Nonfiction

15 Funny Books You Can Read or Listen to Right Now

 

I've been continuing to dig through Hoopla for titles to recommend since you never have to wait or place the book you want on hold—all of their content is always instantly available. Right now you can get up to 10 downloads a month, and they offer eBooks, eAudiobooks, comics, movies and TV shows, and music. If some humor sounds good to you right now, here are some suggestions to make you laugh (and sometimes cry too), with some available as eBooks, some as eAudiobooks, and some available in both formats. 

Descriptions in italics provided by the publisher.

eAudiobooks + Comedy Albums

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris 
(Essays) Sedaris’s essays on living in Paris are some of the funniest he's ever written. At last, someone even meaner than the French! The sort of blithely sophisticated, loopy humour that might have resulted if Dorothy Parker and James Thurber had had a love child. (Also available as an eBook on Overdrive)

A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen, read by Joe Barrett 
(Fiction) An Israeli comedian a bit past his prime conveys with semi-questionable humor anecdotes from his violence-stricken youth during a night of standup, while a judge in the audience wrestles with his own part in the comedian's losses. Winner of the Man Booker International Award (Also available as an eBook on Overdrive) 

Yes Please by Amy Pohler 
(Biography) Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you're invited! Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler's Yes Please. The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy's parents-Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza. Also included? A one night only live performance at Poehler's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Hear Amy read a chapter live in front of a young and attractive Los Angeles audience. While listening to Yes Please, you'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Don't miss this collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers. 

Beta Male by Kumail Nanjiani 
(Stand-Up) In the world premiere of his Comedy Central one-hour stand-up special, "Beta Male," Kumail Nanjiani [Silicon Valley, The Big Sick] tells you about all the things that terrify him completely.

You can also browse hundreds of comedy albums on Hoopla here. 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, read by Carly Robins
(Fiction) Stella Lane comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional--which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. (Also available as an eBook on Overdrive)

Ask A Mexican by Gustavo Arellano, read by William Dufris, Christine Marshall 
(Essays) An irreverent, hilarious, and informative look at Mexican American culture is taken by a rising star in the alternative media, as well as a new kid on the block in such mainstream venues as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Today, and The Colbert Report. Gustavo Arellano has compiled the best questions about Mexican Americans from readers of his Ask a Mexican! column in California's OC Weekly and uses them to explore the clichés of lowriders, busboys, and housekeepers; drunks and scoundrels; heroes and celebrities; and most important, millions upon millions of law-abiding, patriotic American citizens and their illegal-immigrant cousins who represent some $600 billion in economic power.

eBooks

Small Doses: Potent Truths for Everyday Use by Amanda Seales 
(Essays) Comedian, writer, actress, and social media star Amanda Seales is a force of nature who has fearlessly and passionately charted her own course through life and career. Now, in her one-of-a-kind voice that blends academic intellectualism, Black American colloquialisms, and pop culture fanaticism, she's bringing her life's lessons and laughs to the page. This volume of essays, axioms, original illustrations, and photos provides Seales's trademark 'self-help from the hip' style of commentary, fueled by ideology formed from her own victories, struggles, research, mistakes, risks, and pay-offs. Unapologetic, fiercely funny, and searingly honest, Small Doses engages, empowers, and enlightens readers on how to find their truths while still finding the funny!

Rez Salute by Jim Northrup 
(Essays) Since 2001, Indian Country has seen great changes, touching everything from treaty rights to sovereignty issues to the rise (and sometimes the fall) of gambling and casinos. With unsparing honesty and a good dose of humor, Jim Northrup [looks at] the changes in Indian Country, as well as daily life on the rez.

Outwitting Squirrels by Bill Adler 
(Anti-squirrel How-to) For 25 years, Outwitting Squirrels has been leading the charge to help bird lovers defend their feeders from these fast, greedy, incredibly crafty creatures who pillage birdfeeders before owners very eyes. This classic defense manual for the besieged bird feeder has been fully updated to deal with the more tech-savvy, 21st-century squirrel. It provides 101 cunning strategies, both serious and hilarious, for outsmarting these furry, but not so cute, creatures. Author Bill Adler Jr. discusses the different bird personalities and the best seed to attract them. He rates birdfeeders based upon how squirrel-proof, or squirrel vexing they are, and discusses creative anti-squirrel structures and devices. Spooker poles, Perrier bottles, baffled fishing line, Teflon spray, Vaseline, water bombs, cayenne pepper, and Nixalite the author has tried them all and he regales readers with his squirrel adventures and misadventures.

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole 
(Fiction) A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures" (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 

eBook & eAudiobook

I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro 
(Biography) One of America’s most original comedic voices delivers a darkly funny, wryly observed, and emotionally raw account of her year of death, cancer, and epiphany… An inspired combination of the deadpan silliness of her comedy and the open-hearted vulnerability that has emerged in the wake of that dire time, I’m Just a Person is a moving and often hilarious look at this very brave, very funny woman’s journey into the darkness and her thrilling return from it.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore 
(Fiction) A bold, hilarious, speculative novel fills in the lost years of Jesus life, told from the perspective of Biff, Christ's childhood best buddy… Lamb is the crowning achievement of Christopher Moore's storied career: fresh, wild, audacious, divinely hilarious, yet heartfelt, poignant, and alive, with a surprising reverence. Let there be rejoicing unto the world! Christopher Moore is come -- to bring truth, light, and big yuks to fans old and new with the Greatest Story Never Told! 

