humor

Dec 13, 2019

As part of my 2019 reading goals, I’m working my way through the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. So far, so good (read part one here). My progress is slow, but I’m back with part two of my reading challenge round-up.


In the midst of a teen reading kick at the time, I decided to find a teen book that would fulfill a task. Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae fit the bill nicely for task #1: an epistolary novel or collection of letters. The space opera story tells the tale of teens Kady and Ezra, whose home planet is destroyed by a menacing megacorporation. They escape onto two

May 20, 2019

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you jumped into a black hole? Or maybe you're curious about what would happen if you traveled to another planet, like Jupiter or Venus? Could this book kill you while you're reading it and, if so, how? And Then You're Dead examines these and dozens of other scenarios to offer a scientific explanation for how you would meet your demise in these unlikely and unlucky ways.


Yes, on the surface this book sounds depressing. The authors bring a dry sense of humor to each scenario that effectively balances out the cringe effect of rather gory descriptions

The Book of Polly

By Kathy Hepinstall
4
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Feb 15, 2018

The Book of Polly is the hilarious and bittersweet story of Willow and her larger-than-life mom, Polly. Polly becomes pregnant with Willow in her late fifties, and Willow’s father dies during the pregnancy. Because her father dies before she is born and Polly has Willow so late in life, Willow only has Polly. Her siblings are long gone, and the bustling life that comes with having a full family is absent, so Willow clings to Polly with heartbreaking tenacity. Willow has always been consumed by the fear that Polly is going to die. Willow also tells a lot of crazy stories about Polly, stories

Nov 10, 2017

In the current political climate, one might think the transition from comedy writer to politician would be rather seamless. In Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, Franken describes his struggles trying to get elected by the people of Minnesota in 2008, the balance he has been able to find when working with ideologically opposed members of congress, the work ethic that enabled him to more easily secure re-election in 2014, and the current political climate in Washington.


Franken's latest book is, of course, humorous with several moments where I laughed out loud or held the person nearest to me

Aug 24, 2017

As an avid watcher of The Daily Show, I knew Trevor Noah was born and raised in South Africa. What I didn't know was how amazing his life circumstances were growing up and just how much he had to overcome to be the person he is today. In Born A Crime, Noah chronicles his life as he remembers it, detailing not only his experiences but also the culture of South Africa just before, then after, the end of apartheid. During apartheid it was illegal for black and white people to be together, let alone have a child. Noah's birth, to a black mother and white father, made him literally born a crime.

May 5, 2017

In July of 2007, Catherine Tidd lost her husband, Brad, in an accident and suddenly found herself a 31-year-old widow with three small children. In Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, Tidd chronicles her experience with sudden widowhood and the journey of self-discovery her husband's loss prompted. 


The first half of the book focuses on the loss and immediate aftermath of Brad's death. Tidd discusses her last moments with Brad, the shock of his death, how her mind (like so many other widows) could only process the loss in pieces, the crowds of people in the days after, and her new relationship

A Year in the Merde

By Stephen Clarke
4
Rated by Megan C.
Jan 8, 2017

Need a break from American foibles? Here is a perfect chance to laugh at both the English and the French instead.


I loved A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle, about an expat making a home in the French countryside. His account is filled with plenty of humor and not a little exasperation, but ultimately the author showcases the beauty of the belle vie. Stephen Clarke follows suit with his congenial lambast of French and Parisian culture. His novel (or thinly-disguised tell-all?) takes us away from provincial life and explores the inner workings of professional and urban scenes, with not so

Aug 3, 2015

I'll cut to the chase: Listen to this book. Narrator Dion Graham turns an already great memoir by Dave Eggers into an absolutely entertaining bundle of ah-mazing. The words burst with personality and energy thanks to his narration, perfectly capturing the author's tone. (No surprise, turns out there are multiple Eggers-Graham audiobooks out there.) You'll forget you're basically listening to a giant monologue. 


So what's it about? In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Eggers shares a heartfelt account of his life after suddenly becoming the guardian of his young brother when both

Jul 18, 2015

I immediately fell for Denton Little. Born at a time when people know the date they will die, Denton knows his funeral is today. No surprise. Tomorrow is his death date. No big deal. But waking up in the bed with his best friend's sister? Now that is a surprise.  And a big deal.


