Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama 

“Bob Odenkirk’s career is inexplicable,” writes Danielle Dresser of Anderson’s Bookshop where Oldenkirk will be signing copies of his new book. “And yet he will try like hell to explicate it for you. Charting a “Homeric” decades-long “odyssey” from his origins in the seedy comedy clubs of Chicago to a dramatic career full of award nominations—with a side-trip into the action-man world that is baffling to all who know him—it’s almost like there are many Bob Odenkirks. But there is just one and one is plenty.

Dresser goes on to say that Bob embraced a life in comedy after a chance meeting with Second City’s legendary Del Close. He somehow made his way to a job as a writer at Saturday Night Live. While surviving that legendary gauntlet by the skin of his gnashing teeth, he stashed away the secrets of comedy writing—eventually employing them in the immortal “Motivational Speaker” sketch for Chris Farley, honing them on The Ben Stiller Show, and perfecting them on Mr. Show with Bob and David.

In Hollywood, Bob demonstrated a bullheadedness that would shame Sisyphus himself, and when all hope was lost for the umpteenth time, the phone rang with an offer to appear on Breaking Bad—a show about how boring it is to be a high school chemistry teacher. His embrace of this strange new world of dramatic acting led him to working with Steven Spielberg, Alexander Payne, and Greta Gerwig, and then, in a twist that will confound you, he re-re-invented himself as a bona fide action star. Why? Read this and do your own psychoanalysis—it’s fun!

Featuring humorous tangents, never-before-seen photos, wild characters, and Bob’s trademark unflinching drive, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama is a classic showbiz tale told by a determined idiot.

From Comedy to Drama with Bob Odenkirk

Actor, comedian, writer, director, producer and Naperville nativeBob Odenkirk will be at the Yellow Box Theater at the Community Christian Church (1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, IL) on Thursday, March 3rd at 7pm CT, in conversation with Kim “Howard” Johnson, to discuss his new memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama. In this “essential” (Entertainment Weekly), “hilarious” (AV Club) memoir, the star of Mr. ShowBreaking Bad, and Better Call Saul opens up about the highs and lows of showbiz, his cult status as a comedy writer, and what it’s like to reinvent himself as an action film ass-kicker at fifty.

Tickets are now available, with limited quantities available! For more information, please visit https://OdenkirkAndersons.eventcombo.com. Book details are listed below.

Mindy Kaling, Amazon Publishing, and Amazon Studios Announce Mindy’s Book Studio and First-Look Deal, a New Home for Dynamic Storytelling

Mindy Kaling, Amazon Publishing, and Amazon Studios just announced the launch of Mindy’s Book Studio, a boutique story studio that will publish books selected by Kaling from emerging and established diverse voices.

“I had the best time working on Nothing Like I Imagined, and I am so excited to continue my relationship with Amazon,” said Kaling, about her last book, a collection of essays in which she reflected upon her new role as single mom, the perks of not having a husband, and her struggle with social anxiety. While dealing with all this, Kaling gets Kanye West’d (or should we now say Ye’d) at her best friend’s birthday, thwarts an “only in LA” crime, and learns what it means to have it all.

Starting later this year, Mindy’s Book Studio will be publishing books across genres, from fresh romantic comedies and poignant coming-of-age stories designed to make readers laugh—and cringe—to gripping dramas with unforgettable female protagonists.

Kaling, a multi-talented actress, comedienne, writer, and Hollywood-bruncher, is known for her insightful and hilarious books including Why Not Me and the delightful and upfront personal Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns). She currently has 11.6 million Twitter followers.

The partnership between Amazon Studios and Kaling will adapt material published under Mindy’s Book Studio as feature motion pictures which will exclusively stream on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.  Kaling holds first-producer option on adaptations. Kaling has also signed her debut novel and new essay collection for publication with Amazon Publishing.

“I’m passionate about bringing unique stories to readers and viewers, and I can’t wait to help discover and support talented new voices through Mindy’s Book Studio,” she says.

From best-selling memoirs to some of television’s most beloved shows and characters, Kaling has entertained readers, viewers, and listeners alike for nearly two decades. Building on her relatable and hilarious take on love and relationships—as seen in her Amazon Charts best-selling essay collection Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) and Amazon Studios’ hit film Late Night (which she co-wrote, produced, and starred in)—Mindy’s Book Studio will expand Kaling’s beloved storytelling sensibilities to a new slate of juicy, unforgettable books that readers can access through subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited, and in print and audio.

