the fireside grown-up guides
Back in July, I wrote a review on a book I found in England called The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis. Ladybird Books is a (very) longstanding publisher in the UK and have a huge back catalog of images from their 150 years of publishing mostly children's books. They've recently taken many of those images an paired them up with clever text to offer a series that "understands that the world is just as confusing to a forty-year-old as it is to a four-year old. We're here to break down the most pressing and complex issues of our day into easy-to-digest pieces of information paired with vivid illustrations even a child could understand."
I loved the Mid-Life Crisis book and so was very excited to learn that Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, is publishing many of the books in Americanized versions on October 11th. I immediately asked for any they would give me and ended up with the three above:
So, I'm a bit disappointed to say that I found all three of these guides more uneven than my original Mid-Life Crisis. It's possible that I liked the references and settings in the original British version for their nostalgia (Minnesota place-names just don't come off the same as, say, The Cotswolds) and it's true that not every page in Mid-Life was as laugh-out-loud funny as others but on the whole I walked away from that book just itching to read more of them.
On the whole, each of these books has less funny pages than funny. Quite often, it felt like the text was forced into the context of the illustration, which typically didn't work. I like to read these out loud to my boyfriend and while we did laugh, it was much less so than with Mid-Life. I'm not sure whether we simply got lucky with that first book or whether these three books were altered for an American audience for more than their place-names and perhaps just don't work as well.
I still have physical British-version copies of The Hipster and The Shed (for which I have a ludicrous amount of anticipation); fingers crossed they will live up to my original expectations. These editions, while enjoyable, didn't quite so much.