T5W – Because Less Known Doesn’t Mean Less Good

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hidden Gems in Your Favorite Genre

Now, I don’t know that I have a favorite genre per se, so I’m going to tweak this a bit and do Hidden Gems in SOME of My Favorite Genres (one book for each genre).

Cozy Mystery

Cozy Mysteries are my favorite bookish guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I like them so much, especially considering the main characters usually really annoy me. 😉 But I do. I love them SO MUCH! They are what I reach for when I’ve had a really stressful day and just don’t want to think anymore.

CWM_750x600-300x184My current favorite Cozy Mystery series is the Creative Woman Mysteries series published by Annie’s. The series follows Shannon, who inherits her grandmother’s estate and craft business. The first mystery she solves involves part of her inheritance, but she ends up playing the amateur detective for all sorts of mysteries throughout the series. Though she ends up falling into a few of the habits that really annoy me with Cozies (TELL THE COPS WHEN YOU FIND EVIDENCE), she’s actually a pretty likable character who is usually just trying help her friends out of trouble.

Non-Fiction

I honestly used to never read non-fiction books. I’m not sure why, maybe it came from having enough of reality and wanting my reading time to be an escape. But the last couple of years, I’ve been giving them another go.

furiouslyhappy.jpgMy current favorite Non-Fiction book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I LOVE Jenny Lawson. She has a way of talking about mental issues that allows you to laugh at yourself and helps you feel better instead of just more miserable. Reading her books is like chatting with a good friend…a good friend with an insane sense of humor. This book and her previous one, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, have found their way onto my ‘favorites’ stand right next to my bed, so they are in easy reach when I’m feeling really blue.

Sci-Fi

I think Science Fiction may have been my first ‘favorite genre’. (I blame you, SeaQuest DSV! 🙂 ) I love a good sci-fi, regardless of whether it’s space-y, steampunk, monster-filled, or even dystopian. As long as the story is good, I’m all for it.

27213244My current favorite Sci-Fi novel is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The world building alone in this novel is amazing. She manages to pack as much detail and nuance as an entire series of Star Trek into just one novel. I also loved the characters. They all seemed very real and like people I would probably get along with in real life. It honestly felt a bit like Firefly, but with a fresh cast…and less crime. 😉

Fantasy

Fantasies are only second to Sci-Fi’s in timing, because I may have fallen in love with the genre later, but I love it just as much!

magemotherseriesMy current favorite (which could also be considered a YA favorite) is the Magemother series by Austin J. Bailey. This is a nice little series; easy to read, but exciting and fun. I can’t really describe it without giving all the plot points away, so I’ll just say that I practically binged the first book and the novella and am really looking forward to the second & third books. Thankfully, I bought the omnibus of the whole series, so I don’t have to wait very long. 🙂

Books About Books

I can’t help it, I love books so much that I also love books ABOUT books. These types of books can span multiple genres (romances, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction…), so I’ve turned them into their OWN genre instead. 😉

28517611My current favorite Book About Books is Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper by Jackson Lear. This is one of the few books that I’ve downloaded from one of those Facebook ads that actually worked out for me. 😉 This books is HILARIOUS and anyone who loves books will love it. The references alone are awesome, but the wit of the writing is amazing. Who knew I could like the Grim Reaper so much?


How about you? What are your favorite hidden gems?

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Book Review – Furiously Happy

Book: Furiously Happy – Author: Jenny Lawson

Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor, Mental Illness, Memoir

Description from Goodreads:

In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

My Review:

There is NO way I’m going to do this book justice, but I wanted to review it in case that might entice you to read it, even if it doesn’t seem like your normal choice for a book.

Jenny Lawson is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever come across. I stumbled across her previous book, ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, in the library a couple years ago and was intrigued enough by the tiny mouse Hamlet on the cover to pick it up. I LOVED it. Since then, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of her second book and the wait was not in vain.

tinymousehamlet
Tiny Mouse Hamlet

This book is HILARIOUS. I literally laughed through the entire thing, which is amazing when you consider the context of some of the chapters. The text jumps from quirky taxidermy, to anxiety-induced terror, to hugging koalas dressed as a koala, to serious depression, to insignificant arguments about being attacked by swans. The pace never really stalls on one topic for too long, which allows the author to explain the serious stuff with poignancy, but also keeps the reader from falling too far down the rabbit hole and gives the overall impression of a light-hearted, but meaningful read.

I will say, if you are looking for a serious book about mental illness, this is not the book for you. There ARE chapters about it, but as I said above, the author jumps about and never focuses on one thing for too long. I personally loved that, as the discussions made me feel connected to the author (especially considering my own anxiety issues), but didn’t force me to delve so deep that I felt miserable.

