Bossypants by Tina Fey was released on Tuesday, April 5th, and I started and finished it on that very day. Enough said.
Granted, I’m a big fan of Tina Fey and her critically-acclaimed show 30 Rock, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book. It’s part memoir, part humorous essay collection, and part how-to guide on being a woman in show business. And it’s hilarious. She talks about everything from the more unpleasant jobs she had over the years to finding acceptance in a summer theater group to what it was like to meet Sarah Palin after publicly (and frequently) making fun of her on Saturday Night Live. There are one-liners and hilarious anecdote in such abundance that you’ll be embarrassed to read the book in public because you’ll be laughing so much. She also talks about some serious things, like being slashed in the face by a stranger when she was five years old (the source of the trademark scar on her cheek) and how hard it is to balance being a mother and a very busy woman in the workforce, but she still manages to keep it lighthearted. What I really enjoyed about the book was how clearly her comedic voice came through. This isn’t one of those books “written” by a celebrity (aka written by a ghostwriter with the celebrity’s name thrown into the byline); Fey’s sharp wit comes through in every sentence so that you can practically hear her reading it as though she were reciting lines she wrote on 30 Rock.
I tried really hard to pick out a favorite excerpt to share here, just to give you a taste of what the book is like. But every time I tried I just kept typing and typing and pretty soon it was going to border on copyright infringement. So I’ll just tell you that Bossypants is hilarious and if you like humorous memoirs or are a fan of 30 Rock, then you should check it out.
Overwhelmed by mounting pressures from school, home and life, 16-year-old Craig contemplates suicide. Planning to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, at the last minute he detours to the local mental health clinic hoping for a simple solution. What he finds instead, after a minimum five-day stay, is that there are no simple answers, just the support of family and friends and the belief in your own true self.
Starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a charming, witty and heartfelt movie. Craig finds himself surrounded – and accepted – by a colorful cast of characters. His fellow patients are all struggling with their own personal demons but pull together and support each other, sometimes in surprising ways. There are a lot of funny scenes and quiet moments, and there are heartbreaking insights. It’s a story not so much about mental illness as it’s about finding a way to live again.
You might remember him as the sidekick from King of Queens or the voice of Ratatoille. If you’re really on top of it, you recall last year when our fair city was the epicenter of a national stand-up comedy debacle when a community theatre hack mindlessly regurgitated his bits verbatim for profit under the presumption no one would notice. Or, from a commentary in the last issue of Wired Magazine pronouncing the geek fringe as the status quo.
Patton Oswalt is a genius, master comedic manipulator of the spoken word, dilletante, and highly sought-after nerd-culture commentator.
His NYTimes bestselling latest effort, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, features childhood reminisces of Dungeons and Dragons and youth mired in suburban DC no-mans land, custom-crafted in his own inimitable style. It is a rare feat how he wields his half-orc comedic pen with 20+ melee damage so effortlessly and without the pretension of his contemporaries.
You may also consider checking out any of his spoken word albums.
American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson isn’t really a celebrity memoir about the Hollywood life. It’s the story of a young man, struggling with addiction, who wants nothing more than to get to America. Beginning with his childhood in Glasgow, Scotland, Ferguson describes the events of his life that made him who he is today, including dropping out of school at age 16, working in construction, becoming a drummer in various bands, and finally making his mark in the acting and comedy worlds. It was through his career as a drummer that Ferguson first developed a problem with alcohol, which he recounts with much painful detail.
This book is a powerful story about overcoming addiction and working hard to make your dreams come true. Since he was a child and visited the States with his uncle, all Ferguson wanted to do was move to the United States, and anyone who has seen The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson knows that he did indeed make this happen. Though he tells a serious story, the book of course has lots of humor and funny moments in it. I would recommend this book not just for people who enjoy celebrity memoirs, but also for anyone looking for an inspiring story about overcoming the odds and making a better life for yourself.
How do you define family? Is it just the people you’re related to by blood or by marriage? Or does it include the friends that stand by you through thick and thin? What about the people that leave but come back? And what about those that live on only in your memory? In a world that is constantly redefining itself, who do you call your family?
Despite their differences Janey, Jill and Katie become best friends, bound together by the common stresses of working as post-grad students in Seattle in The Atlas of Love. When Jill becomes pregnant and then is abandoned by the baby’s father, the three form a makeshift family and come together to raise Atlas themselves. Juggling teaching schedules, classes and child care at first seems just possible if everything goes smoothly, but of course, life is not smooth or predictable. Katie falls in love and decides to marry, Jill becomes depressed and begins to drift away and Janey struggles to hold everything together by herself. Then Atlas’ absent father returns and the little family is thrown into chaos. The resulting turmoil of anger, fear, concern and yes, love means that while almost everything is different, one thing stays the same – family. Family that is no longer defined by rigid rules, but is flexible enough to encompass all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, all drawn to one common goal – to love and support each other no matter what.
