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

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

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

Jan 21, 2009

In this remarkable story, Dempsey takes birdwatching (which, in his words, serves the social use of “keeping those nerdy kids who have no chance of ever making a real friend out of already overcrowded bars”) and makes it cool. While I probably won’t immediately invest in a pair of binoculars, Dempsey has effectively instilled an appreciation of a pastime to which I had never given a single, solitary thought. On the one hand, the sub-title of this book pretty much sums it up. But on the other, it says nothing. The picture on the cover, if you can see it, only begins to hint at the mirth within

As You Wish

By Cary Elwes
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

A Year in the Merde

By Stephen Clarke
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

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

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott
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.

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 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 3, 2011

Carter Finally Gets It is one of the funniest books I've read in some time.  The story is about a 14 year old boy and his struggles through his freshman year of high school. If you attended a public high school you will enjoy this story.    I'm glad I didn't read it while my sons where in highschool. I would have had nightmares.                                                            
From the back of the book there is a "WARNING: This book contains lewd humor, underage drinking, illicit fantasizing and very bad decision-making." It's also available on CD, the reader (Nick Podehl)

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

Dad is Fat

By Jim Gaffigan
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

Dad Is Fat

By Jim Gaffigan
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

Jan 28, 2010

A Novel by Jeffry LindsayDarkly Dreaming Dexter is the first of a series by Jeffry Lindsay. Dexter Morgan is not your average serial killer. His foster father Harry was in the police force, and recognized Dexter's dark side from an early age. Harry taught Dexter to live by a code that would keep his inner monster hidden from others, only turning it loose for the good of humankind. Dexter learned to only let his Dark Passenger satisfy its need for killing by letting it play with those who deserved to die; those who harmed and killed the innocent. Helping the law catch bad guys by day as a Blood Spatter Analyst

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

Feb 22, 2010

Dog On It by Spencer QuinnDog On It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn is narrated by Chet the dog, sometimes known as Chet the Jet. Chet and Bernie are partners in the Little Detective Agency. Both have less than stellar law enforcement careers. Chet failed completion of the K-9 course—something to do with a cat and leaping, but the details are not revealed. As the tail (tale) begins, Bernie and Chet are experiencing a cash flow problem, when the mother of a missing teenage girl requests their services. Chet and Bernie are not fond of working domestic cases, but they agree to a least consider this one

Feb 2, 2010

Fancy White Trash by Marjetta GeerlingThere were three reasons why I picked up Fancy White Trash. At first, the cover with a pink flamingo caught my attention and then I was intrigued by the title. When I found out that the book had been selected by the American Library Association's for their 2009 Best Books for Young Adults List and I made a decision to give it a try. As soon as I read the first couple pages, I was hooked.

This debut novel is a lighthearted and hilarious read. Fifteen-year-old Abby Savage is determined to find true love and especially not to repeat family's history of dating and getting pregnant. Therefore, she

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

Home to Harmony

By Philip Gulley
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

Dec 21, 2009

Oliver Watson is not your typical eighth grade student. He is actually a genius well on his way to world domination, and incidentally, unspeakably evil as well. Naturally, in order to protect himself, he must pretend to be a moron of vast proportions; and no one, neither his parents nor his classmates suspect a thing. Out of sheer spite for his father, Oliver decides to run for class president. In the end he discovers that the thing we loath the most in the world is the very thing that can bring us peace.

From the executive producer of The Daily Show and a Simpsons and NewsRadio contributor

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

May 10, 2011

Fans of Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck will be delighted to find the same wit and good humor in I Remember Nothing. For who, if not Nora Ephron, would name her cowlick Aruba after the Caribbean Island where the trees all grow sideways from the strong wind. You don’t have to have an Aruba of your own to appreciate Ephron’s Aruba. Nor do you have to have worked as a clipper, love buying movie tickets ahead of time online, or share your name with a meatloaf to find a little of yourself in Ephron’s essays.  Ephron herself reads the audio beautifully.

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

Jul 23, 2010

Jeeves and the Mating SeasonJeeves and the Mating Season by P. G. Wodehouse
This title is one of many of Wodehouse’s Ask Jeeves titles. It has all the same elements of the other Jeeves titles with mayhem and mix up in the social lives of English gentlemen who have nothing better to do with their time than appease aunts, act in local drama productions, chase after their "one true love," steel pictures, and hide behind couches. This particular title has Bertie and his friends “trading places” in order to protect one of them from the wrath of the aunts. A fun, easy summer read that won’t disappoint the Jeeves lovers!

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

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

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

Oct 5, 2010

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel by Helen SimonsonMajor Pettigrew would never have a Facebook page. He would be absolutely horrified by the Jackass and Borat movies. Discreet, polite, always a gentleman, Major Pettigrew is a man to be counted upon. The Major is rather alone, recently widowed and infrequently visited by his son Roger who is most interested in clawing up the corporate ladder and pleasing his long-legged, American girlfriend. The Major's brother Bertie dies unexpectedly and leaves the Major to negotiate with his widowed sister-in-law over a pair of magnificent hunting rifles, very valuable hunting rifles that the widow and Roger