Books: The Antelope in the Living Room

Looking through the list of non-fiction in Tyndale’s summer reading list, I decided that a humorous book about marriage sounded worth checking out of the library. Light reading, with some insights thrown in about making marriage work, all from a Christian perspective.

For the first few chapters of The Antelope in the Living Room, I was delighted. I enjoyed her light-hearted style and her self-deprecating humor, and I smiled as I read. (I didn’t laugh, but that’s me, not the book – there really isn’t a lot that makes me laugh.) I looked forward to enjoying the whole book.

Then, to my surprise, I found myself increasingly reluctant to pick it up, when I had other books also waiting to be read. (I tend to read multiple books at one time. At the moment I have three I am actively reading, not counting the one I listen to in the car, and various that I have set down and not gotten back to in a while.)

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book, or the things she wrote about. I can’t even point to any chapter and say, that one I didn’t like. I think I just got tired of that style and that type of humor. It’s good in small doses, but not a whole book. Kind of like eating jelly beans – they taste good as an occasional treat but I’d never want to make a meal out of them.

I know a lot of people enjoy her kind of humor. I see from amazon.com that the vast majority of reader reviews are 4- and 5-stars. But there are some 3-star reviews that express the same reaction I have – a little is good but her style gets tiresome.

I feel the same way about reading books by Erma Bombeck. This spring I was working on a humorous speech for Toastmasters and had to gather outside material. So I got some books from the library, including some by Bombeck. My sister used to love her columns, when we were growing up, but I never understood what was so funny. Now I find her somewhat funny – for a few pages. But she goes on and on with more of the same. Different circumstances, same humor. I had my fill and gave up.

I did finish reading Melanie Shankle’s book, in part I admit because it is in this summer reading program and I intend to finish and review five books. And I usually do finish the books that I start – unless, like the Bombeck books, they were for research purposes as much as for entertainment.

And I was glad I did finish, because near the end there is a chapter about grace. It’s a chapter that some non-religious people complain about in their reviews of the book, because they think Melanie talks too much about God. But those readers are missing a big part of what makes marriage work, in Melanie’s view – and in mine. It takes grace, God’s grace to us and our grace to one another.

Perhaps I just like more serious books, that try to make me think rather than laugh. Like the other book I just finished from the same summer reading list, which I’ll tell about in my next post.

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