Friday, August 20, 2010

Little Guides to Life

I'd seen the book at the library and didn't give it a second thought beyond grinning at the title.

Since blogs arose in prominence, I've inadvertantly picked up a couple books that were compiled from blogs, and while they were entertaining, there's something about something crafted for a blog that just doesn't work as well when it's rendered as symbols smeared on flattened and bleached tree guts. Whatever the reason, I now scour a book to see if it was originally a blog, and if it is, I set the book down and make a note to find the blog online.

As for this book, apparently there's kerfuffle over the profanity in the title, so last time I was at the library, I picked up a copy to peruse it at my leisure later and ended up reading it in one sitting.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern transcends genre - or at least straddles a bunch of them - the most pleasant surprise being that there's some sage advice here among all the belly laughs.

Frinstance, here're a couple from the twitter page, where it all started:
"Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit."

"Stop trying so hard. He doesn't like you. Jesus, don't kiss an ass if it's in the process of shitting on you."

The book alternates between naked quotes like these, where you don't know the situation that prompted "Dad" to say it, and short vignettes with context and a lot more hilarious quotes. I chose these because they weren't in the book, and I don't want to spoil a single one for ya.

By the way, the utterer of these gems is Samuel Halpern, the eponymous dad of the tome.

It's now on the same (virtual) shelf as my other favorite life-advice book (which are very very different and, in my opinion, way better than most self-help books): Rules for Aging: A Wry and Witty Guide to Life by Roger Rosenblatt

Take those two books, toss in some of these classics like "Desiderata," "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young," "All I ever really needed to know I learned in kindergarten," (which never ceases to amuse me on how true it is), these miscellaneous quotes I've gathered; and you've got yourself some good guides for living.

As for the controversy over the title, I guess after having to deal with recommending the wonderful book The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton around work, I found most grown-ups don't really have an issue with naughty words, if you will, as long as it's not gratuitous. My process of discovery of this was as follows: at first I came up with euphemisms to replace the offensive word ("posterior sphincter" was an early version), I moved to whispering it (which I did with much comedic emphasis to show I wasn't being a church lady about it), and finally I just said it out loud followed by an apology and statement of fact that it was really the name of the book, after all. The latter got the best responses.

Still, have some fun. Wander into your local book store or library and ask for a book about shit and a book about assholes and see what happens. Put it in the comments if it's really good.

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