Quickpicks

Funny Women

comedycellar

I love comedy. Whether via online videos, podcasts, or attending weekly har-har rituals like Vancouver’s Sunday Service , I’m an addict for a good laugh. In particular however, I’m hooked on funny women.

I may be biased, but there is something deeply refreshing about hearing a brilliant modern woman speak frankly about all the experiences, taboos, and general double standards that come packaged with a set of ovaries with refreshing,  hilarious and brutal candidness. Thankfully, these days  it seems as though female comedians are getting more of the attention and praise they deserve, and there is therefore a plethora of performers and formats to choose from.

Here I present a list of a few funny women and their funny books. Most are available from the library in print, but as the resident audio-book evangelist allow me to spread the gospel and sing it from the hills—it is one thing to watch one of your favorite comedians on YouTube, but to spend hours listening to them reading their own memoirs is a whole other experience. Not only do you get a chance to hear the author perform impressions, crack-up at their own jokes, or sometimes tear up over an old memory, many authors insert little aside commentaries for the exclusive pleasure of audio listeners.

 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer amyschumer

Unless you’ve been living under a pop-culture rock for the past few years, then you have also had the pleasure of hearing or seeing Amy Schumer perform. Aside from being a critically-praised stand-up comedian, she wrote and starred in last year’s film Trainwreck, and has been featured on numerous TV shows and films. Her new book shares hilarious, and often touching stories from her life in her characteristic unflinchingly candid style.

Not sold yet? Check out this hilarious excerpt from Vogue magazine.  

Not That Kind of Girl; A Young Woman Tell You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham  dunham

Lena Dunham is one of those young women who are so accomplished at such a young age that you almost want to hate them…… except that her special brand of self-defecating humour and brazen attitude make it extremely hard to do so. In her first memoir, Dunham recounts stories from her childhood, sex life, and experiences navigating the milieu of everything in between.

 

Notaro

I’m Just a Person  by Tig Notaro

I’ve already talked about this one before, but I really really love Tig Notaro so here we go again.  Her new book talks about a span of only four months in 2012 where Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She then took her grief onstage to become one of the most intimate, and startling stand-ups out there today. For more information on her story, and the way her comedy has changed since that fateful period of time, I highly recommend checking out this great interview she recently gave with The Guardian. 

Bossypants by Tina Fey bossypants

What I liked most about listening to Bossypants (aside from her hilarious bonus audio commentary) was learning  more about her process breaking into the comedy scene in the 90’s and 2000’s, working at SNL, and the struggles she encountered as a woman in the field. Fey is classy, clever and funny as hell. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

kaling Whenever I read Kaling’s work I feel as though I’m having a glass of wine with an old friend and giggling over the absurdities of our lives. Admittedly I haven’t had the chance to read Kaling’s newest book, however I loved her first collection of essays Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? , and the audio version of Why Not Me? features guest appearances by other Office legends like B.J. Novak–so I have faith.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Yes Please! By Amy Poehler 

The Bedwetter;  Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Seriously–I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. By Chelsea Handler

 

-Mikale Fenton

 

Mikale’s Spring 2016 Picks

Oh boy, here we go. Spring is undeniably here and so begins my serious season of reading. As a fair-weather cyclist and wannabee-marathoner, this is my season for audiobooks coupled with languid days of sitting in the sun trying desperately to inhale all the Fiction. All of it. Here’s a list of what I’m most excited for this season:

March

Audiobooks: 

March has been my month of guilty pleasures.  For whatever reason, my new policy is that celestengif I want to read something non-fiction, classic or not-in-season, I have to do it via the library’s collection of downloadable audiobooks, hence the following list of 2015 titles that slipped by during the fall and winter.

This month I listened to Celeste Ng’s haunting yet beautiful novel, ‘Everything I Never Told You’, as well as J.K Rowling Robert Galbraith’s ‘Career of Evil’. Career_of_Evil_Oct_2015I’ve never been a huge mystery-reader, however this is the third Cormoran Strike mystery I’ve listened to and can’t get enough of Robert Glenister’s narration style and voice.  Finally, I also listened to Aziz Anzari’s modernromanceModern Romance, a funny and insightful sociological examination at the often baffling world of modern heterosexual dating, which admittedly resonated a bit too eerily for this twenty-something-reader. Added bonus: Anzari narrates the audio-version and includes lots of bonus commentary. Plus, he is hilarious.

 

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

mornignstarSpeaking of guilty pleasures…. I just finished the final installment of Pierce Brown’s ‘Red Rising’ Trilogy and was not disappointed. While Brown’s writing style is a bit too sci-fi  “Bro-talk” for me, he is an undeniably gifted story teller and I’d recommend the trilogy for anyone looking for a page-turning action thriller.

