review: Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

Uganda Be Kidding Me is by one of the funniest women in the biz, Chelsea Handler. A memoir of her travels – including an African safari, the 2012 London Olympics, and Colorado – make me want to stuff myself into her purse and go with her everywhere. Everywhere. I’d go to Wal-Mart with her if she’d let me just to experience an outing in her presence.

Handler hates being alone so she takes people with her everywhere she goes. She actually ruined the anniversary plans one of her friends’ husbands had made because she insisted that she go to Africa with her. She made her sister leave the country when her family was relocating so she’d have at least one sister with her on the safari. She wants. She gets. I typically hate that kind of attitude in a person, but I make an exception for Handler – who gives as much as she takes. (She bought an aunt a house one Sunday afternoon when she was bored and hungover and because the aunt had been really good to her when she was a struggling actress/waitress years earlier.)

This is Handler’s fourth book, and it does not fail to make readers laugh out loud that snorty kind of laugh that makes others jump. Her deadpan voice comes through in her writing, so I completely believe her when she says she doesn’t use a ghostwriter.

Recommended for:
Anyone who doesn’t mind vulgar language and vivid descriptions of defecation and sex will LOVE this book!

Any other book by Handler (except Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me which is actually written by her friends and family. It’s okay…but not fantastic because it’s not written by her, per say.)

I imagine the Mindy Kaling book Everyone is Hanging Out Without Me is similar, or so I believe because of things I’ve been told. In deadpan humor, I mean…not in the foul-mouthed kind of way.


Wednesday reads: Paris, Paris, Paris

Sometimes I get on a kick. My current kick (read: obsession) is Paris. Again. Listening to The Sharper Your Knives the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn doesn’t help. Nor does watching Julie & Julia. Or The Devil Wears Prada. You could argue that I am torturing myself, and I wouldn’t deny it. So why not continue my French obsession and read a graphic novel-memoir?*



French Milk by Lucy Knisley is the graphic representation of Lucy’s journal from the 6 weeks she spent in Paris with her mother – both of whom were celebrating monumental occasions – college graduation/entering adulthood and turning 50 years old. There are even a few black and white photographs included in the book, which are in stark contrast to the simple black and white drawings the author sketched.


dream thieves


The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater!!!!! Ahhh!!!!! (That is all. I’d say “read my review of book 1” but I am embarrassed to say that I did not, in fact, write a review of it. I find that hard to believe, but, the blog don’t lie.)



*Yes, I know novel and memoir mean completely different things. But what if I’d written “graphic memoir”? You’d think I was reading the autobiography of Heidi Fleiss or something.

Wednesday reads: cooking and creepy stuff

I probably should have posted this yesterday. Would have been a bit more appropriate, considering it’s called Wednesday Reads and not Thursday Reads. (Wow, that doesn’t even sound intriguing…) Sorry for the lateness. it will never happen again. Until it does.

sharperThe last time I read a book by Kathleen Flinn I purchased 4 copies – one for myself and 3 as gifts. I think the same will happen this time. In fact, I already ordered my own copy and got my husband’s blessing to put “go back to Paris” on our five-year plan. I love him. And macaroons. And French accents.

On, right…reviewing…um, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry is Kathleen’s first memoir, about her experience as a student at Le Cordon Bleu. That’ll happen in my next life…

house ofHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is…a really intersting book. An old man is found dead, and the young man who finds his writings decides to publish them. So House of Leaves is a book about a book. Right. So this one is going to take me a while.

What are yyyyoooouuu reading?

non-fiction Friday: The World’s Strongest Librarian, a memoir of tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family by Josh Hanagarne


The World’s Strongest Librarian, a memoir of tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family by Josh Hanagarne is the true story of a comically tall librarian who can’t stay quiet. Or still. Or not-funny. Josh has Tourette’s, lifts weights, grapples with his faith, and tries to stay sane while working in an urban public library. These combined to make the most laugh-out-loud funny memoir I have read since Chelsea Handler’s Are You There Vodka, It’s me, Chelsea and Tina Fey’s Bossypants. And this guy isn’t a celebrity, he’s just a regular dude, which makes this story all the more relate-able.

Josh is my kind of librarian. His experiences in the Salt Lake City Public Library are both cringe-worthy and hilarious, For example,

The public restrooms at my library are vile. Every minute someone’s in there relieving himself or bathing in the sink. The air doesn’t circulate and the stench is palpable. But they have nothing on the teen section. To walk through the young adult area is to traverse a cloud of hormones and poor hygiene and lust and anger that’s as real as a thicket of skunky roadkill. Whenever the teenagers are quiet, I assume it’s because they’re impregnating each other on the library furniture.

