Q: What did one book say to the other?
A: I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page!
Here at the The Book Jam we are seriously on the same page of laughing and literature since for the past few weeks both Lisas have been helping to coordinate Laughing Matters: A Celebration of Books and Humor, a series of events benefitting our stellar local library. We are proud and energized to be a part of Laughing Matters because literature, laughing, and libraries are all high on the list of things that matter to us MOST.
In honor of this theme we’ve chosen to highlight some of our favorite, recently published laugh-out-loud books and some others that just make us feel better and smile. Many were discussed last night during a Laughing Matters event featuring one of the funniest people we know – local comedian Cindy Pierce (if you don’t know who she is yet, you will!). An amazing storyteller, college speaker, and educator for women – and men – on issues of sexuality, she had the crowd rolling as she delivered a “book report” of sorts riffing on some of her favorite humor titles such as , How to Be a Woman, Bossypants and Sleepwalk with Me, all of which are reviewed below.
So, on today of all days: Go forth, read, laugh, frequent your local library, and VOTE!
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (2012) – First, Lisa Christie: I have not yet read WILD, but it is now on the top of my list due to this gem of a book. This collection of essays of questions and answers from Ms. Strayed’s Dear Sugar internet advice column is lovely. You will tear up, laugh, smile a lot and feel better knowing someone like this exists in the world. Bonus – you might pick up some great advice for your own life (basically it all boils down to the words — to do better, you are going to have to try (p 146)).
And, Lisa Cadow chiming in at this point in the review to give a double plug for this wise, thoughtful, deep, moving, surprising, hopeful, and -yes- funny book. Who knew advice columnists could write like this? And these aren’t just your one paragraph “Dear Annie” responses to life’s difficult questions. These are roadmaps, gems of responses considered from every angle and reflected back with grace and beauty. This book took my breath away and then gave me enough back to laugh and cry. You will want to keep a copy of this book on your bedside table to help you navigate life a little better. ~Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow
Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011)- I usually avoid books by celebrities (one exception being listening to and enjoying Michael J. Fox read his first book – Lucky Man). So, it took awhile to read this one, and I am glad I finally did. While enjoying her amazing humor and self-deprecating outline of her life to date, I irritated my poor husband by laughing out loud when he was trying to sleep. Turn about is fair play however – I fell asleep with this book on my chest and woke to him having stolen it and waking me with his laughter. This exchange among spouses offers conclusive proof females can be funny (a theme from the book) and that this book is good no matter what your gender. Pick it up, read and laugh. ~ Lisa Christie
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (2012). Don’t let the cover of this masterpiece put you off (I don’t know, for me I felt a little like I might be setting out to read the memoirs of Cruella Deville - not that that would be a bad thing but not necessarily what I was looking for). Every sentence in this book has exquisite insight and side-splitting humor to offer about subjects such as women’s shoes, Germaine Greer, strident feminism, motherhood, handbags, hair styles, pornography, surviving puberty, and making it through dating with your self-worth intact — in sum, how to be a woman. Except Moran, in addition to adding her raucous, offbeat sense of British humor to the whole affair, is also generously sharing with readers the story of her life, which certainly wasn’t a walk in Hyde Park. Growing up in a family of eight with a small income, an even smaller house, and struggling with issues of obesity, puberty was challenging for Moran. She is a wise woman, though, as becomes clear through her deft telling of this story. She also has much to offer women as they reflect on their own journeys, and those of their daughters. You may not agree with everything she says but boy – I mean, girl! – does she have a lot to say and say it well she does. One of my favorite humor books and memoirs of the 2012. ~Lisa Cadow
Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia (2010) – Just out in paperback, this memoir chronicles what it takes for one man to become a successful stand up comedian (This American Life, Thurber Prize for American Humor). In Mr. Birbiglia’s case, his path to stardom includes unique make out sessions as a teen, parents he loves but does not understand, avoidance of drugs, and a tendency to sleepwalk which lands him in unusual spaces. Read this to remember (or discover) what growing up in the 80s and 90s really meant, and how to be funny in the midst of poverty and often while in pain. One other note, a neighboring teen found this insightful as he navigates his life’s choices as well. So, the appeal of this book is multi-generational. ~ Lisa Christie
Bill Bryson – Only Bill Bryson can make boy scouts being eaten by bears funny. Some of our favorite titles are: A Walk in the Woods - about walking the AT, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself - about being in the US after 20 years abroad. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie