Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Humor Mini-Reviews: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman, Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, and I Don't Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson

"You'll Change Your Mind." 

That's what everyone says to Jen Kirkman - and countless women like her- when she confesses she doesn't plan to have children. But you know what? It's hard enough to be an adult. You have to dress yourself and pay bills and remember to buy birthday gifts. You have to drive and get annual physicals and tip for good service. Some adults take on the added burden of caring for a tiny human being with no language skills or bladder control. Parenthood can be very rewarding, but let's face it, so are margaritas at the adults-only pool...
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself is a beacon of hilarious hope for anyone whose major life decisions have been questioned by friends, family, and strangers in a comedy club bathroom. And it should satisfy everyone who wonders if Jen will ever know true love without looking into the eyes of her child. 
So while I'm not completely on the same page as Jen Kirkman (I'd love to have kids in the future), I am TOTALLY with her on the unbelievable amount of inappropriate questions I've been asked about my reproductive plans.  Being married but child-free in the South is not really a thing people my age typically do.  Or at least not the ones in my social circles.  My friends are, almost without exception, either single or married with kids.

I figured I'd appreciate the humor in this one, as it's an issue I am, honestly, constantly complaining about.  And while I was entertained, I felt like there wasn't much here that I haven't already heard or said myself.  Each chapter addresses one of the things that people say to Kirkman when she tells them she doesn't have kids, but it's really closer to memoir than it is to humor.  It's mainly the story of Kirkman's marriage and divorce as she attempts to break into comedy.  It's not that it isn't a fun read, but there wasn't anything new to add to the typical plea of "please stop asking questions about my uterus and sex life".  I smiled some, but didn't find the laugh out loud moments I was looking for.  

Thanks to my local inter-library loan system for providing me with a copy of this book!

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is officially fed up with the endless mommy fads, trends, studies, findings, and facts about how to raise children. Tiger Mom or Cool Mom? Organic or vegan? TV is the devil or TV is a godsend?

The mother of three young girls, Stefanie has finally decided to hell with Google she's going to find out how to be a mom all on her own. In this latest mommy book from the popular blogger, author, and TV personality, Stefanie will share her secrets for achieving a balance in motherhood between being protective and caring, and downright batshit crazy. She'll debunk some of the looniest parenting myths and reinforce others; she'll describe how, through as simple a process as good old trial-and-error, she's learned to pick and choose what works for her and her family, and tune out the rest.

Filled with sage advice, laugh-out-loud stories, and Stefanie's signature wit, Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic is sure to appeal to any and every renegade mom who's forged her own path to childrearing.
So this is basically the opposite of Jen Kirkman's book - it's humor all about being a mom.  Somehow I missed that aspect when I requested it from NetGalley and thought it was more about modern sensibilities.  Had I read anything at all about the book, I would have seen that no, it's all about modern sensibilities surrounding motherhood.  Refer to above, but just as a refresher: not a mom.

What's ironic about this is that I thought this book was hilarious.  While I could identify with Kirkman's situation more, I found Wilder-Tyler to be much funnier.  The fact that I could read and enjoy this one without having kids is a sign, in my opinion, that the author was successful over and above her intentions.  Even us non-moms can find something to laugh at in her stories.

I had a copy of this both to read and to listen to, and, I will say that it's a very quick listen (only a bit over four hours) and the narration is fantastic.  I recommend either option highly.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to read and to FLP's Hoopla collection for providing me with a copy to listen to.

From Goodreads:
When a trip to the therapist ends with the question “Can’t Kim be happy?” Kim Korson responds the way any normal person would—she makes fun of it. Because really, does everyone have to be happy?

Aside from her father wearing makeup and her mother not feeling well (a lot), Kim Korson’s 1970s suburban upbringing was typical. Sometimes she wished her brother were an arsonist just so she’d have a valid excuse to be unhappy. And when life moves along pretty decently--she breaks into show business, gets engaged in the secluded jungles of Mexico, and moves her family from Brooklyn to dreamy rural Vermont—the real despondency sets in. It’s a skill to find something wrong in just about every situation, but Kim has an exquisite talent for negativity. It is only after half a lifetime of finding kernels of unhappiness where others find joy that she begins to wonder if she is even capable of experiencing happiness.

In I Don’t Have a Happy Place, Kim Korson untangles what it means to be a true malcontent. Rife with evocative and nostalgic observations, unapologetic realism, and razor-sharp wit, I Don’t Have a Happy Place is told in humorous, autobiographical stories. This fresh-yet-dark voice is sure to make you laugh, nod your head in recognition, and ultimately understand what it truly means to be unhappy. Always.
I'm a bit of a pessimist myself (although I prefer to believe I have realistic expectations for life), so I assumed Korson and I would have a lot in common.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) it turns out that I'm not nearly as much of a pessimist as Korson.  I know she was exaggerating for the sake of humor and I'm sure she's a perfectly nice person in reality, but in this book she did not come across as sympathetic in any way.  She's whiny and entitled and constantly complaining about basically everything.

I get it.  That's the point of the book, she's a pessimist and doesn't like things.  I think I was more expecting something along the lines of An Idiot Abroad, where she's negative but in a funny and sympathetic way.  In this book, Korson is just frustrating.  She's so universally miserable about so many things that the humor gets lost under the negativity.  I think maybe the problem is that I know some Kim Korsons in real life, and the truth is that they are exhausting people.  It's not fun to be around people who are just never happy with anything and can always find fault with everything and it made for a less than funny book for the most part.  It certainly has its moments of levity and humor, but it was drowned out for me by being whiny rather than darkly comedic.

Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy of this one as well as to FLP's Hoopla for an audio version.

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