One-Minute Book Reviews

May 21, 2012

Literary Jokes and Quotes From the British Library – Scrambled Eggs and Hamlet

Filed under: Holiday Gift Books,Humor — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:17 am
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The book that has the answer to: How many librarians does it take to change a light bulb?

Booklover’s Book of Jokes, Quips & Quotes. Compiled by David Wilkerson. The British Library, 96 pp., $12.95.

By Janice Harayda

Some literary joke books could make you weep. They brim with misquoted, unattributed, or plagiarized lines that seem to mock only copyright laws. This book has a trustworthy provenance: It comes from the British Library and includes the assurance that “every endeavor has been made to correctly attribute or seek permission” to use its material.

The Booklover’s Book of Jokes, Quips & Quotes also transcends geography with many forms of high and low literary comedy: puns; mangled book titles; knock, knock and light bulb jokes; insults from Shakespeare; aphorisms from Oscar Wilde, and much more. It’s a fine host gift for a bookish host who enjoys brain-teasers like: “What is Shakespeare’s favorite meal? Scrambled eggs and Hamlet.” And it’s small enough to fit into the Christmas stocking of anyone who believes that holiday cheer can take many forms, including: “How many librarians does it take to change a light bulb? No idea, but I know where you can look it up!”

Best line: “There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist 

Worst line: The charms of a page of “Yorkshire humor” may be lost on Americans.

Published: November 2011

Furthermore: Wilkerson is head of retail for the British Library.

You can follow Jan (@janiceharayda) on Twitter by clicking on the “Follow” button in the right sidebar.

© 2012 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

July 9, 2009

Joke of the Day — More Literary Wit From ‘Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind’

Ann B. Ross writes in her comic novel Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind (HarperPerennial, 273 pp., $13.95, paperback):

“I knew that most of the church members would take whatever position Pastor Ledbetter did. A congregation wasn’t called a flock for nothing.”

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

July 6, 2009

‘As Long As the People of Mississippi Can Stagger to the Polls, They’ll Vote Dry’ — Literary Wit From ‘North Toward Home’

Filed under: Biography,Joke of the Day,Memoirs,Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:28 pm
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How do you revitalize an old joke you need to tell one to make a point in an essay, speech or book? Willie Morris shows one way to do it his wonderful memoir of his Southern boyhood, North Toward Home, which deals in part with growing up in Mississippi before the sale of liquor became legal in the state in 1966.

Here’s how Morris handles the chestnut “As long as the people of Mississippi can stagger to the polls, they’ll vote dry” (which has been said about many places besides his native state):

“Mississippi was a dry state, one of the last in America, but its dryness was merely academic, a gesture to the preachers and the churches. My father would say that the only difference between Mississippi and its neighbor Tennessee, which was wet, was that in Tennessee a man could not buy liquor on Sunday. The Mississippi bootleggers, who theoretically operated ‘grocery stores,’ with ten or twelve cans or sardines and a few boxes of crackers for sale, stayed open at all hours, and would sell to anyone regardless of age or race. …

“Every so often there would be a vote to determine whether liquor should be made legal. Then, for weeks before, the town would be filled with feverish campaign activity. People would quote the old saying, ‘As long as the people of Mississippi can stagger to the polls, they’ll vote dry.’ A handful of people should come right out and say that liquor should be made legal, so that the bootleggers and the sheriffs would not be able to make all the money …”

A review of North Toward Home appeared on One-Minute Book Reviews on June 2, 2009.

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

June 17, 2009

Joke of the Day — Literary Wit From ‘Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend’

Filed under: Humor,Joke of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:08 am
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A white reporter who watched Satchel Paige pitch in the Negro Leagues in the 1930s said that when Paige threw the ball, you saw only something that resembled “a thin line of pipe smoke.” Janet Maslin writes in a review Larry Tye’s new Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend (Random House, 392 pp., $26).

“When asked if he threw that fast consistently, Paige, who would become famed for choice aphorisms, replied: ‘No, sir. I do it all the time.’”

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

March 23, 2009

Prairie Home Companion’s ‘Pretty Good Joke Book’

Filed under: Humor — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:49 am
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A sequel to "Pretty Good Jokes."

“Hard to believe that he beat out a million other sperm.”
– From the Pretty Good Joke Book

On the Saturday children’s reviews on this site, I’ve said that joke books can make wonderful gifts for children, especially for 5-to-9-year-olds. But joke books can also be good gifts for adults.

One that might appeal to many families is the Pretty Good Joke Book (Highbridge, 2000), introduced by Garrison Keillor, which collects hundreds of the jokes told on the “Joke Show” segment of Prairie Home Companion and has had a variety of sequels and editions, including one on CD. All entries were wholesome enough for National Public Radio. (Even the “adults-only” and “totally tasteless” sections look like monuments to good taste next to the workof comedians like Denis Leary and Jim Norton.) The jokes fall into 30 categories, including bar, insult, lawyer, religion, musician, yo’mama and Iowa and Minnesota jokes. And though some trade on the sex-role or other stereotypes found on any drugstore greeting-card rack, it’s hard to fault those that anyone might have occasion to use, such as: “Hard to believe that he beat out a million other sperm.”

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

July 25, 2008

A Child-Approved Joke Book for Ages 6 and Up That You Can Get at CVS

Filed under: Children's Books,Humor — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:53 pm
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It is a late Friday afternoon in July. A critic named Jan (her real name) is sitting at a table in the café of a good suburban public library.

Jan has placed two books in front of her on the table. One is Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (Houghton Mifflin, 1962), a handsome, award-winning hardcover book that she has checked out of the library. The other is Awesome Good Clean Jokes for Kids (Harvest House, 1992), a cheap mass-market paperback that she has just picked up at CVS.

She is trying to decide which book to review and is leaning toward Lyle, because she didn’t get it off a rack that also had books about iffy herbal remedies and end-of-the-world prophecies.

An 11-year-old girl named Olivia (not her real name) starts to walk by. She does not know Jan but stops instantly when she sees Awesome Good Clean Jokes for Kids.

OLIVIA: I love that book! There’s a really good joke on page 103. It’s in the “knock, knock” section.
JAN: Would you show it to me? (She opens the book to page 103.)
OLIVIA: There it is at the bottom of the page.
JAN: “Knock, knock. / Who’s there? / Noah. / Noah who? / Noah good place we can go for dinner?”
OLIVIA: That’s my favorite. I like another one on that page, too. The one about the turnip.
JAN: “Knock, knock. / Who’s there? / Turnip. / Turnip who? / Turnip the heat, it’s cold in here!”
OLIVIA: I like that one because I really like turnips.
JAN: Do you think other 11-year-olds would like this book? Or do you think it would be better for another age?
OLIVIA: I think some 11-year-olds would like it. But I think it’s best for about 6-year-olds. My brother is six, and it’s his favorite book. We had a copy of it already, but my mother had to go to CVS and buy him his personal copy.
JAN: Why do you think your brother likes it so much?
OLIVIA: He like all those silly things like Captain Underpants.

Bob Phillips’s Awesome Good Clean Jokes for Kids (Harvest House, 207 pp., $4.99, paperback) also has riddles, daffy definitions, and many other kinds of jokes for ages 6 and up. It is available at drug- and other stores, including online and retail booksellers.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com and www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

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