I expect to listen to this book again in the not-too-distant future, because I am sure I missed a lot that I can pick up on a second time. As it is, I see so many of Screwtape's character traits in people I know, as well as in myself. Reading this book was like looking into a mirror in which one hardly recognizes oneself until forced to look long enough to see what is truly there. So often what one sees is very scary.
Unlike Screwtape, we still have the option of changing our lives for the better. That, to me, is the huge lesson of this book
In spite of being leery about books read by their authors, I listened to this book read by
Sedaris himself. My concerns were ungrounded as I quickly realized he was as good a narrator, or maybe I should say performer, as he was an author: he kept me in stitches throughout this whole book. It is a collection of memoirs based on Sedaris' life, but told through exceptionally good writing and with insightful humor, making his drug addiction and other excesses seem forgivable. Throughout the book, I had no doubt that Sedaris accepts responsibility for his mistakes, and that somewhere along the way he decided to get clean, or at least cleaner, and make something of his life. His ability to poke fun at himself and his slightly strange family is evident as he turns event after average event into reasons to laugh out loud. Decidedly gay, he is nevertheless entertaining to all kinds of audiences.
On a personal note, although clever, the only part of the book I did not enjoy were the dog poems. Others will say that is the best part, and I understand. They just came across as smutty to me. My favorite parts were "learning to speak French," and "disdain of computers." So funny!
I love Dave Berry. He makes me smile. He makes me laugh so hard I cry. And sometimes he makes me think. He can be tender and serious, as this book proves out. But mostly he just makes me happy. Sometimes I just can't take another heavy book, and I need a little fun and lightness in my life. That is the time to turn to Dave Barry.
Narrator Arte Johnson is perfect for this book. I just didn't want it to end.
Usually I can't get through a book of comical columns. This is the rare exception. Caitlin touches on EVERYTHING a woman has ever grappled with, but rarely will bring up, even to her best friend. With every topic, with relentless British humor, she brings you to a place of seeing the most common of things totally differently. From Brazilian waxes to high heels to childbirth to one of the funniest, most astute pieces on relationships I've ever read, she irreverently tears the conventional, cultural norms to shreds and offers up a lucid, common sense look at things we too often inanely follow like lemmings.
While walking along the Pacific, listening to How To Be A Woman, a friend rode up on her bike. She's the same age as me, 59, has a successful business and who ran so much, prepping for a marathon to impress her kids, that she got plantar fasciitis. That was two months ago and she can still not walk far, never mind run. She breathlessly, sweating profusely, related how she goes to spin class three times a week, swims every day she can, and bikes umpteen miles to LOSE WEIGHT. This woman was, before she stated all this marathon training, MUCH THINNER THAN ME (and I'm a person whom no one considers fat, ok, except me,) and married to a guy who adores her no matter what she weighs. Having been quite happy race walking in the sunshine by the sea, I would have instantly switched to feeling like a clumsy elephant if it weren't for this book, to which I was listening. Caitlin is my heroine. She brings the insanity women just take for granted front and center and kept making me say to myself, "Well, of course!"
This book also provoked numerous discussions with friends and family; the most amazing conversations about subjects we'd never touched before. This is such a mind opening book, so informative, while causing one to constantly laugh out loud (which is no simple feat for a book.)
The first chapter is deceptive and Caitlin, stand up comedian she is, can be a bit loud. But stick with it, please, and then laugh your head off and, if you're a woman, be prepared to feel far more secure in your own sneakers than you did at the start. If you're a man, be prepared to actually start to understand those female enigmas around you. And no matter who you are, you will, without a doubt, look at everything around you in a whole new light.