Making the reader feel miserable is completely the opposite of what this book is trying to do. Trying to make readers who don’t have these issues completely understand all the intricate details of the illnesses isn’t what the book is trying to do. What the author IS trying to do is give the readers who don’t have issues a small glimpse of what those mental issues can do to someone, while still providing them a fun read, and to let the readers who do have issues know that they aren’t alone and that they should focus on the Happy Times, because they WILL come around again.

And that’s the main message of this book: Be Furiously Happy. Pack as much happy as you can into those moments of clarity. Not only does it make living more fun, but once the storm hits again, you can remember the Happy Times and know that they will return, if you can just keep yourself afloat long enough.

I don’t want to go into too much detail on the Happy Times the author talks about in her life, because that takes all the fun out of reading it. AND YOU SHOULD READ IT. RIGHT NOW. The only thing I’ll leave you with is the picture on the inside of the cover with the confirmation that it DOES happen in the book…Raccoon Cat Rodeo anyone? 😉

furiouslyhappy_catrodeo

Similar Book(s):

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh

Library Haul – Mystery, Fantasy, and Books About Books

Another day, another library haul. 😉

Whose Body? (Dorothy Sayers)

whosebodyDescription from Goodreads: The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder — especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What’s more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Why I Picked It: Ever since I fell in love with Poirot, I’ve been slowly picking my way through the Golden Age mysteries. Having finished Miss Marple, I decided it was time to give another classic author a try. Dorothy Sayers is really well known and her Lord Peter Wimsey books sound right up my alley, so I decided to snag the start of the series.

A Study in Charlotte (Brittany Cavallaro)

astudyincharlotteDescription from Goodreads: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar. 

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Why I Picked It: I love Sherlock in most of his forms, so I’m usually up for ‘descendant’ novels as well. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason seems like it had a similar vibe, if a bit steampunky, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This one sounds kind of fun and the reviews were decent, so I figured I’d give it a go.

Odd & True (Cat Winters)

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. 

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Why I Picked It: I’ve been wanting to read this one for ages and I’m extremely excited that my library snagged a copy so early! I’m not sure what it is about Cat Winters, but I can’t seem to NOT binge read her books. Fingers crossed that the trend continues!

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

Why I Picked It: Honestly, I was just checking whether or not my library had finally gotten Jenny Lawson’s last book, Furiously Happy, (spoiler: they didn’t) and I happened to notice that the entire shelf above that spot was books about books! This one sounds kind of fun…and like something I would probably do myself. 😉


So what are you currently reading? 🙂

Bookish Book Lover Tag

Found this on the Thrice Read blog and thought it looked fun!

Rules:

  • Use the original banner.
  • Answer the questions!
  • Use lots of book covers.
  • Tag your friends.

What book are you currently reading?

90360Ireland by Frank Delaney – This is a wonderful little book about a Storyteller in Ireland and the boy he inspires. I’m listening to it on audio, which is probably the best medium for this novel, since it makes you feel like you’re actually sitting and listening to the Storyteller and the boy tell you the history of Ireland.


What’s the last book you finished?

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber – I did a review that you can read here, but basically it’s a fun adventure/mystery about a girl searching for her lost sister within a magical treasure hunt.


Favorite book you read this year?

28449207.jpgStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I ADORED this book!!! You can read my review of it here. I can’t wait until the sequel comes out! Unfortunately, since this one literally came out like a month ago, I think I’m in for a long wait.


What genre have you read most this year?

I’ve actually read a good mixture so far this year. Mysteries, fantasies, sci-fi, contemporary fiction, non-fiction…I’ve been all over the place. 🙂


What genre have you read least this year?

90160Western. I’m not really a huge fan of pure westerns (give me a steampunk anyday), but I managed to force myself to read Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey for my reading challenge. My admittedly biased review can be found here. 😉


What genre do you want to read more of?

I’ve been trying to get myself to read more contemporary fiction lately. I have a tendency to stick with mysteries, fantasy, and sci-fi, so part of my reading challenge this year was to branch out a bit. I’m doing pretty well so far.


How many books have you read this year, and what’s your goal?

I have completed 26 books so far this year and am about halfway done with Ireland. My goal is 60 books, which is pretty average for what I read in a year.


What’s the last book you bought?

I actually just picked up 6 book from local authors at a Book Fest last weekend:


What book are you saving up to buy next?

I just recently (finally) read Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham. I loved them both! I might pick up the second volumes of each this weekend if I happen to swing by my local comic store for Free Comic Book Day.

