Books to make readers laugh, cry, think

“XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis is Complicating America’s Love Life”

Sarah Varney

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about living in a country where obesity has become a new norm. The question, which is never brought up when advocating for obesity awareness, is not an easy one: What effect does it have on America’s relationships, specifically those dabbling in love? 

Sarah Varney, author of “XL Love,” takes the reader on a trip across America, pin-pointing various couples and children, tackling sexuality in, excuse the pun, large numbers. However, there is a thin line between concern for someone’s health and fat shaming; “XL Love” riskily trapezes along it. 

With vivid imagery portraying a harsh, but unfortunately true, glance into the American normative lifestyle, Varney tackles an agglomerate of topics from prom to porn. While her data adds up, something in the fluid writing style prevents it from sticking with readers. One of the trickier concepts is how Varney seems to allow the words “overweight” to intertwine with “obese,” making it more a question of vanity than health. 

All quirks aside, “XL Love” is an interesting view of America’s weight problem in the bedroom, but proceed with caution: not everything you read is true. 

“Four: A Divergent Collection”

Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth is back with a new look at the box-office success “Divergent,” this time from the perspective of the brooding fan-favorite Tobias Eaton, also known as Four. 

In the collection, the readers get to see Tobias in a few character-defining scenes, along with glimpses into his love for Tris Prior, the heroine of the franchise. Roth writes Tobias as fans would expect, because it is no time for her to be unpredictable. Considering she shocked her readers with the conclusion to the “Divergent” series in October, receiving hate mail galore over the plot-twist, “Four: A Divergent Collection” seems almost like an apology. At least it’s a good one. 

Well-written and as compelling as the first time around, the stories give readers a deeper look into the complicated mind of Tobias, while falling in love with the trilogy all over again. 

“Uganda Be Kidding Me”

Chelsea Handler

If you’ve seen her talk show, you’ve read this book. Chelsea Handler is known for her obscene, slightly alcoholic antics with jokes that make common folk blush. “Uganda Be Kidding Me” is Handler gone global, as she takes on an African safari, a couple of tropical destinations and proceeds to bash her circle of friends throughout. 

Her jokes are enough to make readers laugh out loud, but this time something is missing. There’s a lot of self-deprecation, wit and crude humor, which is right up Handler’s alley. But it’s not too different from her previous work. 

“Uganda Be Kidding Me” is a coffee table book, because despite her efforts to keep the story intact, it’s a bit jumbled. It’s one a reader can easily put down, forget about, find a year later and start right where he or she was, no problem. Readers who like seeing jokes about genitalia in print should pick it up and have a laugh.