Thursday, May 29, 2014

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys by Billy Crystal

From Goodreads:

Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he’s not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like “Buying the Plot” and “Nodding Off,” Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. 

Pros: Audiobook was narrated by Billy Crystal. Listening to him is never a BAD thing.

Cons: I didn't find any of this particularly funny. And when something is not only written but SPOKEN by Billy Crystal, you kind of expect to laugh more than a few half-hearted chuckles.

 To be fair, much of this book is based on the humor to be found in aging, so perhaps in 35 years I will find it significantly funnier.

Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble: Some Things About Women and Notes on Media by Nora Ephron

From Goodreads:

Two classic collections of Nora Ephron’s uproarious essays—tackling everything from feminism to the media, from politics to beauty products, with her inimitable charm and distinctive wit—now available in one book for the first time.

This edition brings together some of Ephron’s most famous writing on a generation of women (and men) who helped shape the way we live now, and on events ranging from the Watergate scandal to the Pillsbury Bake-Off. In these sharp, hilariously entertaining, and vividly observed pieces, Ephron illuminates an era with wicked honesty and insight. From the famous “A Few Words About Breasts” to important pieces on her time working for the New York Post and Gourmet Magazine, these essays show Ephron at her very best.

I feel like I need to admit here and now that I apparently knew nothing about Nora Ephron. I mean, I knew she's the brains behind a bunch of truly fantastic chick flicks but that's about it. As it turns out, Nora Ephron has done a ton of writing in her career (especially for newspapers and magazines) and a lot of it was extremely feminist. She rubbed shoulders with Gloria Steinem in the 70s. She was hardcore, my friends. And a lot of her writing reflects that.

And so, this collection of essays was NOT at all what I was expecting. It was, however, deeply interesting. Most of the stuff here was written in the 70s but it's still incredibly relevant today. I listened to the audio book while doing some sewing and it was fantastic. I'm now even more of a fan.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

From Goodreads:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

As a longtime fan of Allie's blog I was REALLY excited to discover that this book was available for immediate download as I sat in the terminal before boarding our flight to Virginia. I had sort of mixed feelings about it though, which made me sad. The very best stuff from the book can already be found on her blog (my favs are her bits about moving with dogs and going to a birthday party after having dental work done). The newer stuff was a little darker, which I'm sure reflects her recent bout with depression. I didn't LOVE it quite like I hoped I would, but it was still a perfectly pleasant way to pass the time on a very long day of flying.