• By Jamie Stroble
  • Posted Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Books We Like

It’s that time of year again. No, not the time of year where you rush to make charitable donations so you can deduct them from your taxes for the calendar year (although I’m sure the library would greatly appreciate it). It’s the holidays! Which for some means lots of merrymaking with friends and family, or lots of stress trying to plan all that merry-making, and some who would just rather skip the holidays this year. Whichever category you fall into, you’re going to either need some humor in your life, or you know someone else who does. Therefore, you will certainly be needing some funny books, and here are some of my favorites. You can check them out from the library just to make yourself laugh, or to see if they might make a good gift for your crazy cat lady aunt.

If you’re not an animal lover you at least probably know one (like your crazy cat lady aunt). And nothing unites animal lovers like laughing about how the pet/owner relationship seems to have somehow gotten switched around. In The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Rex and Sparky, the “authors” provide a guide to empowerment for young pups everywhere who may not yet have realized that they are in charge of everything and also that everything belongs to them. Chapters include “A Connoisseur's Guide to Shoes,” “How to Escape Humiliating Costumes,” and “Foul Smells Every Dog Should Roll In”. Great diagrams, illustrations and visual aids are included to help any dog achieve the pinnacle of dog-ness. For feline friends, check out The Devious Book for Cats by Fluffy and Bonkers. It’s similar, but with more attention paid to things like cardboard boxes, catfighting, and the pros and cons of being sullen.

For literary folks (i.e. book nerds), check outTexts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg. I thought this book was going to be solely a record of short missives from Jane Eyre. But the subtitle is and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters, and don’t ever forget to read the subtitle. From Hamlet to the Hunger Games, Sherlock Holmes to Sweet Valley High, Fitzgerald and Faulkner to Fight Club - there’s something here that most readers can laugh uproariously about. Ahab texts Ishmael about how to make margarine out of whale oil, Peter Pan plans a yacht trip to a festival in Croatia, and the Babysitters Club fights about money missing from their business account. It’s the best of the world of literature combined with the most convenient, annoying, and hilarious form of modern communication.

Don’t forget your favorite teacher this year, because “forgetting” is the main concept in this next book. F in exams by Richard Benson gathers some of the more interesting answers that students have written over the years in response to test questions for which their minds have gone completely blank (and some that involve critical communication errors). Since it’s better to write something instead of nothing, if you have ever answered “at the bottom” to the question “Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?,” then this book is for you. And to illustrate an example of those miscommunication errors… Q: Use the word congenial in a sentence. A: When you leave the gravy out too long, it congenials. Don’t forget to check out the sequel, F for Effort!

And for the scientist in your life, inquire after Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by author, webcomic creator, and former NASA employee Randall Munroe. He helpfully explains the inner workings of things like “bending computers” (laptops), “tall roads” (bridges), “sky boats with turning wings” (helicopters), and many more modern things that are complicated - until someone explains them using simple words and a plethora of extremely detailed schematics, blueprints, maps and graphics. If you don’t know what a Large Hadron Collider is and it just seems like too much trouble to find out, look up the “big tiny thing hitter” in this very handy book full of science and stuff. If you like Thing Explainer, take a look at What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. The scientists in your life will either thank you or roll their eyes and tell you they read both of these books years ago, and did you bring any extra petri dishes to this party?

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