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My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

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A Hilarious Collection of Essays from one of America's Most Gifted Humorists!

Follow New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach -- but be careful not to trip -- as she weaves through personal anecdotes and everyday musings riddled with her uncanny wit and amazingly analytical eye. These essays, which found a well-deserved home within the pages of Reader's Digest as the column "My Planet," detail the inner workings of hypochondriacs, hoarders, and compulsive cheapskates. (Did we mention neurotic interior designers and professional list-makers?) For Roach, humor is hidden in the most unlikely places, which means that nothing is off limits. Whether she is dwelling on her age or talking about the pros and cons of a bedroom night light -- "A married couple can best be defined as a unit of people whose sleep habits are carefully engineered to keep each other awake" -- Roach finds a lesson, a slice of sarcasm, or a dash of something special that makes each day comical and absolutely priceless.

In keeping with our mission -- curating the best reads in the land -- Reader's Digest editors neatly packaged these timeless (and hilarious) Roach essays together for the first time. Whether you read this cover-to-cover or during spare moments over morning coffee, flip to a page in this volume and try not to smile.

191 pages, Paperback

First published April 4, 2013

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About the author

Mary Roach

40 books11.6k followers
Mary Roach is a science author who specializes in the bizarre and offbeat; with a body of work ranging from deep-dives on the history of human cadavers to the science of the human anatomy during warfare.

Mary Roach is the author of the New York Times bestsellers STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; GULP: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, PACKING FOR MARS: The Curious Science of Life in the Void; BONK: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex; and GRUNT: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

Mary has written for National Geographic, Wired, Discover, New Scientist, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, and Outside, among others. She serves as a member of the Mars Institute's Advisory Board and the Usage Panel of American Heritage Dictionary. Her 2009 TED talk made the organization's 2011 Twenty Most-Watched To Date list. She was the guest editor of the 2011 Best American Science and Nature Writing, a finalist for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize, and a winner of the American Engineering Societies' Engineering Journalism Award, in a category for which, let's be honest, she was the sole entrant.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 556 reviews
Profile Image for Melki.
5,807 reviews2,346 followers
September 9, 2014
1/3 less filling than a regular Mary Roach book, but fun all the same.

This is a collection of Reader's Digest essays. Keeping in mind that the sole purpose of that rag is to NOT UPSET ANYONE, these tales of Roach-life are tame compared to her usual books. There are certainly no Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex moments to be found.

Here we have Mary relating all the trials and tribulations of her everyday life, from her attempts to call a Customer Care Service to the hazards of Valentine's Day. Always along for the ride, we meet her long-suffering husband, Ed. (And I'm pretty sure I've never used THAT term before, so, way to go, Mare!) Together they embark on shopping trips, vacations, home improvement projects and other pitfalls that serve as the highlights of marital life and strife.

So, no, this was not quite as entertaining as reading about the GI tract or learning how to poop in space, but I'll take it.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,102 reviews409 followers
April 12, 2013
I had mixed feelings while reading these essays by Mary Roach. First, I was incredibly amused. She is hilarious and honest yet clean. CLEAN. Did I mention hilarious? That's where the mixed feelings come in. Mary is funnier than I am. So I have to hate her just a little bit.

Still, her writing is so honest and real that I had to read snippets of it to my husband. So many of her essays were centered around her marriage and the differences between herself and her husband, Ed, who sadly resemble in many ways me and my husband. By "sadly," I really mean that it made it all the funnier to me and validated me as I assessed our hygiene gap.

Like any normal couple, we refused to accept each other's differences and did whatever we could to annoy the other person. 

He confessed he didn't like me using his bathrobe because I'd wear it while sitting on the toilet.

"It's not like it goes in the water," I protested, though if you counted the sash as part of the robe, this wasn't strictly true.

