This book was based on the blog of the same name, and includes exclusive content as well as some of what was already on the blog (which sadly hasn’t been updated in like five years). There’s not a lot to say about it. It’s really funny, and if you like lengthy, hilarious stories accompanied by badly drawn MS Paint-style portraits (no, really), this is the book for you.
Availability: SMCM, USMAI, COSMOS Review Submitted by: Hannah Yeager Rating: Highly Recommended Challenge: Book written by someone under 30
I had heard a lot about Lincoln in the Bardorecently. Mostly raving reviews, but the negative ones were really negative. The writing is beautiful. It sucked me into the book quickly. Especially the scenes with Lincoln while he is grieving from the loss of his son. Like many, I felt a little lost while starting this book. The style of writing is very different and was hard for me to get used to. When I did, I loved it. The style added so much in terms of the characters (ghosts) fragmented realities. Almost like they weren’t communicating like they would in life, but by being in one another’s minds. The various ghosts that are introduced seem random, but it is within those interactions that you learn more about the three main characters and their situation. The historical accounts that are included help the reader remember the setting and put the ghost’s personalities into context. I understand that the style could get in the way of some people’s enjoyment. However, I highly suggest pushing thorough and trying to see the value in it and why Saunders made that choice.
Availability: SMCM, COSMOS, USMAI Review Submitted by: Erin Crawford Rating: Must Read Challenge: Tournament of Books
I’ve been reading a lot of Vonnegut this year, so it seemed natural for me to read one of his plays. Actually, this play was recommended by a friend, and I’m glad he did. Wanda June is a hilarious exploration of morality and death. It all starts with a widow going out on a date on the anniversary of her husband’s disappearance when one of her suitors purchases a cake for the dead husband with the name of a little girl no one knows. As it turns out, the cake was abandoned, as the little girl died that morning, and her afterlife is explored in the B-plot, which also includes a Nazi and an ex-wife. Then the lost husband comes back. Yeah, this play is wild, but you just need to read it. That’s the charm of Vonnegut.
Availability: SMCM Review Submitted by: Kimberly Boenig Rating: Must Read
David Sedaris is a shockingly good writer, and he is so deceptive about it. Many of his essays gallop back and forth through time — stories nestled inside one another, perspectives shifting, metaphors and comparisons ebbing and flowing. Yet he writes so clearly and simply, with such humor and humility, that his technical achievements glide right on by. I was particularly taken with this essay collection’s discussion of deaths of Sedaris’ mother and sister, and the aging of his father. The topics were addressed repeatedly, elliptically, through several pieces that were published in different venues and at different times, now gathered together in this book. To see how his sister’s suicide and his mother’s life and death are portrayed in different ways gives the reader a glimpse of the gaps between Sedaris’ public presentation of their lives and the tiny details and nuances that remain private. I really loved this book as a meditation on family and time — not to mention acidic humor that cuts through any sentimentality that might lurk around the edges.
Availability: COSMOS Submitted by: Michael Dunn Rating: Highly Recommended Challenge: Book with a one word title; published in 2018
David Sedaris’s humor and tone is something that really must be experienced to understand. His mind is so strange, making connections you would never think to consider. Most of his essay collections follow a theme: Naked and his post-college years, and Me Talk Pretty One Day and France are a few good examples. Calypso exists mostly around Sedaris’s summers in North Carolina, but also delves into his feelings surrounding the debacle that is modern America.
I truly fell in love with Sedaris in the week following the 2016 election while reading Me Talk Pretty One Day, and the fact that Calypso really explores that time felt so right to me.
If you love Sedaris, Calypso will not disappoint. While Me Talk Pretty One Day will always be my favorite book of his, Calypso is a fine addition to his library.
Availability: COSMOS Submitted by:Kimberly Boenig Rating: Highly Recommended Challenge: Book with a one word title; published in 2018
Kate Bowler is a young scholar of the Prosperity Gospel at Duke Divinity School. This slender book is a memoir and reflection on her diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer, how she has coped with it, her family and friends’ response, how it has affected her personal faith and academic work, and what it’s like to move through the world with this kind of illness. Bowler writes beautifully and is actually funny on the page — she is sincere yet sharp, thoughtful and moving. This book is a such a gift for her young son, as a testament to his mom’s wisdom and appreciation for the beauty and humor in even the most difficult seasons of life.
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI Review Submitted by: Michael Dunn Rating: Highly Recommended Challenge: Published in 2018
This is a collection of stories that really focus on the tensions and precariousness of lives among African Americans. Some stories can be funny and witty, while some are quite dark, but no matter which, the stories can be quite powerful. And I must say it, many of these stories are also just … weird (in a good way!)
I love short story collections, and I have yet to really find a collection where every story is a hit for me. Some of the stories in this collection seemed to fall a bit flat, but many were very good. Especially if you want to be pushed in to experiences that may be uncomfortable that will really get you to think a bit about the world we live in and how we live in it.
Availability: COSMOS Review Submitted by: Kevin Emerson Rating: Recommended