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Dad Is Fat

Dad Is Fat
Jim Gaffigan

This book by a stand-up comedian has been very popular for several months now. I wasn’t very interested until I saw a few of his quotes on Pinterest, and then I was like, “well… I’d better check it out.”
Here’s Gaffigan’s basic premise: a fat ginger nerd somehow manages to marry a hot woman who totally has it all together. They have 5 kids in like 6 years and live in a 2 bedroom apartment in New York. ITS HILARIOUS.

From posts about home births to holidays to strollers to mealtimes, there’s nothing about little kids that Gaffigan doesn’t make hilarious. (And, for the record, also makes me go “I’m so glad thats not my life.)
Oh and an added bonus? This is clean comedy. Oh there’s messes aplenty, but no language or inappropriate jokes. 
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You might like: books by AJ Jacobs (another funny nerd who married  a woman thats way too good for him)

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Love Saves the Day

Love Saves the Day
Gwen Cooper

When Prudence’s human, Sarah, doesn’t come home, the little tabby cat starts to worry. Before too long, Sarah’s daughter Laura and her husband Josh come to pack up all Sarah’s things, and take Prudence and the boxes to their own apartment. Laura and Josh don’t understand the most basic things about cat care (like introducing yourself properly, or how and when to feed a cat.) Prudence finds refuge in the room filled with Sarah’s boxes. The things she digs out of the boxes draw the humans in; Josh is fascinated by Sarah’s musical past, while Laura uncovers photos and memories she thought were long gone.
Eventually, Laura relates the story of the first cat she loved- a neighbor’s cat called Honey. Josh and Laura are able to find common ground in the Sarah boxes. And Prudence realizes shes been lucky to find a loving home not once but twice.

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Its not common to read novels narrated by feline characters. Dogs, yes; cats, no. But I read and loved Cooper’s first book Homers Oddessy about her blind kitten (and other feline babies) and I knew if anyone could write a cat’s voice, it would be her.
Love Saves The Day is a sad book; I won’t lie. A lot of it deals with how it feels to lose someone we love. But it also illustrates what it means to love someone,  and what it means to be a family. Best of all, the character of Prudence is every bit the perfect cat
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You might like: Homers Odyssey, Cooper. Feline Mystique, Simon. Telegraph Avenue, Chabon.

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Pastrix

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint
Nadia Bolz-Weber

The first word in Pastrix is a four-letter one. If you find that offensive, go ahead and put the book down now. If, however, you find it challenging or intriguing, keep reading.
In Pastrix, Nadia tells the story of how she found her way from a very conservative Christian background (where women were not even allowed to teach Sunday school to teen boys) to being the pastor of a church (with many gay, homeless and otherwise non-traditional congregants.) She spent years as an alcoholic and, after sobering up, felt most at home as a Wiccan. But her husband (then a seminary student) introduced her to the Lutheran liturgy and she began to understand God- and grace- like she never had before. Eventually she felt the call to ministry and attended seminary- with her parents blessing.
I also grew up in churches even more conservative than the ones of Nadia’s childhood. I still haven’t sorted out everything I believe about women in the pulpit, or gays in the church, or lots of other things. But I loved this book!
In Pastrix, Nadia explains grace better than almost anyone I’ve ever heard. Its easy to look at others and judge them;  its a lot more challenging when the Holy  Spirit convicts you of being proud, judgemental and not loving your neighbor.
Nadia and I probably disagree on a lot of theology, but we agree on the big points. Being a Christian- or pastor- isnt about having all the right theology. Its about saying with the blind man healed by Jesus, “I do not know; but one thing I do know: that I was blind and now I see.” (John 9) Being a Christian- or pastor- isn’t about being better (or swearing less) than someone else. Its about saying, “I found water in the desert; here it is.”
Pastrix, in the end, isn’t really about Nadia, or how she looks, or the language she uses. Its about Jesus. And it was like a cool drink of water in a hot, dry place.
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Blue Monday

Blue Monday
Nicci French

Frieda Klein is the last person on earth you would expect to become involved in a police case. She is a single woman, living alone in her own house. She has a lover, Sandy, but he doesn’t sleep in her bed. She enjoys small rituals like drinking tea in front of the fire. She is a psychotherapist who only sees a few people a week so that she can give each patient proper consideration. When she can’t sleep, she takes long walks on dark, cold London streets. In short, Frieda lives a small, quiet life.
Frieda is not alone, tho. She remains close friends with her brother’s ex-wife Olivia and daughter Chloe. She is in touch with her former mentor, Reuben and her own mentee, Jack. Finally there is the Ukarainian handyman Josef who (quite literally) falls into Frieda’s life. Each of these people looks to Frieda for help in some way- and she offers strength and guidance. But at the end of the day she retreats to that quiet spot with a cup of tea- or a cold solitary walk.
Frieda’s life is thrown into turmoil when one of her patients, Alan, begins talking about his dreams. These dreams closely mirror the kidnapping of a young boy that just happened. Not only that, Alan has had dreams in the past that could also link to unsolved crimes. Frieda goes on a search for the truth.
Inspector Karlsson is Frieda’s contact at the police. He is intrigiued by her insights but also frustrated by her tendancy to try to solve the cases on her own.

This being a murder mystery, of course Frieda and Inspector Karlsson solve the case. But is the kidnapped boy alive? Is Alan guilty?  And can Frieda maintain her quiet solitary life- and still help all the people she cares for?
This book is good from a psychological thriller standpoint. But Frieda and the cast of supporting characters are also exceptionally well drawn. I know after Blue Monday, Nicci French also wrote Tuesdays Gone. I can only hope the books continue for at least all the days of the week.

Full confession: I actually, accidentally read Tuesdays Gone first, so I knew how Blue Monday ended. It was still so good that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. That’s how you know you’ve really got a good mystery: when you know whodunnit and you want to read it anyway.
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