Humor

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called ove.jpg

Summary:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.  So, when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This is a book that made me laugh as much as it made me cry.  There are so many things that Ove presents so very matter-of-fact that does make you wonder why things are simpler in life.  The book overall is a bit gloomy, but not in a depressing way.  Instead, the tone of the book is set my Ove himself and he tends to be a bit of a cynic. 

In book club, we all had trouble articulating just why we loved the book so much and I think it’s because we all identified with different aspects of the characters.  Although overall about Ove, the book is also about transitions in life and how people adapt to the challenges they’re presented with.  This was one of the few books that had me staying up extremely past my bedtime to finish and I’d highly recommend to anyone.

Warning: Contains violence, references to suicide and will make you cry.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone who can appreciate a cranky old man in their life.

Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Where'd You Go Bernadette?

Summary:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

Now this is definitely a book I plan to read again in the future.  It had me cracking up, I loved the characters and ultimately I found the method of the story telling fantastic.  The best part about the approach was that we got to know different characters in different ways, which created some distinct impressions that were both proven and disproven as the story unfolds.

The best part was seeing how Bee handled the outside world’s picture of Bernadette and refusing to let it corrupt their relationship.  I could have easily seen this book going in many other directions, but ultimately the way it unfolded was perfect.  The added bonus of having the story including the context of Antarctica was an absolutely delight to me.  It’s on the list of places I will definitely be trying to go!

Warning: Contains mild violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone looking for a laugh, a book told in an interesting format or just something to change the pace.

The Ascent of Rum Doodle

The Ascent of Rum Doodle

Summary:

First published in 1956, “The Ascent of Rum Doodle” quickly became a mountaineering classic. As an outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a peak in the Himalayas, many thought it was inspired by the 1953 conquest of Everest. But Bowman had drawn on the flavor and tone of earlier adventures, of Bill Tilman and his 1937 account of the Nandi Devi expedition. The book’s central and unforgettable character, Binder, is one of the finest creations in comic literature.

(Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This book was very funny on a variety of levels.  As a parody on mountaineering, the book reads like a sitcom (without the laugh track), but there are also some very subtle aspects to the book as well.   I particularly liked the route finding and porters who knew better than anyone else on the team.  I’d recommend reading the foreword at the end as I felt it had some spoilers included in it.

This is a book I’ve seen recommended by “Outside Magazine” and the “Best of Mountaineering / Travel” lists so I’m glad I had the chance to finally catch up on it.  I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who is a hiking / mountaineering fan.  If you’re not familiar with how large expeditions go off, however, this book will be quite a confusing flop for you.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Outdoor enthusiasts or anyone familiar with mountaineering.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Summary:

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays. 

In “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo”, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is - a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends - an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she's experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor's secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably - but only because it's over.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

I really really liked this book.  I wasn’t expecting there to be quite so many serious moments, but it was addressed so wonderfully I didn’t mind taking a break from the comedy and having some “real talk”.  I particularly loved the chapters talking about her working at summer camp and her parents.  They’re thoughtful, interesting and provoked reflection of my own.

Amy Schumer is someone I vaguely watch off and on, but I’m certainly no devotee.  This biography put me a little more over the edge and I’d be interested in watching more of her stuff.  The book certainly isn’t life-changing and she’s the first to admit she’s a work in progress, but that’s why she’s also so endearing.  I’d certainly would recommend this to anyone.

Warning: Contains repeated swearing and sexual content.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Folks looking for humor, an honest portrayal and a bit of feminist flare.