Recap: When a book opens with a story about a tortoise and a hare, I first have to wonder if I’m reading a copy of Aesop’s Fables. But when the story turned into a version in which the hare loses and then demands a rematch against the tortoise, I knew we were no longer in Aesop’s territory. Thanks, B.J. Novak. The comedian and actor, best known for his role in The Office dives into his funny, sarcastic, sometimes dark and then surprisingly poignant mind with this collection of short stories that made me laugh and think.
The content of many of the stories seemed random: in “Dark Matter,” a guy visiting a planetarium; in “Walking on Eggshells,” a woman set on having sex with Tony Robbins; in “MONSTER: The Roller Coaster,” a focus group selecting the name of a roller coaster. Despite the premises, they often had strong, affecting messages at the end about what matters most to us as people, about whether it’s worth it to be in a relationship that may not serve you, about things not turning out the way we expect them to.
With some of the longer short stories, including the one from which the book got its title “Sophia,” I came to expect something poignant at the end. In the case of “Sophia,” I didn’t ever get it.
Some stories, like “The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela,” were just plain funny, an opportunity for Novak to show off his comedic writing skills. Others were simple plays on words like “If I Had a Nickel” and “If You Love Something,” good for a nice chuckle.
Analysis: As someone who’d never actually read a book of short stories, I didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t particularly excited to read it. I doubted I would enjoy it without a central story powerful enough to keep me flipping through the pages. But color me shocked when I found that I really, truly enjoyed it. Sure, some stories were better than others. Some had me scratching my head (and not in a thoughtful way, more in a what-the-hell-was-that kind of way). But I caught myself laughing several times and stopping to think about some of the stories before going on to read the next ones. I also found that because some of the stories were so short, I was able to fly through the book. How Novak came up with some of the crazy, weird, and creatively thoughtful stories is impressive and delightful.
In movies, she’s almost always played the “best friend” (27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner). But finally, comedic actress Judy Greer is a leading lady — in nonfiction writing.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Judy Greer, who currently voices Cheryl on FX’s Archer, recently got a deal to publish her first book. It will be a collection of essays about a number of topics, ranging from her childhood in the Midwest to her career in film and TV.
Called I Don’t Know What You Know Me From, the book is tentatively set to come out sometime next year and left Greer with an advance of almost $1 million.
It’s nice to see her finally in the limelight; though I do wonder how many people will actually read a book about a woman that doesn’t have the largest following.
We all need help every once in a while. When a self-help book was sent to me by a dear friend and former co-worker of mine, I decided I’d get over what people would think of me when they saw me reading a self-help book and give it a try. But Joleene DesRosiers Moody’s Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary is a breath of fresh air for those who are hesitant to admit they have a problem.
Memoirs of Normalcy not only encourages you to change your thoughts, let go, and overcome your fears. It also tells the author’s story — a story about struggles with addiction, changing careers, finding love, and exploring yourself. At times it seems like DesRosiers Moody has dealt with it all. We can all find a little piece to relate to — in a good way! Reading about her decision to leave the television news business and enter the world of motivational speaking seems foreign to most of us — albeit a little crazy. But she did it. She learned from it. And now she passes along her words of wisdom to us.
It’s not your typical self-help book that tells you what to do. It’s a self-help combined with a memoir. By sharing her personal experiences, we understand with specific examples why and how all this advice works. For instance, DesRosiers Moody talks about her post-TV news job search. She was down; she had just about given up when all of a sudden she got not one, but a number of offers. She uses this example to explain why there’s no such thing as instant gratification, but that our time will come as long as we understand the importance of patience and positive thinking.
The first half of the book focuses on advice. The second half walks us through her two-week journey to a meditation camp a few years back. Without being hokey, she describes the ways in which it changed her life, making it easy for us to understand just how much meditation can travel to the depths of your soul.
Is DesRosiers Moody spiritual? Of course. Can that sometimes be annoying? For some people, probably yes. But what you have to understand when you pick up the book is that when you’ve been down as low as this author — and most of us probably have at one point or another — there’s nowhere left to go but to a space of spirituality and self-reflection.
DesRosiers Moody’s personal story is encouraging enough to push any reader to make a change and stay positive.
Get Memoirs of Normalcy in paperback now for just $12.47.
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