Posts Tagged ‘self deprecating’


November 7, 2012

Bossypants book coverTitle: Bossypants

Author: Fey, Tina

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 272

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Chicago, New York

Time Period: 1970’s to Current Times

Plot Summary: With this hilarious and engaging autobiography, Tina Fey can add clever writer to her list of accomplishments.  Bossypants tells the story of Fey’s life along with her personal advice and general thoughts.   It tells the story of her awkward upbringing in Pennsylvania before moving on to her embarrassing college/theater years as well as her time with Second City, SNL and then her current role as creator and star of 30 Rock.  Fey’s road to success is told in a straightforward manner while also remaining humorous.  There are stories about the people she has worked with through improv and television shows, and she shares intimate stories without being too gossipy.  She shares personal essays on topics such as motherhood and the treatment of women in charge.  Her conversational style pulls the reader in, and you might find yourself wishing you could hang out with her.  Tina Fey manages to be self-deprecating while remaining endearing and it is a fast read.  A great read for those seeking a witty, lighthearted and fun memoir.  Readers who enjoyed her style might want to check out the audiobook version of this autobiography, which Tina Fey herself narrates skillfully.

Subject Headings:  American wit and humor, Women comedians, Women television personalities, Fey, Tina 1970-, Saturday Night Live (Television program), Motherhood-Humor, 30 Rock (Television program), Celebrities-humor

Appeal: Witty, observant, self-deprecating, autobiographical, conversational, candid tone, humorous, sarcastic, insightful, pop culture references, clever, straightforward, earnest, easy pace, inventive, chatty style, unpretentious, engaging

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Witty, Insightful, Candid

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson

A novel that was made into a movie, this book deals with the issue of balancing family and work as hedge fund manager and mother of two Kate Reddy tries to do.   A humorous, moving tale that is a great book for readers who enjoyed Tina Fey’s thoughts on trying to be a successful mother and boss.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Enjoy this Women’s Lives and Relationships novel whose main character could almost be Tina Fey/Liz Lemon.  It follows television writer Ruth Saunders who is living in Los Angeles along with her sassy grandmother Rae, who raised Ruth after a violent crash that killed her parents and left young Ruth with gruesome facial scars.   Ruth’s dream comes true when her autobiographical sitcom is picked up by a large network.  But the dream is not such a fairytale, as Ruth must deal with egotistical actors, difficult show executives, a crush on her boss and her grandmother’s upcoming wedding.  A witty and charming novel that has a smart, witty protagonist who screams Tina Fey and deals with workplace social issues mentioned in Bossypants.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

A fascinating read with a self-deprecating, witty style that Fey could enjoy.  Judd Foxman is jobless and living out his depressing life in the basement of a crappy house.  He is newly separated from his wife who he caught having an affair in the most outlandish yet amusing way, but must return home to his crazy dysfunctional family to sit shiva after the death of his father.  An intimate, candid tale of a family full of flawed characters and hilarious moments with each other.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

A nonfiction book that explores the dark side that can lurk in the world of young girls’ princess fascination.  Here is a subject for those interested in the motherhood advice given by Tina Fey, and maybe even a great read for Tina herself.  Orenstein explores the troubling aspects of the princess phenomenon and early sexualization messages given to girls.  Her research takes her to places including Disneyland, American Girl Place, a Miley Cyrus concert and a child beauty pageant.  An engaging read for anyone trying to raise girls or fascinated by the subject.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Loved reading a biography by a comedy star and want even more? Then this similarly styled memoir should fit the bill.  Comedy writer and star of NBC’s The Office and now The Mindy Project, Mindy candidly talks about growing up as a chubby Indian girl in Massachusetts, her road to comedic fame as well as her thoughts on life, love and friendship.  Enjoy some more humorous tales on comedy writing, television show business and the awesomeness of food.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

Get an overview of the history of female comedians within this last half century including the witty Tina Fey.  It traces female comedians and their struggle to conquer a male-dominated world, from Phyllis Diller in the 1950s to current comedians like Chelsea Handler and the women of SNL.  Enjoy this inside look at the evolution of female comedians and the personal interviews with the people involved.

