Wonderful New Book

I love hearing your book recommendations, so I thought I’d share one of my own. Right now I’m reading the fantastic new graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast, a New Yorker cartoonist and only child, writes about watching her parents age into their nineties and die.

It sounds dark, but the book is actually hilarious and full of love. Chast tries to talk to her parents about their future plans, but they always manage to change the subject. (Because if you don’t ever think about death, it will never happen, right?)

She combines her drawings with family photos, and the way she brings her Brooklyn-based parents to life—her nervous, neurotic father, and her opinionated, hard-charging mother—is extraordinary. My heart ached for her family, but I also laughed out loud constantly. Chast has such a gift for getting candid observations just right.

You end up feeling like their child, too: They’re completely batshit and drive you insane, but you just love them so much. I’d highly, highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new book.

Have you read anything good lately? I’d love to hear…

P.S. Five graphic novels.

  1. Peggy Tido says...

    One of my favorite books because I lost my Dad in 2011, My brother 2013, my Mom 1994. That’s everyone in my immediate family. It’s crushing to deal with to bury them and live with the lonely feelings afterward. This book makes you smile and cry. I love Roz Chast. Even though she is an only child I feel she could be a sister.

  2. It looks like such a fun read!! I am just about to start Jewel’s autobiography and it really starts as an amazing, honest and very empowering book. Lately, I read a lot of women writers to get inspired and feel connected to other women who went through a lot.

  3. Always love reading the recommendations here.

    Just finished We Were Liars, which is a great beach read.

  4. I saw this post yesterday, bought the book and am already half-way done! I love this concept. Thanks for posting!

  5. I’m also reading All The Light We Cannot See, which is beautifully written and recently finished Bellweather Rhapsody (Glee meets The Shining meets The Grand Budapest Hotel). I seem to be in the minority with The Signature of All Things – hated the writing!

  6. I’d recommend ‘What I Loved’ by Siri Hustvedt. So rich and beautiful, yet heartbreaking. Left me speechless at certain parts.

  7. I second the recommendation of The Vacationers! Also, just a thought – you always use Amazon links for books, and I wish you would consider pointing readers to another retailer like Indiebound (local bookstores –, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or Kobo. It’s become very obvious, especially recently, that Amazon is bad for publishing and authors.

    Thanks so much for considering this!

  8. The Rosie Project – amazing and so, so funny!

    And “100 year old man who escaped from the window and disappeared” also hilarious

  9. Love Roz Chast! I know my mom would totally relate to the book…she was the only surviving sibling around to take care of her father. Aggravating and bittersweet to see.
    I just finished This is The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, a collection of personal essays about writing. I highly recommend it–seems like it would be right up your alley.

  10. Wow! Kind of reminds me of my parents but thank goodness I’m not an only child and there’s someone else to share my pain! ;)

  11. This looks really cute. I’ll definitely have to check it out. I just read the Hyperbole and a Half book and loved it. And have just jumped on the ‘Gone Girl’ bandwagon, which is what I am currently reading!


  12. I heard Chast’s interview with Terry Gross and have wanted to get my hands on the book ever since. I think she does a great number on dementia and aging in the 21st century.

  13. I’m reading Breaking Night right now by Liz Murray. A memoir on the same lines of Glass Castle and I am completely and utterly in love! Every excuse I’ve ever had for not being where I wanted to be in life just went right out the window.

  14. Jo, you must read Animal Madness. You will love it! Full of fascinating stories about insanity and recovery in animals and humans. It is such a heart felt and interesting book. And will make you think differently about zoos…

  15. I grew up with Roz’s family in a small town in CT. I remember going trick or treating at her house.

  16. I heard Roz Chast in an interview on NPR (Fresh Air maybe? or one of the NYC local shows?). She was awesome! But I forgot to go get the book so I’m so glad that you reminded me! I’ll have to check it out.

  17. If you enjoy reminiscing about childhood, check out When I Was A Kid by Boey! Was a delight to read. Left me sniggering at his boyish antics (: And I really admire his simple line drawings.

  18. This book looks great!!
    I don’t know how I learned about it but I am so glad to be reading Soul Keeping by John Orteberg. I am hardly religious but this one speaks across the lines and barriers even though it’s written by a minister!
    I actually think you would really like it. I borrowed it from the library (a favorite activity of mine) but I think this is an own-able book so I can go back and take notes and underline!

    Loved seeing “batshit” too! I had to do a double take there!

  19. I also appreciate the laugh seeing “batshit”…hilarious, thanks.
    As the geezer among us, my apologies for throwing a literary damper in here, but I’m fully enjoying Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best seller “Bully Pulpit”. There. I admit it. Sue me.

  20. This looks absolutely wonderful, what a great homage to family. I always love seeing the different ways that people capture family memories and create a lasting legacy.

  21. well mine isn’t a book book so to say but its a cook book!! little french kitchen and the momofuku cook book. I just like seeing if I have made any of it or if I have any of it in my cabinets.

