I'd just finished listening to Hilary Mantel's latest book, and despite her excellent storytelling ability I found myself in need of a pick-me-up. (In case you're wondering, Anne Boleyn doesn't fare too well. And beheadings bring me down.)
Fortunately, I had a couple of audio books waiting for me on the hold shelf, and they kept me laughing through my morning commute for a couple of weeks straight. Those books were Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris and Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.
Sedaris, a regular in The New Yorker and on NPR, is a master of the droll and absurd story. In recordings his soft voice can add a sardonic flavor to the mix, but he points out the flaws in himself just as much as he points out those in others. His general message seems to be that we're all in this together, and we're doing the best that we can. Which often isn't very good at all.
In this book he talks about his obsession with taxidermy, his attempts to learn other languages, his experiences with odd people in the lines at his book tours, and his adventure with colonoscopy. It may sound weird, and it is, but it's also very, very funny.
Gaffigan may be familiar to you from appearances on Comedy Central. One of his more famous bits has to do with Hot Pockets. (You can find the link to his YouTube channel here.) True to his stand-up comedy roots, he tells shorter stories that often aren't much longer than one-liners. He's considered family friendly, which he discusses in the book: "As a parent I know 'family-friendly' is just a synonym for bad. Family-friendly restaurants serve horrible food. Family-friendly hotels have the charm of a water park."
Despite his protestations, Gaffigan is definitely a family man. He has five children and thanks the readers throughout the book for helping him pay for them all to live in New York City. You can even see a video of his oldest daughter interviewing him and the rest of his children about the book here.
Whether you choose the sardonic Sedaris or the garrulous Gaffigan, you're sure to be in for a few belly laughs, whether you read the books or listen to them like I did.
To request these books click the titles or covers above.
Review by Danny Hanbery