Jason Good is both a family man and a funnyman, and that's made pretty clear in his new book, This is Ridiculous This is Amazing. Presented in list form, Good offers hilarious advice on how to navigate the waters of parenthood. Our reviewer shares some tidbits: There are some things "hard-pressed parents shouldn’t feel guilty about ('Pretending to be asleep. Pretending to be deaf.') Freshman fathers will find a kindred spirit in Good, who writes from the heart about the rearing of kids, aka the “tiny people who have no idea that they’re slowly killing us.” It might just be the perfect Father's Day gift. (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Good has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked him to recommend some recent favorites, which he shared in a predictably hilarious fashion.
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
By Daniel Smith
I met Daniel at a birthing class in Brooklyn. Our wives were both pregnant—a fact I probably didn’t need to clarify. We struck up a friendship, and I’ve followed his career since. His latest book is brilliantly written and one of my favorite memoirs.
If you pick up Monkey Mind looking for a cure to anxiety, forget about it. If, however, you’re seeking someone who can graphically and comically describe exactly what it feels like to be anxious, this book delivers all the insight, schadenfreude and hilarity you could possibly handle. Dan is a sweaty, quivering mess of a man who constantly gets in his own way, and you can’t help but grow to love him for it. As he puts it, “. . . anxiety is an inherently comical disorder. It destroys lives, but it destroys them with absurdity. To witness a person in the throes of true anxiety is to witness a person actively tripping himself. Anxiety is the intellect gone feral.” From life’s most important junctures (losing his virginity) to its most mundane (choosing between two condiments), Dan focuses on himself (as those with anxiety are so prone to do), with the steady aim of a journalist. He loads the chamber with comedy, pulls the trigger, and never misses.
I recently discovered that not everyone has read this book. I’m on my second go around. The only other book I’ve read twice is The Phantom Tollbooth, but that hardly counts because I was 9 years old. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius lives up to its name, and I plowed through it, mouth hanging open like a scientist observing an alien aircraft. Dave Eggers' creativity, metaphors and playful use of language in this heartfelt, funny, angry book blew me away. The fact that it’s about the tragic loss of his parents when he was 19 and how he was forced to become its unwitting patriarch makes me want to quit writing and celebrate being a writer all at the same time.
Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude
By Neal Pollack
One of my best friends went to college with Neal and insisted that I read this book. Luckily, I trusted him, because Stretch made me laugh at least twenty times (I rarely laugh, so that’s a lot). It’s easy to make fun of yoga culture—it’s self-righteously crunchy, there’s copious farting. It’s not quite as easy to skewer it when you’ve unwittingly become one of its devout followers. That’s what Neal does in this book. After finding himself unable to let go of his anger when a reviewer refers to him as “fat” Neal decides to change his life—not an easy transition, because Neal’s a cynical ex-punk rocker. From his first class through to nailing a headstand and then publishing articles in yoga magazines, Neal writes hilariously about negotiating his old and new selves, and finding a calm place somewhere in between where he can practice mindfulness and still hate things.
This book sits next to mine on all the Barnes & Noble “Books Dads Will Love” tables. I would prefer that if people are buying only one book, they buy the one adjacent to Dave’s, but I have to admit that it is 99.99% as good as mine. Though his popularity was sparked by the imaginative, “how’d he do that?” photographs he took with his daughter, it’s the three or four paragraph captions that provide the fuel to turn this into a great read. It’s absurd, hilarious and at times, touching. Next to a picture of his daughter poised to drop a whole turkey into a vat of bubbling oil, Dave writes, "Alice Bee did a pretty good job getting the fryer set up while I was watching football on TV, but as usual, her attention to detail was a bit lacking—not only did she neglect to fill the fryer all the way to the top with peanut oil, I even caught her earlier in the day trying to defrost the turkey."
I think it’s a near perfect work of satire that people will love and return to often. I know I do. It’s sitting right next to me. . . taunting me.
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading This is Ridiculous This is Amazing or checking out any of Good's recommended books?
(Author photo by Ben Toht)