Friday, September 16, 2011

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Posted by Simcha 4:23 AM, under | 5 comments

After finishing Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings (to be reviewed next week, hopefully) I was reluctant to start on another book because I knew that whatever I read next would seem mediocre and dull in comparison. But since not reading is not an option, I figured my best bet was to choose a book as different from The Way of Kings as possible, and I had just the book in mind. I had just gotten The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life out of the library and this seemed like the perfect time to crack it open, which turned out to be a most excellent decision.

In The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life Amy Krouse Rosenthal shares her thoughts on a wide variety of subjects, which she has ordered alphabetically in the style of an encyclopedia. Before starting out, though, Roshenthal's first order of business (after her Reader's Agreement) is to make it clear that she is actually quite ordinary and has not experienced any of those dramatic or sensational events that you would expect to find in popular memoirs.

    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.

The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life was such delicious fun that I had to pace myself while reading it, so that I wouldn't finish it all at once. Often while reading this book I would find myself nodding my head in agreement thinking 'that is exactly right' or laughing out loud at one of her hilarious, but accurate, observations, earning strange looks from the people around me. While reading through the entires I was amazed to find out how many of my private thoughts or habits were shared by someone else (perhaps many other people, even). Other times I just enjoyed being introduced to ideas, or bits of knowledge, that were previously unknown to me.

While reading The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life I marked off many of my favorite passages to share with you though I now realize that if I quote all of them I will be in series danger of copyright infringement, so I narrowed them down to just a select few.


    Are there actually people who are so completely comfortable with themselves, so completely unselfconscious, that when they're at a concert and the band signals the audience to clap along, they can clap without thinking to themselves, I am clapping now, here I am clapping along, are most people clapping, but wait, the clap-along thing feels like it's losing momentum- should I stop clapping now? I'm feeling a bit heavy handed in my clapping, but how/ when do I stop? Three more claps and I'm out. Okay, last clap. Clap. Done.


    I get this weird sort of rush when an ambulance comes racing down the street, and I, along with all the other drivers, quickly pull over to let the more important vehicle pass. It's as if us little cars on the side of the street are cheering, Go! Go! You can do it! Go important ambulance, go! The experience invariably leaves me feeling proud and gitty.


    Children get to say ta-da!, and I guess magicians, but other than that, it's an underutilized expression. I'm trying to think- an adult might say it as she waltzes in with the turkey, or a homemade cake. But a self-congratulatory ta-da! Would certainly be warranted for any number of daily accomplishments. I cleaned out the trunk of my car. Ta-da! I finished filling out the insurance applications. Ta-da! I made the bed. Ta-da!

Thanking a strange for Taking Your Picture

    You're with a group of friends and one of you asks a stranger, would you mind taking a picture of us? The stranger obliges. Afterward, everyone shouts thanks! As the thank-yous die down and the stranger starts to walk away, you turn to him, look him in the eye, and say, in a real enunciated and sincere way, thank you, like you and the stranger have an understanding, and that everyone else's thank-yous were cute and flipp, but yours was the one that counts.

Ok, I'm going to stop now. If you want to read the rest you'll just have to read the book for yourself. In fact, I think I'm going to have to get myself a copy as well because this is one of those books that I'll definitely want to reread often.


I was supposed to say something about this review but the news that you finished Way of K was so more interesting. I can't wait for the review :D
Cos they were such omg moments there

I think I already love this book! I laughed out loud several times while reading your quotes. You don't need to be bizarre and unusual to be funny; being ordinary is to be celebrated.

Wow, that actually sounds like the perfect book for me...

Blodeuedd:Yes, it was an awesome book but I'm having a bit of a hard time reviewing it. There is just so much there I'm not sure where to start.

StephanieD: Oh, I hope you read it. It was so much fun. Though it wasn't necessarily meant to be a humorous book and there are some series subjects as well, it was just that the funny ones were my favorite.

Biblibio: I loved this book and I hope that if you read it you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

"I am not a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, or recovered anything." That does make one perfectly normal, and the book emphasizes on that, however, I've known that no one person has suffered any addictions.
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