At first, Gizzy wasn’t too thrilled about me reading a bad-dog book, but when I told him the author’s adorable bat-eared Chihuahua only makes a couple of appearances in the book, he decided to let this one slide. So why is this book titled “Another Bad Dog Book,” you ask? Well, although the collection of personal essays is not centered around a mischievous mutt, it was inspired by the author’s love for her scruffy little rescue dog, Eli.
It all began one fateful day at the bookstore when Joni stumbled upon a slew of bestselling memoirs about bad dogs. She realized she, too, could land on the bestseller list by publishing her own “bad dog” story.
“As I sat in the bookstore’s café thinking about my dog and how much more fascinating he was than most celebrities, an idea started to take shape. I pushed aside the gossip magazines I had been skimming, retrieved a notepad from my purse and began to write.”
And so begins “Another Bad Dog Book,” a title that hits home with me –and judging from my fellow bloggers’ websites – a lot of other bookworms who share a passion for four-legged cuddle mongers and good writing.
From the pains of raising a surly tween, to coping with the realities of midlife, to dealing with eccentric parents, this book is filled with an array of funny and outrageously honest stories about life, love and neurotic behavior.
Here’s a taste of just a few of my favorite chapters:
The Boy of Summer: In this essay, Joni journeys back in time to the summer of her high school junior year when she spent her days at the pool waiting for a sighting of her big-time crush, Dale Zug. Lean and easy-going in his 501 jeans, he had the swagger of a cowboy and the brooding good looks of James Dean. Decades later, she finds him on Facebook and discovers that he’s more Jeff Foxworthy than James Dean. A word to the wise, if you don’t want to shatter the illusions of your high school crush, don’t “friend” him on Facebook!
Rest Home: As a daddy’s girl – and a big-time Murder She Wrote fan – this chapter really struck a cord with me. While hanging out with her father in his private room at Garden Spot, Joni observes all of the cheerful aspects of rest home life, like watching uninterrupted episodes of Murder She Wrote, taking a stroll down the cheerful halls adorned with colorful artwork, and letting others worry about cooking and cleaning. Although this chapter offers a humorous look at nursing homes, Joni also writes about her love for her father, who after a massive stroke, drifts in and out of lucidity. She closes the chapter with a touching father-daughter moment when her father drifted back into his old self and reminded her of the father he used to be. Life is pretty fragile, and this chapter helped me realize that things cannot be left unsaid.
But Enough About Me: In my line of work, I sometimes have to endure networking mixers. Aside from public speaking, there’s nothing I dread more than struggling to make small talk with complete strangers while awkwardly eating rubbery banquet food. My palms get sweaty just thinking about it! In this chapter, Joni struggles to strike up a conversation with two disinterested old bitties at a luncheon for women of the arts. Desperate to capture their attention, Joni launches into a long monologue about her work as an author and educator. While droning on and on about her book projects, writing workshops, and – eek! –sexual dysfunction, she realizes that she can’t stop talking. Since I have had a similar inner discussion with myself while inadvertently cornering a helpless victim at an obligatory social mixer, this part really had me in stitches.
“I have been in the position Marion finds herself in now, held hostage by the nonstop talker. First, you are transfixed by the torrent of words, the cluelessness, the solipsism of the speaker. Then you begin to attend to small, previously overlooked details: the number of times she blinks per minute, the pull of her earrings on her earlobes…You continue to feign attention, but your mind wanders: Do my bottom teeth show when I talk?
While reading this chapter, I laughed so hard, I began snorting in an unladylike fashion, which was rather awkward while sitting between two strangers on a plane.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every chapter in this book. Joni has a knack for turning random situations – like sitting in the nosebleeds at an American Idol concert – into hilarious and meaningful life lessons. After reading this book, I felt like I just spent a relaxing evening drinking margaritas with a best girlfriend. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Get it, read it, share it!
This book is scheduled to be released on Oct. 11. If you want to know more about this talented writer, check out her super cute website.