Eventually, I brought out my handy highlighter. I do not know why I own highlighters since I haven't been a college student for many years, but I own them, love them and hoard them. Here are a few of my favorite highlighted parts:

Ed is an early-to-sleep sort of chap, who'll announce around 8 p.m., 'I'm just going to change into my pj's and read for a while.' (He falls asleep) This makes it difficult for yours truly, for I really do read in bed... Ed would like for me to do this in a quiet, motionless, pitch-dark manner. Instead, I do it in a chip-crunching, light on, getting-in-and-out-of-bed-for-more-chips manner.

A married couple can best be defined as a unit of people whose sleep habits are carefully engineered to keep each other awake.

That one I read to my husband. He looked around the house for hidden cameras.

I must also add that my 17 year old daughter came home late the night I had this book on the counter. She sat on a stool and read for an hour before coming in to tell me goodnight. Not that I was asleep. I was actually reading in bed, occasionally getting up to get more chips. Speaking of family -

A family is a collection of people who share the same genes but cannot agree on a place to pull over for lunch. Ed and I, plus his parents and sister Doris and eight year old niece Alisha, are on a road trip to Yosemite. Poppy wants Subway, Ed wants in-N-Out Burger, Mary wants Sonic. In the end, we compromise on McDonalds, where Alisha will get an "Incredibles" action figure that will come in handy later for breaking the heater vent.

I like Mary. I think we should be friends.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,031 followers
May 7, 2013
I first read Roach's columns in Reader's Digest (RD) & loved them, so when a friend told me she had written a book about bodies after death, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, I was immediately interested, read it, loved it & have loved every book since.

As they originally appeared, each column was the front & back of one page in RD. Nothing has been done to change them, although they're lacking the cartoon that accompanied them in the magazine, which is a shame. The main point being, these are each a very quick read on diverse subjects. If you MUST ALWAYS READ (like me), it's great for the bathroom or when you'll be interrupted often, such as during commercial breaks, although I tend to ignore the TV for the book.

Even sitting down reading a dozen of these humorous essays in a row is fine. Since the subjects are so diverse, my sense of humor doesn't trip out (overload) as it usually does with humorous books. Since Roach is about my age, her witty remarks on marriage, kids, & life in general tend to hit home perfectly.

In 2012, I emailed Roach to tell her how much I enjoyed Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void & asked if this book might be printed. She told me RD owned all the rights & she doubted it, so I was surprised to find it offered up while I was buying her latest, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal in 2013.

I'd guess RD finally realized they had a treasure & put this out at the same time so they could take advantage of her latest book launch without spending any money advertising. Legal, but we have the curious case of an author's work being repackaged & resold without them getting a cent, I suppose. I don't like that, but she signed the contract & their magazine did introduce her name to a huge audience. Besides, it's too good a collection to pass up, so I have to recommend it highly.
Profile Image for Rachel.
289 reviews32 followers
August 2, 2014
This is a side of Mary Roach I really wish I'd never seen. I'm sure these stories were hilarious in small doses when originally published, but all together they came off as whiny and self-centered. This should have been called, "My Husband", although Ed seems to be her whole world as documented here so maybe the title is appropriate.

Until I picked this up, Mary Roach was one of my favorite authors. I loved her humor and her tenacious research and approachable way of describing science. Reading these often abruptly-ended essays back to back, I started to notice her tendency to explicitly endorse gender stereotypes (a la, "men have _____ gene, that I, as a woman, do not") as a means of setting up her next demonstration of her husband's quirks. It would have upset me to see that kind of nonsense from any author, but it made me especially sad to see it from one of my literary idols.

Sadly, I had no desire to finish this collection. I got it from the library, but had I purchased it (as I usually do with Roach's books) I would have been pretty pissed. The only reason I am bestowing two stars instead of one is that before I got sick of the whining and blatant gender stereotyping, this book did make me laugh out loud in expected Roach fashion. I just wish she'd kept it a bit classier (as only a woman who so elegantly writes about floating space poo can).
Profile Image for Kkraemer.
744 reviews21 followers
July 23, 2013
Mary Roach has taught me about germs, sex, and death, so when I saw that she had written a compendium about the planet, I felt that nirvana was at hand.


This is a collection of 500 word essays written for Reader's Digest. They fit perfectly: all about Life in these United States, all perky, all light. Great bathroom reading. One at a time.

