Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

I am seriously considering giving up on those painstakingly compiled (by me) Globe and Mail bestseller lists. I was doing it with the best of intentions, trying to make sure that I was still reading a certain number of books every year that other people were likely to have read. But over the last few months, I've been finding myself more cranky about it than happy. I also found a new way to come up with a year-end list of popular books, and it looks like it's yielding more interesting choices.

Because, quite frankly, a good number of bestsellers have very little content worth speaking of. Some of them are worth reading. A great book can absolutely make it on the list. The problem is, so can a lot of really mediocre books, and I'm just tired of it. (It may not help that I've got three other bestseller list books out from the library right now. I'll finish them, then ditch the lists.)

Which brings me to Ellen Degeneres' book. The problem here is not that it's bad. It's that there isn't anything to it. It's written in her voice, I could hear her in my head as I read it. And two days after being done, I don't remember a thing. This is fluff of the highest order, with absolutely no insight into herself or her life, just little funny sketches of a couple of pages. Sketches, however, of very little depth either, very little to remember.

I think there were a couple about not having children? A bunch about the show? Faux self-help stuff, which was amusing at the time, but has entirely fled my brain?

Ellen has made a career of being nice and accidentally talking too long then backtracking. That's her schtick. That's what's in this book. It's fine, it's just...I spent hours reading this, and feel like I was reading cotton candy, with about that level of permanence.

There's nothing wrong with that, if it's what you're looking for. If you like Ellen, this book captures her voice very well. But I am frustrated with it. I want more, some insight into the human condition. Even in a humour book, dammit. This was even more ephemeral than some of the other humour books that I've read and didn't tickle me in the past year or so. (And far more ephemeral than the couple I really liked, and which have stuck with me.)

I'm being overly critical of a book that is exactly what it's supposed to be and absolutely nothing more. The fact that it's making me this cranky is exactly why I'm giving up on those lists of the books that spent the longest time on the Globe and Mail bestseller lists in a given year. It's time to move on. I'm excited about the new method I have to compile a list of recent books, and time to let this one fall by the wayside.

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