“We are delighted to work with Mindy and Amazon Studios on Amazon’s first-ever book studio,” said Julia Sommerfeld, publisher of Amazon Publishing. “Mindy is brilliant at bringing to life highly entertaining, funny, sharp, and bingeable stories, and we can’t wait to collaborate with her on discovering and championing must-read stories from new and diverse voices.”

“With her visionary voice, trademark wit, and tremendous artistic acumen, Mindy Kaling remains a relentless innovator in the creative community,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “She is a pioneering artist, remarkable role model, and philanthropist who continues to tap into global and cultural zeitgeists as a source for her refreshingly authentic storytelling. We could not be more thrilled to expand our collaboration with her across Amazon to not only showcase her incredible talents but also introduce new, dynamic storytellers to our global customers.”

Kaling is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment, CAA, The Lede Company, and PJ Shapiro. Sommerfeld, Lauren O’Connor, head of IP & literary acquisitions at Amazon Studios, and Carmen Johnson, editorial director of Mindy’s Book Studio, will work with Kaling to find unputdownable stories with the potential to come to life on the screen.

In 2023, Amazon Publishing will also publish Kaling’s debut novel, a comedic and twisty page-turner under Mindy’s Book Studio. In 2024, Amazon Publishing will publish a new collection of personal essays in print, digital, and audio, offering Kaling’s latest reflections on life, motherhood, friendship, and being a boss. Amazon Studios has acquired first-look rights for Kaling’s forthcoming novel and essay collection.

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days

         At first Bethany Lu Carlisle can’t believe what she’s hearing. Keanu Reeves, her super crush forever, is getting married in three months. No way, she thinks trying to dismiss the thought before doing a frantic internet search to find out if it’s really true.

         It’s a vulnerable time for Lu. She’s having difficulty with her creative process which is a fundamental problem given that she’s an artist with a show coming up at her best friend Dawn’s New York City gallery. She also is fielding a business offer from a shark-like, uber rich entrepreneur who wants to brand her work. It’s a very lucrative deal but Lu is afraid of losing control over her own work and besides the guy is way too “hands-on.”  Plus, her other best friend, True, the handsome college professor who wrote a definitive and highly praised book on some type of economic theory—Lu hasn’t read it—is getting job offers from West Coast businesses and has an attractive and overly-friendly research assistant. Like Keanu, True has been a serious crush for Lu but she’s never let him know it. We don’t think it’s a spoiler alert to let you know that he’s been crazy over her for the last 20-plus years as well.

         All this calls for a drastic shake-up to get her life back on track and what better way than to track down Keanu and convince him if he’s going to marry, then she’s available.

         Sure, it sounds flaky but remember How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days is a romantic comedy (rom-com) written by USA bestselling author Kwana Jackson under the pen name K.M. Jackson. It’s the latest in the many rom-coms novels she’s authored.

         Jackson, who was born in Harlem, is just as obsessed with Keanu as Lu and it seems to be a real life family trait.

         “I called my mother today like I do every day and she was busy watching a John Wick movie,” she said in a recent phone interview.

         For the five people in this country who don’t know, John Wick is a lethal and ruthless assassin played by Keanu Reeves in a series of movies by the same name. Retired, Wick is forced back into business to track down his adversaries—a seeming endless task that results in a high rate of carnage in each of the four movies.

         The idea for her book started with a fun tweet Jackson posted after realizing the next Matrix movie starring Reeves as well as the newest John Wick film would come out on the same day.

         “When I saw that, I tweeted don’t bring out your next book on Keanu day,” said Jackson who was bombarded with comments about the book she was supposed to write and told by her agent she’d better get to work on it.

         But that really wasn’t a problem for Jackson.

         “I’ve always been an un-ashamed romance book lover and romance has given me a wonderful place to escape into when I need a place to decompress,” she said. “It makes me happy to write a place for people to escape into.”

This review previously appeared in the NWI Times.

Comedian Michael Ian Black “A Better Man”

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them.

Michael Ian Black

A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of 2020, Michael Ian Black‘s new book, A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to my Son (Algonquin Books) is a poignant look at boyhood, in the form of a heartfelt letter from the comedian to his teenage son as he is leaving for college. But more than that, it is also a far-reaching and radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching today’s young men how to give and receive love.

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them. Part memoir, part advice book, and written as a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, A Better Man reveals Black’s own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution, not the problem. “If we cannot allow ourselves vulnerability,” he writes, “how are we supposed to experience wonder, fear, tenderness?”

