Cover Image: Bad Thoughts

Bad Thoughts

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Member Reviews

I loved this book; it was beautiful and the voice was quite easy to get into. For fans of girl writers like Sheila Heti or Sarah Manguso, though her voice is less visceral...
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Did Nada Alic read my mind? Some of the details in this collection were scary accurate. It’s always great to read an author who feels like they really understand YOU. I can’t wait to read more from this author.
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In "Bad Thoughts," readers are in for a treat as the author offers an honest and humorous exploration of the often-fraught inner lives of those navigating social awkwardness. This book is sure to strike a chord with many readers, as it offers a sense of connection and understanding that is both refreshing and much needed.

While the author's writing is undoubtedly compelling, there is a missed opportunity in that the book's focus on the inner thought life at times overshadows the author's lived experiences outside of her own mind. It would have been fascinating to learn more about the author's life and the context in which her inner thoughts arise.

Overall, "Bad Thoughts" is a delightful and insightful read that is sure to resonate with many readers. Its witty and candid approach is a breath of fresh air, and the author's willingness to explore vulnerability and personal challenges is truly admirable and we are better for it!
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If you enjoy a millennial female perspective leaning way into the bizarre, try this one! It’s a collection of short stories full of “bad thoughts,” the ones you’d never admit to, and often feel alone in thinking. An obsession with a best friend, a disembodied soul of a baby musing on when it might enter the vessel of its apathetic parents, and a meditative group who uses tactics of ridicule are just a few summaries of the great things found here. Fans of Ottessa Moshfegh will really like. I also loved the the vignettes in between the stories of short sentences of random thoughts.
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Nada Alic's debut story collection is charming: full of dark humor and modern without leaning too hard into cynicism.
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This collection made me despair because it seems to me that Nada Alic has a lovely understanding of language and verbal rhythms and yet in this collection she committed to a storytelling style that is already very crowded with other brilliant young (women) writers who choose to write cynically about slightly gross stuff in the service of providing readers with acerbic, funny, soon-to-be-forgotten one-liners. I personally feel that Lorrie Moore already completely dominated this category of writing three decades ago, when she invented it, and when it was wholly original. In the beginning it was a style that was used as a veil, one that at some point would be pulled away to reveal some deeply hopeful human truth. As this style evolved post-Moore it seems that writers forgot to make their stories matter. Their stories became all veil and no substance. I admire Lorrie Moore because even when at her most acerbic she is still showing me all the ways that people matter--that underneath all our ridiculousness we are lovable. That we matter. For the next three post-Moore decades there has been plenty of room for unique variations on this theme of sad young brilliantly perceptive women trying to navigate an increasingly confounding  and senseless world. The ones who succeed, for me at least, remember to give me a reason why I'm reading this story. There is a sincere humanism at the core of their stories, however wrapped they might be in cynicism and/or wacky, possibly uncouth humor. Mona Awad and Miranda July come to mind as succeeders in this kind of story. Other writers though just keep the breezy cynicism and their stories' only saving grace is an original plot, or in some cases, a willingness to go far enough to gross the reader out in new ways. The stories have no core, though. No reason to be read. I would personally put Kristin Roupenian and Ottessa Moshfegh into that category of writer. Obvs these are wildly successful writers so maybe they are worth following in the footsteps of. What I'm trying to say is I found this collection derivative of writers I don't admire. What I'm trying to say is, writers should, in my opinion, do more than imitate what is already there on the shelf. What I'm trying to say most of all is don't waste my time with stories that have no meaning, no premise, no message other than life is pointless; life is full of empty distraction; life doesn't matter. Tell me something I don't know.
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“Sitting on my bare mattress, I reviewed my social media profiles for no other reason than to remind myself I existed. I liked being contained safely in a grid, a living avatar of a self.”

This book is so underrated! I loved hating all the nasty characters and watching them indulge in their bad thoughts. Each story was a little vacation to a bad place, but it was chaotic fun, if that makes sense. Nothing like indulging yourself in a little delusion every now and then.
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Interview and review here:
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This debut short story collection is my favorite kind of funny. Not ha-ha funny, not dad-joke funny, not even SNL-funny. It's dark funny, sardonic funny, holy-shit-she-nailed-it funny. Picture four out of five people scratching their heads, and the fifth one (me) unabashedly snort-laughing as I underline. It's completely disturbing and utterly delightful. The kind of book I'll recommend to my younger sister, not my mom. 

My one critique: while the premise of each story is thrillingly unique, the actual narratives seemed to blur together. Our fourteen protagonists face a wide range of absurdist circumstances - for example, 'Earth to Lydia' centers on an all-too-plausible support group that helps people struggling with capitalism to embrace greed and materialism, and in 'Ghost Baby', our cynical narrator is "the spirit of a proto-child assigned to a couple whose chemistry is waning," writhing in disembodied frustration as its parents fail to conceive it. As much as I love Alic's voice, I wish it had been more distinct from story to story - after the fact, specific sentences and moments are sharp in my mind, but it's hard to remember where they came from. 