Rabbit by Patricia Williams with Jeannine Amber
(Biography) Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) was born and raised in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic. One of five children, Pat watched as her mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At age seven, Pat was taught to roll drunks for money. At twelve, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior. By thirteen, she was pregnant. By fifteen, Pat was a mother of two. Alone at sixteen, Pat was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive. Rabbit is an unflinching memoir of cinematic scope and unexpected humor. With wisdom and humor, Pat gives us a rare glimpse of what it's really like to be a black mom in America. (Also available as a stand up comedy album, Rabbit by Ms. Pat)

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert 
(Fiction) A witty, hilarious romantic comedy about a woman who's tired of being "boring" and recruits her mysterious, sexy neighbor to help her experience new things… Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list.

What If? by Randall Munroe 
(Essays & Trivia) Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last? In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. 

Need Help?

You can find out more about Oakland Public Library's online books, movies and more here.

If you need help using eBooks or other online resources, you can make an appointment to speak with a librarian. Fill out the online form here, or call 510-238-3134 to make an appointment.

If you need help with your library account or have other questions, please email eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org or leave a voice mail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134.

If you don’t have a library account, we're still issuing new library cards during the Shelter in Place Order. Just complete an online application and email eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org to set one up.

Looking for more reading recommendations? Try our service for readers, Book Me! Fill out an online form and a librarian will send you a personalized list of reading suggestions.

Have you read anything wonderful during the Shelter in Place? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Who owns your parts?

 Henrietta Lacks in the 1940s.The Lacks family saga has recently resurfaced in the news.

Henrietta Lacks was a poor black Virginia farmer born in 1920. She was one of ten children and went on to have five, herself. But she was more than that, Henrietta was also said to have been beautiful, generous and kind. And though she died at the age of 31, part of her is still very much alive and with us, some 62 years later.

Mrs. Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer, she had a mass of rapid-growing tumors caused by HPV. After her death, it was discovered that the tumors had spread throughout her body. Cells from her tumors were harvested without her knowledge and sent to a researcher. Unlike other cells used in scientific research until then, Henrietta's cells never died.

In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, author Rebecca Skloot explores Henrietta's life, her family, the lives of her cells and her cancer-related death. Some members of the Lacks family had an entirely different set of explanations about her illness: it was a curse. That curse continued to plague the Lacks' when the news of her cell line was revealed to them. The family was left with the burden of knowing that Henrietta had suffered terribly until her death, that her cells were taken without her consent, and that for more than 50 years the scientific community had been benefiting from her sacrifice. Research using these HeLa cells has lead to major discoveries including the polio vaccine, cancer treatments, in vitro fertilization and cloning. To this day, the Lacks' have not been compensated for the genetic material or any other commercial products that have come of the research.

The book reads like a mystery and a tragedy. It brings up ethical issues about our medical data and our bodies. Routine samples that we leave at hospitals and clinics for testing are considered abandoned property and we no longer have any claim on them. How can we protect our medical information while keeping research data open to the scientific community? Are we entitled to compensation if millions are made from our genetic data? What makes you, you? Who owns that? And who owns the parts of us that we leave behind?

Speak out in the comments.

Posted on: August 13, 2013, by Jenera Burton, Piedmont Ave branch

The Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot

Hello Everyone,

Ten of us were at Lakeview to discuss The Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot and all liked it!
 

We started out discussing the writing style of David Talbot. Three of us mentioned it was difficult to track at times and maybe more editing could have helped that. One pointed out that most of it was based on interviews Talbot had done with participants and observers of these events. The rest thought there was no problem with the writing at all and that the book was gripping and the details based on the extensive research filled gaps we didn't know we had in our own knowledge, which was based on news or books written right at the time. We all felt we understood San Francisco better and many shared their own experiences and knowledge which expanded on the book's information. 

Our personal stories included antiwar events, taking a coyote to schools to talk about protecting the wilderness and experimenting with new life styles.

 We thought the author cared about his topics. One noted a review which mentioned frustration that Talbot did not include women's history and its forward movement at the time. Another mentioned that the 60s were a sexist time and we all agreed. I thought he did focus on a few major female leaders who arose at that time and loved the details about those lives such as Dianne Feinstein.

Topics we discussed, from the many covered by Talbot, were the loss of the Fillmore District and the reduction of the Black population in San Francisco from around 30% to 17% (partially remembered numbers on my part). Others were the saving of neighborhoods with the rise of power of the people, with a special note of the quiet and strong uprising Asian communities. Other topics were free clinics, Zodiac and Zebra murders, the charisma and corrupt power of Jim Jones...how if he were stopped when people in charge began to understand his power, that a mayoral election might be overturned, the clash of conservative blue collar Irish and Italian Catholic with the new hippie movement, the magic of the early love and Flower Power times and their disintegration into crime and repression by the city, the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the power of the press, the stories of lawyer Hallinan and his activist wife, the rise of the gay population and the start of the aides epidemic, the Harvey Milk assassination and the candlelight march of hundreds of thousands of mourning citizens and the legacy of all these events.
We wondered, "Why San Francisco?" for all these major events? We kicked around some ideas and came up with that it started with the Gold Rush in 1849 when San Francisco created itself as a wild, free place where anything goes. We mentioned the feeling people get when leaving a conservative world elsewhere and arriving in San Francisco to the freedom to be different. We discussed the many gay people who were severed from the military during World War II and the Viet Nam war and stayed, creating new lives and a new culture.
We talked of the influence of Herb Caen and The 49ers Superbowl victory on the city. Out of the upheaval of that era has come gay marriage, medical marijuana, immigration sanctuary, universal health care, recycling and renewable energy.
If you haven't read it yet, I would say that this is one you might want to put on your list. Both people who lived in San Francisco or the Bay Area at that time and people who were in other parts of the country felt they understand San Francisco better and are glad they read this modern history.
 
Happy Reading!
 
Mary
 
Mary Farrell, Lakeview Branch Manager