Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review Mondays

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How to be funny on purpose: Creating and consuming humor
by Edgar E. Willis

The review that follows was written by Misty M. Mulligan, and it can be found on the website. When the review came out, I took a printout of it to the author, who not only approved of it, but said, "She certainly understands what the book is about." The review is reprinted here in its entirety.

How to be Funny on Purpose is an outstanding book. It is a fascinating, one-of-a-kind book on humor. There is so much more here than a book on how to construct jokes, even though that part of the book is excellent. The first thing that catches the reader's attention is the author's command of the whole history of humor in America --- on the radio, on television, and on the Internet as well.

Whether the jokes come from professional humorists, writers of humor, the author's personal life, politicians, or the humor found in everyday life, the range is broad, the selections entertaining, and the jokes are funny.

The second feature that readers will notice is the author's accurate, sensitive, and thorough dissection of humor. Willis's description of the three main theories about the nature of funniness --- the superiority theory, the incongruity theory, and the surprise theory --- and the examples he uses to illustrate these theories, is fascinating as well as simply and clearly explained. Willis writes in a plain, direct, and vivid manner that is both engaging and captivating.

Just reading about the forms of funniness helps one not just realize the world of humor in which we live, but understand and appreciate a whole new world of humor that we so often overlook or fail to be sensitive to. This book educates, instructs, and delightfully adds to your knowledge and understanding.

The third feature of the book that helps make it outstanding is its main one: how to be funny on purpose, or, the construction and use of jokes. Willis's approach to developing jokes is clear, specific, well-illustrated and explained, and contagious. If his information doesn't make you want to try your hand at creating jokes --- as you are reading the book --- I would be surprised and shocked. This feature, alone, makes this book worth purchasing. The suggestions for using the Internet to find and create jokes are instructive and useful.

I might add that once you are aware of how jokes are constructed, you will become a more knowledgeable consumer. You will know what makes certain jokes work and others fail. You will know, too, the circumstances when jokes should be told and when they should not.

A final feature of the book is important as well, and this final feature could justify buying the book just as easily as the previous ones. This is a joke book. It is full of jokes; there are some on every page. Even the joke considered the best one in the world, as well as the runners-up, are included. The beauty of the book is in the scope, variety, and selection of jokes. Willis knows classic jokes, and he knows what jokes merit that label. By reading this book, you will become an expert judge as well.

So, if you are interested in the history and background of humor, if you are looking for a thorough analysis of the topic, if the construction of jokes draws your attention, or if you just want a joke book, this is a well-written, expertly documented, serious look at humor. Willis offers a priceless book that is immeasurable in reader satisfaction, unparalleled in its approach and thoroughness, incomparable in its coverage of jokes, and, in my mind, irreplaceable with respect to its ability to educate and instruct. I will treasure this book forever, and it will be a permanent part of my library. Whether you are a public speaker or someone who would like to give better speeches, a professional humorist or someone who would like to become a better professional, or just a person who enjoys humor, like myself, or someone who would like to find greater pleasure in humor, you will treasure this book as well. It is first-rate.

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What I know now: Letters to My Younger Self
by Ellyn Spragins

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

This 208-page book makes a terrific gift for young girls from high school through college. However, I think men -- fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and employers, too -- could learn a great deal from the stories and personal insights shared by these accomplished women. This book makes a great graduation gift! Spragins has asked 40 well-known women — including Maya Angelou, Senator Barbara Boxer, Trisha Yearwood, Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor of Jordan and clothing designer Eileen Fisher, to name but a few — to write letters to their younger selves sharing insights, inspiration, their most vulnerable moments, and down-to-earth guidelines This is a meaningful, honest, approachable, thought-provoking, book full of sage, wise advice designed specifically for younger women, and because of this it will give them guidance, direction, goals, as well as sage advice. It is a quick, easy, and enjoyable read.


Through our reading, researching, and writing, And Then Some Publishing (and our extended family of readers) mine volumes of books representing a wide variety of tastes. We use the books in our writing, test and try suggested techniques, and we read for enjoyment as well. We wouldn't spend the time reviewing the books if we didn't get something out of it. Read more reviews on other fantastic books at our website.

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