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How many books did you check out last library visit?

Three. I went in for two, but got three. It’s an addiction, I swear.


What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

28208687I’m actually really looking forward to It Devours by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor. It’s the next book from the Welcome to Night Vale universe and it sounds pretty interesting. 🙂


What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

22088245Hm…tricky. Depends on what genres you like. If you like fantasies (and especially if you like role playing games), then you’d probably enjoy the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series by Drew Hayes. I’ve only read the first book, NPCs, so far, but am looking forward to the next one.


Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more?

28517611Jackson Lear, author of Kingston Raine & the Grim Reaper. This was a fun little book where Death accidentally kills a fictional character who then flees into other books. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I tried my best in this review. It was funny and action-filled, and I highly recommend it, especially to book lovers.


A few books your heart adores?

Oh, this is a hard question! There are so many!…Let’s try, books I would try to save if my house was fire:

  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (the early years)
  • Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

The Weird West Tales series by Mike Resnick. I LOVE this series. It’s a steampunk AU of the old west, complete with classic gunslingers, zombies, magic, dinosaurs (yes, I said dinosaurs) and more. I haven’t started the fourth novel yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s the last one. 😦

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What books are on your wish-list?

27809678Way, WAY too many to list. I do want to pick up the Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling (I’m trying to get the full series). I’ve also been eyeballing The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette, but I’m waiting for the price to go down.

 


My Tags:

I tag anyone and everyone that is reading this tag. I had a lot of fun and would love to see your answers.

Netflix Book Tag

While scrolling through my Reader list on WordPress, I stumbled across this fun little book tag (sources at the bottom). Turns out that it’s quite the fad on Youtube!

Recently Watched
The last book you finished reading 

The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates – This was a good little suspense/horror novel. Not TOO scary, but still kept me on my toes. The author included a short story he had written, which inspired this novel.

Top Pick
A book that has been recommended to you based on books you’ve previously read

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – People keep telling me that I will like this series. Apparently it’s ‘right up my alley’. I’m sure I’ll start it eventually.

Recently Added
The last book you bought 

Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer – I made myself give up buying books for Lent this year, so I bought one final present right before it started. The story sounds cute, Colfer is a good writer, and honestly, it had the word Fanfiction in the title, so I was intrigued. 😉

Popular on Netflix
Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)

Read: Paper Towns by John Green – I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were all pretty interesting and the plot was fun. More light-hearted than The Fault in Our Stars, but still introspective.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’m reading this one right now and it’s pretty good so far! I like all the characters (at this point anyway) and I’m really curious to see if they will accomplish their mission.

Not Reading: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – I love Neil Gaiman AND mythology, but I’m so far into the Myths & Legends podcast (highly recommend!) that I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all the myths that will be covered in this book. I may still read it eventually, but I’m not falling over myself to get it right now.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp – I was in high school during Columbine and I just can’t bring myself to read this book. Even seeing it brings up memories of being terrified, walking down the halls looking for hiding places, praying it wouldn’t happen at my school…I just can’t.

Comedies
A funny book: 

The Martian by Andy Weir – It’s pretty impressive that a true sci-fi book, with all the technobabble involved in that genre, can still make me laugh as much as this book did. I binged this one in 6 hours and a lot of my sticking with it had to do with the humor.

Dramas
A character who is a drama queen/king.

Can I say Harry Potter here? Will people stop speaking to me? – Order of the Phoenix especially. He’s a total butthead in that one! Granted, he’s a 15 year old boy, but really; I almost gave up on the series at that point. JK’s writing skills were the only thing that kept me going.

Animated
A book with cartoons on the cover

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh – This is one of my all time favorite books. If you are having a bad day and need a bit of cheering up, you should definitely try this one. 🙂

Watch It Again
A book/book series that you want to re-read

The Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff – I’ve been trying to purge my shelves a bit, donating to the local library and mission, and I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of these books. I really should re-read them to jog my memory of why I liked them so much!

Documentaries
A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – Considering that it’s likely you are a nerd to some degree if you are reading my blog, I’d definitely recommend this memoir to everyone, even if you have never heard of Felicia Day (though you should really look her up if you haven’t heard of her; she’s totally awesome!)

Action and Adventure
An action packed book

Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge – This book was amazing. Well written, action-packed, suspenseful, full of interesting characters & mythology…plus you were never quite sure if the main characters were going to make it!