Honest, funny, and hopeful, Black skillfully navigates the complex gender issues of our time and gives a touching answer to an extremely important question: How can we be, and raise, better men?

Black, an actor, comedian, and writer, started his career with the sketch comedy show The State, on MTV, and has now created and starred in many other television shows. Movie appearances include Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, and Sextuplets.

He is also the author of several children’s books including the award-winning I’m Bored, I’m Sad, and I’m Worried, and the parody A Child’s First Book of Trump. His books for adults include the memoirs You’re Not Doing It Right and Navel Gazing, and the essay collection My Custom Van. Black also co-authored with Meghan McCain America, You Sexy Bitch.

As a stand-up comedian, Michael regularly tours the country, and he has released several comedy albums. His podcasts include Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Tom Cavanagh; Topics, with Michael Showalter; How to Be Amazing; and Obscure.

Married, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Jen Lancaster Set to Launch New Book with an Anderson’s Bookshop Online Event

Anderson’s Bookshop is proud to welcome back New York Times bestselling author and Chicago-area native Jen Lancaster to celebrate her newest book, The United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic.  Lancaster has visited Anderson’s Bookshop half a dozen times, and each event is special, including this launch program on Thursday, October 1 at 7 pm. Participating fans will be the first to get their hands on her latest title.

Register here and you will receive the Zoom link in your confirmation email. https://www.eventcombo.com/e/virtual-event-with-jen-lancasterthe-united-states-of-anxiety-40870

Anderson’s realizes that this is a challenging time for many families.  We are offering a variety of ticket options so that customers may choose what is the best fit.  Every book ticket will include a signed copy of The United States of Anxiety, and all contributions will go towards supporting our independent small business and our employees.

About the Book: New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster is here to help you chill the hell out.

When did USA become shorthand for the United States of Anxiety? From the moment Americans wake up, we’re bombarded with all-new terrifying news about crime, the environment, politics, and stroke-inducing foods we’ve been enjoying for years. We’re judged by social media’s faceless masses, pressured into maintaining a Pinterest-perfect home, and expected to base our self-worth on retweets, faves, likes, and followers. Our collective FOMO, and the disparity between the ideal and reality, is leading us to spend more and feel worse. No wonder we’re getting twitchy. Save for an Independence Day–style alien invasion, how do we begin to escape from the stressors that make up our days?

Jen takes a hard look at our elevating anxieties, and with self-deprecating wit and levelheaded wisdom, she charts a path out of the quagmire that keeps us frightened of the future and ashamed of our imperfectly perfect human lives. Take a deep breath, and her advice, and you just might get through a holiday dinner without wanting to disown your uncle–or even worse.

About the Author: Author Jen Lancaster has sold well over a million books, with over a dozen New York Times bestsellers. From Bitter Is the New Black to The Tao of Martha, Lancaster has made a career out of documenting her attempts to shape up, grow up, and have it all – sometimes with disastrous results. Her New York TImes bestselling novel Here I Go Again received three starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly). She loves bad TV, terrible wine, and will die before she gives up her Oxford comma.

Lancaster can often be seen on The Today Show, as well as CBS This Morning, Fox News and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and her many ill-behaved dogs and cats. Visit her website: jenlancaster.com, Twitter: @altgeldshrugged, Instagram: @jennsylvania, or Facebook.com/authorjenlancaster.

Hear the stories behind Lancaster’s books on The Stories We’d Tell in Bars podcast, available on iTunes, Podbean, Spreaker, GooglePlay, and iHeartRadio, among other entities.

About Anderson’s Bookshop: Anderson’s Bookshop is a 6-generation family-run neighborhood independent business with locations in Chicago’s western suburbs. The company includes a toyshop and school bookfair division. Recipients of dozens of honors, Anderson’s Bookshops share a passion and knowledge of books and of building community through great reads. Anderson’s Bookshops are located in downtown Naperville at 123 W. Jefferson Ave. and in Downers Grove at 5112 Main St. For additional questions and information, visit AndersonsBookshop.com.

Finding hope while studying penguins

I’ve always felt that the natural world can bring us healing in many ways, but I decided a story about healing through penguins would be extra-special.

A quirky adventure following an unusual heroine, “How the Penguins Saved Veronica” tells the story of wealthy 85-year-old Veronica McCreedy, who lives alone in a Scottish mansion. Feisty, stubborn and at times whimsical, McCreedy decided to use her large inheritance in funding a group of scientists who study penguins in Antarctica.

But all that money comes with one condition — she wants to meet the penguins.

