People I Want to Punch in the Throat
Everyone has a list of people they’d like to punch in the throat—mine varies day-to-day but mostly consists of strangers that I encounter on the subway or on the streets of New York City. Jen Mann does not have a filter, which immediately makes her someone I admire. Not only did she write a book titled People I Want to Punch in the Throat, but she’s also the writer behind a popular blog called People I Want to Punch in the Throat. So yes, there are a lot of people on her bad side, but odds are, the same people are also on YOUR list of people you hate. In this laugh-out-loud collection of essays, Jen brings her sharp wit and commentates on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood. From swinger parties to racist toddlers, she makes the suburbs unbelievably funny.
Samantha Irby is the queen of real talk. I devoured this book (and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.) and I recommend them to everyone I know, which isn’t that many people, but still… Meaty has a cute little hedgehog on the cover which was honestly enough for me to want to open the book. But inside the book is where the real “meat” is…HA. In this collection of essays, Samantha Irby laughs her way through tragi-comic mishaps, neuroses, and taboos as she struggles through adulthood. It’s amazing. I also need to point out that like Irby, I have several autoimmune diseases and it’s not f*cking fun or glamorous, but it SHOULD be talked about! Let’s change the way of the world with Irby and talk about chronic illness openly instead of feeling like it’s something we always need to keep on the DL. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Who else dreamed of fitting in? Who else was too weird to actually make that happen? When blogger Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to be like other kids. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that wasn’t in the cards. In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson examines her most embarrassing moments—the ones she wishes never happened—and discovers that they’re actually what made her the person she is today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.
A phrase that’s used by people quite often is “life isn’t fair” and honestly, I think it’s one of the truest sayings out there. Life really isn’t fair and guess what?! It sucks sometimes! This book is a guide to dealing with the sucky things that we can’t change. Designed for teenagers who are going through hell mentally and physically, Life Sucks shows readers that we all deal with crap in our lives and it’s best to laugh at things we can’t control. I definitely needed this in my life as a confused teen (THANKS, MOM) but although I’m not a confused teen anymore, a lot of these life lessons still apply. Get this book for your grandchild, daughter, son, niece, nephew, or cousin that is angry at the world and doesn’t know what to do about it besides blast music and slam doors.
I Feel Bad
Do you feel immense guilt about things that aren’t your fault or out of your control? Same! It turns out, a lot of people do. In a series of 100 illustrations with accompanying text, Orli Auslander explores this all-too-familiar feeling. As Orli tries to be the best wife, mother, and friend she can be, she simultaneously feels shitty about virtually everything she does. She’s candid and darkly funny as she voices her deepest insecurities and tackles her internal struggles head-on. This book inspired a television comedy on NBC that’s produced by Amy Poehler, who is, frankly, a blessing to all of us.
Everything's Trash, But It's Okay
Phoebe Robinson is one Dope Queen! Seriously, she’s one half of 2 Dope Queens, which is a hit podcast turned TV show. Her second book, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, is everything you’ve ever wanted between two covers. It is composed of hilarious, on-point essays that examine what is wrong with our world today from dating to feminism to beauty standards. As you make your way through this book, you’ll cringe, you’ll laugh, you’ll even cry. Basically, when you don’t know what to get as a gift for a friend, get them this book. Also, Phoebe, please be my friend? Please?
I Feel Bad About My Neck
In this book, Nora Ephron gets REAL about what older women feel bad about and let me tell you, the list is long. If I live to be elderly (fingers crossed), I’m sure I will refer back to this book many times and cackle as I sit in my arm chair and reflect on all the b.s. I went through as I got up there in years. I feel like women’s bodies kind of go through a second puberty with menopause; women once again have to reckon with society’s beauty standards as they reach a certain age, which totally sucks. Written with Nora’s usual dry sense of humor, I Feel Bad About My Neck is truthful, courageous, and downright funny.
The human body is weird—let’s be honest about it. Funky body stuff happens all the time and most women are too scared to actually talk about it with other women… even though they’ve probably experienced the same thing! Gross Anatomy gets down to the core of all our bodily functions and talks about them in the most honest way. Divided into two sections, “The Top Half” and “The Bottom Half,” with cartoons scattered throughout, this book takes readers on a wild ride from head to toe and discusses topics like sweatiness, camel toe, body hair, and more. Let’s normalize our “gross” anatomy by spreading the love for this wonderful, body-positive book.
Failure Is an Option
H. Jon Benjamin
The title of this book inspires me more than any graduation speech I’ve ever heard. It’s OKAY TO FAIL! Wow! I have literally never heard that before in my life. There’s so much pressure to be perfect and successful in today’s world that it’s suffocating and discouraging. Why try something new if you don’t know you’ll be good at it? Why give up that job you hate if you don’t know what else you’re going to do? Why risk anything at all? H. Jon Benjamin, the voice of Bob in Bob’s Burgers (one of the best shows of our time), lays bare his life’s failures in this hilarious memoir so that we can all feel better about ours. *Cue Tina’s moan.* Thank you, H. Jon Benjamin. Thank you.
Why Not Me?
Everyone needs Mindy Kaling. I repeat, Everyone. Needs. Mindy. Kaling. She’s an icon with a great fashion sense and an even better sense of humor—I binge-watched The Mindy Project and laugh-cried so many times that I lost count. And her performance as Kelly in The Office is just… perfect. *Chef’s kiss.* Why Not Me? is a collection of essays that talk about the relatable—like body image and the complexity of friendship—and things we might never know about, like fame and love in Hollywood. PSA: If you want some deets on Mindy’s “weird as hell” relationship with B.J. Novak (you know you do), the secrets lie in these pages. Once you finish this book, you should also read her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), because it’s equally as amazing and laugh-out-loud funny. And then, when you finish reading, you can play the fun game called “What rhetorical question will Mindy’s next book ask?”
My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha
This New York Times bestseller is everything you never knew you needed. Jolie Kerr is the mastermind behind “Ask a Clean Person,” the hit column that, you guessed it, explains how to clean things. This book is a hilarious and practical guide to cleaning up life’s little emergencies that are hella embarrassing and maybe not things that you want to share on the internet or with any other human being on this planet. Jolie takes on questions ranging from the basic—how do I use a mop?—to the esoteric—what should I do when bottles of home-brewed ginger beer explode in my kitchen? Thanks, Jolie! You rock.
I’m a huge fan of fiction—I love immersing myself in worlds that are not my own. Maybe that says something about the state of my well-being? I’ll think more about that later. Anyway, though fiction really is incredible, there comes a time in life where you need to put the novels down and pick up works of nonfiction that make you go “ah, yes.”
Lately, I’ve been loving essay collections and memoirs that talk about all the things you never even knew people talked about! I’ve been plowing through these kinds of books because I find that they are relatable and poignant and absolutely hilarious. And I’ve come to a conclusion after experiencing the magic between their pages: we all need funny nonfiction books that tell it like it really is. Blunt and brutal is best, right? I need them, you need them, your mom needs them, that annoying a-hole on the subway needs them. Here are some of my favorites.