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My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

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Overview

From acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach comes the complete collection of her “My Planet” articles published in Reader’s Digest. She was a hit columnist in the magazine, and this book features the articles she wrote in that time. Insightful and hilarious, Mary explores the ins and outs of the modern world: marriage, friends, family, food, technology, customer service, dental floss, and ants—she leaves no element of the ...

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My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

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Overview

From acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach comes the complete collection of her “My Planet” articles published in Reader’s Digest. She was a hit columnist in the magazine, and this book features the articles she wrote in that time. Insightful and hilarious, Mary explores the ins and outs of the modern world: marriage, friends, family, food, technology, customer service, dental floss, and ants—she leaves no element of the American experience unchecked for its inherent paradoxes, pleasures, and foibles.

On Cleanliness:
Ed has crud vision, and I don’t. I don’t notice filth. Ed sees it everywhere. I am reasonably convinced that Ed can actually see bacteria. . . . He confessed he didn’t like me using his bathrobe because I’d wear it while sitting on the toilet.
“It’s not like it goes in the water,” I protested, though if you counted the sash as part of the robe, this wasn’t strictly true.

On the Internet:
The Internet is a boon for hypochondriacs like me. Right now, for instance, I’m feeling a shooting pain on the side of my neck. A Web search produces five matches, the first three for a condition called Arnold-Chiari Malformation.
While my husband, Ed, reads over my shoulder, I recite symptoms from the list. “‘General clumsiness’ and ‘general imbalance,’” I say, as though announcing arrivals at the Marine Corps Ball. “‘Difficulty driving,’ ‘lack of taste,’ ‘difficulty feeling feet on ground.’”
“Those aren’t symptoms,” says Ed. “Those are your character flaws.”
On Fashion:
My husband recently made me try on a bikini. A bikini is not so much a garment as a cloth-based reminder that your parts have been migrating all these years. My waist, I realized that day in the dressing room, has completely disappeared beneath my rib cage, which now rests directly on my hips. I’m exhibiting continental drift in reverse.

On Eating Healthy:
So Ed and I were eating a lot of vegetables. Vegetables on pasta, vegetables on rice. This was extremely healthy, until you got to the part where Ed and I are found in the kitchen at 10 p.m., feeding on Froot Loops and tubes of cookie dough.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781621450719
  • Publisher: Reader's Digest Association, Incorporated, The
  • Publication date: 4/4/2013
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 119,611
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Roach
Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. She lives in Oakland, California.

Good To Know

In our interview, Roach shared some fun facts about herself:

"My first job was as a writer for the San Francisco Zoological Society members magazine; I worked in a trailer next to Gorilla World."

"I've been to Antarctica three times, posing as a science writer."

"My dad was 65 when I was born."

"I like to unwind by going out birdwatching by myself; though the hours don't agree with me."

"I love red papaya, seaweed, a beer after a long hike, polar skies, and I'm a sucker for TV ads with monkeys in them. Dislikes: corporate greed, fluorescent lighting, extreme self-indulgence, weak coffee."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    My Planet is the complete collection of Mary Roach's Reader's Di

    My Planet is the complete collection of Mary Roach's Reader's Digest column. In this column Roach discusses "the wonder of the everyday." Each column is about 2-3 pages.

    I have read two of Mary Roach's books, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and I really enjoyed them. Roach does a great job of balancing humor with science. Anyway, like I noted earlier, this book focuses on "the wonder of everyday." What does this mean? She talks a lot about the mundane like cleaning the house, car repairs, family vacations, and the like but with a humorous edge. I found myself laughing out loud during almost every story. There was so much I found myself relating to in the stories. This is a book that I can see myself rereading on a rainy day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Lol

    Laugh out loud halarious!

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I loved it, my mum loved it, my sister-in-law loved it! Relatio

    I loved it, my mum loved it, my sister-in-law loved it!

    Relationships, shopping and life involve such curious compromises, and Mary Roach’s My Planet puts those compromises and oddities into delightfully humorous prose, creating a collection of essays that’s guaranteed to have you turning the pages, reminiscing on persons and places you’ve known, and smiling all the way.

    Does your husband wash his hands “like a… raccoon” during eating? Then you might be interested to know the racoon’s not really washing. Has your spouse calculated how much money you’ll save by filling your cabinets with Costco oversized packages? Does your wife…?