Seriously…and the whole book is like that! I wasn’t even 11 pages in and my coworker Dan said, “Are you just going to read me the entire book?” (Okay he didn’t say that out loud, because he’s a gentleman, but I know it’s what he was thinking after I’d read him yet another line.) My mom – who I was traveling to Rhode Island with for a wedding – knew I had finished the book because I wasn’t laughing anymore.  (I had moved onto The Shining Girls…a very not-funny book.)

The pages he dedicates to librarianship are passionate as well. Surrogate-parenting of tweens and teens dropped off at the library for an entire day pains me personally and professionally. I want to hug them and feed them, but I also want to chastise the teens for gaming all day and being loud and rowdy. I don’t want adults to fear the teens who loiter at the library for hours on end, but I also want the teens to be comfortable spending time here. it’s a conundrum that even Josh answers with “I don’t know.” The struggle continues, but I appreciate what he wrote, and hope that his non-librarian readers take note.

The part of the book that was most educating for me was his experience with Tourette’s. I’ve never known anyone with the syndrome, or read about it. I find it fascinating that Josh learned to partially control his Tourette’s with weight lifting.

I might be the only person whose first three-hundred pound bench press was accompanied by the Recorded Books version of Don Quixote.

The way he wrote about his gym sessions made me reflect on my own 4-day a week sessions with pity. (I can walk after my leg workouts. Clearly I’m doing something wrong.) I’ve read other fitness memoirs, and this was just as good in that he didn’t use language I didn’t understand (or couldn’t figure out after a quick Google search).

Recommended for:
Josh didn’t exhaust discussion of one element from the title (Tourette’s, faith, strength, family, librarianship). Instead he gave each their allotted amount of time and respect, which kept me reading all through the 8-hour drive to Providence. I don’t think I paused once in Connecticut. I have recommended this book to fellow librarians, and also a Page who is leaving in a couple weeks for his own Mission trip (Josh’s re-telling of his own was heart-breaking, but an interesting glimpse into the life of a young Mormon for those of us non-Mormons). But this book would definitely appeal to non-librarians as well!

As I wrote earlier, Chelsea Handler’s Are You There Vodka, It’s me, Chelsea and Tina Fey’s Bossypants are similar in that they are not exhaustive of one element of their lives (acting, relationships, family), but all-inclusive and never boring.  Both are read by the author, making the audiobooks that much better.


Interesting facts:

The following image is of a sculpture hanging in the SLCPL, titled Psyche. It is 1,500 books and 850 butterflies made the look like a human head. In Greek, the word psyche means mind and butterfly. Some of the butterflies have writing on them, in 20 different languages, including phrases from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I just love this.


To see the value of a library, ignore the adults. Find an inquisitive child who doesn’t have an iPhone yet, take them to the library, and tell them that they can learn anything they want there.

Wednesday Reads: horror and hilarity

I finished reading Choke (it’s only 5 CDs long, thank goodness, because I was getting really sick of rolling up my windows at every stoplight) and will be reviewing that later. I put down Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Musician. Therefore, I have a whole new Wednesday Reads for you! And they could not be more opposite.

shiningThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is horror, fantasy (fantasy more akin to The Diviners* than Seraphina), thriller that follows a murderer and the woman who is hunting him down. I think. I’m only 25 pages in – and totally hooked! – but I’m not quite sure where it’s going. A colleague gave it a glowing review, so I don’t really mind that I don’t know much about the plot.




The World’s Strongest Librarian: a memoir or Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne is a hilarious memoir of a 6’7 tall weight-lifting librarian from Salt Lake city, Utah. Seventeen pages in and I’ve already read four passages aloud to a coworker in the lunch room.** An example: “After lunch a teenage boy with chains crisscrossing his pants slumped into the library, limping as if he’d stepped into a bear trap. He needed some books for school, he’d told me, ‘Books that aren’t all gay and shit.’ I’d love to have a sign demarcating that section.” That dead-pan humor is all over his website, too. Go there. Read. Laugh out loud.


A friend of mine has a friend who works at a bookstore, and gave her a million (okay, twenty-something) ARCs. She was interested in all but nine, which she gave to me. They include a few that I want to read, and some I don’t. But mostly, ones I do. I was just getting over my pity-party about not going to ALA Annual Conference and picking up fifty Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs), but this has totally sated my appetite for pre-published books.


*I just realized – to my horror – that I read Libba Bray’s The Diviners in April and never reviewed itWhat?! What was going on in my life that I forgot to review that exceptional novel?! I recommend it at least 4 times a week but I can’t review it on my blog?!

**Annoying librarian habit #36