1 Jun
2012

No Commitment

These are great books to read in between other summer activities, like skinny-dipping, grillin’ up some ‘dogs, and taking three naps in one day. You don’t even need a bookmark for most of these. Just pick them up, flip to whatever page tickles your fancy and give it a quick read. These books can also be great for recharging your mind after some more serious, brain-bending reads. Or just leave them out for people to flip through while they are sipping mint juleps or going to the bathroom.

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay

StoryCorps founder Dave Isay shares true stories of love and marriage from the revolutionary oral history project, revealing the many and remarkable journeys that relationships can take. In stories that carry us from the excitement and anticipation of courtship to the deep connection of lifelong commitment, we discover that love is found in the most unexpected of places—a New York tollbooth, a military base in Iraq, an airport lounge—and learn that the course it takes is as unpredictable as life itself. As the storytellers in this book start careers, build homes, and raise families, we witness the life-affirming joy of partnership, the comfort of shared sorrows, and profound gratitude in the face of loss. These stories are also testament to the heart’s remarkable endurance. In All There Is we encounter love that survives discrimination, illness, poverty, distance—even death. In the courage of people’s passion we are reminded of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. This powerful collection bares witness to real love, in its many varied forms, enriching our understanding of that most magical feeling.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

The uncommonly sensible, reflexively funny Miz Fey puts on the literary equivalent of a great night of sketch comedy in a genially jumbled memoir-esque collection of riffs, essays, laundry lists, true stories, fantasy scenarios, SNL script excerpts, and embarrassing photos from the wilderness years before she received the gift of a flattering haircut. Read closely to enjoy the workings of the lady’s first-rate hypocrisy detector, merrily calling bullshit where calling bullshit is warranted. Especially on herself, the ­former dork duckling from Upper Darby, PA., who ­became a comedy swan queen.

Good Poems selected by Garrison Keillor

People tune in to The Writer’s Almanac on public radio every day to hear Garrison Keillor read them a poem. And here, for the first time, is an anthology of poems from the show, chosen by Keillor for their wit, their frankness, their passion, their “utter clarity in the face of everything else a person has to deal with at 7 a.m.” Good Poems includes verse about lovers, children, failure, everyday life, death, and transcendence. It features the work of classic poets, such as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost, as well as the work of contemporary greats such as Howard Nemerov, Charles Bukowski, Donald Hall, Billy Collins, Robert Bly, and Sharon Olds. It’s a book of poems for anybody who loves poetry whether they know it or not.

Ant Farm by Simon Rich

Excerpt: A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table:
MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.
DAD: O.K.
GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.
DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.
UNCLE: I’m having sex right now.
DAD: We all are.
MOM: Let’s talk about which kid I like the best.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

It is a truth universally recognized, but rarely published, that for an acutely calibrated, wittily embroidered appreciation of life’s infinite little absurdities you can’t beat the comedy stylings of a funny gay guy. Let whimsical Jewish gals, diverting bisexual fellas, and sidesplitting Chinese chicks complain of stereotyping, the fact remains: A funny gay guy sees the world with limited-edition contact lenses that allow him to keep his vision on two realms of sexual and cultural interest at once — the straight world where he gets his gaudy junk mail and the gay world where he reads his love letters. From the inanities of day jobs to the snobberies of fancy restaurants, from the confounding antics of parents to the baffling self-expression of their adult children, it’s his ability to see both sides that allies David Sedaris with literature’s spriest and most hilarious gay voices — from Oscar Wilde to Paul Rudnick. All of Sedaris’ book are hilarious, and laughing out loud while reading them is VERY common.

Mountain Man Dance Moves edited by McSweeny’s

This book had me laughing so hard I actually peed a little. Snot also came out of my nose.

Broetry by Brian McGackin

As contemporary poets sing the glories of birds, birch trees, and menstruation, regular guys are left scratching their heads. Who can speak for Everyman? Who will articulate his love for Xbox 360, for Mama Celeste’s frozen pizza, for the cinematic oeuvre of Bruce Willis?
Enter Broetry--a stunning debut from a dazzling new literary voice. “Broet Laureate” Brian McGackin goes where no poet has gone before--to Star Wars conventions, to frat parties, to video game tournaments, and beyond. With poems like “Ode to That Girl I Dated for, Like, a Month Sophomore Year” and “My Friends Who Don’t Have Student Loans,” we follow the Bro from his high school graduation and college experience through a “quarter-life crisis” and beyond.

Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Schnakenberg

Schnakenberg packages the lives and loves of 41 famous writers into a supermarket-tabloid parody. All rumors, idiosyncrasies, feuds, etc., are fodder for laughs or sarcastic jeers; no event is so tragic as to be exempt. Agatha Christie had a disability called dysgraphia and had to dictate all of her writing. Also, both of her husbands cheated on her. Schnakenberg compares F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to P. Diddy and Lindsay Lohan as King and Queen of the celebrity party circuit, “astounding guests with their outrageous, drunken behavior.” Thanks to modern headlines and reality TV, nothing here is particularly shocking, but the author does show that celebrity is celebrity no matter when it occurs. All readers will find at least a few “you have to hear this” tidbits.

10 Best of Everything by National Geographic

This deluxe, entertaining dream guide showcases the experience and savoir-faire of such luminaries as Prince Charles on architecture, Arnold Palmer on favorite golf courses, Bob Ellsasser, head of the esteemed Country Walkers, on the best walks and hiking tours, and Baron Philip de Rothschild on the best vintages. Scores of experts name the 10 best islands, poshest pubs and polo clubs, best things to do on Sundays in the world’s best cities, and a treasure trove of musts for the high-end traveler or anyone who aspires to be. But there are simple pleasures that fit even the humblest budget here, too, including top-rated burgers, flea/antique markets on several continents, and awe-inspiring cathedrals.

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