 

This is Happy by Camilla Gibb

In anticipation of the upcoming North Shore Writer’s Festival, I just picked up a copy and this is happyam already enthralled by Camilla Gibb’s new memoir ‘This is Happy.’ The book reveals the intensity of the grief that besieged her as the happiness of a longed-for family was shattered when Gibb was eight-weeks pregnant and her wife announced she was leaving.  Reflecting on tangled moments of past sadness and joy, alienation and belonging, Gibb revisits her stories now in relation to the happy daughter who will inherit them, and she finds there new meaning and beauty.

April

Moving forward, here are the new spring titles I’m most excited to read this April.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang 

Celebrated by critics around the world, and  longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, The Vegetarian is darkly allegorical, Korean Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her. A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled vegetarianlife. But the dreams–invasive images of blood and brutality–torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself. .

 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah nightingale

Viann and Isabelle have always been close despite their differences. Younger, bolder sister Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann lives a quiet and content life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. When World War II strikes and Antoine is sent off to fight, Viann and Isabelle’s father sends Isabelle to help her older sister cope. As the war progresses, it’s not only the sisters’ relationship that is tested, but also their strength and their individual senses of right and wrong. With life as they know it changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

My Brilliant Friend by Ella Ferrante

Admittedly, I need to start this series from the beginning, but with the release of the final installment, I’ve decided to listen to the first three, then read the final book next month, brilliantfriendwish me luck!

Here’s a synopsis from the publisher: ” A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.”

May

 

The Bad Mother by Marguerite Andersen (on order at NVCL)

Translated from the award-winning French novel La mauvaise mère, prolific author Marguerite Andersen fictionalizes the important moments of her life resulting in this unflinching account of her relationship with her three children and her years spent following her caprices and lovers, trying to regain the agency she lost when she became a mother.Born in Germany, Marguerite was just into her twenties when she moved to Tunisia with her French lover. She thought she was choosing a life of adventure and badmotherfreedom, but what she got was children and a marriage that quickly became abusive. Constrained by the minutiae of everyday life, Marguerite longs for the agency to make her own choices. Eventually she flees, leaving her children behind for a year and a half.
As the world labels her a wife, a mother, and eventually a bad mother, Marguerite wrestles with her own definition of personhood. Can you love your children and want your own life at the same time? A half-century later, this fictionalized account of Andersen’s life is written with brutal honesty, in spare, pithy, and often poetic prose, as she expresses her own conflicted feelings concerning a difficult time and the impact it had on her sense of self. Andersen confronts the large and small choices that she made—the times she stayed and the times she didn’t—all the while asking, “What kind of mother am I?”

Barkskins by Annie Proulx barkskins

In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a ” seigneur ,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters–barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years–their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions–the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.

The Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler 

Could the taming of Shakespeare’s shrew, Katherina, happen today? Find out in this funny, off-beat version from one of our most beloved novelists. ovinegargirl Anne Tyler’s retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern, independent woman like Kate would ever sacrifice herself for a man. Its answer is as individual, off-beat, and funny as Kate herself.

 

 

 

Happy reading!

-Mikale

Quickpick: The Jaguar’s Children

Jaguar'sChildrenThe Jaguar’s Children, by John Vaillant

“Hector is one of 13 Mexican immigrants trapped and abandoned in a metal tank with little food and water. Smugglers, called ‘coyotes,’ have taken their money and possessions with a promise to come back and fix the tank. The people are slowly dying from heat and thirst and the suspense is intolerable. Suspense and insecurity is at the core of the story.”

-Homa

Quickpick: This One Summer, by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

ThisOneSummerToday’s Quickpick is a teen graphic novel that will appeal to adults as well. It comes highly recommended by our teen librarian, Kate.

This One Summer, by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

“Mariko & Jillian have teamed up again to create a bittersweet coming of age graphic novel. While on a summer vacation at the lake with her family, as always Rose spends the days with her friend Windy. But this year feels different. They’re sorting out big questions, taking cues from teens and adults around them who may not make the best role models. Rose is the eye of the storm in the growing conflict between her parents, while she and Windy binge-watch horror films and absorb disturbing messages from the older teens at the lake. The subtle and emotive illustrations pull you into this dream-like read that feels at once remote and intimate.” – Kate

Quickpick – Sensei, by John J. Donohue

I’m excited to announce that starting today, we will feature a new column for staff book reviews in 120 words or less, aka “Quickpicks!” Here is our first:

SenseiSensei, by John J. Donohue

Combining the exotic world of Japanese martial arts with a murder investigation, Sensei is a riveting thriller that explores the links between people as they struggle for mastery, identity and a sense of belonging. John Donohue’s “Conner Burke” series is recommended reading by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Booklist, and is also finalist of the USA Best Mystery Awards and the Benjamin Franklin Gold medal for Suspense and Fiction.  Sensei, Deshi, Tengu*, Kage and Enzan* – read one every week for a great summer of action and adventure, or like me, grab your G&T and down one in a single sitting –  yup, they are that good! — Leslie M.

*On order.