My obsession with Mary Roach is well documented, so I was surprised to learn that she once wrote articles for Reader’s Digest. Fortunately the editors of this classic American magazine are geniuses, and recently published all of Roach’s columns in My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places.
Not only are the essays further evidence of Roach’s masterful writing chops, they’re also a window into her life and mind. Her books give the reader insight into death, the paranormal, sex, and outer space; My Planet introduces you to Roach herself.
Favorite columns include “To Do or Not to Do”:
There are three kinds of people in this world: 1) People who make lists, 2) People who don’t make lists, and 3) People who carve tiny Nativity scenes out of pecan hulls. I’m sorry, there isn’t really a third category; it’s just that a workable list needs a minimum of three items, I feel.
And “Can You Hear Me Now?”
I have come to believe that Ed’s hearing loss is also limited to the specific tonal register of my voice. His brain has learned, over time, that this particular vocal range is best ignored because there’s a high likelihood it will be a) saying something mind-numbingly dull or b) accusing him of not listening.
My only complaint is the same one I have about any collection of short stories: each one is too short. I’m not saying that an entire book about malfunctioning Roombas or the sudden proliferation of over-the-counter cold remedies would be a best-seller — if there were, it would certainly be written by Roach — but I wish each article was just a little longer.
I wanted to laugh and be entertained just a little bit more. Although I feel the same about everything Roach writes, so this isn’t a new sensation.
Do yourself a favor and get a copy of My Planet. Then do yourself another favor and buy everything Mary Roach has ever written.