College students don't get to read for pleasure much, at least not during the semester. Midterms, projects, research papers and extracurricular meetings take up the majority of our time (which is why this blog is a little late).
But I truly think any student who's interested in politics, and definitely those who are studying political science, should read Meghan McCain's Dirty Sexy Politics. Hopefully for most of us, midterms have passed and we have a few weeks before the next rush of late-night cramming and paper writing. (But I'll admit I picked up this book at the wrong time -- I should have been reading The Puritan Dilemma instead, but Dirty Sexy Politics is, in my opinion, more interesting than Puritan politics. Sorry, Dr. Hobson!)
This book is exactly the opposite of what I'd expect of a political memoir. And that's why I liked it. I found myself addicted to reading McCain's memoir, probably because she wrote with the humor and candidness of one of my other favorite authors in the genre -- Chelsea Handler.
It's true McCain doesn't reveal anything too dirty or sexy, she says she was celibate while on the campaign trail, but the overall feel of the book is that it's something you shouldn't be writing, and she definitely shouldn't be sharing.
However, if there's one thing I learned from the book, it's that it's good to share things. It's a good thing to be real. It's a good thing to be honest, with yourself and others.
In her chapter entitled, "How They Tried to Fix Me," McCain writes about her experiences with an image consultant. Apparently, she didn't fit the bill of a presidential hopeful's daughter, and it had become a problem. Her hair was too blonde, too much like a stripper's, she says, and her clothes and language weren't refined enough. Like most teenagers, she uses the word "like" a lot and favors wearing leggings and a big sweater over a pantsuit.
She says she kept some of the changes, or at least the attempts to fix her use of certain words, but immediately changed her hair back to the way she liked it and wore her own clothes (although toned down a bit).
For me, what was most interesting was how real McCain was, and not in the sense mentioned above. I mean how she was just like any other 23-year-old college graduate at the time. She didn't really know what she wanted to do after graduation and unlike most politicians' daughters; she didn't refine herself for the media or anyone else.
As a young woman, I truly felt like I was getting to know McCain, was bonding with her and could relate to her. And I think this is how any memoir should feel, regardless of how or why the person is in the spotlight.
As a political science major and someone who's interested in politics, I felt like I got to see another side of presidential campaigns. I got to see what McCain would call the human side, and not just the good stuff. I got to see how stressful being a "daughter-of" can be and how we probably expect too much out of people who never asked for their parents to be famous or important.
I truly hope anyone else who reads this book, regardless of party, can put aside their politics and truly appreciate the book for what it is -- a candid, honest and lively account of a daughter on the campaign trail.