Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Very funny memoirs that I recommend you read right now

Recently there's been an upsurge in memoir writing. Everyone seems to be writing them these days. And as with any upsurge in trends, there're those who criticise them. In the case of memoirs, there's those who think they're pointless, self-indulgent tales of b-grade people adding little value to the lives of those reading them. Subsequently this lessens the quality and legitimacy of the memoir as a literary genre, which tends to irritate book snobs.

My main response to those views are that if you get irritated by the person whose memoir you've just picked up, then don't read it. It's really that simple. I'm aware that this goes against the title of this post, but I would seriously consider this option at risk of you spending a very angry few days fuming that you're reading a book about a person who gets up your nose. While this option does not guarantee the quality of the memoir you're going to read, it's a step in the right direction.

This is where I fortunately come in. Because I can almost guarantee that you'll be highly entertained by the below reads, particularly if you enjoy female comedy memoirs. Even if you're not entirely familiar with Kaling, Fey or Lawson's work, that doesn't really matter because all three memoirs are highly entertaining in their own right. But maybe not if any of these people make you want to rip your eyeballs out (refer to paragraph 2). In that case move on to a different post.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns), by Mindy Kaling

This was the first book I completely read on my phone as an e-book. I have a feeling Mindy would admire that, which is why I've included this information. But she would also hate that I'm drawing attention away from her memoir, so I'll respectfully stop talking about the fact that I read 487 pages on a 5cm x 10cm screen and continue with my thoughts on the book.

This memoir was laugh out loud funny on so many occasions, particularly because of Kaling's ability to squeeze in hilarious comments in the middle of her anecdotes, catching me pleasantly off-guard each and every time. And yes I realise Kaling is a comedian, and therefore you would probably expect this in a memoir that is written by her. But she does it so effortlessly and amusingly that it never got old and made me chuckle almost every time.

In amongst Kaling's hilarious quips and self-deprecating anecdotes, there's also a clear message that it's OK to be nerdy/quiet/ambitious/awkward. This may sound like a cliche message, but it's one that is so important in the ever-increasing perfection-seeking world we are living in. So kudos to you Kaling.

I promise Mindy hasn't paid me to write this review.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey 

I have one confession I must get out of the way before going on to discuss this book. And that is that I put off reading it for quite a while because the cover of it scared me. Those arms are just way too big for Tina Fey's face, and I'm still struggling to deal with that. I hate the fact that I feel this way, but I do. I hope I haven't offended anyone with big arms.

Fortunately when you read a book, you don't need to look at the cover of it all too often. Especially if it's a soft back, like this one was. Therefore I was able to conveniently fold the whole cover over itself so that I didn't have to look at it at all while reading the book. Which made for a much more pleasant reading experience.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I can continue talking about Bossypants, which was thoroughly entertaining and made me respect Tina Fey so much more than I did before reading it. Fey's memoir captures how all-encompassing working in the television industry is; how much one has to sacrifice if you're going to succeed in that industry; and how resilient you need to be to get through the crap times. But Fey shows us that it is all possible and has been worth it for her.

The book itself reads as if it's a conversation between Tina and you, except that you don't really get to talk. But if you're like me and you don't enjoy talking to people you don't know, then that suits just fine. My only qualm with Bossypants was that sometimes the passages read a bit awkwardly, but I can forgive Tina for that due to her witty funniness.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Welcome to the crazy-whacky-bonkers world of Jenny Lawson, best known for her award winning and very successful blog The Bloggess.

This was such a bizarre yet hilarious read, causing me to laugh out loud on many occasions next to strangers on trams who would shuffle uncomfortably when this happened. In fact, I don't think I've ever read a book that was so consistently funny. And what's even better is that most of the anecdotes in it are based on true stories. So the crazy/whacky/bonkers stuff written in it actually happened in real life.

Sometimes this meant that I had to take a break from the book just to give my brain some time to comprehend (and recover) from everything that it had just read. So reading the book was exhausting at times, but in a good way (kind of like exercise. And yes, if you're wondering whether I'm likening reading this book to doing an exertive workout, the answer is I sure am and you're welcome for this handy tip that is bound to keep you a lot less sweaty than what doing exercise would).

The best analogy I can come up with for reading this book is that it's like shrinking into a miniature person, crawling inside of Lawson's head, and having a crazy-ass kaleidoscopic party together with all of her fantastically erratic thoughts. Especially because Lawson's writing is so vivid and ebullient (thanks Lena Dunham); taking you on many unexpected and ludicrous tangents along the way. For example, it led me to: Googling whether raccoons wash lots (they do if they think it's food); learning about artificial cow insemination; Googling what bobcats look like; considering whether I should get a taxidermied animal as a household decoration; and being almost convinced that a zombie apocalypse could happen.

Yet subtly woven through Lawson's outrageous story is also the message that no matter how different you or your family are, that's ok, because you don't have to fit in. In fact, being different is fabulously glorified in this book. This, along with everything else I've just mentioned, makes it a bloody good book.

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