This book about cat walking brings me joy in a dark time

What gives me joy, you ask?

I know you didn’t, but I’ve been asking myself this question during pandemic lockdowns. And the short answer is: Trees, books, words, sneakers, spring, and cats.

It’s a nice list, I think, because it’s simple. There’s one quirky joy though, which can’t be expressed in a single word. This one requires a bit more explaining.

It might seem weird to some, but I get effervescent feelings from collecting quirky books. Often small in size, but not exclusively so, and written by obscure authors, these are books hardly anyone has ever heard of, let alone read. I hold these books in a special place in my heart. They tell me stories about me. 

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Dead Mom Walking brings humour to the hell of losing a parent

Rachel Matlow’s gut-busting memoir made me want to call my mom — ASAP

Dead Mom Walking forced me to face not just one, but several of my worst fears: losing my mom, being diagnosed with cancer, and leaving behind a grieving child when I die. But somehow, author Rachel Matlow had me laughing through almost every scene along the way to their effervescent mother’s death from cancer. (Matlow is genderqueer and uses the pronouns she/her and they/them.)

Honestly, it took me a couple of weeks to finish this book, despite the fact that it’s immediately unputdownable because of Matlow’s lively and conversational voice. I got three-quarters of the way in, laughing out loud at Matlow’s narration as well as their mother’s witty quips. But then I stalled.

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Who doesn’t want to make Amazing Decisions?

Dan Ariely’s book helps explain why people usually do the right thing… and why they sometimes don’t

If the educational animated series Schoolhouse Rock mated with the academic field of Behavioural Economics, the two would have a baby named Amazing Decisions.

The author of this inventive book, Dan Ariely, is a professor of cognitive psychology at Duke University, where he founded the Center for Advanced Hindsight. The research he conducts there puts human beings in situations that test their decision-making, and he’s written several books to explain the results of his studies.

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