I always get a little giddy around the time that I finalize the Humor & Entertainment Best of the Month list. I have so much variety to consider: from the laugh out loudness of a well-written comedy book to the no-holds-barred biography of an entertainment icon, the epicness of a pop culture photo tome to quirky niche and novelty items. My three faves this year, collectively, touch on a little bit of all of that.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Insight in the guise of absurdity, fearlessness wrapped in self-deprecating shame. Deceptively easy to read, to LOL to, to point at a friend, family member, or oneself and say "That's so you!!!" In other words, Hyperbole and a Half -- the colorful (literally and metaphorically) book by Allie Brosh -- is a lot like the popular webcomic from which much of the material comes, but with the bonus of being tangible. Because, well, Web site links just make crappy gifts.
Reading this coffee table-style book feels a little like bearing witness to an enthrallingly awkward conversation: one in which one of the participants has studied at the school of 1960s Bob Dylan non-answer-answer techniques. The thing is, you can learn a lot about an interviewee precisely because they're unforthcoming about themselves beyond their role as artist. Broken down and organized chronologically by each movie in quirky film director Wes Anderson's oeuvre, the conversation segments are each paired with essays by the author (a longtime film critic) and behind-the-scenes and related images. It all begins with an intense intro from Michael Chabon. The result is a combination of mega-filmography, gorgeous art book, movie companion guide, and oddball biography of sorts. It's one of the most unique books I saw this year and one I root for friends to spot and take off of my shelf.
Star Wars: Frames by George Lucas
Bum bum bum bumbabum bumbabum... "The Imperial March" plays in my head as I place each of my hands carefully on either side of the box. Resistently the top half slides up; I imagine the whoosh of a Death Star bay door opening. Then something very real hits me: New Book Smell. Yes, this is full-on fangirl geekout, but this collection of images singlehandedly curated by George Lucas from the entire Star Wars saga is nothing short of magnificent. If you have to ask what the point is of poring over stills from movies known for their epic scores, special effects, and storylines, then wrap this one up with a bow and give it to the fan in your life. You'll understand when you see their reaction.
|See all 20 books on the Humor & Entertainment Best of the Year list|