That said, I will EAGERLY pick up anything Alic writes from now on. This irreverent, biting, and unexpectedly vulnerable collection is reminiscent of Gabriela Wiener's Nine Moons, another favorite among the 200+ books I've read so far this year.

Thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Vintage and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Unfortunately this one was not for me. There were parts of this I liked but as a person with OCD (intrusive thoughts being one of them) I found this book to be a little bit more triggering than finding relatable. It had a lot of promise but overall was a bit of a letdown!
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"Bad Thoughts" is a good short story collection but it's not very memorable. Almost every story is interchangeable.  Every character is a carbon copy of the previous character before. I really wanted to like this, because the writing is very strong, but the plots/characters were too similar. The author might be better off writing a novel instead of short stories. If she does publish a novel in the near future, I would read it because I think her prose is lovely and sparkling with personality.
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Unfortunately, I usually don’t enjoy short stories that much and I would have to say that this didn’t change my mind. I’m sorry to the author, but this one just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

This review was also published on Goodreads.
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this was just bad, no thoughts

nada alic explores the act of having intrusive thoughts and how debilitating they can be in this short story collection. at first i was excited about this premise but this was quickly a let down, i felt like the main characters all quickly merged together with their stories being all so similar, always a depressed woman old living w their boyfriends who they didn’t quite like. most of the supposedly rotten and awful thoughts were about them hating their friends, pregnant ladies and the concept of having kids. yawn. i’ve read about this a million times before. 

they were only a handful of interesting stories that promised something out of the collection but were quickly forgettable, in the end i just don’t think this was for me, the stream of consciousness type of format quickly got boring and i ending up skimming most of it.
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Women are capable of being many things. And often we are not even aware of what we are being or doing. Recently I feel literature has been more willing to embrace that side of femininity and it feels entirely revelatory to me, each and every time. Thanks to Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Earlier this week I read the introduction to an academic book called The Bitch is Back by Sarah Appleton Aguiar, all about wicked women in literature. What Appleton Aguiar argues in her introduction is that second-wave feminist literature, in its attempt to rescue women from negative stereotypes, went too far and therefore created an equally imbalanced picture of what women can be. Appleton Aguiar's mission is to rescue the Bitch, to allow women to reincorporate the Bitch into their personality, and recent books I've read, like Nightbitch, Shit Cassandra Saw, and now Bad Thoughts, seem to be a part of this movement. The women in Alic's stories are usually far from pleasant. Some are outright dismissive and rude, entitled and selfish, others are mostly confused and misguided, a bit pervy and definitely lost. While it makes for confronting reading, I began to absolutely revel in it by the third story.

'My New Life' is about female friendships, especially friendships that are weirdly competitive, super distant yet incredibly close, and probably definitely not entire healthy. It's also about a strong desire to just feel something. 'The Intruder' was the story that keyed me in to the entire collection when I realised that yes, I also have these weird thoughts and desires which are opposite to what I need or actually want. 'Tug, Spin, Release' is all about someone refreshing their email inbox waiting for life-changing news and I've never related to anything so hard. 'Earth to Lydia' is a hilarious, in my mind, take on the whole wellness/Buddhist craze, except that now the group therapy is aimed at bringing people back to the welcoming arms of our late-Capitalist world. Spend more, lust more, eat more! Despite its biting edge, there is something about trying to bring people back to themselves, to their bodies, to their realities, that stuck with me.

'A Free Woman' is about a woman and her sister, the competition innate to that, yet also about the woman herself struggling with her body and her place in the world. 'Watch Me' is a fascinating insight into a woman suddenly on her own, in her boyfriend's house, having a crisis about where she belongs, who she is, if she deserves this, and if she even knows who she is. 'The Contestants' kind of reminded me of my recent read, Patricia Wants to Cuddle, in that it gives us a behind-the-scenes look at reality TV show contestants and their secret thoughts behind the script they've been given. 'Ghost Baby', written from the perspective of a spirit/ghost/something waiting to be conceived by a couple is the kind of outside perspective on a relationship that makes you realise how horrible a relationship can be. I did struggle just with the narrator of the story, due to the whole Roe v. Wade shambles, but that is hardly Alic's fault. 