“The main inspiration of my book was a friend of mine who’s obsessed with penguins,” author Hazel Prior said. “When her husband died, she found an extraordinary strategy of coping with her grief: she decided to travel round the world visiting penguins, her aim to get photos of every penguin species in its native habitat. She’s had such fun with her mission. I’ve always felt that the natural world can bring us healing in many ways, but I decided a story about healing through penguins would be extra-special.”

Prior said she decided to make Veronica older because she’s been incredibly inspired by people she knows who have started learning new things, from harp-playing to sky-diving, in their 80s and 90s.

“I love their ‘it’s-never-too-late’ attitude,” she said. “And they have experienced so many changes in their lives. Having an octogenarian as my main character gave me the chance to delve back into wartime history, which is another interest of mine.”

It’s also important for other reasons.

“Our society leads us to believe that it’s better in every way to be young,” Prior said. “It would have us think that at 30 the best part of your life is over, at 40 nobody notices you anymore and from 50 onwards you may as well not exist — particularly if you’re a woman. This is so wrong. I admire people who are hungry for life, who go out and seek new experiences regardless of their age. For example, a friend of mine started learning the harp at the age of 90. And my neighbor’s father took up skydiving in his 80s. These are extreme examples, but we never stop dreaming, learning or having new adventures. Every year that passes adds to our rich bank of experiences. The logical conclusion is that the older you are, the more interesting you are — so wouldn’t an octogenarian be the perfect heroine?”

Speaking of harps, when Prior was a student in Scotland, she found an old broken Celtic harp in a cupboard and decided to learn how to play it, which wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded.

“But the harp has always been a source of magic and wonder for me,” she says. “It’s an instrument with a sound that’s just so evocative and moving. The Celtic harp was the inspiration for my debut novel, ‘Ellie And the Harp Maker.’”

Asked if she has any special take-aways for readers, Prior answered that she would like to highlight the importance of caring for this planet that we share with so much amazing wildlife. Adélie penguins are just one of the many species threatened by climate change.

“But overall, ‘How the Penguins Saved Veronica’ is a fun book,” she said. “Penguins are not only sweet and charming; they also set us a wonderful example of determination, gusto and cheerfulness in the face of hard conditions — a lesson that’s very relevant in our current times. If I could sum up the message of the book in one word, that word would be ‘hope.’”

Alexandra Petri: Nothing is Wrong and Here is Why

“ I think of writing as a way of trying to make eye contact with people and say, are you seeing this too?, and in that way it is sanity-affirming,” she says. “It helps me feel less alone and remember that other people agree that this is not the way we would like our world to be.”

         Before she turned 30, Alexandria Petri was the winner of the O. Henry Pun Off World Championship (I bet you didn’t even know such a contest existed) where she made puns on the names of every U.S. president  in chronological order such as “if Andrew jacks an automobile” and the loser on Jeopardy! Now Petri, a columnist for the Washington Post has written her second book, Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why (W.W. Norton & Co. 2020; $17.99—Amazon price), collection of more than 50 new and adapted essays from her Post columns.

         If you think someone with a resume like this was a nerd in high school, you’d be right. The only child of a U.S. Congressman from Wisconsin, she wrote a Shakespeare and feline comic book at age eight. Now that is seriously nerdy.

         Petri now has taken her humor to a more modern stage. She loves to skewer politics and the somewhat frightening and nonsensical actions our politician’s take.

         Is it hard, I ask her, to transform the horrible news we hear into satire and is it a way for her to keep sane?

         “I think I tend to be a relatively cheery person and this almost maniacal devotion to hunting for a bright side in gloomy situations can manifest as a kind of satire,” she says in describing the way she writes such columns as “America, please don’t put bleach inside yourself like the president says” and “Know The Signs: How to tell if your grandparent has become an antifa agent” in response to President Trump’s musing that maybe the 75-year-old protestor pushed to the ground in Buffalo was actually an ANTIFA agent trying to block police communication.

         It’s a way, she says, of looking at the way your thinking would have to be deranged to see today’s particular monstrosity as great news.

         “ I think of writing as a way of trying to make eye contact with people and say, are you seeing this too?, and in that way it is sanity-affirming,” she says. “It helps me feel less alone and remember that other people agree that this is not the way we would like our world to be.”

         Sometimes even people who can win national pun contests run out of ideas. What does Petri do when this happens?