Mary Roach is a great writer, but the 500 word essay isn't anyone's medium. She writes lines like "God help me. I've entered the Age of Skirted Swimwear. This is the age right after Accessorizing with Reading Glasses and a few years before Can't Name Anyone on the Radio" and "A family is a collection of people who share the same genes but cannot agree on a place to pull over for lunch," but they appear in such an oddly rhythmed book that they lose their zest.

Some of the essays are really funny, though: few writers take on the Scent Industry, for example, or topics like how to end evenings with acquaintances (air kiss? hug? smile? handshake?). The essay about really cheap thrills (including typing "yink" into your spell check to see what comes up) is particularly funny.

They're still 500 word essays, though, and by the time she sets the context, quotes Ed (her husband) a bit, builds to the apex of humor, somehow...well, the timing's off and game over.

I'll read her other books...and her essays in any Reader's Digests that come my way. This collection, though, just doesn't work.
Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews659 followers
August 25, 2013
Thanks to Netgalley and Readers Digest for a reviewers copy in exchange for an honest review.

Cross-posted from my blog The Periodic Table of Elephants

After an ambivalent start with her early books, I have grown to love Mary's later works such as 'Packing for Mars', 'Stiff' and 'Gulp'. Mary's long form writing addresses all those questions that we are all thinking yet do not ask such as "What the hell is a shit transplant?", "When you donate your body to science, what happens to it?" and "What happens if you vomit in a spacesuit helmet?". Her curiosity is a mix of the curiosity of an eight year old, mixed with the humour of a great comedian.

'My Planet' is a collection of Mary's column for Readers Digest. As opposed to her themed books, these essays centre upon her everyday life. While they are just as funny as her other works (possibly slightly more laugh out loud), you lose the science and just experience Mary and her husband Ed buying a bin and visiting Costco. Don't get me wrong, Mary is probably the best person in this world to share these activities with.

While each story was fun and witty it isn't nearly as satisfying as her other works. But as what I call a "toilet read" it's a winner.
Profile Image for Tania.
1,202 reviews272 followers
July 13, 2015
From acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach comes the complete collection of her “My Planet” articles published in Reader’s Digest. I did not expect to enjoy this title so much, but I really related to almost all the stories in here, and was giggling throughout the book, which I read in one sitting. If you want some light entertainment, and your sense of humour tends to be a bit off-beat, I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Kayt O'Bibliophile.
720 reviews21 followers
June 12, 2019
From one of my all-time favorite authors (and people-surrounding-me's least-favorite authors, due to her incredible read-out-loudability) comes something that...well, I wasn't sure what it was at first, but it had Mary Roach's name on it so it had to be good.

And it was, though not quite like I expected. In the early-mid aughts (a.k.a. ~ten-ish years ago, but let us use fancy words instead) she wrote a column for Reader's Digest, and those monthly shorts have been compiled here.

If you're familiar with Roach's work and science writing, the title might make you think "weird geological stuff about earth, with humor!" It's not, take the "my planet" line like you would if it came from your weird friend, i.e., "Kayt's Planet: No Really, I'm Normal." Interestingly, the info-page on the inside with the Library of Congress stuff lists the title as "My Planet: exploring the world with family, friends, and dental floss." She's funny no matter what she writes about, but that's a better indicator of what you'll be reading.

The--chapters? Entries? Syndicated blog posts?--are all short, so it's possible to both 1)open anywhere in the book and just start reading, and 2)read entire entries to the hapless bystanders, no backstory-explanations required. Everybody wins.
Profile Image for Becca.
425 reviews19 followers
February 19, 2021
I love Mary Roach. So much. And finding humor in the oddest places is absolutely the schtick that made her famous.

This is not it. This is finding humor in the most trite, pedestrian places. Like, stop me if you've heard this one: there isn't much knee room on airplanes! Phone trees are incomprehensible! Tech support isn't based in the USA and also doesn't like to help you! Women don't like their bodies as they age! Men are slobs who like sports!