'Giving Up' shows us an artist deciding to give up, just let the art be. Her self improvement-obsessed boyfriend doesn't understand, but perhaps giving up is the best thing for her art. 'The Party' is a story of middle-age anxiety about pregnancy, getting older, and wondering who you are. I'm sure this will feel more relevant in the years to come.  'Edging' was an odd story about a perhaps one-sided or perhaps confused relationship in which a woman is trying to convince her maybe-boyfriend to consummate their relationships while he focuses on reaching a new level of consciousness. The desperation to be loved and touched truly jumps out at you. 'My God, Your Face' is perhaps my least favourite story because I just couldn't quite connect to what was going on. 'This is Heaven' sees two people engaging in an odd meditation experiment where they try to see each other by not seeing each other. I'm not entirely sure what is happening here, but I did feel it.  'Daddy's Girl' is the final story of the collection and it was the one that really got to me. There is something so gentle and yearning about it, as the main character considers her relationship with her taciturn, immigrant father as he remodels her house. There is such unconditional love there, struggling to make itself clear across cultural and generational divides, that it really hit my soft spot. It was a lovely ending to Bad Thoughts, showing how sometimes, perhaps, some bad impulses can come from good places.

Nada Alic is a revelation for me. While these stories are not easy, in that they aren't easily summarised or understood and in that their characters are, honestly, the worst, I did feel weirdly light reading them. It felt as if, through these stories, I could let certain bad thoughts of my own go. Bad Thoughts deals extensively with difficult topics such as body issues and sexuality, consent and rivalry, internalised misogyny and spitefulness. The best and worst part of Bad Thoughts is that you will absolutely recognise the women in this collection and that you may even recognise yourself in them. This wa sincreased by the fact that after each story there are random thoughts and phrases, each of which struck me. It was like reading my own bad thoughts on the page.  By reading Alic's stories I was able to put some difficult pieces of myself in place. To paraphrase Appleton Aguiar, I found a way to re-incorporate my occasional bitchiness into myself. While this potentially runs the danger of making Bad Thoughts sound like a collection that inspires, it must also be noted that quite a lot of what happens in these stories is straight up not good. These women aren't paragons of virtue and they aren't even really paragons of sin. They're not good at this, life and all that comes with it, but then the world is also messy so no wonder. I can't wait to read more by Nada Alic!

Bad Thoughts is indeed a collection full of bad thoughts and ideas and motivations and desires. It is something to revel in, to fully allow for the length of the story. Let your inner bad thoughts air out a little with Nada Alic, it'll be a relief!
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An immensely compelling collection of darkly humorous stories in the vein of Moshfegh and, maybe less so, Miranda July and Amie Barrodale. These are hyper-contemporary stories, many settling for typically millennial issues and overall ennui. While the characters can easily be placeholders for each other (the voice, while magnetic, read as though it were essentially the same protagonist in each story), I didn't see this necessarily as a fault as I found her so hard to put down.

Thanks so much to the publisher for the e-galley!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Selling Pitch:
Do you want to read a depressed woman’s musings about her awful behavior with no inclination for change? Would you enjoy reading what feels like the rough drafts of a scrapped novel? Can you tolerate pee mentioned constantly, eating disorders, and a protagonist with a toxic view on rape that will not change or improve? 

I love feminist short stories, okay? Please don’t disappoint me. 

Thick of it:
Immediately in on the eating disorders, okay. I'm tired of reading about girl envy manifesting as self-hate. They did it in the movie The Favor too. It’s like this new version of manic pixie dream girl, only it’s girl on girl without any saphicness. The toxic that girl envy. Oh God, that's terrifying. Men are terrifying. I don’t understand when women fixate on these types of girls. They give me anxiety. I don’t like Mona. Well, you’re a shit person for that. Ladies support ladies. 

I do not like this one at all. It just comes across as rape fantasy, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable. 

Everyone in these stories is very unlikable. Know people like them, but don’t enjoy it. 

I like this one. This one’s funny. Fun concept. 

Why are the almost Twitter one-liners better than the rest of the book?

We love depressive executive functioning.

All these stories involve pee. Oh my god, I hate men. We love a manual for disordered eating. Not. This one is definitely bad thoughts. 

I like this one too. 

Bachie nation. So much peeing.

That’s so mean to the Jonas brothers omg. This couple gives me the ick. I kinda dig this one tho. But like actually, every single one of these has mentioned pee. Please stop. Tragedy isn’t a libido killer though? This one was good. 

Good god, that’s an awful way to think. These story characters are all too similar. It’s like a writing exercise about a singular depressed female with a piss fetish and a shopping and true crime addiction. And a nut allergy. This one reminds me of Sirens and Muses. Do people actually call their pharmacists? That’s the third time I’ve heard that about baths, and I almost want to ask what people have against them, but then I also am starting to think they’re not wrong. I almost feel like there’s too much of the author’s own unhappiness with her relationships in these and that I’m intruding. But also like, bestie, if you’re that unhappy with them, change them. 