Name: Margita Lidaka

The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames

August 8, 2012

Author:  Jonathan Ames

Illustrator:  Dean Haspiel

Title:  The Alcoholic

Genre:  Graphic Novel

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  136

Geographical Setting:  New York City

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Famous mystery writer Jonathan A. wakes from a drunken stupor to find himself in a cluttered station wagon next to an old dwarf woman intent on making love to him.  Trying to remember how he got here, he reflects back to his adolescence when he first discovered alcohol and made a pact with his best friend Sal to get drunk every weekend throughout high school, thus beginning his lifelong self-destructive relationship with alcohol.  He moves to New York City after his parents die in a car wreck and begins working as a taxi driver, where he meets a drug-dealer who introduces him to cocaine.  After waking up in a garbage can, he decides to check himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.  Unfortunately, after leaving, his life continues to fill with tragedy: a girl he falls in love with abandons him yet continues to string him along, he learns that his best friend died of AIDS, his Aunt gets breast cancer, and he watches the World Trade Center burn down on September 11 from the roof of his apartment building.  Jonathan Ames’s The Alcoholic is a bleak, semiautobiographical tale of one man’s desperate and constant battle to overcome alcoholism.  Featuring flawed and lifelike characters with whom readers can sympathize, The Alcoholic is an emotionally-charged and sobering look at the horrors of alcoholism.  The illustrations are evocative, realistic, well-drawn, and superbly complement the narrative’s tone.

Subject Headings:  Alcoholics; Alcoholism; Addiction; Self-Destructive Behavior; Novelists

Appeal:  Compelling, unhurried, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, well-drawn characters, lifelike characters, character-driven, authentic, open-ended, candid, honest, gritty, engaging, self-deprecating, descriptive, darkly humorous, melancholy, moving, dramatic, melancholy, sobering, poignant, emotionally-charged, offbeat, reflective

3 terms that best describe this book:  Candid, melancholy, and sobering

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

In this moving and somewhat disturbing memoir, twenty-four-year-old Koren Zailckas candidly talks about her experience with alcoholism (which began when she was only 14), half-remembered drunken sexual encounters, rape, and alcohol poisoning. She gives an intimate look into the largely overlooked issue of binge drinking among teen girls and young women.  This book is suggested to those who want to read true stories about underage drinking and early alcoholism.

2)  Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs, in the witty and offbeat writing style he is known for, recounts his stay in an alcohol rehabilitation facility for gay men.  But when he leaves, his recovery is challenged when he falls in love with a cocaine addict and his best friend dies of AIDS.  Simultaneously moving and humorous, Dry is suggested to readers who want a closer look inside a rehabilitation facility and want to read how someone else dealt with losing a friend to AIDS.

3)  Stitches by David Small

Written in graphic novel format, Stitches is a poignant, grim, and deeply haunting memoir about the author’s childhood and adolescence among an emotionally unavailable family.  Young David ends up getting throat cancer from his radiologist father, who subjected him to repeated x-rays, and looses his ability to speak after surgery.  Distant, mute, and alone, David turns to drawing as an escape.  Although this suggestion is not about alcoholism or addiction, readers looking for a similarly powerful graphic novel could not go wrong with Stitches.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

A fictional version of Bret Easton Ellis attempts to change his drug-addled, binge-drinking lifestyle by marrying movie star Jayne Dennis, moving to the suburbs, and becoming a father.  Everything seems well for a while, but when he begins writing a pornographic shock novel his life goes from mundane and peaceful to bizarre and horrific.  He relapses back into alcohol and drug abuse, his house becomes possessed by an insidious spirit, someone begins copying the serial killings in American Psycho, and his neighborhood suffers an increase in child abductions.  Like The Alcoholic, this novel contains similar semiautobiographical elements and features a drug-abusing, flawed character as a protagonist.  Suggested to readers looking for something a bit more wild and offbeat than The Alcoholic.

2)  Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British ex-consul, escapes to Quahnahuac, Mexico on November 2, 1938—The Day of the Dead—in order to cut himself off from his loved ones and to drink himself to death.  His ex-wife, Yvonne, and his stepbrother, Hugh, travel to the small Mexican town in an attempt to save him, but to no avail.  Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano is renowned for its vivid and sympathetic portrayal of the horrors of alcoholism.  Like The Alcoholic, this semiautobiographical novel provides an unflinching look at alcoholism.

3)  Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s alter ego, is a derelict and a drunkard who aimlessly travels throughout America looking for work in dead-end occupations, loose and easy women, and, of course, his next drink.  This bawdy semiautobiographical novel recounts Henry’s experiences in gritty, candid details.  Jonathan Ames, author of The Alcoholic, has mentioned Bukowski as an important influence in his own writing.  Further, Factotum similarly tells the story of an alcoholic’s experiences.

Name:  Zach Musil

Me Talk Pretty One Day

August 6, 2011

Author: David Sedaris

Title: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Genre: Nonfiction, GLBTQ Humor, Audio Book

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 5 CDs, 6 hrs.

