Some Funny Advice

Petworth LibraryStaff Picks

Some Funny Advice

Life tips from unexpected places

I'm not much for self help books, so finding good advice in a book is rare for me. Each of these titles have unexpectedly provided pieces of wisdom that have stuck with me months and years later. 

Most of these titles are also on a short list of books that have brought me to tears - surprising considering I expected all of them to be light, fun reads. (In full disclosure, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is also on that list, so I guess it’s not that difficult for a book to make me cry. When the spirits of Harry's parents appeared out of Voldemort's wand, I just lost it.)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Poehler gives great advice for anyone going through a tough time. Some of her advice is gleaned from her divorce from actor Will Arnett (though don't expect any juicy details). Other struggles are ongoing, like how to deal with your own demon voice of self-doubt. My favorite quotes from Yes Please are not appropriate to post on the DC Public Library website, but look to page 156 for some good dating advice.

Role Models by Jon Waters
Role Models is about the people who fascinate cult filmmaker Jon Waters. Alongside interviews with his favorite pornographers and Little Richard, Waters writes about Leslie Van Houton, one of the Manson killers. Waters has forged a decades-long friendship with Leslie. His description of who Leslie is now and the details of her excruciating parole hearings brought me to tears and changed how I view our prison system. 

​"Will there ever be a ‘fair’ answer to how Leslie should pay for these crimes? Can you ever recover from being called a ‘human mutant’ or a ‘monster’ by the government, especially when you know that they were right at one time in your life? How can you feel optimistic about your own rehabilitation?” Waters doesn’t stray away from tough questions, or the acknowledgement that he is part of the problem, having portrayed the Manson murders in a “jokey, smart-ass way” in his earlier films. 

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman
Nick Offerman is most known for playing Ron Swanson on the TV series Parks and Recreation. Offerman is more sensitive than Ron Swanson, but he is just as straight forward. In this autobiography, you will find straight talk such as: "Discern your ass from a hole in the ground."

Offerman encourages readers to pursue a productive, well-rounded, romantic life. Also, I have never read a more lovely description of how a man feels about his wife than Offerman's paean to Megan Mullally. Offerman writes: "There is at least a volume's worth of amazing magic-glistening about her person that will thrill you to pieces and render you extremely envious of the fact that she is, in fact, my legal possession in the state of California."

How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea
Maybe I did expect a little advice from this one. Michelle Tea has led a rough life, from a difficult childhood, to drug addiction, to unhealthy relationships. If you ever find yourself in a place or at an age where you think: “I should have figured this out by now,” you could use this book. In a calm, non-judgmental voice, Tea tells the reader about the changes she made after finding herself sober and single at 37. This book is about what it is like and why it is worth it to become a responsible, stable, happy grown up while maintaining an exciting and fulfilling life.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman is famous for being a blue comedian, but I would recommend this book even if you don't particularly like her stand up. Silverman struggles with depression through high school and into her adulthood. She never finds a magic fix, but gives practical advice, while acknowledging that depression is not something that can be completely controlled. She also recommends the saying: “Make it a treat.” This has stuck in my head as a simple reminder that moderation for all potential vices is best.