Also, speaking of aging with indignity, many of these jokes didn't age well. About three essays in, when we got to TV channels, I double checked the publication date: 2013. Huh. OK. And then an Anna Nicole Smith sent me to double check...2013. Eight years didn't feel that long ago, but I was ready to buy it until the mysterious object called the "Roomba" was discussed with great pomp AND Roach expressed indignity about websites not having phone numbers to call, google sent me to the Reader's Digest archives, where I found that most of these essays date back to the Dubya era...the first term. (If I hadn't figured it out by then, an essay featuring receiving netflix in the mail and an iPod shuffle would have given it away.)

What else didn't age well? Two different jokes making fun of Native American languages. And an internalized misogyny thinly disguised as self-deprecating humor. But the timeline raises more questions than it answers: in My Planet, Roach presents herself as appalled by the extremes of her aging face and body, incapable of adapting to new technology and tottering towards senescence. This feels impossible to reconcile with a woman who in 2008 agrees to have sex in an MRI (wikipedia tells me I'm remembering it wrong and it's an ultrasound...) and then 8 years after that bullies her way into an Army base in Djibouti to investigate diarrhea. The answer is that Roach was an ancient 43 when she wrote this book, an age that feels way younger than these essays read. I wonder which Roach is the real one.

And this is the rub: I'm a Mary Roach fan because she makes my work in the weird biochemistry of the body feel seen and relevant. When I read her other books, part of the joy is imagining her coming to interview me and giggling like old friends about some hilarious joke I tell with the punchline involving an organic acid and the tandem mass spectrometer. When I read this book? And I imagine this woman obsessed with her body shape and gender essentialism and very, very well-trod punchlines...if this woman ever wanted to interview me at work, I'd pawn it off on the fellows. (Maybe she's both things -- the adventurous, witty, dry humorous writer and the cliched wine mom type and it's my own internalized misogyny that won't let me reconcile them. Who knows?)
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,164 reviews511 followers
August 25, 2016
Loved this compilation of Reader's Digest columns of Mary Roach. Sharp, witty, relaxing. She touches on social issues that is relevant to most of us and makes something funny of it. After reading them all, I thought it was a perfect coffee table or bathroom book.
Profile Image for Jeimy.
4,539 reviews32 followers
June 18, 2017
Hilarious vignettes that will make you laugh aloud. Careful when reading in public. Strangers will stare.
Profile Image for Traci.
887 reviews39 followers
February 11, 2014
Full disclosure before the review: I listened to this as an audio book, rather than reading it as I usually would (in a physical book). I've recently taken on a new assignment through work, and now have alternating 10 and 16 mile drives back and forth to home. I thought maybe it was time I gave audio books another try, as my previous assignment, at only 4 miles from our apartment, barely gave me time to listen to one song on the radio. After trying this particular title, I can't say I'm sold yet on the idea.

I love Roach, ever since reading her first book Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers. She's got a really neat way of looking at things, and a nice writing style - never dumbed down, yet always accessible. So it threw me for a loop when I found myself nearly nodding off at this audio version of her short vignettes (and that's definitely not something you want to do while driving!) I think it's not so much the words as the presentation. I've been told that the narrator makes or breaks the audio book, and in this case, well...for myself, it was a case of break. Angela Dawe is, I'm sure, a very nice person, and probably does some excellent work in film, TV, stage, and possibly other audio books (all talents of hers according to her bio on the back of the case). But I think she was the wrong choice for this title. She reminded me a lot of the voice you hear when you call your bank, the automated teller. And that's to her advantage for one of the tracks, "42 minutes" where she recites Roach's typical interaction with the automated voice of her credit card company. For that track, Dawe was perfect. For the others? Not so much.

The other thing I had a hard time with was the fact that 3 of the 4 cds ended in the middle of a story. Why? None of the tracks is particularly long, and when I got to the forth cd, I was shocked that it was over after 16 tracks - most of the other cds ran at 20 or so. Why not take those three interrupted stories and put them on that last disc? I've been told that sometimes the audio publishers do it this way, sometimes they don't. All I know is that I found it weird, distracting, and incredibly inconvenient - I mean, hello! I'm driving and you want me to switch discs all of the sudden?

