Good reading in Jan.: laughter, banned books

Published 8:50 am Monday, January 12, 2009

Erma Bombeck was one of my favorite authors. If I wanted a good laugh combined with excellent wisdom that I could understand, I would pick up one of Erma’s books. Erma was a columnist and published 15 books. I guess you could say that Erma inspired and still inspires me. I wish I had her wit and her humor. Because of Erma, I found the courage to write a column.

Some of the titles of Erma’s books are “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank,” “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?” and “Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession.” As you can guess by the title of her books, Erma was not boring.

My favorite column of Erma’s was one titled “I’ve Always Loved You Best.” Her words described what most of us couldn’t put into words. We love each child best but differently. The key is making them each feel the “we love you best” love.

Email newsletter signup

Another author whose books I pick up when I need a pick-me-up is Barbara Johnson. Barbara was a speaker at a Women of Faith conference that I attended many years ago.

I decided that someone who could write a book titled “Leaking Laffs Between Pampers and Depends” was my kind of woman. After all who can resist a chapter titled “I Finally Got My Head Together But Then My Body Fell Apart.”

Some of her other enchanting titles are “Mama Get The Hammer There’s A Fly On Papa’s Head” and “Plant a Geranium in your Cranium,” which was written after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. However, my favorite book of Barbara’s is “Living Somewhere Between Estrogen and Death.” The title says it all.

Barbara and Erma are no longer with us. These women wrote about the problems in their lives and found humor in their devastating situations. They left us with words that inspire us to find joy and laughter through the difficulties of life.

It is January. The sun isn’t always shining, our noses are running and we seem to be skating down the sidewalk. If you have the January blahs, pick up one of these books or books by another author that will leave you rolling off of your bed or couch in laughter. If you are not a reader, find a book of cartoons that will leave you rolling off of your bed or couch in laughter.

Of course I could steer you to a few banned books. Don’t gasp. Don’t you want to read that which is banned? Of course you do. Just because curiosity killed the cat doesn’t mean it will kill you. I have read many banned books in my time. Of course at the time I read them they were not banned, they were required reading for a class.

I have read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” I have read “Catcher in the Rye.” I have read “Little House on the Prairie.” Yes, even “Little House on the Prairie” was banned in some school systems because of content. There is actually a Web site titled, The Forbidden Library: Banned and Challenged Books, where you can buy these books. Of course, you can buy them anywhere but this Web site points out that they have been banned and challenged by some institution, which makes them much more enticing.

I recommend the book that recently made headlines in Ankeny, Iowa. The book is called “And Tango Makes Three.” It is a children’s book that some parents are trying to ban from the Ankeny school library.

This is Wikipedia’s description of the book: “The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who for six years formed a couple. The book follows part of this time in the penguins’ lives. This book aims to send the reader the message that it is okay to be in, or know someone who has, a ‘non-traditional’ family.

“The pair was observed trying to hatch a rock that resembled an egg. When zookeepers realized that Roy and Silo were both male, it occurred to them to give them the second egg of a mixed-sex penguin couple, a couple which had previously been unable to successfully hatch two eggs at once. Roy and Silo hatched and raised the healthy young chick, a female named ‘Tango’ by keepers, together as a family.”

I haven’t read the book, but all the hoopla makes me want to read the book. The banned label entices us to find out what is going on. I am sure because of “the ban word” this book is more popular than ever. I didn’t want to read the book. I didn’t know about the book until it was banned. Now I must read it to see if it is going to corrupt my grandchildren that are in the Ankeny school system. I want to understand why parents are concerned about this book. Of course there is the word “banned” so it must be an evil book. Of course I have to read it.

It is January. The sun isn’t always shining, our noses are running and we seem to be skating down the sidewalk. If you have the January blahs pick up a banned book. See if it will corrupt you. I do have to tell you that you might be disappointed because the banned books I have read are really boring. I much prefer Erma or Barbara. Who could ban laughter?

“There are many women like me who talk about cosmetic surgery, but our philosophy prevails: No guts — live with the ruts.” — Barbara Johnson

“I’ve figured out why people get gray hair. It’s from worrying about their teeth falling out!” — Barbara Johnson

“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.” — Erma Bombeck

“Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.” — Erma Bombeck

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at