I'm starting to think it might just be me.

This week I had two books home that were both by women, and were supposed to be somewhat humorous.

FrankelThe first, Valerie Frankel's It's Hard Not to Hate You, is a collection of essays about Frankel's belief that the hatred she's been suppressing for years might have expressed itself in cancerous cells that were found in her colon (and the discovery of a health problem that meant she was at risk for many gynecological cancers as well). She bases this on a line she enjoyed in Woody Allen's movie Manhattan: "I can't express anger. That's my problem. I internalize everything. I just grow a tumor instead."

Because Frankel decided early on not to show people when she was angry or bothered (stemming from young adult memories of putting on weight and taking grief for it at school), she starts to think it'd be healthier to let her anger out, which is what her essays here are about. Here she is, talking to her doctor:

"'As I was saying, when I'm expecting a check from a magazine and it's alte, I want to punch in the mailbox. When I email my editor about it and she doesn't reply, I want to throw my computer out the window.'

'I see.'

'I even hate my cats. They clawed my lilac to death. I raised it from a tiny shoot. I really loved that bush,' I said wistfully.

He nodded, made a note in his chart, and said, 'I'd also strongly urge you to find a way to reduce stress.'

Doctor's orders: The hate in me just had to come out." (p. 18.)

The first few chapters were all right; but it wasn't quite what I wanted.*

The other book was Laurie Notaro's It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy, which is another collection of essays. Notaro's known as a humorous author, but I've never been able to see it, and this book was no different. They're both bestselling authors, but along with Tina Fey, Laurie Notaro and Jen Lancaster make up my trinity of Totally Unfunny Women. But it must just be me; other people keep buying their books.

*Mr. CR wasn't as opposed to this book as I was. He looked it over and thought it was better than some other essay books by women that I've had home. But Mr. CR does not, to my mind, properly appreciate Hollis Gillespie, so I don't know how seriously I can take his opinion on this one.

A bit early for Christmas.

Every year I can't get into the Christmas mood until after Thanksgiving; anything earlier just seems too early for me. As a result, I tend to miss a lot of the best holiday events, which for some reason these days always seem to be scheduled in November.

TinselSo this year I made up my mind to get in the Christmas mood earlier. With that objective in mind, I checked out the two-CD set Tinsel Tales: Favorite Christmas Stories from NPR. It was kind of a nice listen, but it turns out that the end of October is really still just too early for me to get into the Christmas mindset. There's pieces here about shopping, about how people in Chicago spend their Christmas Eves and nights out and about (Ira Glass tells that one, and includes anecdotes about people of the Jewish faith taking the opportunity of the holiday to go out for Chinese food and bowling), Christmas trees, etc. My favorite piece was by humorist Annabelle Gurwitch, who complains a bit about people who send out cards with a little piece of paper informing you that the sender has donated money to a charity in your name as your gift. She thought for Christmas that year she'd send out cards that said, "In lieu of buying you a gift I paid my recently raised health insurance premium." Tee hee.

So it was a nice little set if you're looking for something Christmasy. If you're looking for something funnier, I might suggest getting a recording of some of the Prairie Home Companion Christmas stories, which I listened to a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed. Either way I wouldn't listen to either of them until a little later in the season.