This week’s reads are all about fun. Check out Dr. Seuss’ hidden hat collection, have a few laughs watching A. J. Jacobs talk about how “joy is important for your health,” or read two fabulously funny memoirs.
On Your Kindle
The subtitle alone made me laugh out loud. Remember the media frenzy over Amy Chua’s book describing her tough maternal style as pure Tiger Mother? (Chua’s daughters had to be honor roll students and they couldn’t go to sleepovers, watch television, or eat sweets.) Chinese-American novelist Keltner takes on tiger moms in this comedic and sensitive memoir. Combining funny family stories of growing up as a chubby B-student with her own present-day commitment to be an affectionate mom, she describes herself as a “Tiger Runt,” the accommodating but often-overlooked youngest child in her family. Keltner rallies other stressed-out Chinese-Americans tired of the pressures of overachievement: “Let’s throw away those report cards, because we’re not in high school anymore.”
On Your Smartphone
“Dr. Seuss, the Mad Hatter: A Peek Inside His Secret Closet,” by Lisa Hix
This charming collector’s weekly article focuses on an exhibit of the beloved author’s hat collection, which is currently touring the U.S. If you loved Dr. Seuss as a kid, you’ll be smitten with his wacky hat collection, which apparently inspired many of his illustrations—plus, you get to peer inside the good doctor’s private art collection, too. Not to be missed: Seuss wearing a spectacular plumed topper as a party trick. Oh, the hats you’ll see!
On a Podcast
“How Healthy Living Nearly Killed Me,” by A. J. Jacobs
“I think half of my book advance went towards sunscreen. I was like a glazed donut for half the year,” says Jacobs in this hilarious TED talk about his last experimental book, Drop Dead Healthy. The book follows his quest to live according to a huge number of health recommendations, like wearing sunscreen daily and reapplying every few hours. I love Jacobs’ books; he is known for pursuing wacky adventures and writing about them. Like his year of reading encyclopedias in The Know-It-All and following religious rules in The Year of Living Biblically, this humorous talk reveals his willingness to use himself as a guinea pig to reveal something about our culture.
The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell
I confess: I am a huge fan of NPR commentator Sarah Vowell’s books. Like me, Vowell is a history nerd and is obsessed with unusual events and places in America. In this collection of essays, she tackles a wide range of subjects in her unmistakably wry voice, including Thanksgiving, presidential museums, and Tom Cruise, who “makes [her] nervous.”
My favorite essay is her take on people who unjustly compare themselves to Rosa Parks, like Ted Nugent, who apparently “refers to himself as ‘Rosa Parks with a loud guitar.’” As Vowell says, “That’s so inaccurate. Everyone knows he’s more like Mary Matalin with a deer rifle.” (Vowell also skewers activists on the left, including Michael Moore and Ralph Nadar, for similar Parks name-dropping.) Or, join Vowell on her trips to several presidential museums, where she sees an LBJ robot and learns that “Ike was a very handsome man.”