    Perhaps your eyes are getting old, or your vacuum cleaner’s waiting to be replaced by a robot. Are you taking cookery lessons from the Food Network? Do you dread the dentist, avoid the container store, surf the internet, or struggle to set the alarm on clock radios in hotels? Then this is the book for you.

    My favorite essay is titled 1-800-WasteMyTime. It tells of the author’s ailing computer and the engineers on far-flung continents who fail to fix it. In the end she finds help in a local store where “we chatted about the weather, which was the same outside my window as it was outside his.”

    Like listening to a particularly humorous friend, sharing experiences with a sympathetic talker who even pauses between essays to listen to you, or just enjoying the company of a thoroughly enjoyable stranger on a long trip, My Planet is the perfect airplane, airport, railway station, just arrived, just leaving or even just dreaming reading book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this novel and asked for an honest review which I’m delighted to give here.

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  • Posted June 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I know Mary Roach as a bestselling author of books, like Stiff a

    I know Mary Roach as a bestselling author of books, like Stiff and Bonk, (wait, they sound slightly pornographic) that incorporate science with humor. But I never knew that she wrote humor columns for Reader's Digest, mostly about her life with her husband Ed.
    These columns have been compiled in My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places, and it had me laughing so loud as I read it, my family stared at me as if I were crazy. I was crazy, crazy with laughter and recognition at Roach's observational humor.
    From page one, I was a goner. She describes her first date with her husband Ed, who got up from the table to wash his hands almost immediately upon being seated at the restaurant "like a little raccoon, leaning over the stream to to tidy himself before eating."
    She goes on to discuss their "hygiene gap". Ed immediately replaces the toilet seat when he moves to  a new place because "he didn't know who'd been sitting on it." (I'm with Ed on that one.) Mary flossed her teeth in bed and drank straight from the OJ container. (Again, I side with Ed.)
    Mary used the "Designated Countertop Sponge to wash the dishes and the Designated Dishwashing Sponge to clean the bathtub" an act she describes as "tantamount to a bioterror attack", according to Ed. Ed had what Mary called "crud vision" and she didn't.
    She said that "like any normal couple, we refused to accept each other's differences and did whatever we could to annoy one another." It just got funnier from there.
    Mary makes lists: "daily, To Do lists, long-term To Do lists, shopping lists and packing lists." Ed reluctantly makes lists on the corner of newspapers that are illegible. Making lists keeps her anxiety levels down, while Ed controls his anxiety by forgetting to make lists.
    Her best list is composed of party guests that dates from 1997. On occasion she updates it, deleting people who have moved away, adding new friends. They are never having this party, but just updating the list is a party for Roach. (I think I know some people like this.)
    Her essay on relatives visiting struck a chord of recognition. After day six, she says thatYou begin to view your guests through the magnifying glasses of the put-upon host. A TV set turned four decibels higher that you like it registers as "blaring." Making a 13-cent long-distance call is perceived as "running up my phone bill!"She concludes this essay by sayingFamily are people who live together- if only for a week at a time. They're people who  drop towels on your bathroom floor, put your cups and glasses in the wrong place and complain about your weather. You do it to them, they do it to you, and none of you would have it any other way.
    One of the essays I most related to was about conjugal hearing loss that affects married couples. She says that married couples attempt to communicate with the other person is in a separate room or on separate floors, "preferably while one is running water or operating a vacuum cleaner or watching the Cedar Waxwings in the playoffs." (This is one of my pet peeves.)
    Other humorous topics include entering the Age of Skirted Swimwear, dropping off her car at the mechanic because it won't start only to have him call her and tell her he's charging her $50 because "she is stupid" (the car was out of gas, but she praised him for not ripping her off by claiming it was something more serious), and arguing about buying a sofa.
    Roach's essays reminded me of Erma Bombeck. She deals with life's issues in a relatable, funny and  good spirited manner. This is a wonderful book to stick in the car and read while you are waiting for the kids at baseball practice or in a doctor's waiting room. It's good for laugh and you'll want to read aloud from it so that others can enjoy her humor too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    Hilarious!!!! Great Mix of short stories. Married or Single.....

    Hilarious!!!! Great Mix of short stories. Married or Single..... you will be able to relate to her and her husband's life experiences. 

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    Posted May 18, 2014

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    Posted June 12, 2014

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    Posted January 8, 2014

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