Category Archives: funny

Very Nice, by Marcy Dermansky

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For those who love scandalous drama between mother and daughter, luxurious pools, and post-Obama era humor, Very Nice, by Marcy Dermansky will keep you laughing while biting your nails at the same time. Readers who enjoy Emma Straub and Phillis Reynolds Naylor (Alice series) will enjoy this book. An easy beach read in one sitting.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Emily Murphy
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Published in 2019

‘Tis by Frank McCourt

‘Tis, the sequel to Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, continues his autobiographic fear and self loathing on the oft dreamt about American soil. The US does not welcome him with open arms as he had hoped, and he finds himself not much better off than he’d been back in Ireland. At times humorous, other times heart wrenching, this book was a must read, especially if you read its prequel. Found in COSMOS, it also is a bonus one word title!

Availability: COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: M Denise Brace Lerch ’82
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: Book with a one word title.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Angela's Ashes

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt is a must read memoi. It illuminates the hard scrabble childhood the author was subjected to, yet rose above. His alcoholic father kept the family in a level of destitution that impacted the physical and mental health of all. His mother tried her best to carry the family forward on her feeble back, but was thwarted at every step. This was a poignant look at life.

Availability: SMCM, COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Denise Brace
Rating: Must Read
Challenge:Book to film

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

cover artAlthough The Jane Austen Book Club is a New York Times Bestseller and a well-loved book, I found it kind of bland and hard to get through. Fowler’s set of characters are amusing and it’s fun to learn about their lives in relation to the books they choose, but there’s depth missing to the characters that makes it hard to like them or connect to them. I recommend this book because it is well written, but with reservations as the reader may need a deeper understanding and love of Jane Austen in order to fully appreciate the details of the characters and their relationships to each other.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Review Submitted by:  Izzy Lott
Rating:  Recommended with Reservations
Challenge:  Book to film

Where’d You Go, Bernadette By Maria Semple

cover artWhere’d You Go, Bernadette follows the story of Bernadette Fox – a once famous LA architect who has since become an eccentric shut-in in her dilapidating Seattle home. One day her precocious 15-year-old daughter, Bee, suggests a family trip to Antarctica, and while Bernadette agrees, she is on the verge of a meltdown and one day disappears altogether. Her daughter is determined to find out what happened, piecing together emails, letters, and invoices. Much of the book is told in this format – emails and letters from Bernadette to various people, as well as women in town gossiping about Bernadette’s eccentricities.

This is the second book I’ve read for this reading challenge in this sort of format (the first was Daisy Jones & the Six, told in an oral history interview style) and surprising myself I really enjoyed it. I’m not used to that style of writing but found myself forgetting at times that I wasn’t reading a typical narrative, but in fact emails, and having to decipher what was really true, what was clouded by a character’s bias, and what was completely not true (how many of us embellish a story we’re retelling to a friend to make ourselves sound more impressive or more deserving of pity?).

It was a very interesting method of teasing out the story of Bernadette – how she fell so far from her promising career, what caused her meltdown, and where she disappeared to. I really enjoyed this book and found myself researching trips to Antarctica after I was finished. My only complaint would be that the book was lauded as hilarious and “divinely funny” by the New York Times. While I enjoyed it very much, I didn’t really find it funny. It was actually pretty sad at times or perhaps a tragic comedy. I found Bernadette to be pretty witty and snarky, but the series of events that lead to her disappearance left me feeling sorry for her, not laughing at the misfortune. If mid-way through you find yourself thinking, ‘this isn’t funny at all…’ keep going because I think you will enjoy the ending.

Availability: SMCM, USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Kaylie Jasinski
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book to film

The Cuban Affair By Nelson DeMille

cover artI was first introduced to DeMille in my SAT prep class in Junior year of high school. My teacher used the word “eviscerated” while reading a passage from Plum Island. I would eventually find and read the book, which became one of my favorite mystery/thrillers, and a novel I think about every summer. What a delight to be reunited with the author for more intrigue!

The book follows charter boat captain Mac as he is drawn into a treasure hunt that will take him, some Cuban Americans, and his possible crazed Vietnam veteran first mate to Cuba, where the cold war is perhaps not so cold. Mac seems like the trip has everything he could use: adventure, a grand prize, a beautiful partner, and just enough danger to scratch his peril itch. How much of the plan is he fully aware of, he has yet to find out.

I must agree with my co reader (she beat me to posting a review, but I agree fully with her thoughts!): This was a great summer read. It was fun, it did not go where I was expecting, and kept me engaged from start to finish. DeMille writes excellent one liners and keeps the chapters short and snappy to keep the pace and tension high. It provided me with an interesting look into Cuba, which I discovered I knew even less about than I thought! If you are looking for something fun for the beach or those last days of your vacation, DeMille is a good man to turn to.

This book is good for:
1. People who enjoy snappy, humorous dialogue and narration.
2. People who enjoy summer reads with sun, surf, sand, and danger!
3. People who enjoy a wise cracking, sardonic hero, and a diverse supporting cast.

Rating: Highly Recommended
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI
Reviewer: Nick Huber 2013

Availability: USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Nick Huber 2013
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Cuban Affair By Nelson DeMille

cover artOn a recent trip to the beach both my boyfriend and I decided to read The Cuban Affair. This was the perfect beach read: the story follows a retired army man, now a charter fishing captain in Key West, FL, who’s just trying to make a living and pay off the loan on his boat, when some individuals involved in anti-Castro groups wish to hire him for a covert trip to Cuba. The synopsis makes it sound like a cheesy spy novel but Nelson DeMille is a master at diving right into the story and his characters and writing short, snappy chapters to keep your interest piqued. In reading the story I also learned a lot about Cuba and the more recent “Cuban thaw,” where Americans are now allowed to travel to Cuba, but with restrictions. I realized how little in fact I knew about the Cuban revolution, the embargo, and the political climate of Cuba today. I found myself researching all of this in between reading chapters. This is a great summer read and I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys fast-paced action thrillers with a little bit of history and political intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Availability: USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Kaylie Jasinski
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: audio book