Janet Mock lives for Beyoncé…and I live for Janet Mock! I’m the exact same age as Janet, and I had such a blast getting swept up the late ’90s pop-culJanet Mock lives for Beyoncé…and I live for Janet Mock! I’m the exact same age as Janet, and I had such a blast getting swept up the late ’90s pop-culture backdrop of her memoir: Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, RuPaul, The Real World, TRL. But the real joy came from her frankness and openness about her experiences becoming the woman she is today — from her childhood spent in poverty and her family’s struggles with drug addiction, to her sexual abuse as a child and her harassment when she came out as a proud trans woman to her high school teachers.
I found this memoir shockingly candid and beautiful, and Janet Mock's journey of reconciliation with her family made me sob. I also loved her references throughout to Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, and Oprah. I can’t believe she’s exactly my age and has already survived and accomplished so very much in her life. I’m a new fan, and I recommend this book to literally everyone! ...more
Cult film director John Waters promises his agent to hitchhike across America, and imagines the best- and worst- case scenarios before revealing whatCult film director John Waters promises his agent to hitchhike across America, and imagines the best- and worst- case scenarios before revealing what actually happens on the real trip. In one fantasy scenario he’s abducted by aliens who have sex with him and give him a magical singing asshole. In another he’s captured by infamous murderess Gertrude Baniszewski who tattoos “I am an asshole” on his chest. I’ll let you guess which is from the best-case scenario and which is from the worst! This memoir was somehow equal parts filth, camp, and charm, and I adored listening to John Waters read this to me on audio during lazy summer afternoons this June....more
In a year that seemed stupidly dominated by funny white dudes — Rob Delaney, Marc Maron, Jim Gaffigan, Nick Offerman — Aisha Tyler’s 2013 book Self-InIn a year that seemed stupidly dominated by funny white dudes — Rob Delaney, Marc Maron, Jim Gaffigan, Nick Offerman — Aisha Tyler’s 2013 book Self-Inflicted Wounds shines like a bright twinkly star. (I love you too, funny white dudes.) Tyler’s impressive TV resume includes Archer, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, 24, and Friends (yep, she played Ross’s paleontologist girlfriend), but it turns out she’s also a devastatingly brainy stand-up comic with a vocabulary that’ll make you weak in the knees.
In Self-Inflicted Wounds she nerds out about her childhood sci-fi obsession, her teenage commitment to brown unitards, and why you’re not trying hard enough unless you’re failing. Hard. Bonus bookish points for references to The Left Hand of Darkness, The Silmarillion, the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and everything Ray Bradbury has ever written.
Get this on audio if you can — she performs it herself, which is the only way to do funny books by funny people in my opinion...more
This is a fun collection of short stories and essays by some heavy-hitting writers including Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Sue Grafton, Barbara KinThis is a fun collection of short stories and essays by some heavy-hitting writers including Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Jane Smiley. The collection is organized alphabetically by author's last name, although I think organizing it a different way could have been more interesting and given the book a better flow.
I LOVED several -- Andre Dubus III's "Blood, Root, Knit, Purl" and Barbara Kingsolver's "Where to Begin?" are especially and awesomely extraordinary -- but many of the others blur together into cliche territory, the two biggest culprits being the "I learned to knit from my so-and-so" stories and the "knitting is hard and I'm not very good at it, but I'm still a knitting wannabe" stories.
This would probably be a good collection to dip into here and there, but all together it was a little too much knitting even for me. I started skipping around by the end; maybe I'll go back to it again someday and dip into some of the other stories....more
I remember enjoying this book when it first came out in 2003, and it was fun to revisit on audio a decade later. Augusten Burroughs' voice on the audiI remember enjoying this book when it first came out in 2003, and it was fun to revisit on audio a decade later. Augusten Burroughs' voice on the audio version adds to all the dysfunction and humor an innocent, tender quality that hadn't fully translated for me on the page. I loved this listen....more
With Little Failure, I'm now officially crushing on Gary-Shteyngart-the-writer, too. In his most vulnerable project to date, Shteyngart finally lets down his guard to write about the Soviet immigrant experience. How does a 7-year-old boy go from living amongst exploding Soviet TVs and writing his first novel — Lenin and His Magical Goose — for one slice of cheese per page, to living in a tiny American apartment with his screaming parents and being the laughingstock of the Solomon Schechter Hebrew Day School in Queens? Not easily, it turns out. It helps that his American TV wasn't the exploding variety. Little Failure is Gary Shteyngart's best writing yet; a memoir that strives for truth and addresses that age-old question of how you can still love someone who had you circumcised at age 8....more
Imagine Charles Bukowski doing stand-up, and you might get an idea what Marc Maron is like. Everyone who likes comedy has their own reasons and favoriImagine Charles Bukowski doing stand-up, and you might get an idea what Marc Maron is like. Everyone who likes comedy has their own reasons and favorite styles; I think mine is that it's a handy outlet for laughing at all the crazy, dark shit people go through. After basically failing at life — drug addiction, getting fired, ruining two marriages — Marc finally found his groove with his WTF podcast, and here he explores similar territory: neurotic anxiety, anger… and cats! At its heart is a remarkable longing to connect emotionally with other people, which is what makes Marc's humor so wonderful. The audiobook features a Lorne Michaels impression that DESTROYS me, cameos by Louis CK and David Cross, and lots of filthy, filthy stories. Marc Maron proves that comedy is not just entertainment but can be art....more
