Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New 30 Day Book Challenge, Day 5

Day 5: A Book That Makes You Happy


Today we are exploring the question of what book makes us happy. I assume Liz will pick Penthouse Letters IV, so I will have to pick something else.

The first thought that came to my mind when I read this question was an audiobook I was listening to a couple of years ago while walking around my neighborhood. More than once I found myself doubled over laughing. I do hope that the occasional passerby thought I was completely insane. [I don't think there's any question that's what s/he was thinking.] The audiobook was Bossypants by Tina Fey. Certainly one of the best audiobooks I have listened to, Fey ad-libs or adds an aside specifically for the listener. It's pretty great.  Actually, the book still makes me smile, and even laugh out loud when Fey describes what she thought was the perfect outfit of  the mid 1980's. She  thought she would wear a version of it for the rest of her life. The look consisted of stretch shorts, an oversized graphic t-shirt and my god...a fanny pack. I've been there, man. I've been there.

Bossypants read by Tina Fey


First, I prefer Letters to Penthouse XIII. Secondly, I too love love love the audio of Bossypants.  For the sake of variety, though, I'm going to pick Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, which I just finished reading.  It's delightful.

Maria Semple wrote for Arrested Development, which should be all the credibility you need to persuade you to buy her book.  Where'd You Go Bernadette is a novel that riffs on the granola-meets-corporate culture of Seattle, from the obsessive private school moms to Microsoft nuttiness, to the types of people who inhabit Book Land who are obsessed with NPR and TED Talks.  This is social satire without cruelty, which means that a bunch of us (I do love NPR and such) are okay with laughing at ourselves.  It's also a black comedy about a misanthrope.  I can relate. At the center of the story is Bernadette Fox, a MacArthur genius grant winning architect who has become a recluse who would prefer to farm out all tasks to Manjula, her virtual personal assistant living in India.  Bernadette is married to Elgin Branch, Microsoft genius and TED Talk speaker, who is kind but mostly absent.  He really loves his job.  And then there's Bee, their amazing fifteen year-old daughter who wants nothing more than to take a family vacation to Antarctica before she enrolls in boarding school.

Like Arrested Development, the damnedest things occur and the peripheral characters are a hoot.  This book is crazy in a delightful way, even as a snowball rolls down the mountain, gaining momentum and strength.  It makes me happy.

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