I feel like I don’t laugh enough these days, so recently I’ve been actively looking for opportunities to chuckle. I’ve been to an amusing standup comedy show, watched some hilarious reruns of The Big Bang Theory, and even bust a gut through a rather embarrassing karaoke session. But I want more laughter. That’s why I asked Literary Mama staff to share some humorous books this month.
To help us see the funny side of motherhood, Andrea Lani, Senior Editor and Literary Reflections Editor, shared this one: “My first introduction to the literature of motherhood was through zines—booklets photocopied, stapled, and mailed directly from writer to reader in the days before blogs, Twitter, and Instagram. Often humorous, sometimes heartrending, and always real, these handmade, and sometimes hand-written and hand-drawn, missives made me feel less alone in my struggles with parenting two infants and a disenchanted four-year-old, and they inspired me to dream that maybe I, too, could write about this wild ride called motherhood. One of my favorite zinesters, Nicole Chaison, collected the stories from her illustrated zine, Hausfrau, into a hardcover graphic memoir, The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood, Illuminated. Formatted in the style of a medieval illuminated manuscript and following the arc of the hero’s journey, The Passion turns harried and harrowing stories of everyday mothering—from attempting to grocery shop or bake cookies with two tired and hungry charges, to young boys’ tendency to turn every object into a gun, to the humiliation of having one’s castoff clothes rejected from the hip consignment shop, to facing impossible-to-eradicate lice—into hilarious episodes sure to win over readers’ sympathy and cause audible laughter. Even though my kids and I are long past the days of public meltdowns and diaper disasters, I still turn to The Passion of the Hausfrau when I need a good laugh and a reminder that I’m not alone.”
Christina Consolino, Senior Editor, has this suggestion: “My paternal grandmother used to visit us only once a year, but she stayed for six weeks. During her summertime visit, we baked cookies, made gnocchi, and played Zim-Zam (which is essentially tether ball played with a tennis ball and racket). Then, in the afternoons, my sisters and I would sit around the kitchen table reading books with Grandma. One of our go-to books was Judith Viorst’s If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries: Poems for Children and Their Parents, and to this day, I can’t think of it without calling to mind fond memories of Grandma and summertime. The poems in this collection are laced with both humor and wisdom, something I recognize now but didn’t as a child, and I have to say that Viorst was on to something. She knew how to make everyone laugh with relatable situations and wry amusement. Our favorite poem? A nine-lined gem titled ‘Remember Me?’ that ends with these three lines: ‘Or will they only say / He stepped in the dog doo / At Jimmy Altman’s party?’ Even now, as I write this blurb, I hear Grandma’s squeal of delight and her inability to keep a straight face when reading the conclusion of the poem. If you’ve never had the chance to pick up this book, I encourage you to do so.”
Managing Editor Hope Donovan Rider recommends this one for science lovers: “I love Mary Roach—every time I read a popular science book by someone other than her, I always come away wishing she had written it. She has a way of making everything exciting, of making me as interested and curious as she is, whether that topic is cadavers or what sex looks like in an MRI machine (I’m not kidding, go check out Bonk), all while also making me laugh. The book Gulp is no exception. Everything you wanted to know about digestion (and many things you didn’t know you wanted to know) is right here. Sure, some of it is a little gross, but we all eat and we all digest, and as Roach points out, it is a shame that we are more interested in the lives of celebrities than in our own bodies. Just maybe don’t read this while you are eating lunch.”