2022 book club

june book

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

essays · memoir · feminism | 200-300 pages

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 in a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Jia writes about the cultural prisms that have shaped her: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the American scammer as millennial hero; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the mandate that everything, including our bodies, should always be getting more efficient and beautiful until we die.

Table of contents:
  • The I in internet
  • Reality TV me
  • Always be optimizing
  • Pure heroines
  • Ecstasy
  • The story of a generation in seven scams
  • We come from old Virginia
  • The cult of the difficult woman
  • I thee dread


next club meeting date: Friday, July 8 @7:30pm

discussion questions (spoilers):
  1. The subheading of Tolentino’s book is “reflections on self-delusion.” What do you think the author means by “self-delusion,” and how does she consider it in her essays?
  2. What was your favorite essay and why?
  3. In “The I in Internet,” Tolentino writes about how “performative solidarity” gives users the false sense they are effecting change by simply posting on social media. Have you observed this phenomenon? What do you make of her critique?
  4. Did this book make you think differently about how you use technology in your day-to-day life?
  5. “Women are genuinely trapped at the intersection of capitalism and patriarchy,” Tolentino writes in “Always Be Optimizing.” Have you experienced the effects of these forces on your own life?
  6. “The con is in the DNA of this country,” Tolentino writes, referring to everything from rising college tuition debt to the 2008 housing crash as evidence of the ways powerful institutions “scam” Americans. Did you identify with this idea? Why or why not?
  7. What did you think of Tolentino’s writing style? Were there certain lines or passages that stood out to you?
  8. Tolentino has been described as a quintessentially millennial writer. Do you think readers of other generations connect with her work as well?
  9. While the author is deeply critical of late capitalism and its impact on U.S. society, did any of her essays leave you feeling hopeful?

    questions from Now Read This