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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

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Once again, I’ve challenged myself not to go back to the old favorites. So, no Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame and The Joyous Season are my two favorite funny books). Not Changing Places by David Lodge–another old favorite. Only “newer” funny books. No Bailey White. I so hate leaving out the gospel walnut, but no Calvin Becker trilogy.And not A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, either.You can read about some of those HERE.

Here are some of my newer favorites

(Not in any ranked order)

Helen Ellis, of “What I Do All Day”-fame on Twitter, is a bright light in the last gloomy year for me. Her stuff is just plain funny. Southern Lady Code and American Housewife. Her new essay collection comes out in July. I can’t wait.

These three delightful British ladies from the late twenties to the post-war years have become firm friends of mine. Whether it’s poor Miss Pettigrew getting sucked into the world of society, or Mrs. Tim making due on an Army officer’s between-the-wars-pittance of a paycheck , or the dear Provincial Lady with her husband falling asleep behind the Times–I love all three.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield and The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.

This epistolary novel (i.e. told in letters or emails, etc.) is hilarious if you are familiar with academic life. If you’ve ever worked, at any level, in a college or university you will laugh out loud at this. Dear Committee Members: A Novel by Julie Schumacher.

Mother and daughter duo Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella are like old friends–that’s how many of their collections of essays/columns/blogposts I’ve listened to. I love these, though I’d advise skipping the election ones from when Trump ran the first time–no one needs to re-live that year or last year. (Though there humor is not offensive). These are just fun.

I see Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses (contains links to past review, too).

Need more? Here’s 100 Funny Books from NPR

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Review: American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

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Helen Ellis came to my attention via her essay on how the husband didn’t want a divorce like his wife thought–he just wanted the dining room table to be clean and clear of clutter. Helen is like David Sedaris, and Bailey White–born to be beloved by NPR listeners. While her book, Southern Lady Code was a collection of humorous essays, American Housewife is a collection of short stories. Like the Haruki Murakami collection, I turned to this earlier this week, American Housewife was available when I ran out of audiobooks. Unlike the Haruki Murakami collection, I’m glad I did. Her writing just plain delights. Add in one story told in epistolary form, a fabulous cover, and you’ve got me completely hooked. Did I mention the author is a pro poker player? Or that her husband vacuums glitter in one story? Now I just have to talk myself off the ledge for liking both Chardonnay and wainscoting….

“I fix myself a hot chocolate because it is a gateway drug to reading.”

My favorite of the stories was Dead Doormen. Not because of the doormen, but because I’d LOVE to see that penthouse apartment! I’d love to go through that library of gardening books the late mother-in-law carefully annotated as she grew her terrace garden over the years. A four-bedroom penthouse in a coop by the park in NYC with a terrace garden, fine artwork, and original furnishings kept in museum quality. What’s not to love?

“Just because it’s gorgeous outside doesn’t mean you have to go outside.”

Hello! Welcome to Book Club is part Mafia, part sorority, part dream vacation. An elderly New York Grand Dame funds it all, and a Talbot’s store manager gives everyone her employee discount, add in a couple of “failure to launch” young people thrown in with the 50-60-somethings who comprise the world’s most privileged book club and you have a book club you won’t forget. The thing about Book Club is, you must pick your Book Club Name. “Mary Beth” is not pleased that “Bethany” encroached on her name, so no more anything like “Mary” or “Beth.” These gals will have you “elbow-deep in the onion dip” and grateful for the cocktails, “please and thank you.”

My Novel Was Brought To You By the Good People at Tampax imagines a world in which writer’s receive corporate sponsorship, but all the compromises that demands. I took it as a rift on the way publishers today seem to demand certain insertions in novels that pay homage to political correctness, or now, woke-ness. Maybe I’m right? It was quite a read, regardless of my guess.

“Fertile as a Duggar”

How to be a Patron of the Arts tells of both how to avoid writing and how to make a life for yourself when you are a stay-at-home, childless wife of a loving husband, while going everywhere with gay male friends. Too much to love here.

