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Would it Kill You to Stop Doing That? By Henry Alford

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I've been taking a few online courses through the U of C’s continuing education department, so I haven’t had very much time to keep up with my leisure reading, lately. But, one book that I recently read in only a few days (even though I had multiple deadlines looming) was Would It Kill you to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners, by Henry Alford.

Pick this book up if you take the C-Train to work or school, or if you find yourself baffled at today’s lack of common decency. It’s what Emily Post might have written had she been born an acerbic gay man, in a different decade. It’s sharp and observant, off-beat, well written, and very, very funny.

Calgary Public Library has everything you’re into!

How To Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

In my last post, I mentioned that I picked up How To Be Black because I thought it would be hilarious. Indeed, it’s funny, but it’s substantive, too, and definitely worth your time.

Author Baratunde Thurston tells the story of his Nigerian name and his time at Sidwell Friends and Harvard, and describes the huge impact that his mother has had on the formation of his character. Thurston also assembles a panel of black thinkers, and asks them questions ranging from: Can you swim? to Are we living in post-racial America?

This book is not a manual for how to be cool, urban, “thug”, or whatever else we may associate with being black. Besides, even if it provided that kind of direction, the result would be people who are either “too black” or “not black enough” – and this paradox is a central theme. Thurston himself has at times been considered too black, or not black enough. So have Barack Obama and many other prominent black individuals. So, what's the right amount of blackness, anyway? Can you imagine being told that you're too white, or not white enough?

How To Be Black is a fabulous exploration of what it means to be black, but it’s also a rallying cry for those who are fed up with being identified only as black, and who just want to be themselves – whatever colour that happens to be. As for Thurston, he's black and he's proud! He's also a computer geek, an avid camper, an eater of tofu and much more. He defies black stereotypes and encourages other black people to do the same.

Check it out!

Picks of the Litter(ati): Chucklefest

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Today I noticed two new books that I just can’t wait to read! In fact, I’m sneaking some covert glances at a few of their passages, hoping my colleagues won’t notice my temporary dip in productivity.

The first is Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners by Henry Alford. The front cover leaves something to be desired, but the back cover glows with praise, including “slaying wit”, “profoundly, wonderfully goofy” and “A master of the delightfully harebrained scheme”, so how can you go wrong?

The second is How To Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston. The first line in the jacket is “If you don’t buy this book, you’re a racist” which is just the kind of in-your-face comedy that I relish. Thurston is the director of digital at The Onion. Need I say more?

I haven’t been this excited since I got my hands on a copy of Tina Fey’s Bossypants. And now that I’m totally over my fear of being regarded as psychotic for laughing repeatedly and out loud on the C-Train, I’m ready to delve into these new titles.

Visit a branch near you for recommendations about hilarious new reads!

Fatso! Four-eyes! Freak!

by Katherine - 2 Comment(s)

Not long ago, I was insulted. I’ll spare you the details about how, when, where, and by whom, because I’m still a bit touchy, but suffice to say that I’ve thought about the incident repeatedly, as most people with hurt feelings do. And now that I’ve had sufficient time to reflect, the conclusion I’m left with is that today’s insults are entirely without flair.

Most people have only a limited range of nouns and adjectives with which to express their displeasure; why not expand your possibilities? You’re going to encounter all kinds of creatures in your lifetime, and “jerk” just won’t be enough to really capture the tenor of your sentiments. After all, sometimes we’re merely disappointed and other times we’re morally outraged. Sometimes we’re peeved about an apparent character flaw, and other times we’re baffled at stupidity, inconsideration or lack of etiquette. These are different categories of transgression, and warrant different reactions.

So, beef up your put downs, and mystify your foes with insults ranging from classic to obscure. But remember to keep it short and snappy. Brevity is the soul of wit, right?

Here are a few resources, to get you started:

Sticks and Stones: The Philosophy of Insult by Jerome Neu

Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults by Robert Schnackenberg

Are you there Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea, By Chelsea Handler

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

On a friend’s recommendation, I’ve started reading this hilarious collection of episodes from the life of comedienne Chelsea Handler. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of her until I had to fly from Las Vegas to Calgary and found there was absolutely nothing to do except watch the E! Network. After that brief introduction, I decided I would check out some of her writing.

I have to say that Ms. Handler will never be able to take Tina Fey’s place in my heart (in my funny bone?). She’s just isn’t quite as razor sharp. But even so, this collection had me chuckling. Handler is quirky, self-effacing, and more than just a little bit rude, and no one is immune from her comic lens – including her family, friends, and ex-boyfriends.

What I most admire in Handler is her frank discussion of sex. She is very forthright about her sex life, and I like the fact that she doesn’t feel she has to apologize for being sexual – whether that’s with one partner or more. Handler is a woman who’s not afraid to eat bad food, drink too much, sleep with several partners, and throw a punch, if need be.

Check out Chelsea Handler’s writing today!

Love Shrinks, by Sharyn Wolf

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Sharyn Wolf is now divorced, after having been married three times - unlikely statistics for a marriage counselor!

Sure, your shrink may give thoughtful advice and ask the right kind of questions, but that doesn’t make her immune to the kinds of problems that ultimately lead to separation and divorce. She’s only human, after all. And so is her soon-to-be ex-husband.

In Love Shrinks, Wolf bares all about her relationship with her ex-husband, and the relationships that her patients have with their own significant others. But this is by no means a list of grudges and complaints; rather, Wolf treats her patients with compassion - even when the things they do are horrific - and she treats her ex-husband with respect and honesty. Throughout the tale of their undoing, Wolf includes touching vignettes that beautifully illustrate how someone who drives us crazy can also be capable of loving us wholly and beautifully. This book is touching, funny, and fast paced.

As this is a memoir written by someone who works in a therapeutic environment, it does include its share of painful details. But, I think that overall it’s a hopeful book. Check it out if you’re the type who might like to read another person’s diary – and you know you are! The only downside is that now you’ll spend a lot more time speculating about your therapist’s personal life.

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