Troubles got you down? Get over it! These worked; anyway, they worked for someone.
- A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson
- Two suitors, one Rose and 199 species of birds combine in this charmingly entertaining, light romance set in Nairobi, Kenya. This book has been compared to Alexander McCall Smith's "Number One Ladies' Detective Agency" – not only due to its setting, but its flavor, as well. Cozy and kind, the story introduces the reader to the culture, politics, and wildlife of Kenya, as it invites you into the lives of a tight ensemble of captivating characters. When asked in an interview what feeling the author hoped readers would feel upon finishing this book, he answered, "just happy with life." For this reader, the author has succeeded.
- My Father's Glory & My Mother's Castle by Marcel Pagnol
- The author's memories of his long school vacation in turn-of-the-century Provence, hunting and trapping and tormenting his younger brother. The book is a sort of French Penrod, the boy's misunderstandings and tall tales providing the humor while the situation itself explores the ethics of lying, balance of law and justice, and the respective merits of secular and religious morality. He is the author of Jean de Florette, and many of the same themes are at play in his memoirs.
- A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
- George is 61, convinced he is dying of cancer, disappointed by his children, and realizing his mind is going -- a "spot of bother" for a very reserved British maker of playground furniture and a ticking bomb for his daughter's upcoming wedding. Haddon makes the truly gruesome wonderfully comic and reveals the humanity of his quirky characters.
- The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
- This is a re-telling of the Arthurian legend, during the years before Arthur becomes King, when he was known as the "Wart". He lives with his stepfather, Sir Ector and stepbrother Kay in the closeknit castle community, a wonderful place for a boy to grow up, but struggles with the dismal knowledge that only Kay, as the real son of Sir Ector, can be knighted, while Wart, as the stepson, must grow up to become Kay's squire. As he is schooled by his tutor, the wise, enigmatic, and backward aging wizard Merlyn, he has many fantastical adventures, battling witches and giants and learning about the natural world by being turned into various fish, fowl, reptile, and mammals. It's not a straight version, but instead reads more like the script of a Monty Python movie. Without hyperbole I will tell you that I nearly fell off my chair laughing, when first reading one of the funnier sections. A totally beguiling piece of writing, not to be missed by great readers, this is the rare book that is truly readable by all ages from the very young on up.
- Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley
- Nick Naylor, lobbyist for the tobacco industry, meets with colleagues from alcohol and firearms -- "the merchants of death" -- to brag about who is most resented. But Nick, pursued by anti-smoking terrorists, the FBI, and ambitious but unscrupulous industry executives, is winning hands down and is, suddenly, very unhappy about it.
- Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
- Thirty-something friends, deciding they're going soft, plan a river trip for their health and sport that goes hysterically wrong. Wildly popular when it first appeared in Victorian England, the story proves that neither men nor humor really change that much.
- Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
- Semple's snarky Seattle satire -- and mystery too!