Title: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Book Beginnings quote:
Reader's Agreement: You agree not to reproduce, replicate, or reprint any of the material in this book without our consent. When reading this book, you agree to give it your undivided attention -- that means no pretend half-reading while calling and placing an order for Thai takeout. At the end of each page, you agree to thrust your arms upward and emit a loud, staccato Hey! just like circus performers do at the end of each stunt...[and so forth for two pages]... You agree that some women look sophisticated wearing a shawl, others foolish.
Yes, I agree to these terms. [With blank lines provided for Name, Date, Visa#, and Expiration date]
Forward: I was not abused, abandoned, or locked up as a child. My parents were not alcoholics, nor were they ever divorced or dead. We did not live in poverty, or in misery, or in an exotic country. I am not a misunderstood genius, a former child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity. I am not a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, or recovered anything. If I indeed had a past life, I have no recollection of who I was.I have not survived against all odds.I have not lived to tell.I have not witnessed the extraordinary.This is my story. -- Amy Krouse Rosenthal, age 39. Chicago. June 2004.
Friday56 quote (pg 56 in e-book):
ANSWERING MACHINE: In most cases, it is more satisfying to get a friend's answering machine and leave a cheery, tangible trace of your sincere commitment to the friendship than it is to engage in actual conversations.
Summary: Back in 2004 Amy Krouse Rosenthal decided to publish an encyclopedia for ordinary people, in the style of any of those old stuffy encyclopedias that used to be prominently displayed on library shelves and, if you were lucky like I was, on a shelf at home, out of date but still terrific for those reports that I forgot to do until the last minute. In addition to the alphabetized contributions, note the example above for ANSWERING MACHINE, Rosenthal also included some helpful timelines, tables, charts, and lists. For example under the heading, ANXIOUS, THINGS THAT MAKE ME, Rosenthal created a table of things that make her anxious with a description of each, starting with TRAIN SCHEDULES.
Review: Deb Nance at ReaderBuzz was the one who alerted me to look for this book saying of the thousands of books she has read and reviewed over the years Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is one of her top 15 books. I dropped everything I was reading at the moment and located the e-book at my library and started reading and laughing as soon as it was delivered to my e-reader.
I knew I was in for a treat right from the start with the reader's agreement which starts off sounding quite serious and devolves into an agreement of a whole bunch of silly things like renaming nonfiction and fiction books, agreeing that black shouldn't be the absence of color and white the combination of all colors, ending on the line about women and shawls. I happen to be one of those who look foolish.
Next up, the Forward, seemed important to include also, since Rosenthal is making the point how ordinary she is. Only stuff that most of us can relate to will be included in the book. Next up is an Orientation Almanac, which she describes as an attempt to orient future readers to what life was like at the beginning of the 21st Century. Since the book was published nearly 20 years ago, it WAS a fun look back at life in the not-so-distant past. In the Evolution of This Moment the reader is treated to highlights from Amy Krouse Rosenthal's life starting in 1965 when she was born. She doesn't include the normal stuff one would expect like 'in 1970 I started school.' No. No. She included snapshots of memories or pictures of herself doing things. For example under the '1975' heading, she says that she paid attention to: Notices and liked certain signs and phrases such as this sign at friend's pool: THIS IS OUR OOL. NOTICE THERE IS NO P IN IT.
On page 53 of the e-book, the Alphabetized Existence begins. Some are of the entries are illustrated by Jeffrey Middleton like the example below for BOWLING, which makes me laugh because I do this not only for bowling but for football games when the kick is wide, or riding in the car on a mountainside and leaning away from the railing:
I shared several of the examples with my husband who found most just as humorous as I did. We read the entry for "clapping" not long before we went to a Broadway musical. Both of us thought about our clapping during the show and when we should stop clapping based on that entry. We laughed about it later.
Is this my 15th favorite book? No. I tend toward favoriting more serious books, but I did love it and can see how this is a book one would want to reread occasionally because it was a lot to take all at once. Plus, we always need to have a laugh and I suspect this is one of those books that will remain funny every time one rereads it.
See if your library still has a copy. Check it out. Enjoy!
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