USA Today 10 Best Books of 2011

Are you still writing 2011 on your checks?  Takes a while to catch up, and the USA Today list of 10 books to love from 2011 just rose to the top of my stack of papers.

I’ve only read 4 on the list (see my reviews by clicking on the red titles); it’s great to get more to order from the library for 2012.



  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Joyce Dugard
  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
  • Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield


Tina Fey’s introduction fools you into believing Bossypants will be a laugh a minute…

“If you are a woman and bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated workplace, here they are….no pigtails, no tube tops…If you bought the book to laugh and be entertained…Two peanuts were walking down the street, and one was a salted.”

But it’s more like a long-running Saturday Night Live monologue; sometimes it’s funny, sometimes not so much, and you want to turn it off.  With a stream of consciousness approach to her life, Fey sprinkles her memories with funny incidents – if you can wait for them.

But, if you keep reading, you’ll find those irreverent gems – those critiques of politicians, movie stars, racists, homophobics –  and everything else – nothing is off limits.  Fey’s tone is straight-man serious, goading you to wonder – did she really mean that?  Of course; if she doesn’t, she provides an asterisk to let you know.

Her comments on domestic life will sound familiar to some…

“I’m a working parent and I understand that sometimes you want to have a very productive Saturday to feel that you are in control of your life, which of course you are not.”

The book warms up as it progresses, almost like a comedy routine.  After getting past the essential groundwork, the comedian gets to the real stuff.  Her lists are the funniest:

  • the secrets of Mommy Beauty
  • remembrances of being skinny
  • remembrances of being fat

If you are an SNL fan, you will appreciate the insider jokes and backstage humor, with the best being the skits with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.  If you missed the first one, she provides the script, and it is just as funny read as watched.  It would seem a good place for her to end the book, but she doesn’t – going on to the birth of her child and plans for the second.

Tina Fey is funny; more importantly, she is smart.  You can read her book for its humor, but it has more if you can insert the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert affinity for telling the truth with a laugh.