Shopping for Books: Why Titles Are Weird

Sometimes judging a book by its cover can be a good thing, believe it or not. Pamela Ribon has authored two books with great titles, “Why Girls Are Weird,” published in 2003, and “Why Moms Are Weird,” published in 2006. But the best part about these books goes well beyond their suggestive titles.

Ribon is funny and uses her sense of humor to create real characters in real (albeit slightly wacky) situations. Instead of writing two books where the title overshadows the actual plot, the books require a bit of intelligence in order to fully enjoy what is going on. The humorous situations are the biggest selling points of the books, but there is much more than meets the flap copy on the back of the books, which is enough reason to read the books in the first place, of course.

In “Why Girls Are Weird,” the main character, twentysomething Anna Koval, is more interested in passing the time at her library job in Austin, Texas than actually doing work. This is certainly relatable; who hasn’t felt bored at times while working? Luckily for the readers, Ribon stays away from having Anna act as an airhead, or a typical chick-lit heroine. Instead, Anna learns HTML and sets up a Web site featuring a personal journal starring an alias of herself, “Anna K,” whose life is just a touch more exciting than Anna’s. It’s almost not even a big deal that Anna K has an amazing boyfriend named Ian, who just happened to break up with Anna not too long ago. Of course, the real question here for Anna is something along the lines of “no one will actually read this, right?” Luckily for Anna (and Anna K), there are some fans that are genuinely interested in what she has to say on a daily basis.

It’s intriguing that the titles of Ribon’s two books “match,” but the subjects couldn’t be further apart if they tried. Normally, when an author links two similar titles for her books, it spells out a potentially cutesy franchise able to be turned into a superficial movie. However, this is definitely not the case for Ribon; “Why Moms Are Weird” has nothing to do “Why Girls Are Weird,” other than the fact that both books are hysterical, witty, and feature some of the most realistic characters in recent fiction. It’s one thing to write one book accomplishing this, but two books shows off Ribon’s talent.

“Why Moms Are Weird” is one of those books where we feel as though the answer lies in the first few chapters of the novel. Luckily, since the chapters are so short, none of the major secrets are given away too soon. It’s easy to feel a sense of kinship with main character Belinda “Benny” Bernstein.

Benny lives in Los Angeles and seems to have an independent life (which she recently “got in order”). However, her previous life in Virginia rears its ugly head when Benny’s mother and sister are in a car accident and it’s up to Benny to make sure everything is all right. Here’s the fun catch — her mother didn’t ask her to come and help out, but Benny goes. What she finds is humorous and, in some cases, relatable (including her mother’s promiscuity, which is a little much for Benny to handle in one sitting). It’s refreshing to see a girl in a book who thinks of others before she thinks of her shoe collection. In fact, Benny doesn’t even mention designer shoes at the drop of a hat. Ribon succeeds in creating characters who could easily be real people, instead of just caricatures.

Bottom line: These books are worth more than just a passing glance on the paperback table at every bookstore, perusing their fun covers. If you want to read a book and use intelligence and laugh at the same time, Pamela Ribon is your author of choice. The best part is that the titles do deliver, and ultimately, it’s easy to see why girls and mothers alike are very weird indeed.


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