Amanda Reads: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff is one of those titles that people just kept recommending to me, probably because I’m known to enjoy humor and to not take anything particularly seriously; as an agnostic, no one was concerned about offending me with this book.

Unfortunately, the humor wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. I have this experience often when I read humor, in that I hope and expect to spend some time actually laughing while reading. For me, Lamb was a more quiet humor. The cleverness often made me think “ahh, yes, I see what you did there,” but it rarely made me chuckle quietly to myself–a shame, since that’s the joy in reading a really funny book.

I’ve been waiting and waiting to finally reach the end of the book, and felt real relief when it was over, almost akin to my experience reading the actual Bible, although that took much longer. But although it wasn’t the experience I’d hoped it would be, I have to admire the craft that clearly went into making this book happen. The jokes are clever and often intelligent (although there’s some “low” humor in there too), and show a clear knowledge and research into the actual life of Jesus and the content of the Bible. My favorite parts were the modern day passages involving the angel and Biff’s stay in the hotel, especially the bit about Spiderman. But where the writing really shines is in some of the attention to detail and care with history in spite of the irreverent approach to it all; the slight modifications of familiar stories and quotations are the true fun spirit of this book, for sure.

Personally, I won’t be revisiting this book any time soon, but if you’re a fan of the more understated types of humor, or if examining the potentialities of the human side of Jesus appeals to you, definitely give this one a go.


Amanda Reads: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

Hey there, internet people. I’m a real audiobook memoir-roll lately, so let’s get started with Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. 

I’m not going to lie—I was mainly interested in this book because of the cover, which features a mouse in a cape holding up a skull, Hamlet style. Because I prefer to do all my memoir reading on audio, this will be yet another audiobook blog post—I swear I read print, but I can’t do that in my car, so my audio always goes faster.

Anyway, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the book when I started it, except that it would be funny because the blurbs on the cover mentioned David Sedaris and Tina Fey, and also because of the cover. I’m not sure how long it took for me to decide that Jenny Lawson should be my new best friend, but it did not take long. This book had me laughing out loud from Jenny’s hilarious tone and the way she presents it all vocally; I felt like I was having a great conversation with my kind of crazy best friend. A really one-sided conversation, that is.

This is not what I would call a “life lessons” type of book, so if you go for memoirs that are going to inspire you and teach you something, this might not be for you. I’m not sure I drew much from Lawson’s work in terms of life lessons, other than the importance of embracing our own individual weirdness. While there were parts of the books that certainly got serious, and Lawson handled them beautifully, the book was, to me, ultimately about the entertainment and the humor. Luckily, that was exactly what I wanted out of it.

The book’s structure did seem a little unbalanced to me. There were a few short chapters that took place during Lawson’s childhood, and the rest of the book shifted quickly to her adult life. While that may be fairly typical of a memoir, some of the questions and ideas raised in the earlier parts felt unanswered/unfinished to me, which was a little disorienting.

I absolutely loved the way that the book paid homage to its process—the notes about comments from the editor and the changes that resulted from those comments were absolutely hilarious. I really felt like I got to step inside Jenny Lawson’s brain while reading the book, in the best, non creepy way possible (I’ve said a lot of things that have needed the “non creepy” qualification lately, haven’t I?).

Do you want to laugh? Do you want to hear hilarious stories about growing up in Texas? Read this book. Actually, don’t do that. LISTEN to this book. Do the audio. It’s worth it. I promise.