Full House Reading Challenge – It’s Not Me, It’s You – Jon Richardson

Genre: Humour, Autobiography

Narrative Style: First person

Rating: 5/5

Published: 2011

Format: kindle

Synopsis: Jon Richardson is looking for love. The only problem is will he be able to find someone who meets his exacting standards. When Richardson has lived with people before, it hasn’t ended well. Will his imminent date with waitress Gemma prove to be the romantic escape that he hopes?

Reading Challenges: Full House Reading Challenge – genre: humour. 

This isn’t really an autobiography or if it is, it is very selective, covering as it does only a few days in Jon Richardson’s life. What it does do – and very well – is give an insight into his obsessive need for neatness in all aspects of his life.

It is extremely funny. Although at times I felt guilty laughing. Of course, there is likely to be an element of comic exaggeration but even adding that in to the mix, it felt more like tragedy then comedy at times. Of course, we all have those things that bug us. Every time you get on a bus or carry out a transaction in a shop, you are risking annoyance. However, few of us would go to the trouble of having a landline phone that no one knows the number to so they are not disturbed. Few of us are so anxious about a future relationship that they sabotage it before it even gets to the first date.

Richardson’s written style is very much like the voice of his stand up comedy and so was easy to read. Whilst ruminating on the possibility of his future relationship, he discusses what he feels are the elements of his personality that will affect his future. It is very intimate in places. It is like being inside his head and that is when it feels wrong to be laughing.

Of course, this book is quite old now and all the way through, I kept thinking how on earth is he coping with having a baby. But maybe I should have been thinking how is his wife coping with him and a baby.

Eclectic Reader Challenge – Humour – I Can Make You Hate – Charlie Brooker

I’m quite an angry person. I don’t mean that I go out and start fights or anything like that but intellectually, it is definitely my default position. The news, the abundance of stupid people on the TV, the growing gap between mainstream and genuinely alternative (rather than the mainstream MCfly version of alternative), all of these things and more are capable of making my blood boil. In this sense, Charlie Brooker’s I Can Make You Hate was the perfect book to read for the humour category of the Eclectic Reader Challenge. This book is very very funny but it is also incredibly angry. And understandably so.

I knew what to expect from this book. I’d read Brooker’s columns before – particularly when he used to write Screen Burn for The Guardian and of course, he is now on TV fairly regularly. He already ranked as one of my favourite angry people (along with Ben Goldacre, Mark Kermode and David Mitchell). You know the sort of people who are passionately and endlessly angry. Like when reading Kermode, there were numerous times when I felt as though Brooker had crawled inside my head and read my thoughts. Although, obviously, he expressed them with a lot more verve and potty humour then I would have managed.

Brooker’s bile is wide-ranging. There is political comment – in my mind, David Cameron will always be a foal swallowing lizard now – cultural comment on TV, video games, music and film, as well as coverage of the Royal Wedding and the Olympic preparations. Nothing escapes Brooker’s gleeful voice of angry destruction. He manages to cut photo-10through the bullshit of modern life with remarkable clarity. And while he can come across as an angry man on a rant and clearly does want to shock people out of their complacency, he manages to avoid saying things that are just offensive and not funny or pertinent; a knack that seems to have escaped Frankie Boyle.

I would recommend this book for anyone who thinks that modern life is a bit rubbish. Believe me, by the end of reading this book, you will know exactly who to blame.

Eclectic Reader Challenge – Humour – A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

This was the category it took me the longest to decide on for the eclectic reader challenge. It almost seemed too obvious to pick Pratchett, Adams, Bryson, Collins, Maconie, all writers that had made me laugh out loud. At the same time, it seemed a bit risky to pick an author that I wasn’t sure of – maybe their humour wouldn’t appeal – so I decided to go for the tried and tested. Really, all of this was simply a justification for reading another wonderful Bill Bryson book.

I picked A Walk in the Woods because although I have never hiked the Appalachian Trail, I do like to hike and have done a long distance walk before so I thought I would have some empathy with what he went through.photo-3

As with all of the Bryson books that I have read, this was like being reunited with a particularly talkative old friend. The tone of the book is warm and friendly as if you were one of the fellow hikers that Bryson meets and chats to after a long days hike. Bryson is always engaging even when passing on historical detail which could be boring in a lesser writer’s hands.

Bryson, and his friend Stephen Katz, face many challenges on this walk, not least of which is their own lack of fitness at the beginning. They hit snowstorms, are assailed by insects, have maps that are dangerous in their uselessness and meet a fellow hiker so annoying that I would certainly have understood if they had murdered her in the middle of the night. In the end, they abandon her and go to spend the night in a motel.

Even when Bryson feels he is facing certain death – be it by bear, snow, sun or dehydration – he never loses his sense of humour and is quite happy to describe his own idiocy in as much detail as he describes Katz’s. He knows he is a little bit hopeless and that helps the reader to warm to him.

In the end, they do not hike the whole trail – the hundred mile wilderness at the end proves too much for them. And I must confess I was disappointed. Not because I felt that they should tried harder but because it meant the end of my journey with them, a little bit sooner than expected. A superb read for anyone who has ever donned a pair of walking boots.

DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.

This was a difficult one. I don’t read a lot in the way of funny books. An obvious choice would have been Terry Pratchett or perhaps Douglas Adams as both their series of books have made me laugh out loud. However, choosing a single book by either of these authors was impossible. In the end, I decided on Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson which is on of the best travel guides to Britain you could hope to read.

I have read a few of Bryson’s travel books and they are all immensely photo (6)amusing but what is particularly good about this one is that I knew the truth of Bryson’s observations. Whenever I climb a hill in the Lake District, I think of Bryson puffing and panting his way up Haystacks and try and convince myself that it will be worth it when I get to the top. As Bryson knows, it always is but he describes the way you wonder what on earth you are doing when you are about halfway up perfectly.

Bryson has an easy going style which makes it feel like you’re having a chat with a good friend. I recently read A Short History of Nearly Everything and felt, at least for a short while after reading, that I understood some of the science involved, largely due to Bryson’s humorous and open style. His description of some of the early eccentrics of science and geology were truly wondrous to behold. It seems that there is no subject that Bryson could not make entertaining and funny.