The next day, his death date, strange things start happening. Sure he's going to die, but what is this huge bluish-purple bruise on his leg? And the little red pulsing lights within it? Denton's decided since he's going to die tomorrow anyway, he might as well not worry his mom or dad. However, this only works for

The Bikini Car Wash

By Pamela Morsi
4
Rated by Amanda H.
Jul 7, 2015

Pamela Morsi used to write wonderful Americana romances in the 90s, and I’m glad to see that her humor and poignant understanding of human behavior is still very much in evidence with her shift to contemporaries. The Bikini Car Wash feels a lot like her older historicals because of the small town setting and the ensemble cast. There have never been a ton of authors that wrote good Americana or Frontier Western romances, but Morsi is one of the best because of the way she portrays small town life with a realistic and sympathetic hand. Her characters are always drawn with lots of affectionate

As You Wish

By Cary Elwes
4
Rated by Diane H.
May 4, 2015

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”  “Inconceivable.” “Have fun storming the castle.” “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” “Get used to disappointment.” “Mawidge. That bwessed awangement!” “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you"..."You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”


The Princess Bride is one of the most widely quoted films of all times. The swashbuckling/fairy-tale/romance/adventure story is enjoyable for both young people and adults, suitable for the former

Home to Harmony

By Philip Gulley
4
Rated by Ellen W.
Sep 10, 2014

Philip Gulley's Home to Harmony is the first book in the Harmony series in which Sam Gardner, Quaker Minister, has returned to his hometown of Harmony, Indiana to assume the pulpit. Gulley uses a folksy writing style to share the joys, frustrations, humor, and outrageous predicaments encountered in a small community church. The story of Sam and his parishioners is told through a collection of vignettes, each which can stand on its own; but all are woven together expertly by Gulley to paint a pleasant, funny, and poignant picture of the dilemmas and rewards of pastoring a small congregation

Sep 4, 2014

If you’re not a fan of what happens to your food from one end of your body to the other, stop reading this review right now!  For those that are curious, Mary Roach’s Gulp is the book for you.  Roach humorously covers both silly and taboo topics: pet food taste-testers, internal deodorizers that keep bathroom odors away, resourceful prisoners who know just where to hide unbelievable amounts of contraband, and, yes, even the constipation that may have killed Elvis.  For me, the chapter describing an American surgeon in 1825 that used a wounded trapper as his own lab rat stuck with me long after

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott
4
Rated by Melody B.K.
Jul 27, 2014

I'm not a writer but Anne Lamott makes me believe that I could be a great one.  Bird by Bird is a writing manual that reads like a memoir, a very funny, life affirming, let's get real memoir.  She reminds me a bit of Cheryl Strayed in her clarity and insight not only about writing but about relationships and priorities.  Lamott says, "if you want to know your characters, you have to hang out with them for awhile."   I highly recommend hanging out with Lamott.

May 28, 2014

Thank you, Roz Chast, for writing this book. And thank you for being so honest and providing us with a truer picture of what taking care of aging parents can really be like. And most of all, thank you for reminding us of the importance of finding some humor in the whole process.


Roz Chast, longtime cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, has gifted us with a new graphic memoir about her experiences in helping her parents as they age, and of her thoughts and feelings at their eventual deaths when they are in their 90’s. While my own relationship with my parents was very different than hers

Mar 20, 2014

Delia Ephron has written an entertaining group of personal essays that range from the deeply touching to the absurdly humorous in Sister Mother Husband Dog, (etc.)  The first essay in the book is a tribute to her late sister, the writer Nora Ephron.  The two sisters worked together writing  screenplays for several popular movies, including You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Certainly she writes of her sister in a loving way, but she also shares with us the humanness of the relationship – the jealousy and the competition. Another of the more heartfelt essays titled, “Why I Can’t Write

Dad is Fat

By Jim Gaffigan
4
Rated by Helen H.
Mar 18, 2014

I read Dad is Fat for my book club and, as a group, we reached several conclusions.


- If you have children, Gaffigan is really funny.


- If you don’t have children, he’s just “meh."


- While reading the book is okay, listening to Gaffigan read his work is much better. If you can, choose the audio.


-We all love how adoringly, respectfully, and admiringly Gaffigan speaks of his wife. I, personally, will be crushed if, five or ten years down the road, we find out they actually hate each other and are just pretending for the book.


My favorite two essays are “Dogfight," where Gaffigan

Spaced

By Simon Pegg
4
Rated by Scott S.
Jan 17, 2014

British television is fashionable nowadays. Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Doctor Who exemplify the latest trend in Trans-Atlantic entertainment. But before BBC America went gangbusters, there were several British comedies from the late 90s and early 00s that have since either created American spin-offs (The Office) or spawned solid film careers for British actors and writers. The latter is true for Simon Pegg, one of the creators and actors of the show Spaced. Not only has he endeared himself to American sci-fi fans as Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star

Dad Is Fat

By Jim Gaffigan
5
Rated by Hope H.
Dec 24, 2013

Kids really do say the darnedest things, but so do parents!  From the eye of the storm, comedian Jim Gaffigan reports on the trials of raising five young children and celebrates the absurdities, embarrassments, and joys.  He begins by reflecting on his early perceptions of being abducted by aliens (aka, babies) and then recounts his own recent adventures in sleep deprivation, family vacations, juggling schedules, and the power of ice cream.  Gaffigan pokes at his own fathering foibles and sings the praises of his wife’s mothering and family management, even if there is some comedic friction

Oct 2, 2013

Don’t be fooled, you’ll learn nothing about diabetes or owls here, but the random suggestion makes it all the more entertaining.  Shortly before this book was released, I had the privilege of attending “An Evening with David Sedaris” in Kansas City, where I got a preview of some of the hilarious treasures to come in Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.  Sedaris likes to test his pieces with various live audiences, tweaking them along the way until they are primed for publishing, and I was excited to hear some of my favorites again in their polished state. 


