The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm: A Lexicon for Those of Us Who Are Better and Smarter Than the Rest of You by James Napoli, 1/5
If I didn’t know the definition of “sarcasm” before starting this book, I’d soon come to the conclusion that it means “cringeworthy attempts at humor by an amateur stand-up comedian as he bombs his first gig.” I suffered through the entire “A” section before coming to terms with the fact that there was no earthly reason to continue reading.
Why I read it: it was a gift from a family member years ago.
Usually I’m not a big fan of humor that relies on pop cultural references, but Amend is legitimately funny at times and obviously a huge nerd, which is all I require in a cartoonist.
Why I read it: my brother got it out of the library and it ended up in my gym bag, fulfilling the important role of “backup book” (in case of unforeseen boredom). I ended up reading half of it while waiting at a Jack in the Box drive-thru for some idiot to collect their $60 order.
This collection of Shrigley’s messy, misspelled, dark and unpredictably humorous art seems less accessible than his What the Hell are You Doing? The Essential David Shrigley. “Less accessible” is a fancy way of saying that I didn’t really “get” a lot of the stuff in this book (which you might find a bit ironic if you read my last review of his work). Perhaps I also didn’t enjoy this as much because I went into it expecting to be surprised and delighted, an approach that never seems to work well for me.
Why I read it: My library only has Shrigley’s books in e-book form (which I hate), so I picked this up at Easton’s Books, hoping it would be as funny as the last thing by him that I read.
This might be the strangest and most ingenious premise for a book I have ever seen–even after reading it, I still don’t really see how it’s possible. It is a collection of poems written in French that, when read aloud, sound like Mother Goose rhymes being read in English with a thick French accent. The author supplies entertaining footnotes that attempt, with varying degrees of success, to make sense of the “original” French.
Here’s an example for “Little Bo Peep”:
Little Bo Peep
has lost her sheep
and doesn’t know where to find them;
leave them alone and they will come home
wagging their tails behind them.
Lille beau pipe
Ocelot serre chypre
En douzaine aux verres tuf indemne
Livre de melons un dé huile qu’aux mômes
Eau à guigne d’air telle baie indemne.
Why I read it: My friend, Alison (whose own book, Entropy Academy, is soon to be released), gave this book to me while I was taking a French language class. Hearing the verses read aloud in her English accent was a hilariously bizarre experience.
N.B. There is a German version of this concept called Mörder Guss Reims.
Swift combines wit, humour and venom in this collection of satires that attack everything from organized religion to politicians and fellow writers. The 18th-century language and references to now-obscure people and issues do not hinder this book’s continued relevance and, in my opinion, even enhance the timelessness of Swift’s observations–one of my favourite parts of reading very old literature is realizing how little people’s basic natures change with the passage of time.
Why I read it: One of Dad’s coworkers cited “A Modest Proposal” as his all-time favourite piece of literature, which made me curious to read it. Also, I’ve been meaning to read Gulliver’s Travels for quite a while and I thought it was in this collection (which it wasn’t).
I made a couple picture quotes for this book:
Recklessly funny, Inman doesn’t hold back at all in this collection of comics which tackles topics from commuting via polar bear to eating Play-Doh. This book is definitely not for the sensitive soul–while he considerately pixelates most of the cartoon privates, the author does somehow manage to invent euphemisms that are more offensive than the real thing.
[Why I read it: I’m on an Inman binge.]
This book contains only one comic, so it is more of a novelty than anything. However, it is still pretty cute and I recognise his cartoon dog’s infectious enthusiasm in my own mutt (though mine certainly uses fewer swearwords).
[Why I read it: ordered all of Inman’s stuff from the library at once, then read it in one sitting.]
A laugh-out-loud-funny collection of cat-themed comics from The Oatmeal.
[Why I read it: Reading Inman’s The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances reminded me that he has other hilarious books out there that I hadn’t read yet.]
Inman’s reasons for running may be much more terrible and wonderful than my own (just as his conception of “long distances” is much longer), but a lot of this hilarious book resonated with me. On a side note: I’ve never read a collection of comics containing more illustrations of Nutella.
[Why I read it: I enjoy Inman’s webcomic, The Oatmeal, and this book came up in conversation with one of Dad’s coworkers. I’d actually almost bought it in a store just a few days previous before remembering that 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth was collecting dust on my shelf after being read just once. I hit the library up instead, which I guess makes me a bad fan.]