Review: Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

While browsing the library for a book to read (preferably a humorous one at that), I stumbled upon Justin Halpern’s Sh*t My Dad Says. I then proceeded to open up the light read on a random page to see if it’d capture my attention… And it succeeded in making me laugh out loud with this one passage:

On Bob Saget’s Demeanor While Hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos

“Remember that face. That’s the face of a man who hates himself.”

What follows is a book that delivers pretty much everything I’ve been seeking: laugh-out-loud funny anecdotes, family, cursing, and so much more.

Here are a couple more gems I’d like to share:

On How to Tell When a Workout Is Complete

“I just did an hour on the gym machine. I’m sweaty, and I have to shit. Where’s my fanny pack? This workout is over.”

On Chivalry

“Give your mother the front seat…. I don’t give a shit if she said you could have it, that’s what she’s supposed to do, and you’re supposed to say, ‘No, I insist.’ You think I’m gonna drive around with my wife in the backseat and a nine-year-old in the front? You’re a crazy son of a bitch.”

But the true key to fully enjoying this book was listening to it on audio (which is, by the way, only three hours long). The narrator, Sean Schemmel, does this hilarious deep voice that perfectly captures the anger, frustration, and love behind the dad’s words. This read wouldn’t have been as laugh-out-loud funny without the audio format for me. But I do have to note that Schemmel’s choice of using a high-pitched voice for the female characters was absurd and completely threw me out of the story, so I tried to tune that out as much as possible.

On another note, getting to read about Justin Halpern’s relationship with his dad, who’s a rather blunt individual, and sharing his quotes and quips, surprisingly evoked a wide range of reactions. From laughing at one section to being moved deeply by another, I was never short of experiencing numerous emotions throughout my reading experience.

One part that stuck out, in particular, was this breakfast shared with his father at Denny’s:

“Dad, can you please get to the point you’re trying to make? I don’t want to talk about this the whole breakfast with all these people around us,” I said, as I looked to my left and right, indicating that people were listening and that it was embarrassing for me.
He paused and looked around the restaurant, and then right at the college kids next to us, who quickly glanced away.
“You give a shit what all these people think, huh? Even though you never met a goddamned one of them,” he said.”

Sam Halpern really made me shift my whole view with just the one sentence: “You give a shit what all these people think, huh? Even though you never met a goddamned one of them,”

And on said though, that will no doubt be playing over and over in my head, I’ll end my review for this noteworthy book I’m beyond glad to have listened to. If you’re looking for a swift and comical read that’ll have you laughing out loud, Sh*t My Dad Says is the one.

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Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

“The world is available to us, but that may be the problem.”

Fun fact: I actually started 2017 with this read, but at the time it didn’t feel relevant enough for me to get the most out of it, so I put the book down. Fast forward to November, when I discovered the wonder that is the Hidden Brain podcast, where it featured an episode with Aziz Ansari sharing laugh-out-loud funny excerpts from Modern Romance. After having a genuinely good time listening to his voice on the podcast, I was convinced to take another shot with the audiobook.

And having watched and completely loved Ansari’s Netflix show Master of None back in  May when the second season was released (check out my May 2017 Reading Wrap Up to read more of my ravings on that), I was more than ready to dive back into his world. Plus, I’m glad I got to read the book a while after having watched the show because the many parallels of my favorite scenes from the show being present in here were beyond gratifying to experience again.

Modern Romance interweaves stream of consciousness storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life through a different lens. Thankfully, though, the book has a generous mix of absurdity and depth. Aziz Ansari tackles head-on the subject of culture and technology and the ways they’ve shaken romance, and he provides us with “a much richer understanding of the new romantic landscape.” But Ansari never fails to include a much-needed comical anecdote or food reference to lighten up the text. Speaking of which, here’s a passage from the first chapter that sealed the deal for me:

“To be honest, I tend to romanticize the past, and though I appreciate all the conveniences of modern life, sometimes I yearn for simpler times. Wouldn’t it be cool to be single in a bygone era? I take a girl to a drive-in movie, we go have a cheeseburger and a malt at the diner, and then we make out under the stars in my old-timey convertible. Granted, this might have been tough in the fifties given my brown skin tone and racial tensions at the time, but in my fantasy, racial harmony is also part of the deal.”

That’s my exact thought process with people who tend to romanticize the past.

The only downfall to this book was that, though it highlights a vast set of issues related to modern romance and emerging adulthood, it does so in a very narrowed down look, specifically centered around American middle-class straight couples. But to give credit where credit is due, there are a couple of chapters dedicated to exploring romance in other parts of the world, such as Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, and Doha.

All in all: I’m just glad I finally got around to reading Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance with the end of the year in sight.

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Review: The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown

I decided to give this audiobook – narrated by the author – a chance right after having watched Alain de Botton’s talk, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person. I don’t really recall how my mind then led me to associate the aforementioned with Brené Brown’s work, but here we are…

On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise – that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

I still remember the first time I listened to the author’s Ted talk (back in 2014) on the subject of vulnerability because it changed and transformed a lot in me. Brown’s use of humor and wit to educate the listener delivered everything I wanted. And I was ecstatic to then start the audiobook (albeit, three years later) and discover that her comical anecdotes were still on point with plenty of wit and snark to spare. I laughed heartily and merrily throughout the six sessions, which was so wonderful and centering to experience. Pure comedic gems that lead to fascinating discoveries concerning our lives. I went through a roller coaster of emotions that force me to reexamine myself.

So I thought I’d share next a few points from the audiobook that really resonated with me:

  • Self-acceptance and self-love: “We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
  • The difference between shame and guilt: the former being a focus on self (I am bad) while the later is focused on behaviour (I did bad). And how crucial it is to pay attention to their differences.
  • Shame resilience and moving through it. Owning your story.
  • The difference between empathy (being the antidote to shame) and sympathy:“Empathy is feeling with, sympathy is feeling for.”
  • Debunking the myths about vulnerability.
  •  Practicing gratitude in the midsts of foreboding joy.
  •  Setting boundaries and learning to say no: “Choose discomfort over resentment.”
  •  Overfunctioning & underfunctioning anxiety.
  • To be vulnerable and let ourselves be seen: “No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them.”

To put it simply, The Power of Vulnerability is all about becoming aware of your emotions and “bring to light processes people aren’t even aware they’re engaged in.” I wish I could make everyone in my close proximity listen to this audiobook as soon as possible. Already I’ve had so many discussions over the past few days about certain notions shared by Dr. Brown that are well worth the spotlight.

And not only did she make this reading experience feel fun and interactive while following her mindfulness, the personal anecdotes about her husband, kids, and friends made me laugh out loud without fail. That’s just a guaranteed way to make me remember a crucial point a long way down the road. Plus, the book never suffered from giving off vague advice, thanks to Brown having the experiences of those she researched and of her own to back-up the statements.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Power of Vulnerability, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!