Geographical Setting: North Carolina, Chicago, New York, France

Time Period: Present day/author’s childhood

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary: David Sedaris returns in his fourth book with more sharp, witty stories mined from his childhood, career and relationships. Even as Sedaris articulately paints a picture of himself as the perennial put-upon loser, his charming near-misanthropy, cheerful self-deprecation and skewed perspective on life nevertheless soon have readers rooting for him. Anecdotes range from childhood speech therapy and failed attempts at teaching to his meeting and moving to France with boyfriend Hugh and struggles to learn the language. This is funny, funny stuff. And—perhaps unsurprisingly to those already familiar with Sedaris’ uniquely engaging style—the material is served even better in this audio CD edition, read by the author himself. Sedaris’ reedy, nasal voice, with its slight lisp and just a hint of his North Carolina upbringing, is naturally perfect in delivering the nuances and timing needed for a listening experience more akin to performance art than many audio books ’perfunctory readings. His familiarity with the material gives the collection an appealing storytelling quality, and in fact some of the stories appeared on NPR’s This American Life before the book was published. Some are accompanied by small musical highlights, while others were recorded live, reinforcing the storytelling/performance art feeling. Sedaris writes clever, intelligent and hilarious stories, drawing on a tradition going back to Mark Twain. Readers should note that Sedaris doesn’t shy away from some mature language or subjects. A great choice when looking for something funny, nonfiction or that works particularly well in audio format.

Subject Headings: Humorous nonfiction; GLBTQ humor; American humor; Paris (France); Anecdotes—Humorous

Appeal: Humorous, witty, charming, entertaining, self-deprecating, curmudgeonly, nostalgic, sardonic, ironic, leisurely-paced, clever, conversational, storytelling, cultural commentary, wry observations, read by author, empathetic characters, underdog themes

3 terms that best describe this book: Sharp, witty, conversational

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace (A collection of wryly humorous essays on childhood, vacationing and other cultural observations)

The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Audio CD), by Sarah Vowell (Witty, quirky essays with a keen eye for observation and history, the audio edition features a cast of noted readers like Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Michael Chabon and the author herself, with music from quirky popsters They Might Be Giants)

A Woman Trapped in a Woman’s Body: (Tales from a Life of Cringe), by Lauren Weedman (Humorous, self-deprecating, confessional memoir from a former Daily Show correspondent)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

After the Plague: Stories, by T. Coraghessan Boyle (Series of ironic and darkly humorous tales of contemporary life)

The Adrian Mole Diaries, by Sue Townsend (Humorous, touching diary of a 13-year-old boy who writes down his daily experiences and observations)

A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby (A dark comedy, themes of suicide, angst, depression and promiscuity, sharp wit)


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

April 14, 2010

Author: David Grann (Read by: Mark Deakins)

Title: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication date: 2009

Number of Discs: 8

Number of pages: 448

Geographical setting: New York City, England, South America

Time period: Late 1800’s-Early 1900’s, Early 2000’s

Series: No

Plot summary: Percy Harrison Fawcett wrestled anacondas, fostered relationships with natives and mapped uncharted territories in South America in a time where sea monsters were completely plausible. The stories of his travels followed him everywhere and his trip to find the lost city of “Z” seemed destined to only add to his grandeur. Sadly it turned his tale from heroic to mysterious as Fawcett, his song and his son’s best friend were never heard from again.

Decade’s later journalist David Grann stumbled across this story and decided to find out what happened to the explorer who many claimed could never be killed. This is no average research book however as Grann decides to get out of the library stacks and into the Amazon to do what so many actual explorers had died trying – uncover Fawcett’s fate and find the Lost City of Z. Relaying Grann’s story, Mark Deakins gives the listener the experience of a wonderful History Channel documentary, engaging, calm and authoritative he draws you in till the very end.

Subject headings: Early Exploration, Coming of Age, South America, Journalism, Royal Geographical Society of London, Expeditions, Historical

Appeal: self deprecating, informative, engaging, authoritative, steady, detailed, well-developed, descriptive, deliberate, layered, inspiring, passionate, character centered, detailed setting, multiple plot lines, multiple points of view

3 terms that best describe this book: solid, thorough, compelling

Similar works:


Lost Trails, Lost Cities by Percy Harrison Fawcett:  Fawcett’s experiences from his explorations, edited by his son Brian. (Exploration stories, historical accounts, first person)

The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest by Andrew Revkin: A modern day look at what Fawcett fought for – protection of the environment and peoples of the Amazon. (Amazon, true story, dramatic)

They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Modern Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club by The Explorers Club & Jan Jarboe Russell: Fantastic accounts of journeys to the ocean floor all the way to outer space. (Spectacular, engaging, true stories)


The Land Beyond Time: Adventure in the Amazon by Alexander Molnar Jr.: Stranded in the Amazon, survivors of a plane crash must battle each other, tribes and the jungle. (Amazon, exciting, fast paced)

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons by John Wesley Powell: A classic in American exploration writing. (Exploration, fast paced, historical fiction)

Explorers of the New Century by Magnus Mills: Exploring the unknown with a mysterious twist. (Mystery, exploration, science fiction)

Name: Michael Ann