I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, by Martin Short
I’ve loved Martin Short since I was a strange teen, at home watching late night reruns of Primetime Glick on Comedy Central while my friends were out partying. This summer I bought tickets to Martin Short and Steve Martin’s variety show, An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life, and it was worth every penny. Martin Short is an underrated comedy legend and a National Treasure, and reading his hilarious and heartfelt memoir just reaffirmed my love for him. His positivity and humor in the wake of experiencing some real, visceral tragedies in his life is admirable and his interest in the absurdities of life is infectious. He endlessly name-drops celebrities, but instead of feeling obnoxious it just makes sense that so many people would want to bask in his light, myself included.
See What I Have Done, by Sarah Schmidt
I had high expectations for this book, a fictionalized retelling of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden. It was helpful to be able to imagine the layout of the Borden house while I was reading, but the writing style was ultimately disappointing—unnecessarily wordy, overly descriptive and repetitive. I have a personal aversion to writers describing smells and Schmidt seemed to delight in trying to gross out the reader with her descriptions of body odors, rotting meat and strange tastes. Lizzie’s story is still intriguing more than a hundred years after the murders, but unfortunately there was nothing new or interesting about this version.
Jurassic Park: A Novel, by Michael Crichton
I took this book with me to Egypt, and it’s the perfect vacation read. I’ve been a huge fan of the movie ever since its 1993 release, and I finally treated myself to a copy of the book for my birthday. I usually prefer the book over its movie counterpart because books aren’t limited in the way that movies often are—however, in some cases (like Crazy Rich Asians) the movie manages to actually improve upon the source material. I think this was true of Jurassic Park, and while the book does differ from the movie in some significant ways, it had enough of the same characters and similar scenes to satisfy me.
A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, By Amelia B. Edwards
My uncle recommended that I pick up a copy of this classic travelogue before we went to Egypt, but I couldn’t easily find a copy. When we walked into a bookstore in Aswan and I spotted it, I snatched it up and began reading it the next day. Amelia Edwards traveled through Egypt in the late 1800s, but many of her descriptions of temples, tombs and the Egyptian landscape could have been written just yesterday.
Despite my predilection for spoilers, I prefer to read about places after I’ve experienced them in person so I can have a mental picture of what is being described. Edwards certainly has a way with words and her observations on camels, crocodiles and Egyptian customs are laugh-out-loud funny and on most occasions mirrored my own. There is no better way to read A Thousand Miles Up the Nile than while actually cruising up the Nile with a wine glass in hand, but Edwards’s words have the power to transport you there, wherever you may be joining her from.
My uncle sent this to me before our trip, but I brought it along to read in the days leading up to our visit of Abu Simbel. Dr. Zahi Hawass gave a few lectures during the course of our trip, so I couldn’t resist also getting him to sign my copy. It’s a quick read full of photos, but it was a good crash course on what I was about to witness in person. Egypt is full of incredible temples and monuments, but Abu Simbel is a true wonder amongst wonders.