         “I will usually go for a walk or pick up a book or something that isn’t the news and see if fresh inputs will help my brain along, but sometimes that doesn’t do it and my editor is nice enough to think it’s better only to write when you have something to say,” she says. “I am also grateful that I don’t always have to write jokes; sometimes I will just write a more straightforward column. If I can’t think of anything funny to say, I know I don’t always have to. And the flip side of this is that there are some days when I want to write three columns and have to be restrained from doing so.”

         Asked if there is anything else she wants people to know about her book, Petri has a quick answer.

         “I hope they will buy it and enjoy its cover,” she says, adding, “everyone please wash your hands and wear a mask and stay safe.”

MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES

Class Mom meets Small Admissions in MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES, a wryly-observed debut about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High–the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle–and the fallout for each of them when that bubble finally bursts.

A former teacher, Kathleen West keeps us amused and amazed in her book about the social stratas on an upper middle class high school where some parents (think Lori Loughlin) will stop at very little to make sure their children achieve what they see as success.

Isobel Johnson can’t stand helicopter parents like Julia Abbott, a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who’ve been pulling away from her more each year.

Isobel has spent her career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals, teaching queer theory in AP American Lit. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.

With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site and a pack of rabid parents in a suburb where appearance is everything.

Perfect for readers who loved the novels of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little LiesThe Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger, Laurie Gelman’s Class Mom and Amy Poeppell’s Small Admissions.

A teacher for twenty years in the Minneapolis school system, West brings her experience to a novel set in a small, privileged suburban high school that explores all sides of the teacher/parent equation: the good, the bad, and the truly outrageous. MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES is a wryly-observed story about two women: Isobel, a beloved teacher whose “unconventional” teaching methods and in-classroom politics ruffles some parents’ feathers and puts her job in serious jeopardy; and Julia, a helicopter parent who becomes the subject of a viral video when she has an altercation with a student on school grounds.  MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES combines heartfelt humor with thoughtful insights into the modern challenges facing students, parents, and teachers.

ifyougo:
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

6:00 PM

Lake Forest Book Store

Talk & Signing

662 N Western Ave.

Lake Forest, IL 60045-1951

Phone: 847-234-4420

Event link: https://www.lakeforestbookstore.com/event/author-kathleen-west-lake-forest-book-store

Breathe In, Cash Out

Allegra Cobb wants to chuck her high pressure, high paying job to become open a yoga practice in this hilarious first novel by Madeleine Henry.

“It’s The Devil Wears Prada of Wall Street, in that you get a glimpse into finance—if you’ve ever worked in investment banking you’ll find anecdotes that really resonate and for those that haven’t, it lets you know what the business is really like,” says Madeleine Henry, about her new book Breathe In, Cash Out, a humorous novel about a yoga-addicted investment banker just waiting for her super big yearly bonus so she can quit and open a yoga practice.

Henry herself is very much like her heroine, Allegra Cobb. She’s a Yale graduate and a former Goldman Sachs banker who is totally into yoga.

“The book shows the two worlds Allegra inhabits and how different they are, yoga versus fiancé, humility versus power and internal rewards versus external rewards,” says Henry, who recalls her own crazy schedule where days started at day 9 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m. when she was finally able to leave the office. Then it was drinks and complaints about how awful their jobs are with her colleague. Then to bed and repeat the entire scenario the next day.

As a bottom rung investment banker, Allegra spends up to 24 hours a day changing the colors on stacked bar charts, “making my bosses feel better about themselves.”

One of the reasons Allegra feel stuck in her job—besides the great pay, prestige and waiting for her bonus—is because he widowed father is so proud of her success and since he’s sacrificed so much for her since her mother died, she finds it hard to tell him she’s chucking it all to teach yoga.

When Skylar Smith, a yogi guru with over two hundred thousand Instagram followers (making her one of the top InstaYogis,) offers to help her break into the business, Allegra sees herself getting close to her dream. Skylar, a beautiful blonde who models for expensive and trendy yoga clothing lines has the life Allegra wants.  At least that’s what she thinks at first.

Henry, who always loved to write and was a comedy writer for the Yale Recorder, has had so much success with this her first novel that she was able to quit her job at Goldman and now teaches yoga and has written next novel.

Asked if some of the anecdotes she uses in her book about her time at Goldman might upset people she worked with, she laughs, saying “they’ll think it’s funny because it’s so true.”

Ifyougo:

What: Madeleine Henry book signing

When: Bookends & Beginnings, Thursday, July 18, 2019 – 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Where: 1712 Sherman Avenue, Alley #1, Evanston, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: 224-999-7712; bookendsandbeginnings.com/

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