Known for her hilarious Podcast, 2 Dope Queens, Phoebe Robinson uses her comedic stylings in this book of essays on what it feels like to be a black woman today who still has to explain her existence to the world around her. An example of how the personal becomes political, she shares her own life experiences as a way for others to learn more about black women as a marginalized group by relating to her life’s struggles and triumphs. Good for anyone who loves to read short, comical, yet smart and substantive essays about black womanhood today.
Do you have a millennial child or grandchild? Check. Do you want to be the world’s coolest parent or grandparent this holiday season? Check. Carry this Book (Viking, $25) is your golden ticket and hands-down the quirkiest, winningest stocking stuffer of the year. Sprung from the effervescent imagination of Abbi Jacobson, one half of the feminist comedy super-duo behind the Comedy Central hit Broad City, Carry this Book is filled with beautiful, pen-streaked, hand-drawn illustrations. Jacobson imagines what lies in the bags and pockets of the famous; here are her renderings of the things carried by historical figures ranging from Gandhi (a soccer ball and fake teeth) to Anna Wintour (Chipotle Burrito card, “extra guac always”). This is a sly and warm commentary on our new celebrity culture—on the things that truly make us all who we are, when social media isn’t watching.
The Best of the Harvard Lampoon: 140 Years of American Humor (Touchstone, $26) is the first anthology ever produced by the venerable humor magazine, which began in 1876. President Ulysses S. Grant is said to have been warned against reading the Lampoon as it would leave him “in stitches” and unable to lead the government. Since then, contributors to the magazine have gone on to write for The National Lampoon, The New Yorker, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and many other publications, movies, and TV shows. Included here are some very funny people, including B.J. Novak, Henry Beard, Andy Borowitz, George Plimpton, Conan O’Brien, John Updike, and Patricia Marx to name just a few.