I was recently offered the book What I've Learned... So Far Part III: Banjos, Boats & Butt Dialing by Mike Ball for reading and reviewing. I know I end up turning down most of the offers I get for review copies because I'm so far behind in reading and reviewing, but it's hard to turn down a book that can somehow link banjos, boats, and butt dialing in a title. It also helped in that he delivered on it.
I've never heard of Mike Ball, but it's probably easiest to think of him as a male version of Erma Bombeck. I don't think that's an insult, as he's referred to on the title as the "Erma Bombeck Award-winning humorist Mike Ball." Either way, he has a great "down home" style of writing that looks at common events in life and adds his humorous insights to them. The best part is... I can see myself in nearly all of his vignettes. Like for instance, the time he went to get his first official massage. When the masseuse left the room for him to get ready, it's the age-old question... do you strip naked or leave on the shorts? Keep in mind you run into the person around town on a regular basis, so what would be more embarrassing... being there naked or having to admit to and show off the Curious George Christmas Fun boxers you happened to be wearing that day?
He also gets serious on some pieces, such as whether people doing their job at elite levels are demeaned by labelling their actions as "miracles". Captain Sullenberger did an elite job in landing US Airways flight 1549 onto the Hudson with no power, the flight attendants did an elite job in getting the passengers out safely, and those who were on the river with boats did an elite job in taking the actions necessary to rescue the people off the wings before the plane sank. While it's easy to call it a miracle (as people normally die in those situations), it also takes away from the fact that these professionals practice and train for emergencies, and in this case, their training kicked in and it worked out the way it is written up. Let's hear it for the people who do their jobs at an elite level...
Each chapter is about the length of a syndicated column (three to four pages in the book), so it's easy to pick the book up, read a couple of chapters, and then set it down to get back to whatever you were doing. But be warned... you may not *want* to set it down. I certainly didn't, as I was having too much fun.