I too have taken a luxury bedding personality quiz. No, no the teens still shop at urban don’t they? I’m not that old. How could you not look? Second story with random pubes. I’ve never seen stray pubes once. Bestie, he’s cheating. All the same variation. It’s not that it’s bad that they’re all essentially about the same person because that’s doable; it’s annoying that it’s this repetitive. It’s the same examples used over and over again to mean the same thing over and over again. If you did it effectively the first time, you wouldn’t need to do it again. 

This whole thing just feels like West Coast privileged bullshit, and I am an East Coast privileged bullshitter. I hate this edging cult that has spread amongst men. That ankle thing is the most awkward part of jeans and shenanigans. 

All I can think of is Edna Mode with that title. Oh lord, we brought feet into it. And The Sixth Sense again. This isn’t parallels or pleasing callbacks; this is beating a dead horse. Cared enough to violate me. The language/mindset in this book is really harmful at times to survivors.  

Oh good, more disordered eating. This is the second time she’s mentioned wanting to fuck a cousin. Calm down, Alabama. She is a nasty person. I want to lance off moles. A campy full-length book about the ghost waiting to be born would be a much better book than this collection. This book is depressing. That ending line is the most hopeful thing in this book. 

Are…are there people like that? Might just be you, Alabama. All these stories feel like the scrapped attempts of writing a self-insert book after realizing there isn’t all that much to say. There’s no arc. Just musing. These books are never complete without bashing other women for wearing makeup. Take your inferiority complex and your jealousy elsewhere, ladies. Go to therapy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with believing in soulmates. Tell me you settled without telling me you settled. Birth control is not gonna help your depression. 

I’m going to struggle to rate this. It’s not that it’s poorly written, but it is violently unlikable. I know it’s a book called Bad Thoughts and it’s examining bad behavior, but the eating disorder, fixation on pee, and outright toxic language regarding rape is so pervasive throughout the book that I think it’s going to upset most people to the point that they cannot enjoy the book either. Looking back I went into this expecting feminist short stories. I would not categorize this as that at all. The best bits of the book are the transitional collections of one-liners. I don’t think it quite deserves one star, but I would never recommend that anyone else read this. I liked the ghost story the most. That one had the best voice. That was the idea that should’ve been plucked out and developed instead of continuing to write a book that didn’t want to be written to produce all these misstarts. Also, Miss Author, if you genuinely feel that way about rape, please go get help. 

Who should read this:
Depressed and happily toxic West Coasters

Do I want to reread this:

Similar books:
* Sirens and Muses by Antonia Angress-artsy people being depressed and nasty people
* The Seaplane on Final Approach by Rebecca Rukeyser-nasty people just vibing
* My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh-look this is always going to be my recommendation for privileged girl depression
* And That is Why Men Are Terrible by Christopher Mertic Lewis-men being terrible, tired wokeness
* Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney-asshole cast, being artsy and not doing much of anything
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Bad thoughts is a collection of stories on a series of topics on life. It took me a while to get into this book but once i did it was a pretty thought provoking read that i thoroughly enjoyed
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this is a collection of stories all revolving around a main character that is having (wait for it) bad thoughts. the stories are filled with hyper-specific relatable one-liners (my fave), annoying yet funny casts of characters and a flow of writing that makes reading this collection so easy, fun and fulfilling. 

from a wellness cult that encourages selfishness to a woman who’s emotional turmoil manifests as a rash to someone fantasizing about their potential intruder to seeing inside the mind of bachelor contestants, there’s a whole array of odd characters in insane yet mundane situations doing the opposite of what is expected of them and i ate. this. up.
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An easy to read, beautifully written collection of mordant, absurdist short stories where the protagonists and their grapplings with life find themselves periodically bleeding into one another – I almost wonder if this was intentional, though. There was just perceptible enough a through line of similarity woven between each character that it almost began to feel intentional, like we were meant to envision one particular woman disseminated across both time and space, placed in all these possible fingers of lives she could be leading had one little thing happened differently in her past, rather than an assemblage of women inviting us into lives that are independent of the others’ plot and universe. This left parts of the book feeling repetitious at times, but Nada Alic’s writing is so wry, amusing, and melodious that she holds your attention even as your mind occasionally considers wandering. A writer with a way of getting you to appreciate a nest full of eggs held in the branches of a tree, only to draw you down to the space below, where you didn’t even notice the bird carcass rotting in the grass. I’m eager to read what Alic puts out next.
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Funny, bold and incisive, this collection adds a surreal spin to well-worn millennial tropes and obsessions. For all its wry irony it is at times surprisingly tender with a sharp - if at times slightly repetitive – eye for observational detail. There's a novel coming too, apparently - look forward to seeing where Alic takes that.
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