Pretty amusing stuff, if not outright laugh-out-loud for me. I enjoyed Gaffigan's amusing observations about kids & parenting, although a lot of hPretty amusing stuff, if not outright laugh-out-loud for me. I enjoyed Gaffigan's amusing observations about kids & parenting, although a lot of his jokes ask the reader to buy into the traditional idea that "Mom does everything around the house, and Dad is AMAZING if he ignores his biological wiring to help raise the kids at all! Gee whiz!" I'm glad I listened to the audio instead of reading the print, because Gaffigan's deadpan delivery is pretty great. ...more
In between the sounds of Nick Offerman's giggles, Paddle Your Own Canoe offers up a Wendell Berry-esque manifesto of living with character and integriIn between the sounds of Nick Offerman's giggles, Paddle Your Own Canoe offers up a Wendell Berry-esque manifesto of living with character and integrity (even if it's just being true to your inner smartass.) Nick refined the art of the deadpan in the laboratory of Illinois' 1980s rural Catholic churches, and here his unique voice and chewy prose chronicle hilarious hijinks involving bratwurst haikus, facial hair, woodworking, love, and, of course, the legend of Tick-Tock & Flip-Flop, lords of the 80′s Midwestern Breakdance. Surprisingly political and philosophical, Nick Offerman mixes it up with plenty of Ron Swanson-esque smartassery. And giggles. Don't forget the giggles....more
You may know Allie Brosh as the creator of the "Alot" monster or the "Clean all the things!" meme, or, more recently, from her candid writing about deYou may know Allie Brosh as the creator of the "Alot" monster or the "Clean all the things!" meme, or, more recently, from her candid writing about depression and anxiety. I love her crudely hewn webcomics, and am so psyched that they're finally here in book form. Lately I've been getting some help for my own anxiety, and Hyperbole and a Half was there for me at just the right time, like a hilarious mirror I could hold up to myself and laugh until tears streamed down my face, never fully knowing whether it was because it was funny or because it was true. The first chapter alone has swearing at a two year old, time travel, dogs, crayons, and gratuitous nudity. It's not only hysterical as hell, but also angsty and honest and dark, and I dare you to flip through a copy in the checkout line at the bookstore without taking it home with you....more
I'm a fan of Rob Delaney's über-successful twitter account, and while I was expecting to be amused by his book, nothing could have prepared me for theI'm a fan of Rob Delaney's über-successful twitter account, and while I was expecting to be amused by his book, nothing could have prepared me for the hilarious emotional bulldozer hidden within. In between funny jokes about trying to impress his French teacher and pooping on a strange lady's lawn, Rob breaks out with balls-to-the-wall raw truth about his self destructive past: drunk driving, alcoholism, daredevil stunts, life-threatening injuries, rehab, and suicidal depression. (Wait, isn't this supposed to be a funny book?) The length of a book gives Rob Delaney room to use his weird humor to excavate truths and reveal himself as a whole, flawed person with genuine regard for other human beings. And who also likes to tell jokes about pooping. I loved this listen so hard....more
For all of us who fell in love with Jenji Kohan's TV adaption of Piper Kerman's story about her year spent in a low security prison on drug charges, wFor all of us who fell in love with Jenji Kohan's TV adaption of Piper Kerman's story about her year spent in a low security prison on drug charges, we were smitten with the drama and the conflict and the kickass story arcs — most of which, it turns out, were too good to be true. Writing non fiction can be a fickle mistress because you've got to stick to the facts; unless you’re writing about The World's Most Interesting Subject or were dealt an amazing built-in story arc, you might be out of luck. Piper Kerman's totally true memoir is interesting in its own way, but misses the narrative payoff of the brilliant TV series it inspired: Piper doesn't actually cheat on her fiance by hooking up with her ex girlfriend, the prison cook doesn't actually try to starve her out, the fanatical meth addict doesn't actually try to shank her in the shower, etc. etc. (Oops, spoilers I guess?) Although I didn't love this memoir as a standalone piece, I did enjoy reading the kernels of truth that inspired fictional events in the TV series....more
If you believe Scott McClanahan (and you really shouldn’t), he spent his childhood in rural West Virginia pouring six packs of beer down his uncle’s fIf you believe Scott McClanahan (and you really shouldn’t), he spent his childhood in rural West Virginia pouring six packs of beer down his uncle’s feeding tube and dodging his formidable grandmother Ruby at neighborhood funerals. McClanahan is a quintessential unreliable narrator, and his loose first person account of his Appalachian kin sprawls out over 192 pages peppered with tall tales and half truths that, taken together, make up a tender portrait of strange love and angsty youth. For such an experimental little book, Crapalachia is also very funny and readable. I enjoyed the 4 hours I spent with Grandma Ruby, Uncle Nathan, and the rest of the West Virginia clan — including (or maybe even especially) his neurotic neighbor Bill who collects troll dolls and crotchless panties. McClanahan is an exciting new voice in the growing canon of kickass Southern writers....more
Josh Hanagarne is a librarian and a lapsed Mormon, which made me feel like we were destined to be spirit-animals right off the bat. But the similaritiJosh Hanagarne is a librarian and a lapsed Mormon, which made me feel like we were destined to be spirit-animals right off the bat. But the similarities dwindle from there. Josh suffers from Tourette Syndrome so severe that, in its darkest moments, has caused him to punch himself repeatedly in his own face. In The World’s Strongest Librarian, Josh writes about turning to books and strength training to cope with his crushing challenges. This is a moving and enjoyable read, and Hanagarne is a totally lovable bookworm — consider: his adorable childhood crush on Fern from Charlotte’s Web, his adolescent binge reading sessions of Sweet Valley High, and his enduring obsession with the non-Mormon-approved Stephen King. Books were Josh’s friends when friends were tough to come by, and that love shines through in a bubbly and heartfelt way throughout all his struggles and soul-searching. The World’s Strongest Librarian is also a fascinating read about faith — what it means to have it, question it, lose it, reclaim it, and ultimately make peace with it....more