The Wainscoting War is the battle of wealthy apartment dwellers with a shared landing. It becomes all-out war both by email and by actions. Unforgettable. And, remember, “the only thing with less character than Chardonnay is wainscoting.”

Pageant Protection is a somewhat troubling, dark-humored account, of “rescuing” and “relocating” child pageant victims. It is stressed that the child supposedly applied for this help, but it depicts child abduction all the same. I get it–child pageants are horrendous. I hope pageant Moms who might stumble upon it get the message–or at least take photos of their daughter(s) sans makeup, flipper, wigs, hairpieces, and all the rest.

“Inspired by Beyonce, I stallion walk to the toaster.”

Among the short stories are little bits of essay or free form verse or jottings–How To Be A Grown Ass Woman lists qualities, actions, etc. I loved it.

Most of all, in all of Helen’s writing, I love that she is happily married to a successful man who seems to adore her in return. The little rituals she talks of–sitting with him as he changes out of his suit, even taking him breakfast in bed, are fun and loving. Who wouldn’t want that life in that apartment with that garden, those books, those friends, and all the rest.

An American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

My Verdict

4.0

 

You can read more by and about this author here: NPR Book Review of American Housewife by Hellen Ellis.

My Review of Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

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Gal-Pal Beach Day!

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Pebbles and Bam-Bam are back at school. Fred and Barney are at the gravel pit. Now it’s time for Wilma and Betty to hit the beach and celebrate! Yes, celebrate! They survived another summer at home with the kids, another family car trip vacation and they’re pretty pumped! Why? Cause when they asked the most important question, “But did you die???” The answer is a resounding NO!  Today I’m taking all you gal-pals to the beach. Of course, where I live that means walking or being truly American and driving the two miles or so to the beach at the Lake in my neighborhood. It’s still sand, ok??? Let’s pack the beach bag, shall we?

Swimsuits

Wear one, or wear shorts and a tank top or….wear whatever fits, is paid for, and you aren’t ashamed to be seen out in public wearing. This is southern Ohio, not the South of France! We value tattoos that are spelled correctly, but all y’all is grammatically correct so that leaves a lot of latitude for the dress code.

Drinks

I imagine open container laws apply, but that doesn’t stop the drunks driving away from the bar so why not have a little tipple if you are so inclined! And, if not, we’ll make some flavored water with lots of great faux-promises of instant cellulite reduction. Or open a Diet Dr Pepper–whatever works for you.

 

Entertainment

I can’t promise Orlando Bloom waving his…er….paddle …but there’s probably some hot young rednecks with sagging trunks, sleeve tattoos and a Marlborough on their lips (hopefully its a Marlborough….we’ll just call it one). That tan, those abs, those groin creases, that sun-bleached hair…..Ok, ok, he’s as young as your son. So what? He’s not your son! Be sure to pack extra batteries for the misting fans. Now to do in that good-for-nothing little trollop trying to get him out of view!

Food

Salted Carmel Gelato? Birthday Cake Muddy-Buddies? Chex Mix? Guac and chips? Homemade salsa. Hot dogs at the snack shack–sure, why not. You’ve just spent the whole summer telling the kids how horrible those things are, but sure–have one. Load it down with relish and mustard and onions. Oh go on! That cute guy is so not going to come kiss you and gag on the onions. Look–he’s …. um, don’t look…. You’ll cry, but dam the little trollop is sure having a happiness project of her own! Film on Youtube at 11 I bet. Geesh, get a Love Shack already, why don’t ya?

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Ok, now that we have skipped that little fantasy island, lets’ get real. Here are some great books for gal-pals at the beach. Share ear buds, buy two copies, take turns reading aloud–what ever. Just enjoy!