New Releases
A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I was shocked that my library already had this one, since it came out like a month ago, so I grabbed it immediately. All the 5-star reviews were right; this book is AMAZING! I’m completely distraught that it just came out and I have no idea when the next one will be published. 😦

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Sources: I snagged this book tag from The Paperback Pilgrim and the photo from A Book Lovers Playlist.

Mini-Reviews!

Hey all! Since I’m still not feeling up to a full review, here are a few mini-reviews for books I felt worth recommendation. 🙂

Hotel Andromeda (Edited by Jack Chalker) – Sci-Fi, Anthology

Description from Goodreads: At the grandest hotel in the universe, star-crossed lovers cross paths with the woman who rules the earth, a shape-shifting madame fulfills the needs of extraterrestrials, and a thin-skinned human fights cosmic assassins.

Short Review: This was a fun little book. It contains several short stories that all take place in a hotel in outer space. All the stories are written by different authors and have different characters/plots, but they all have a nice similarity to them; the writing styles flow well together and the similar location of the stories gives them a nice connection. I enjoyed every story in this collection, which is quite a feat!

The King’s Hounds (Martin Jensen) – Mystery, Historical Fiction

Description from Goodreads (condensed): The newly crowned King Cnut of Denmark has conquered England and rules his new empire from Oxford. The year is 1018 and the war is finally over, but the unified kingdom is far from peaceful. Halfdan’s mixed lineage—half Danish, half Saxon—has made him a pauper in the new kingdom. When he finds an unlikely ally in Winston, a former monk, he sees no reason not to accept his strange invitation to travel together to Oxford. But when the pair’s arrival in court coincides with news of a murder, the king has a brilliant idea: Why not enlist the newly arrived womanizing half-Dane and the Saxon intellectual to defuse a politically explosive situation? 

Short Review: I enjoyed this book overall. The plot was interesting, though a bit slow and kind of absurd. The verbiage seemed a bit too modern as well. I did enjoy the characters though: Halfdan was quite humorous and affable, Winston a bit more introspective but enjoyable. I think they were supposed to be slightly like Sherlock and Dr. Watson, though they didn’t quite meet the mark. All around a fun little mystery, but stick to the cheapest version you can find. 😉

Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks (Andrea Lankford) – Non-Fiction, Memoir

Description from Goodreads: For twelve years, Andrea Lankford lived in the biggest, most impressive national parks in the world, working a job she loved. She chaperoned baby sea turtles on their journey to sea. She pursued bad guys on her galloping patrol horse. She jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the heart of the Grand Canyon. She won arguments with bears. She slept with a few too many rattlesnakes. Hell yeah, it was the best job in the world! Fortunately, Andrea survived it.

Short Review: I really enjoyed this book. It’s a slightly fictionalized, non-fiction  about Andrea and some of her co-workers while they were working for the National Park Service (USA). All the stories are true, she just rounded out some of the dialogue and thought processes. The stories range from humorous to nerve-wracking to sorrowful. You come to really care about every person in this book and really feel for what they go through. The stories do a wonderful job of humanizing the authority figure of a Ranger and I came out of it feeling a lot more thoughtful of what it means to be in their position.

The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George) – General Fiction, Romance (kinda)

Description from Goodreads: Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Short Review: This was not my usual read. I’m not generally fond of romances, though this wasn’t quite like a regular romance novel. This book is more of a journey novel. Each character in it is trying to find something: a lost love, a muse, a friend. The pace is slow and introspective, but not boring. I found myself getting quite attached to Monsieur Perdu and his motley crew. This is a sweet book that will leave you with a sense of cozy-happiness.

Book Review – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Book: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory – Author: Caitlin Doughty

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Description from Goodreads:

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin’s engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

My Review:

I was a bit hesitant going into this book. I get a little queasy even just thinking about dead things; people, animals, anything dead really. Partially due to the squick factor and partially due to the connotation. But I was assured that the book was really interesting and humorous, so I decided to give it a try.

I ended up really enjoying the book. The author was able to put enough spin on the stories that you ended up more thoughtful than upset. And she has a nice, quirky sense of humor, which helps keep the narrative upbeat, even in the darkest portions. If you can make me laugh during a chapter about dead babies, you are doing something right. 😉

It was really interesting having such an in-depth look at a profession that most people shy away from even talking about. Learning about the history of burial practices in America was fascinating; the transition from natural burial to embalming to cremation and back to natural burial. I also liked how she discussed different burial practices without really putting any of them down. It was nice to learn about how other cultures treat death from a (mostly) unbiased perspective.

I would really recommend this book for people who are interested in learning about American burial practices or the funereal profession.

Similar Books:

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner – Judy Melinek, T.J. Mitchell

The American Way of Death – Jessica Mitford