Overall, I can't say whether the book itself is good or not. I think it is, but I'll reserve that judgment until I read it. In a nice cozy chair, using the voice inside my head. As for the audio version, I didn't care for it. I'll give one more title a try (maybe something in fiction) before I give up, but I'm leaning toward the "I'm just not a fan of audio books" school of reading.
Profile Image for Frank.
1,906 reviews21 followers
February 15, 2016
I happened upon this book at a thrift shop and snapped it up when I saw it was written by Mary Roach. I didn't realize that she had written a humorous column for Reader's Digest. I have read a couple of her other books including Bonk, a funny and in depth look at sex and science, and have some others on my to-read shelf.

My Planet is a collection of her writings from Reader's Digest consisting of 60 or so 2 and a half page vignettes of the humor in her everyday experiences. I could relate to almost all of these: many were about communications between her and her husband, Ed; others about growing older; or about any of many of life's annoyances. These included discussions on hygiene, shopping, dentists, sleeping, road trips, getting bifocals, etc. It was funny that I tended to have a lot of the same traits as Ms. Roach, while my wife has a lot of the characteristics of her husband, Ed. For example, Ed is a germaphobe like my wife, while I tend not to notice or care about possible bacteria. From the book: "Ed confessed he didn't like me using his bathrobe because I'd wear it while sitting on the toilet. 'It's not like it goes in the water,' I protested, though if you counted the sash as part of the robe, this wasn't strictly true. 'Doesn't matter,' Ed said. Ed has a theory that anything that touches the toilet...is unclean and subject to the sanitary laws of Leviticus." Another example is that Ed can't sleep at night if there is any light--even from the alarm clock, so he puts his head between two pillows. This is definitely my wife!

This is a fun book to read in spare moments where each short vignette can be read in a few minutes. I would recommend this one for that reason and for the many chuckles it provided.
Profile Image for Lynn.
235 reviews6 followers
October 27, 2015
Yes, as another reviewer had put it, this is "Mary Roach Lite." But hey, I laughed out loud in almost every chapter. In fact, in a few I laughed so much that I scared (or just disgusted) the cats, who decamped.
45 reviews
June 14, 2022
Not my favorite by Mary Roach, but a fun quick read nonetheless.
Profile Image for Frances.
500 reviews36 followers
February 12, 2018

I've never really read March Roach, Essayist before and as a result I missed her usual underlying passion for the unknown. This is more Mary Roach, Bored on a Thursday and I Need To Pay My Phone Bill.

Reader's Digest is weird. It's for people who don't really have an attention span. This was all fluff, no substance, and it while it was FOR SURE clever and funny and filled with her typical wit and sarcasm, gently poking fun at her husband...it wasn't enough for the discerning fan.
Profile Image for Hilary "Fox".
2,025 reviews57 followers
January 29, 2018
Mary Roach is an author that I can't get enough of. I love her informative books on science, her interviews on Coast to Coast AM (though, like her, I regret Ian Punnett having left the show - her rapport with her was wonderful), her TED Talks... just everything. My love of her only grew when I was lucky enough to meet her at the National Book Festival and talk to her about how much I adored Spook and regretted it not being available there. We even talked together about our belief that the lack of it may have been a conspiracy due to how uncomfortable the topics therein, treated in a proper scientific matter, disturbed people.

Oh, how great she is.

This collection of essays was brought to my attention by someone in line waiting to meet Mary Roach as well. I was intrigued to have more writing by her to read, and like the domestic writing of Shirley Jackson (see Raising Demons and My Life Among Savages as well as selections in Let Me Tell You), this book will have you laughing out loud. Mary Roach lets her eccentricities fly, discusses how marriage exists to allow both spouses to annoy one another as much as possible, and analyzes just why list-making is so appealing. The 'essays' are short and sweet, little columns of hilarity and insight that should amuse just about anyone.

I loved this book, laughed at it, and even read bits of it to my husband.

