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My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places    by Mary Roach order for
My Planet
by Mary Roach
Order:  USA  Can
Readers Digest, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Mary Roach is probably best known for the somewhat strange science books that she's written, such as Spook, about death, Stiff, what happens to bodies after death, and Gulp, the passage of food through our alimentary canals. She has also written a series of short humorous pieces about her own life for Reader's Digest Magazine, which have been collected in My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places. Most of these columns have to do with funny episodes in her life with her husband, 'the man I call Ed,' but she extends them to include other family members as well as her own experiences in shopping or home maintenance.

Roomba details Mary's problems with house cleaning. She begins by explaining that 'I want very much for someone else to clean our house, as neither I nor my husband, Ed, has shown any aptitude for it. On the other hand, I'd feel guilty inflicting such distasteful drudgery on another human being.' Buying a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner seems like the ideal solution, but she learns when it pulls a phone down by becoming tangled in the phone cord that she needs to do some picking up ahead of her Roomba, which they nicknamed Reba. 'Maybe Reba needs to make a call,' Ed says when the phone crashes to the floor. But when Reba starts emitting Whimper Beeps, they also discover that long strands of dental floss don't get picked up easily by the Roomba.

In Industrial Strength Shopping Ed convinces Mary to go shopping with him at Costco. Mary is aghast at the huge amounts of every sort of product being sold and that some 'poor people ... could use up to 112 packets of Alka-Seltzer or a 2-pack of jumbo-sized bottles of Immodium in a single lifetime.' She changes her mind and loves the cheaper price of office supplies even though 'the kindly man' at her neighborhood supply store had complained to her about all the business he was losing to large stores like Costco, but then she sees him cutting up sample size bites of cheese at Costco. 'I wondered aloud whether all the people who owned the grocery stores and office supply shops driven out of business were now standing around in hairnets, working at Costco.' But Mary and Ed were saving so much money that she eventually gives in, deciding that 'Costco rules the universe (and is slightly bigger).'

I really enjoyed reading these funny takes on modern life. We all have experiences similar to Mary and Ed's which makes it especially fun when a talented writer can catch the humor in these everyday events. She does this in such a loving way that even the man she calls Ed should be able to laugh along with her, as well as her step-daughters, parents-in-law, and other relatives and friends. We all have our favorite dislikes of modern life, and Mary Roach manages to touch on so many of them that there is humor in this book for everyone.

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