 

Beach Books

 

For All Gal-Pals

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Lisa Scottoline and daughter Francesca Serritella  have a new collection of essays out and they are GREAT! I’m listening to them on my commute. Like I always say about their Mother-Daughter gabfests, it’s like going on a road trip with your best friends. Chocolate, pet-love, living a New and Improved Life (i.e. getting older) this dynamic duo is required reading for Gal-Pals and Gal-Pal book clubs!! Don’t blame me if you start hoping Bradley Cooper takes up paddling…..

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places.

 

 

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I laughed so hard reading these that I suffered the embarrassment of … leakage [i.e., laughed till I peed]. And what Gal-Pal day hasn’t been improved by leakage? Especially leakage that becomes mutual due to laughter? These texts cover a large variety of classic literature–not just Jane Eyre. The humor is ranges from sublime to down right, almost raunchy. In short this book is a blast!

Texts from Jane Eyre.

 

 

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For the Mommy-Years Gal Pals

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Yes, your child WILL eat rocket salad (I think that’s arugula). Read this book and learn how. Or laugh till you pee at the very idea of ANY of this taking hold in suburbia. Where’s the soccer league?  Where’s the paint by wine classes? Hilarious to read though. Just imagine little Jacque-son having to put away that word-search puzzle of back-to-school words and do French homework. Why yes, we did bring a second bottle of wine…..

Bringing Up Bebe

 

 

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Since no one has written Duchess Kate’s Guide to Fabulous Parenting (probably coming out after Pippa’s honeymoon), I’m adding this one to the list. Because no one, No. One. wants to micromanage a suburban childhood these days, if they’re honest. It’s too much work. But, they can’t stand the shaming that would go with quitting! You can read this and play “remember when?” As in, “remember when we swore we’d only breast feed…” and your Gal-Pal says back, “Worst 8 minutes of my life…..” Things like that. Now, if your Gal-Pal is a Kate-worshipper who has an entire Pinterest board of her own ORIGINAL play-date themes, well….you might just skip this one so you don’t have to keep saying “Yes, really….” to her.  Slacker Mom Handbook.

 

 

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This one should generate the snot rockets red glare out the nose! Honestly, is there anything worse than married sex with kids in the house? Now, if your Gal-Pal is a Kate-wanna be, just skip this one. If you Gal-Pal is normal though, follow it up by re-watching the  FRIENDS episode with “girth” mentioned. Or search for the uncensored Orlando Bloom photos and try to picture you and hubs doing that? I know right…. No, I wouldn’t want to help with the Calamine lotion, either, thank you! But what are Gal-Pals for, but to laugh and cry with?

Mars and Venus in the Bedroom

 

 

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For the Empty Nest and Retirement Years Gal-Pals

 

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He’s home. He’s underfoot. He’s in your space. He wants  lunch but after 37 years in the same house he can’t find the lunch meat. Annoying? You bet!  But you  pledged till death do us part! Make him into a lamp? Maybe not. Compare notes with your Gal-Pal on just how horrible retirement is some days.

 

101 Things to do with Your Retired Man

 

 

The Slacker Granny Book

I couldn’t find a good Slacker Granny book, but if I do, I’ll re-post this. Surely there’s a book out there that teaches you how to escape being your grandchild’s day care or how to get out of those ghastly overnights so the parents can make naughty alone at bedtime. After all, your kids survived a weekly dose of Benadryl, so can your grandkids, right?  And what to do with that in-law from hell who won’t eat anything you serve? How to help your  daughter leave the son-in-law who turned out as badly as you knew he would, but not get stuck with your kid, their kids and their pets living in your house. That kind of book. Any publishers reading this? I’m available to write it!

 

The Midlife Gals

Not only will you laugh till you leak, they’ll talk about laughing till you leak… and middle aged s%x and caring for the aged one and….they’re great. And they also review movies. Too fun! KK and Sal-Gal are a hoot! Required viewing from the first moment of Peri-menupase.

 

 

Have another must-read or must-watch item for this list? Leave me a comment.

 

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by Carol Carmichael

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