Book Review: Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson @TheBloggess @HenryHolt

Broken: In the Best Way Possible
Jenny Lawson
Henry Holt and Company, April 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-07703-5
Hardcover

Broken: In the Best Way Possible is the third collection of comical, every-day-life essays by Jenny Lawson (also known as The Bloggess). Ms. Lawson is one of the few people on this planet willing to share self-deprecating stories, not just for a laugh; but to show those who feel alone that they really aren’t.

Most of us have felt the frustration of our own forgetfulness. Ms. Lawson’s recollection issues provide perspective. Her open letter to her health insurance company highlights contradictions in their policies along with procedures that are almost nonsensical. Relatable, if you’ve ever been baffled by insurance.

Some chapters surprised me with anxieties and odd decisions so very similar to mine. Finally, someone else who waffles between answering the door when the mail-carrier requires a signature or just ignoring it and driving to the post office on another day. Hoping to feel up to face-to-face communication in the future.

To me, one of the most challenging aspects of clinical depression is not being to explain how it feels. I cannot emphasize enough how validating and exactly-what-I-needed-right-now this book is. It isn’t written to a specific, clinically-depressed audience, though. Ms. Lawson bravely speaks to absolutely everyone. Even those with brilliantly-balanced chemistry will be amused by these anecdotes.

Oh! And I learned what kintsugi is. When Ms. Lawson’s husband suggested it, he was so spot-on that he must have felt like a rock-star for a moment.

Reading Broken is like receiving a desperately needed hug from the person who knows you best and loves you anyway. And, I absolutely adore the new name she gives to the Acknowledgements section.

This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books,
with huge “Thank You!” to Henry Holt & Company
and Goodreads for the Advance Review Copy.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2021.

Book Review: Living with Shakespeare edited by Susannah Carson

Living With Shakespeare
Susannah Carson, ed.
Vintage Books, April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-74291-9
Trade Paperback

A very long time ago, my parents collaborated to make to me a gift of a beautiful book that my father originally acquired in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1928. The Complete Dramatic and Poetic Works of William Shakespeare was compiled and discussed by Professor Frederick D. Losey of Harvard. The book was published in 1926 by The John C. Winston Company of Philadelphia and Chicago. It is a beautiful leather-bound volume of thin gilt-edged pages. The book survived our travails in Goodwell, Oklahoma, between 1930 and 1938. I treasure and refer to it often. And I had the great good fortune to perform a minor part in a community theater production of “Othello,” a good many years ago.

And now there is a companion book, about which, I cannot say enough good things. Living With Shakespeare, is a series of essays from a wide array of writers, directors and others about their lives with this astounding writer’s works. Some are funny, some of them are irreverent. Some will engender disagreement and all will add to our understanding of the greatest writer in the English language. Ask yourself; how it is that 400 years after he lived, his plays are being re-interpreted, his sonnets sung, his insights helping us to better understand ourselves?

The book is smoothly organized with a few fine photographs scattered throughout the thirty-eight original essays from the likes of Jane Smiley, Joyce Carol Oates, Isabel Allende, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley and James Earl Jones. Readers should not neglect to read the excellent introduction by Susannah Carson. Bravo to all the aforementioned individuals, as well as those who produced this handsome volume. Writers and readers of Crime Fiction can certainly benefit from this work. Readers should not pass by Harold Bloom’s precise and pointed Foreword that echoes the question so often asked in literature classes, “Why Shakespeare?” And the answer comes still, after four hundred years. “Who else is there?” Who else, indeed.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, October 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Creatures On Tour

Tim Rowland's Creature FeaturesTim Rowland’s Creature Features
Tim Rowland
High Peaks Publishing, October 2012
ISBN 978-0-9761597-3-5
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

 

When Tim Rowland’s earlier book of his animal essays, All Pets Are Off, was published, readers immediately clamored for more. Their preference for animal stories over the political columns Tim’s also known for is understandable: animals are way more fun to read about than politicians. Especially now.

 

So here’s a new volume of over 75 warm and funny essays, from the introduction to the farm of bovines Cleopatra and Heifertiti, the Belted Galloway beauties, to the further antics of Hannah the English Bulldog and Juliet the tiny Siamese, along with assorted donkeys, pigs, goats, horses, chickens, geese-and of course, more of the joyful bouvier des Flandres named Opie-that’s sure to provide loads of smiles and even outright guffaws.

 

Books that feature animals and their antics are right up my reading alley—in fact, you might say I’m a complete pushover for them. Mention one to me and I’m all over it, maybe because they’re almost always highly entertaining and bring both laughter and tears. I’m glad to say that Tim Rowland’s Creature Features is no exception.

Mr. Rowland’s stories revolve around the small farm he and his wife had in Maryland and it’s clear this farm was just like the one I have always secretly wanted, a handful of animals that might be found on any farm. In this case, though, the farm animals are clearly part of the family, much like the pets that live in the house. I loved reading about Juliet, the long-suffering cat, and her canine companions, Hannah and Opie, but I was every bit as entertained by the antics of the trio of perpetually loud and bad-tempered geese and Magellan, the easy-to-please pig who’s probably the only really sane one of the bunch and is the answer to the question of what to do with the overwhelming homegrown crops of zucchini.

Then there’s the tyrannical miniature horse, Doodlebug, and Cappy, the very large horse who believes a paricular fruit is out to get her. A pair of very likeable heifers who view a visiting bull with disdain and a few alpacas who spend their time spitting add to the fun but I think my favorite of all is Chuckles, the rooster who came up with a very clever way of escaping the freezer.

Little Farm by the Creek is a place I would have been delighted to visit but, failing that, the author’s stories are the next best thing. This is a collection I’ll be re-reading frequently. My daughter and her two cats share my house with me and my cat; two days ago, Sassy, my daughter’s 18-year-old kitty, passed away and Tim Rowland’s Creature Features has brought a good deal of comfort at such a sad time.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2013.

 
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Tim RowlandAbout Tim Rowland:

Tim Rowland is an award-winning columnist at Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Maryland. He has written for numerous history and outdoor magazines and news syndicates nationwide.

He has also authored several books, most recentlyStrange and Obscure Stories of the Civil War and including All Pets are Off: A Collection of Hairy Columns, Petrified Fact: Stories of Bizarre Behavior that Really Happened, Mostly, Earth to Hagerstown, High Peaks: A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene andMaryland’s Appalachian Highlands: Massacres, Moonshine & Mountaineering

Tim is also keeper and lackey for a wide assortment of mostly non-useful, freeloading critters, aided as always by his trusty (well, mostly trusty) companion Opie.

Tim Rowland’s Website: http://www.timrowlandbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TimRowlandBooks 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tim.rowland.9

Buy Tim Rowland’s Creature Features:

Amazon.com- Paperback
Amazon.com- Kindle
Barnes & Noble- Nook
Tim Rowland’s Bookshelf

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