This collection is packed with a

Jun 25, 2013

In the introduction, Kaling says of herself, “I’m only marginally qualified to be giving advice at all. My body mass index is certainly not ideal, I frequently use my debit card to buy things that cost less than three dollars, because I never have cash on me, and my bedroom is so untidy it looks like vandals ransacked the Anthropologie Sale section. I’m kind of a mess.” And yet, she’s written a compelling, humorous memoir, with occasional advice. The advice she does offer is based on her own, real-life experiences and all the more valuable for its lack of childhood trauma.


As a writer

Dec 23, 2012

Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files is the funniest mystery since Stephanie Plum made her debut way back when in One for the Money.

Growing up in the family business, Isabel Spellman has been a private investigator since about age 12. Now in her twenties, Izzy is thinking maybe she doesn’t belong in the family business, where mothers spy on daughters, fathers bug their daughters’ apartments, and your 14-year-old sister hangs out in bars. And she herself runs background checks on potential suitors, thus rendering her own first dates boring and fraught with potential slip-ups.

In order to avoid

Dec 11, 2012

This hilarious Swiss Family Robinson meets Glass Castles memoir is not for the easily offended.  Jenny Lawson, plagued with anxiety and panic attacks finds solace in the online community she meets through her blog; The Bloggess, Like Mother Teresa, Only Better.    She discovers acceptance from these new friends despite her bad wardrobe, her fascination with taxidermy and a very foul mouth.   When vultures threaten to dig up the newly deceased family pet a fellow blogger high tails it over to fend off the vultures and Jenny’s panic attacks.    The ensuing tragicomedy is but one in a string of

Dec 7, 2012

Francesco Marciuliano writes the comic strip Sally Forth and has carried his sense of humor over to I Could Pee on This. As the title states, this is a book of poetry written by cats. It is illustrated with pictures of the cat authors.  The cat pictures range from awww cute to majestic to disdainful, just like cats. I laughed my way through the whole book and had to mop my eyes several times. The first poem is entitled Family and sets the tone for the rest of the book. Here is Family:

Sometimes when I lie on your warm chest
And hear your every happy sigh
I gaze into your two kind eyes
And

Oct 17, 2012

I listened to Trail of the Spellmans, the fifth book in the Spellman Files series.  As with all of the books in the series, Isabel “Izzy” Spellman is our protagonist.  Izzy is a private eye employed by the Spellman Detective Agency owned by her parents, Albert and Olivia.  All previous books in the series are funny and this latest installment is no different.  This time around, though, Izzy seems to be the responsible one while all the rest seem to be behaving unlike their usual selves. Olivia seems to be taking on more extracurricular activities outside of the home. David, her perfect eldest

Sep 28, 2012

What do a cryptologist, patent lawyer, artist, writer, chemist, math teacher, and their waiter do when they get together? Why solve mysteries of course! At least, that is what they do in the mind and imagination of Isaac Asimov in his Black Widowers short stories. Each month this group gets together for dinner. They take turns bringing a guest. Inevitably, a mystery around the guest arises, and the Black Widowers attempt to solve it. No matter how much the others may try, it is always Henry, the waiter, who unravels the puzzle.

More known for his science fiction stories, Asimov began to

Sep 2, 2012

The unnamed heroine of this tale redefines whacky.  In her early twenties, with a degree in English, she is working in a pet library – yes, where pets may be “checked out.”  Meanwhile her life is turned upside-down by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (a library book checked out to a friend that she has no intention of returning.)  “She” – not sure what else to call her – resolves to adopt what she considers Jim Hawkins’ best qualities: BOLDNESS, RESOLUTION, INDEPENDENCE, and HORN-BLOWING.  She carries the book everywhere, extolling its virtues to any within ear shot.  The first thing

Jul 20, 2012

Has Wil Wheaton ever tweeted you a picture of himself collating paper?  Have you ever surprised your husband with a six foot metal chicken?  Has your father ever made a hand puppet out of a dead squirrel?

If not, then I invite you into the world of Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, whose memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened will show you just how bizarre—and strangely touching—one woman’s life can be.  For anyone not familiar, Lawson is one of the titans in the female blogosphere—a curler-wearing, foul-mouthed and hilarious Texan who writes honestly about everything from sex to illness to

Jun 18, 2012

If you like the Stephanie Plum series written by Janet Evanovich, you might like Ranchero, written by Rick Gavin. It’s a similar story-type but written from a man’s perspective.  The cover of the book says it’s a crime novel, but I think it is a number of humorous things that happen to Nick during his job, which brings us back to its similarity to the Plum series.

Instead of being in Newark, N. J., it is set in Indianola, Miss., where Nick Reid is a repo man rather than a bail bondsman like Stephanie.  They both have a rather overweight friend who helps them out. Stephanie’s friend is an ex