Tag Archives: essays

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) by Laurie Notaro

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) by Laurie Notaro: A collection of autobiographical essays from one of the funnier writers I’ve come across. Though in places too acerbic to be truly uproarious, once you get into Notaro’s groove her rants and tangents range are pretty darn funny. There were times I laughed aloud – no mean feat, considering I was reading this on an exercise bike. Her descriptions of the tampon flying out of her purse, the spontaneously exploding pants, and her attempts to “love everybody” while at CostCo on a weekend were particularly memorable. A short book, but good for a quick laugh.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony

Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony: This was a gift from my sister, with the note “Long live your sense of adventure!” It’s a marvelous collection of travel games, from the simple (take the first left turn, then the first right turn, etc.) to the complex (a couple showing up separately at a foreign place and seeing if you can find each other) to the plain old bizarre (traveling while wearing a horse head mask). Each game is accompanied by a description of “laboratory results” (that is, someone who actually did it), most of which are beautiful and funny. One day I’ll try some of these. If nothing else, it’s a very entertaining read, and makes me want to explore.

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (unabridged audiobook read by the author): One thing I really appreciate about Sedaris is not only does he share the often unflattering foibles of everyone around him, he never spares himself. Indeed, he often paints himself as the one with the worst intentions and habits. I laughed particularly hard at “In the Waiting Room” and “What I Learned”. The final and longest essay, “The Smoking Section,” goes through his first few months after quitting smoking. It’s made more interesting by the stay in Japan during this time. These essays are sometimes poignant, often funny, and always unexpected. All in all, this is one of Sedaris’s better collections. It doesn’t beat out Me Talk Pretty One Day as my favorite, but it’s probably in second place.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Ig Nobel Prizes by Marc Abrahams

The Ig Nobel Prizes by Marc Abrahams: This is one seriously funny book. Ig Nobel prizes are awarded to those who pursue (and publish) research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think. Actual Nobel Laureates present the awards and participate in the general shenanigans that take place during the annual ceremony. Abrahams’s descriptions of this selection of winners had me cracking up repeatedly. It’s hard to pick a favorite, though I did particularly enjoy Levitating Crime Fighters and High Velocity Birth. And yes, as is repeatedly mentioned, all of these experiments are real. Definitely recommended.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Naked by David Sedaris

Naked by David Sedaris: As with all of Sedaris’s books, this is a collection of autobiographical essays, mostly humorous. To be honest, this wasn’t one of his better books. A lot of the stories felt simply too long and drawn out, as if they could have been split into two stories about two different things. I should also note that the stories are more sequential, so that things make the most sense when read in the order they are presented in the book. This wasn’t a bad book, to be sure; I laughed in quite a few places. It just isn’t as strong a set of tales as those found in his other books. Recommended for Sedaris fans, but if you’re new to this author, you’d probably be better off trying out something else.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro

We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro: In this collection of humorous (and often downright hysterical) autobiographical essays, Notaro recounts episodes from her life with blunt honesty and hilarious commentary. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I did get a real kick out of her correlation between her diets and the reappearance of popcorn chicken at KFC. I laughed out loud many many times at this book, and now I’m going to be poor because I need to go out and find the rest of her books. If you like David Sedaris, you’ll probably like Laurie Notaro. Very funny.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I’m Kissing You Good-bye! by Cynthia Heimel

Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I’m Kissing You Good-bye! by Cynthia Heimel: This collection of columns is at once funny, exasperating, and disheartening. I found it difficult to read large amounts in a single sitting; the rage against society expressed in some of the essays was simply exhausting. I also am not nearly as enamoured of the Baby Boomers as the author, nor do I believe that any one political party is the cause of or answer to all of my problems. But there is more than enough humor and wisdom in these pages to quiet my complaints. I’m not sure I’ll go out of my way to seek out any more books by Heimel, but I enjoyed this one.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Maybe Baby edited by Lori Leibovich

Maybe Baby, edited by Lori Leibovich: This book, a collection of essays by writers about why they decided to become parents (or not), intrigued me because I am a 26-year-old married woman with zero interest in ever having children. It is not, however, a book I would have picked up while browsing in the bookstore, mostly because I don’t visit the Parenting and Family section.

This book is a little lop-sided. A mere 18% of it is spent on people who made the decision to be childless; the “On the Fence” section is misnamed, as all the articles are about people who want children but for whatever reason do not have them (with the exception of the woman who has already children, but they are not biologically related to her). It should have been titled “On the Verge.”

A few of the essays stick out in my mind. One believes that while she practices it herself, childlessness on a large scale will mean the death of American culture. Another admits to wanting a child mostly because she wants someone who looks like her. Another talks about her son’s diagnosis of autism. But while there were certainly differences, I was struck most by the similarity of the stories. Sure, they’re all writers, but it went beyond that. A large number of them casually discussed their travels to far corners of the world, their liberal political leanings, their abortions, their passion for fine art and wine. Most of them also started their families relatively late – in their 30s or 40s.

Unless you are fascinated by the subject of parenthood, this is not a book to be read all in one sitting. The stories start to run together and more than a few feel tediously familiar. That said, I’m glad I read it; I still don’t want children, but now I understand a little better those that do.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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