Check it out: Laughter best medicine for stress



"Catalog Living at Its Most Absurd: Decorating Takes (Wicker) Balls"

By Molly Erdman; Plume, 115 pages.

“Catalog Living at Its Most Absurd: Decorating Takes (Wicker) Balls”

By Molly Erdman; Plume, 115 pages.

Well, I can’t believe what I’m about to write: Christmas is exactly one month away. Weren’t we just celebrating summer’s long days, picking tomatoes from our gardens, enjoying sunshine and outdoor cookouts? Honestly, where does the time go?

With Thanksgiving under our belts, we’re now faced with all things holiday. Shopping, cooking, decorating, and every other detail that goes into producing successful December festivities are barreling towards us, picking up speed with every passing day. This means that a lot of stressed-out people will soon be hitting the roads, jockeying for parking spots at malls, standing in long lines just so Dec. 25 is the best day ever. It’s a wonder there isn’t more screaming this time of year.

This is why it’s important to take a few moments just for yourself. After all, your hair can’t be on fire every day — it’s hard on your hair and takes a mighty toll on your noggin. So, think about heading to the library and checking out “Catalog Living at Its Most Absurd.” If you’ve ever looked at a catalog from Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, and wondered, “Do perfectly appointed living rooms and immaculate kitchens really exist?” then you’ll appreciate author Molly Erdman’s humor in her tongue-in-cheek take on catalog living.

Through the voices of an imaginary couple, Gary and Elaine, Erdman writes witty, sometimes scathing captions for real photographs from real catalogs. A picture of a stylish bedroom, decorated with large, three-dimensional circles attached to the ceiling, prompts Elaine to comment, “Were you eating peanuts in here, Gary? The ceiling broke out in hives again.” Gary gets his turn with a sparsely decorated bathroom that includes a rather bizarre trio of wicker balls situated on the floor next to the toilet: “Sorry, Elaine, but it’s the only alone time I have to practice my juggling.” Yes, catalog living can be absurd.

Humor is a great antidote to stress, so when another driver cuts you off in traffic, the must-have toy for little Billy’s Christmas is completely sold out, and Aunt Edna’s figgy pudding gives everyone indigestion, remember to laugh. This, too, shall pass.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at