Narrated in Janey’s wry voice, this book moves from laugh-out-loud funny to infuriating to sweet and sad as these young women define and redefine their own improvised family.
As someone who is not a history buff at all, I was hesitant to pick up The Partly Cloudy Patriot. But at the urges of my best friend, I gave it a shot, and I am so glad that I did. Sarah Vowell makes her nerdiness wholly endearing in this series of humorous essays with topics ranging from the Salem Witch Trials to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the 2000 election of George W. Bush. Vowell fully embraces her nerdiness, especially when describing her “nerd voice” and her various vacations to (often depressing) historical landmarks. Though I always found myself bored in history class, Vowell’s book taught me some things I didn’t know all while making me laugh. She makes the information simultaneously humorous and personal; one of my favorite chapters was about Al Gore speaking to a group of high school students and having his remarks taken wildly out of context by the media, changing his message of hope into something egotistical. Not all her stories are aimed at those interested in politics and history; she also has some gems about how to deal with her parents visiting for the holidays and her fear of Tom Cruise.
Just for a taste of her dry wit, here’s one of my favorite passages: “I was enjoying a chocolatey cafe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top. No wonder it costs so much.”
Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox is the autobiography of comedian/writer Greg Fitzsimmons. Arguably, he’s the most cerebral and grounded working comic out there. Unfortunately, the reward for this distinction within the current media dungscape is relative obscurity.
The framework of the narrative from cradle to his own fatherhood is upheld with periodic instances of actual letters recovered from his parents’ drawers charting his emotional development. Usually, these take shape as disciplinary referrals from teachers and deeply-offended entertainment venues.
The underlying thread of the book is the predestiny of being a hard-living Boston Irish Catholic. While felling his friends and family, ultimately, “Fitzdog” breaks the cycle.
This book is written by a dog. Granted, a very special dog — a golden retriever named Trixie. And even though Trixie passed away in 2007, she is still, remarkably, writing books. Of course, it probably helps that she was owned by bestselling author Dean Koontz, who may still have a little something to do with her success. In fact, Koontz states that the Trixie page on his website is one of the most visited features.
Trixie has inspired several books, including A Big Little Life, in which Koontz wrote about his relationship with his beloved pet. But she’s also inspired some new children’s books, such as I Trixie, Who Is Dog , the rights to which have recently been purchased in order to create a new family comedy show. But her speciality is definitely books such as Life is Good or Bliss to You, which are written in dog-speak, as is if Trixie is narrating the story. Though for the most part, this is utterly charming, I’ll warn any ex-English teachers out there (myself included) that dogs apparently do not always use correct syntax. Still, the book is warm, funny, inspirational and short –you can easily find bliss in one short sitting — making it an ideal gift for dog-lovers come Christmas time.
One other reason to support these books: since Trixie originally served as a Canine Companions for Independence (before she went to live with Dean and Gerda) all royalties are donated to this organization.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until recently, I had no idea that the movie The Princess Bride was a book first. So this is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie before I read the book. Typically that hinders my enjoyment of the book, but I can solidly say that this wasn’t the case with The Princess Bride.
Everyone knows how the movie The Princess Bride goes: Buttercup realizes she loves the farmboy Westley just as he is about to leave the country to make a name and fortune for himself. After receiving word that he is dead, and knowing she will never love again, she agrees to marry the dreadful Prince Humperdink. When Buttercup is kidnapped shortly after the announcement of their engagement, the story pushes forward with adventure, romance, and many surprises and beloved characters along the way. It’s fun, romantic, and easily quotable. I know I’m not the only person who at any mention of the movie must say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
I’m happy to say that even though I saw the movie first, I found the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman even more enjoyable. The movie followed the book’s plot very closely, but the book has lots of valuable extra detail and backstory that you miss out on in the movie. The book also included many fun little asides by the author, who wrote the book as though it’s an abridgement of a classic tale. His little notes peppered in about what parts were so dreadful he had to cut them out and what happened when the original tale was read to him as a child made the book such a fun read that I couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a book with a little bit of everything (humor, adventure, sword fights, romance, and so much more), I highly recommend checking out this book and then watching the very faithful film adaptation.
submitted by Sarah W.
After the quickest courtship on record and one year of marriage, lonely Andie left workaholic North in Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise. Ten years later, she comes back with unwelcome news: she’s marrying someone who will appreciate her.
North wants Andie to be happy, so he stalls her by offering her a job while he investigates the new fiancé. She hasn’t touched any of her alimony, but maybe she’ll accept a paycheck. Besides, he really does need her help taking care of his recently orphaned niece and nephew, who have driven off every caretaker he’s found for them since the mysterious death of their aunt. And who knows…maybe this time she’ll stay.
Andie agrees to move into the remote and crumbling Archer House and prepare the kids to move into less Gothic surroundings. Two weeks, tops, and she’ll be planning her wedding to a man who won’t let her down. But when two implacable remnants, a nympho ghost and a soulless investigative reporter threaten her and the kids she’s starting to call her own, who’s she gonna call?
All signs point North…