I still haven’t quite managed to top my record from February, but given the circumstances of that particular month, I’m not complaining. My birthday month meant I was given a rather lovely stack of books which added a fair bit to my TBR list, and combined with my compulsive spending habits, it appears that I now have a list that consists of over 30 titles. So, in that respect, I should probably crack on. Here’s what I’ve been reading over the last month.
Best Foot Forward – Adam Hills (Hodder, 2019) ★★★
From the Back:
“A few things you should know about Adam Hills:
He likes making people laugh,
He was born without a right foot,
He always wanted to wear thongs (but we’ll get to that).
Growing up in Sydney, Australia, laughter was what brought the Hills family together. But it wasn’t until Adam’s 18th birthday that he decided to pursue his dream and perform at the Comedy Store.
What follows is a first hand glimpse into the world of comedy. With a lot of laughs, Adam encounters some fairly-famous faces – the likes of Whoopi Goldnberg, Billy Connolly, Kermit the Frog, and that guy who sang the Macerena. No, not him. The other guy.
Best Foot Forward is a charming and hilarious memoir in which Adam Hills learns that a lot of hard work, a little bit of talent, and being proudly different can see you find your feet.”
Adam Hills is a comedian I’ve loved for many years. I love his outlook on life and how he’s such an amazing storyteller. His stand-up always comes with an uplifting message and a number of his comedy routines have stuck with me over the years. His book is packed with stories about his comedy career, starting from the early days of the Comedy Store right up to when The Last Leg became a Friday night hit.
Adam’s warmth and loveliness as a person instantly becomes visible within the first few pages and it’s something that runs throughout the entire book, from the love he has for his family to the respect and adoration he has for his comedy heroes. Anyone who has seen his stand up shows will know what a good storyteller he is, and he brings that energy the entire time you read this memoir. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, and it’s genuinely lovely to read.
So why did I mark it down compared to other books I’ve read this month? Well, it purely was for the fact that a lot of the stories he tells in the book are ones that he’s told in his stand-up, so I knew how a lot of them ended. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some corkers – the time his artificial foot caused him to get stopped at airport security two days after 9/11, the time he got to perform with the Muppets – but if you’ve seen his live shows, you’ll be familiar with them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re brilliantly funny stories, but the outcome of such stories can often be the best bit, so you don’t really get that when you’ve heard them before.
Don’t let that put you off of reading the book though – if you’re a fan of Adam on The Last Leg, it’s a really interesting read and you’ll see that the show is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his comedy career.
William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls – Ian Doescher (Quirk Books, 2019) ★★★★
From the Back:
“‘On Wednesdays we array ourselves in pink!’
Return to North Shore High in this totally fetch retelling of Tina Fey’s 2004 film Mean Girls, written in the style of the Bard of Avon. This comedy of manners follows Cady Heron’s journey from lowly home-schooled jungle freak to most popular girl at North Shore to social pariah.
Peopled with queen bees, wannabes, misfits, and nerds, this Elizabethan makeover of a millennial tale proves that all that glitters is not gold; sometimes it’s cold, hard plastic.
Filled with woodcut-style illustrations and written in iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls is full of free-flowing rhymes that would make Kevin G jealous and is as viciously entertaining as Regina George’s Burn Book.”
My friend Cheryl is awesome at presents. Last year, my birthday presents were mermaid themed, and this year, they were largely Mean Girls themed. In addition to my very own miniature Burn Book and a set of pencils with phrases like “Boo, you whore” and “You go Glen Coco!” on them, she also gave me this book (along with a Flounder Disney figurine to go with the Ariel one she got me last year). I think it’s safe to say, she did pretty damn good.
It’s exactly what it says on the tin – it’s Mean Girls written in the style of Shakespeare. And it’s bloody brilliant. The entire film script is converted into Shakespeare’s English and takes on his most common tropes including iambic pentameter and characters performing soliloquies. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve read your favourite quotes converted into Shakespeare.
It’s so much more than that too – upon reading the notes at the end of the book, you discover that each character from the film has been adapted so that they take on aspects of female characters from Shakespeare’s plays. It’s incredibly clever and it brought back memories of English Literature for sure – apparently more of my Shakespeare knowledge has stuck than I thought. I can’t help but think that had I been given this to study I probably would have got an A at A-level. Anyway, I’m rambling – if you’re a fan of Mean Girls and you love yourself some literature, get yourself a copy of this.
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman (Viking, Penguin Random House, 2020) ★★★★
From the Back:
“In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But, when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?”
This is another one I have Cheryl to thank for. She sent me a copy of this when I told her I was interested in reading it (I bloody love my friends), and I finally got around to picking it up a few weeks ago. I’m not normally a fan of the whole murder mystery genre, but the fact The Thursday Murder Club was written by Richard Osman, who we all know from Pointless and House of Games (which was a key fixture of our Lockdown 1 watching) meant it appealed to me, and I’m so glad I read it.
While I initially wasn’t sure I could get on with the narrative regularly changing focus, I soon got the hang of it and eventually couldn’t put it down. With small chapters too, it means you can easily dip in and out, which is always a win for me. I can’t stand long, waffley chapters.
I love the characters in the book too – it’s essentially a bunch of sassy old people that won’t take no for an answer. You wouldn’t think it works, but it really does. The classic whodunit storyline keeps you guessing right up to the big reveal, and it’s packed with twists and turns throughout, so it really keeps you on your toes. On top of that, it’s got plenty of laughs in it and had me smiling on multiple occasions throughout. I didn’t realise there’s a sequel coming out later this year either, so that will definitely be going on my TBR list!
As Good As It Gets: Life Lessons From A Reluctant Adult – Romesh Ranganathan (Transworld, Penguin Random House, 2020) ★★★★
From the Back:
“Confronted by the realities of adulthood, Romesh Ranganathan must face an uncomfortable truth: this is not quite how he imagined it.
Watching his friends descend into middle age, his waist thicken with every meal and his finances dwindle to fund his family’s middle class aspirations, Romesh reflects on the demands of daily life and the challenges of adulting in the modern world.
Packed with critical life advice for other reluctant adults, As Good As It Gets is a hilarious and painfully accurate dissection of what it really means to grow up.”
I read Romesh’s first book last year and really enjoyed it, so when I saw he was releasing another one in 2020, it immediately went onto my wishlist, and I was lucky enough to be given it for my birthday. While his first book, Straight Outta Crawley, looks more at his childhood and his early days navigating the comedy circuit, As Good As It Gets focuses more on the present day and the trials and tribulations that come with adulthood.
This has definitely been one of my favourite reads of the year so far. On multiple occasions, it had me laughing out loud, and I think it’s largely because I was reading a lot of it in his voice. The stories he tells in the book are genuinely hilarious, from trying to bribe his son to eat fish by saying he’ll buy him a PlaySation (which subsequently backfired) to overindulging on a hot sauce named “Holy Fuck,” there’s plenty of life lessons you’ll learn throughout.
It’s a light-hearted read but it’s incredibly relatable in places, especially when it comes to navigating friendships and relationships. I can imagine if you have kids too, it’ll be even more relatable. The chapters are nice and short too, meaning I got through it in a couple of days, which is always a winner in my book. If you’re a fan of Romesh, it’s definitely worth a read.
What have you been reading in May? Have you read any of the above? What did you think? Let’s chat in the comments 🙂