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WRY TOAST: It’s time to lighten our load—of books

BY EDIE GROSS

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

NEED a page-turner for that week at the beach or a book to distract you while your kids climb the

walls during summer vacation?

Look no further. Wry Toast has a stack of reading material that’s free to a good home.

If you’re interested in one of these titles, email me at egross@freelancestar.com.

—Edie Gross

‘IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA ’ BY MEGHAN ROWLAND AND CHRIS TURNER–NEAL

Billed as a “cautionary guide to avoiding 101 of life’s potentially most regrettable decisions,” this book is a humorous collection of ideas that seemed relatively harmless at first, but inevitably, often through no fault of your own, end in unmitigated disaster.

Among them: Using a neti pot to clear up your sinuses, attending a Presidents Day sale and drafting a fantasy football team. What could go wrong? According to this book, everything.

‘WE LEARN NOTHING’ BY TIM KREIDER

Kreider’s collection of essays and cartoons focuses on life’s absurdities.

I took a quick look at a few of the essays and they’re equal parts angry, sad and funny. So if you’re equal parts angry, sad and funny, this should be right up your alley.

Also, filmmaker Judd Apatow likes it. At least, he says he does on the book jacket.

‘HOW TO LIVE WITH A MAN AND LOVE IT!’ BY JENNIFER WORICK & ‘STUFF EVERY HUSBAND SHOULD KNOW’ BY ERIC SAN JUAN

This one’s a two-fer with “his” and “hers” volumes.

Worick’s book, filled with campy ’50s-era photos and equally campy ’50s-era advice is a tongue-in-cheek guide to “catching and keeping your man.” At least I hope it’s tongue-in-cheek. I refuse to believe that “offering your man–boy special prizes, incentives or even an allowance each week for jobs well done” is valid marital advice.

San Juan’s manual, with tips on everything from how to hire a handyman to how to live with a pregnant woman, is slightly more practical and considerably more humorous. It even includes step-by-step instructions for how to fold shirts. That’s hot.

‘GETTING MARRIED AND OTHER MISTAKES’ BY BARBARA SLATE

If the two books mentioned above didn’t work for you, this one might be more appropriate.

A graphic novel, it follows the travails of a recently divorced wedding photographer who’s trying to find her way in the World of Romance amid a cacophony of well-meaning but less-than-helpful

advice from friends and family.

The protagonist is a redhead. So there’s that.

‘STUFF EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW’ BY DENISE KIERNAN AND JOSEPH D’AGNESE

This pocket-size hardback answers tons of fun questions like “Who invented blue jeans?” (and no, it wasn’t Levi Strauss) and “Who played the first game of football?”

In the back are 10 questions from the official U.S. citizenship test. Luckily, you can’t be deported for getting them wrong. Because you’re going to get some of them wrong.

‘THE TEX–MEX GRILL AND BACKYARD BARBACOA COOKBOOK’ BY ROBB WALSH

This book, perfect for the strict vegetarian in your life, includes dozens of recipes—for sauces, rubs, margaritas, sides and main meat dishes—as well as grilling techniques, historical photos and interviews with Tex–Mex chefs.

It’s a nice-looking cookbook, but it’ll be better after each and every page is stained with homemade barbecue sauce and queso. If you think you’re up to the task, stake—or steak, as the case may be—

a claim.

‘THE OUTSOURCED SELF: INTIMATE LIFE IN MARKET TIMES’ BY ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD

We tend to think of outsourcing as a strictly commercial enterprise, but this author points out that increasingly, we’re paying others to live even the most intimate parts of our lives for us.

We turn to love coaches and wedding planners to guide us romantically. We pay “nameologists” to help us pick names for our kids and then hire consultants to help us parent them. In some places, you can even hire professional mourners.

Written by a sociologist, it’s a tad unnerving but probably eye-opening. If you pay me enough, I might be willing to read it for you.

‘BRING UP THE BODIES’ BY HILARY MANTEL

This is the second book in the author’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII. It focuses on Cromwell’s role in helping Henry’s wife Anne Boleyn lose her well-appointed head.

This historical novel includes a massive cast of characters and several family trees to help you sort things out. I’ve actually got two copies of this: a paperback advance copy and a proper hardback.

First dibs go to those who agree to read it with a British accent.

‘LYON’S BRIDE, THE CHATTAN CURSE’ BY CATHY MAXWELL

It wouldn’t be a Wry Toast book giveaway without a romance novel featuring a bare-chested eligible bachelor on the cover.

This one comes to us from a prolific romance novelist and former naval intelligence officer who lives in Powhatan County, but the story itself takes place in 19th-century England. No British accent required.

‘THE LAND OF DECORATION’ BY GRACE McCLEEN

I know what you’re thinking: Not another story narrated by a 10-year-old girl raised in a fundamentalist sect who creates a world of her own out of scraps she collects and ultimately believes she can work miracles.

Yes indeed.

I’ve actually had this on my desk for months, figuring maybe I’d read it if I had the time.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet.

If you claim it and you like it, maybe you can let me borrow it some time?

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428

egross@freelancestar.com

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