  22. We Are Called to Rise by Laurie McBride. Like a reviewer’s comment, I can’t quit thinking about it.

  23. smash, you should totally try one out—graphic novels almost feel like you’re reading a movie. i love them so much:)

  24. Looks great! I love graphic novels. Check out Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ for another incredible graphic novel about family. I just read Saunder’s ’10th of December’ – amazing! I need to read it again. Also highly recommend Junot Diaz’s ‘This is How You Lose Her’.

  25. N says...

    I agree with Kate. You never swear but that phrase/saying is delightful! A little shocked and awed by that. Ha ha Natalie

  26. I just read “Never Let Me Go” for a second time. so moving. one of the most well-articulated books I’ve ever read.

    Also loved “the Vacationers”. I appreciated how it didn’t go in obvious directions.

  27. N says...

    The Fault in Our Stars. SO GOOD. I really want to see the movie!

  28. i was just telling some friends that this book should be required reading for everyone after the age of 26 or so. i laughed and laughed and laughed and then realized about two-thirds of the way through that i was crying hysterically, too. roz chast is the best.

  29. Also, I know it’s total chick lit, but I’ve loved anything by Liane Moriarty. Especially What Alice Forgot. And Jojo Moyes’ work.

  30. I love Roz Chast! I just got this book this weekend and read it all in one day – that night I had the craziest dreams, all related to the book. I have already experienced the death of one parent, but unfortunately not from old age.

  31. I just finished reading Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead and she might be my new favorite author. This one is about a chorus ballerina who leaves the ballet to start a family. There are twists, turns, and a really engaging plot and beautiful writing. Highly recommended!

  32. I just read and LOVED “All the Lights We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. I’ve been really into WWI/WW2 occupied France stories. And Meg, I’m reading The Signature of All Things right now! So far, so great!

  33. On my summer list: Diane Keaton’s Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty and Jenny Mollen’s I Like You Just The Way I Am. :)

  34. Loved her NPR interview — thanks for reminding me to order the book! Love seeing everyone else’s recommendations, too (although it’s challenging enough to keep up with my own book club books).

  35. I’m just about finished The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls, but I’d also recommend the Glass Castle by her. Amazing writer, you fall so in love with her characters!


  36. What a good recommendation. I’ve never read a graphic novel like that but it does look charming!

  37. Me Before You is one of the most powerful books I’ve read this year. I also really enjoyed Justin Cronin’s A Summer Guest set on a camp in Maine. Andre Dubus III’s collection of short stories in Dirty Love was raw, brutally honest and heartbreaking. Am about to start The Vacationers [while I vacation!] and am glad to hear that others enjoyed it.

  38. monica, thank you! going to check it out right now.

  39. Signature of all things…in the middle of reading…best book I’ve read in a long time!

  40. kate, hahaha, i actually say it all the time and debated whether i should write it! :)

  41. The wonderful book Ethel & Ernest, based on the lives of Raymond Brigg’s parents, is in a similar style (well, it’s a graphic novel) and is really charming. It’s very much a British tale and almost had me weeping by the end. Cannot recommend more.

  42. Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat” is really very funny.

  43. And if you haven’t read Special Topics in Calamity Physics, it’s a great read. One of the few books that kept me up all night – the writing is a bit self-aware/indulgent in the beginning, but you either get used to it or it improves – not sure which.

  44. Just reflecting on how unexpected and enjoyable it is to see you write “batshit” :)

  45. am not very far into it, but was hooked by the 3rd page with The Orenda – a new book by Joseph Boyden. i find that i’ve often just finished (and loved) books you love right before you post about them, so you might enjoy this one.

  46. Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward. It’s such an ambitious novel — sad and humorous at the same time.

  47. This looks great. I’ll definitely have to read it sometime! I’m a lover of classics so I recommend anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I recently read This Side of Paradise, and highly recommend it). The Pearl by John Steinbeck is also a lovely read.

  48. I recently enjoyed Life After Life and Me Before You.

  49. I’m also in the midst of reading The Signature of All Things, and I am loving it.

  50. I’ve been reading/loving Bourdain’s Medium Raw recently. Just finished The Vacationers as well. I also love to read some of my childhood favorites in the summer. Makes me nostalgic for the days of summer breaks

  51. JB says...

    The last book I read that I really, really enjoyed was “Mr Pendumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore.” It was modern and yet timeless. A very refreshing read.

  52. I loved Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson. It’s smart, funny and well-written!

  53. Oooo fun! I love Roz Chast! I’ve got it on my wish list, thanks!

  54. Yes! The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Beat book I’ve read in a long time :)

  55. I just ordered this book – love Roz Chast! I haven’t read a non-Kindle book for a while, but this one looked like it had to be “real” not digital!

  56. I’m waiting for it at the library.

  57. I read The Vacationers when I was on vacation. It was a nice, easy beach book!