book; the older readers did not like, even despised, it... a sociological study of its own.

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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

6 people found this helpful

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  • W Perry Hall
  • 2020-10-21

Fresh Cerebral Provocations

An essay collection that's Fresh, Brilliant, Cerebrally Stimulating and Boundary-Expanding (for this Gen-X male, to be sure).

The New Yorker must be proud to have Jia Tolento as its millennial cultural critic.

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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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  • ziggystardust
  • 2020-05-10

A masterpiece of thought

Just read it - and your mind will be expanded by the time you’re done. How many books/essays/ authors can you honestly say the same about? On top of her already perfect writing, Jia’s narration is seamless (and I’m very picky with narrators). Now, go listen to it and enjoy having your mind transformed.

4 people found this helpful

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  • GIF
  • 2020-02-25

pretty good

i felt that the writing style wasnt engaging... at least it wasnt engaging enough for me... or maybe performance by the author wasnt too good... idk, but something wasnt holding my attention... after 2nd essay i was about to return the book but then somehow the following topics got my interest, author's perspective and very contemporary point of view as well as good synthesis of various aspects of current life concerning her chosen topics got me listening... so, overall, i ended up enjoying this book and even had some friends listening with me to some essay so we could discuss... and the last essay really resonated with me... thus, overall, i think it was a good, interesting, thought-provoking and valid reading on very current topics ..

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ines
  • 2022-04-14

This was interesting!

I believe it was probably meant for an (American) audience that is overtly connected (and perhaps even celebrity obsessed), but I did learn a few things along the way. I'm not sure these can be all considered as proper essays, as they often feel more like a recap of a lot of information mixed within well-opinionated rants. Some parts were quite eye-opening though. It's almost a shame each chapter is so very long because at times, I sort of lost the sense of what this was really about, even if there are passages I found really enlightening. I'm not sure I can really relate to anything that was said by Jia Tolentino here but as a casual observer, but I might still go back to a couple of the pieces later on