Let's face it, Mary Roach is just always a delight.
Profile Image for Shannon.
547 reviews97 followers
February 22, 2015
Really, really wanted to not hate this. But, I couldn't do it. Because it's super boring and not interesting at all and bad. I wanted to like it because I think Mary Roach is awesome, I think she does non-fiction in a readable, interesting, informative way, like few else out there. Bonk, Stiff, etc, all great. And in them, you can tell they are written by someone with a good sense of humor, there are genuine smirky moments of humor infused throughout. So, you'd think a book that was JUST funny little observations, from this person, would be great! Lol-city! Right? Nope. Not funny. Worst. Shut it down.

Full disclosure. I did not read every single story...esaay, is more accurate. If there is ONE hidden gem in here, I may have missed it. But I read enough, jumped around, tried to find something great. There is nothing. It is just really, really uninteresting daily observations. Like, daily observation-type-stuff definitely have the potential to be interesting, no matter how trite the topic of conflict (see: like all of Seinfeld). Buuut. She didn't pull if off here, in any story that I saw, really.

In her defense, I don't think this should have been a book, clearly it doesn't work as one. It's just a published collection of short essay-pieces she wrote for Readers Digest. That's why they are all so short. They were just a small part of Readers Digest. They can't stand alone. And, really, compiling them wasn't necessary. Also, no shade on Readers Digest (okay, maybe a little) but it's just about the...safest anthology of various writings I can think of. Least scandalous? What's the opposite of controversial? Whatever that word is. I'm sure these pieces fit in there. They probably could have just stayed there, though...

(Note to self and anyone who cares about my goodreads readin' goals: Putting date as last year again, though I am finally just giving up on it now, just so it doesn't count toward my 50book goal, as I didn't read every single page).
Profile Image for Charlene.
875 reviews504 followers
September 14, 2016
This book really does focus on *her* planet. It should have been titled My Marriage. Perhaps if it were titled as such, I would not have been so disappointed by the content.

There is no question Roach is funny, witty, and provides a novel take on most situations. That is what makes her books so fantastic. But, this book about her life just didn't do it for me. I can see why her husband would have picked her. I could easily see myself being very happy married to someone like her. I would probably laugh every day. I would certainly cherish her for her mind. I just wanted something different out of this book.

I love Roach so much, I am not in the least discouraged from reading her future books. I just hope that if she does a biography, she chooses a title that doesn't leave me expecting some awesome science when in reality it delivers none:(
Profile Image for Erin.
2,078 reviews72 followers
May 5, 2014
ARC for review.

If you are a Roach fan and are familiar with her style, this is exactly what you would expect when Roach is writing for Reader's Digest, i.e. an older crowd. Lots of the standard husband/wife and aging drama that Roach manages to make funny in these bite-sized essays. Each essay is incredibly short, so it's a good choice for short attention spans.

My favorite lines - "From observing dozens of Before and After shots, I concluded that women are much better at applying makeup after they get veneers." and "God help me, I've entered the Age of the Skirted Swimwear. This is the age right after Accessorizing with Reading Glasses and a few years before Can't Name Anyone on the Radio."
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,000 reviews15 followers
June 27, 2013
My warning signals should have gone off with this book for two reasons: 1. Reader's Digest 2. Listed as "Humor" on the back. Turns out this is not the Mary Roach I know and love.

That said, these are cute essays that only take about five minutes a piece to read. They are clever and do have some of Mary's trademarked humor but there is no science or learning here. These are "slice of life" vignettes, mostly about Mary and her husband - sweet but also a little dull.

This is not really for Mary Roach fans, more for Dave Barry or Garrison Keillor fans.
Profile Image for M.
270 reviews6 followers
August 12, 2017
Listened this on my drive to and from training, and it was exactly what I needed: incredibly bite-sized blips of Mary Roach humor. Quite often I found myself guffawing in the car, wishing I could nudge someone next to me.
Profile Image for JZ.
708 reviews89 followers
November 16, 2018
If taken in small doses, as when sitting in the smallest room in the house in your husband's bathrobe, this is a pretty good book.

