Tag Archives: Justin Halpern

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

There are two things I really like to read on rainy days: poetry about stormy weather and humorous books. Why does my brain work this way? I have no idea, but it has strong opinions on this topic that I’m going to honour.

This week I’m going to be recommending five comedic books and five poems that somehow reference rain, storms, or similar topics.

The Books

1. Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica

Most people understand that folks who work in the service industry are fellow human beings and should be treated with the same basic level of respect and kindness you’d offer to any other stranger. The individuals who choose not to follow this social more for whatever reason provided endless fodder for a hilarious blog that eventually lead to this book, too.

It’s the perfect thing to read if you’ve ever worked in the service industry or wondered what that experience can be like on the not-so-great days. I started reading it during a thunderstorm years ago, so that may be why I associate it with rainy days so much.

2. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Mr. Halpern’s dad is the sort of person who says whatever outrageous thing is on his mind without thinking about how others will react to it. I should warn you that some of the quotes in this book might be offensive to some readers due to the stereotypical things the dad says about certain groups.

With that being said, most of these quotes are simply odd statements about society shared by a man who either can’t or is purposefully refusing to understand that the world has changed a lot since he was young. (It was never clear to me which one of these explanations was most accurate, and I definitely don’t want to shame him if he has some sort of health problem that affects how he thinks or relates to others.)

As someone who has a couple of relatives who act a lot like this dad, it feels nice to know that I’m not the only one dealing with this situation. Sometimes laughter truly is the best response to things you cannot change.

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I read this book several years ago. The only things I remember about it is that it was quite funny and I believe I might have read it during a very rainy weekend in my city.

4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Ms. Brosh is one of the funniest cartoonists of our generation. If you haven’t checked out her work yet, you really should. Sometimes I save her latest blog posts specifically for stormy days because of how much I enjoy savouring them for a while.

5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

This was the first book I ever read from this author, and it happened in a bookstore on a stormy day. I loved his descriptions of trying to learn French, among other adventures. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Sedaris’ work ever since then.

 

The Poems

1. April Rain Song by Langston Hughes

If you read this blog long enough, you’re going to notice me mentioning Langston Hughes a lot. He was an incredibly talented poet that I try to introduce new people to as often as possible.

2. Peasants Waiting for Rain by G.S. Sharat Chandra

It can be easy for those of us who aren’t farmers to forget just how important rain is for agriculture. This poem is a nice reminder of that.

3. Rain in the Desert by Walter Lowenfels

If you’ve never seen a downpour in the desert, this poem is an excellent description of one.

4. To the Rain by Ursula K. LeGuin

I love the cleansing imagery in this poem. The world does seem like a cleaner, brighter place after a good thunderstorm!

5. Sheep in the Rain by James Wright

The last line of this poem was what made me realize how great it is.

Summer Worlds I’d Like to Visit

Last January I blogged about the winter worlds I wish I could visit. Now that we’re well into the month of August and temperates are soaring, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this topic from a summery perspective.

One of the differences between this list and the one I did for winter is how loosely I’m defining a summer world. Some of the places I’ll be mentioning in this post never get cold or snowy at all. Others have seasonal changes that don’t necessarily match up perfectly with Ontario’s yearly weather cycle. A couple of them are places that aren’t so much “worlds” as they are countries (or parts of countries) that really exist.

It’s the presence of hot, often humid weather and everything that comes along with such a forecast that I’m looking for in these tales regardless of where they are set. I hope you’ll understand why I loosened the definition of this label and have a few ideas of your own of summer or summer-like settings that might be interesting to visit.

The Congo

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Caveat: I’d pack plenty of practical items like bug spray and I’d spend very little time with the main characters of this tale.

The setting, though, tickled my imagination. I wish the audience could have seen the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium from the perspective of someone who was born and raised in the Congo. The parts of this struggle that the main characters witnessed were fascinating. They made me wish it were possible to see the beginning of this movement for myself, and they were the highlight of the storyline for me.

The Deep South

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

While I’ve only been to Louisiana once, I did spend about a year of my childhood living in a different southern state. It wasn’t enough time for me to think of myself as a southerner by any means, but it was a period of my life when I developed some of my earliest memories that I am pretty certain are accurate and genuine.

The warm, humid evenings down there are something I’ll never forget. There’s no way to escape them. Like getting through snowstorms up north, you simply have to learn to adjust the rhythms of your day to what the weather is like. Assuming I could avoid the vampires running around there in this universe, it would be interesting to see if my memories of southern evenings are as accurate as I hope they are.

Any River That Huck Finn Paddles Down

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huck was a character I liked a lot when I was a kid. The thought of a child deciding to leave home and go on an adventure without telling any of the adults in his or her life where they were headed made my heart skip a beat. I didn’t actually catch onto the satirical elements of the plot until I was older, but I do remember being envious of how much freedom this character had to design his own idea of a good time over the summer.

Also, I love bodies of water in almost any form. There are few things more soothing to me than spending time as close to a lake, river, pond, or ocean as possible. The sound of water lapping against the shore (or a seaworthy vessel) can lull me to sleep in minutes.

The House Where Justin’s Dad Lives

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.

How is that for a vague title? About seven or eight years ago there was a popular Twitter account that quoted all of the odd, funny, and sometimes disturbing things the author’s dad said without necessarily realizing that he was embarrassing his son. Eventually those quotes were compiled into a book.

As someone who has my own fair share of relatives who are known for putting their feet in their mouths over and over again without no signs of learning from their pasts, I’d know exactly how to respond to the cringeworthy stuff Justin’s dad said back in the day (and maybe still does).

 

A Summer That Refuses to End

Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury

Raise your hand if you feel like this summer is going to last until the end of time.

This book is part of a series that is still on my TBR list, so I can’t give out any specific details about it yet. What I can say is that I, too, feel as though autumn is a decade or two away. It’s funny how some parts of the year speed by while others drag on forever, isn’t it?

What summer or summer-like worlds do you wish you could visit?