I love Mary Roach's work. I've read most of her books, with Mary as narrator. I wondered why we were being subjected to a narrator who projects across the room while she stands right in front of the mic, as if she's lecturing an unruly class of dunces. Ouch! I could only listen to one or two at a time.

It's because Mary had no control over that.

Readers' Digest, that standby of my grandparents' generation, decided that they owned a bunch of 500-word essays, written in their formula of 'clean, brief, very, very clean jocularity,' and weren't going to let that bandwagon pass them by when Mary's new book, Gulp, was published. It was ten years after Stiff, her first, and still most popular full-length book, and what better way to add a little stack of green paper to the plus column than to turn them into an "Also by".

I sympathize with RD. My in-laws, ever the thrifty yankees, (Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without) had bought a lifetime subscription back in the Fifties or Sixties for $100, (from wedding money, I'm guessing) optimistically thinking that they'd be ahead after year 10 or so. They opted for the large print version, so as to use the greater amount of paper (useful for starting fires) and save on vision care. Bonus!
Little did they know that they would last another 50 years, and the magazine just kept coming, virtually free now, to them, and at a tremendous cost to the publishers. Their campaign had been successful, but as the guy says, "It'll cost ya."

I saw a RD in the used-magazine bins (25¢ each or 5/$1) at the library the other day. I was surprised to see it existed at all, although a shadow of its former self, dwarfed by every other item in the area. Even the schedule for the local bus loomed over it. I brought it to my 89 year-old mother, and said, "Blast from the past?" and she said, "What, that? Awwwww."

This recording brought me right back there. Is this what they've come to? The once-proud empire of the sanitized version of books, magazine articles, and medical reports, keeping America clean and safe from smut? What hath the internet wrought? Dodo.

So, I guess that I can't blame them for trying to cash in on their most famous author of the moment, since Mary, according to another reviewer here, didn't see a cent: she had already been paid for those essays. They aren't exactly embarrassing, but not her finest work, either. She had had those pesky formulaic restraints, after all. Despite it all, she shines. Her humor is dry, sly, and wry at times. A portent of things to come.

I'm reminded of actors who did commercials, soap operas, and porn before making it big.

I'm also heading to my bookshelves and back-up hard drives to do some serious editing of my past prose, rejoicing that no one else owns it, yet.

Thanks for the wake-up call on that, Readers' Digest.

Profile Image for Miri Niedrauer.
86 reviews17 followers
May 10, 2022
I'm normally a huge fan of Mary Roach. Her humor style matched with her typical books which provide informational reviews of what would be other-wise incredible boring subjects make for some hilarious and informative reads.

This one fell REALLY short. It is essentially a book of Roach ranting about minor inconveniences in life, many of which could be avoided by a brief moment of logical thought. Much of it involves overly stereotyping the interactions between men and women. It seems that in Roach's world, women are helpless creatures who need men to guide them through life. Some of the more irritating lines from this book:

"I don’t know anything about engines, because I, like other women, lack the take-apart gene."

"Anyway, men understand motors and women don’t."

There are many more, but I don't want to waste any additional time thinking about this book.

Profile Image for Neil.
520 reviews8 followers
February 18, 2019
The audiobook narrator for this has a bizarre/stilted way of speaking. Mostly it's annoying (who talks like this? apparently she's from Lansing, Michigan and Chicago), but occasionally it just works as the audio equivalent of `/shrug` while delivering the one zinger present in every chapter/story. Lots of them, all very short, and pretty tame content, probably make a good gift for parents. After seeing her TED talk, I might have a crush on Mary Roach, she's just such a dork.
Profile Image for Lana.
541 reviews
January 29, 2020
This book is a collection of short humorous essays. It's good for a few chuckles! This type of book is great for when you only have a few minutes to read, because each essay takes less than 5 minutes to read.
Profile Image for Katy.
100 reviews8 followers
January 20, 2018
Mary and Ed are likeable, normal with a normal amount of quirkiness. However I can't say this book has impacted my life.
Profile Image for Julie.
463 reviews
April 14, 2019
Fun compilation of essays. I laughed out loud A LOT. Very enjoyable.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 556 reviews

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