Books that Look Like They’re for Children but Are Not In Fact for Children

By David Nilsen

eatIn 2011 Adam Mansbach published Go the F**k to Sleep and gave voice to a stifled frustration parents everywhere could relate to on a nightly basis. It got passed excitedly around the internet in PDF form prior to print publication and went to #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list upon publication. In a move that almost broke the internet, a recording emerged of Samuel L. Jackson reading the book aloud. There was much rejoicing.

The build-up for the sequel this year didn’t reach the same delirious heights, but You Have to F**king Eat still hits all the right notes for frustrated (and slap-happy from sleep-deprivation) parents as its predecessor. Or at least, it still hits those notes for parents who love sarcasm and aren’t afraid of some well-earned F-bombs.

“The giraffes pluck the tender young leaves up,
The mice snack on seeds and on wheat.
No, sweetheart, I can’t make spaghetti,
The f**king meal’s served. Time to eat.”

And let’s not kid ourselves here: the profanity is what makes this otherwise benign book so deliciously fun. We all try not to swear in front of our kids, and we certainly don’t swear at them. But boy do we feel like it sometimes, and this book serves as the inner monologue we feel but would never say.

“Your cute little tummy is rumbling
And pancakes are your favorite treat.
I’m kind of surprised that you suddenly hate them.
That’s bullsh*t. Stop lying and eat.”

Indeed. If you’re a parent with a sarcastic (and sometimes profane) sense of humor, I definitely recommend this book.


Mara Grunbaum has been running the very successful WTF, Evolution?! blog for some time now, and this year she finally had the opportunity to collect the best of her work into a book. WTF, Evolution?! A Theory of Unintelligible Design is hilarious and at times a bit disturbing.

Natural selection has brought us some truly beautiful creatures, like tigers and butterflies, and some very sleek and elegant designs, like birds of prey. It has also brought us the babirusa, a mammal whose useless tusks can grow so long they curve around and fatally puncture its skull, and Eiselt’s Caecilian, a meaty, limbless amphibian that actually looks a lot like a…well, you should probably just see for yourself.

Grunbaum, a science writer who has written for Discover, Popular Science, and many other publications, actually manages to put some real information into this sarcastic little book – you’re sure to learn some new things, even if they’re things you would have been just fine not knowing. Like, for example, that the Pacific Hagfish is designed to tunnel into the mouths and anuses of other fish and eat their viscera from the inside out while they’re still alive.20150107_152410_001 You’re welcome.


These and many other humorous nonfiction titles can be found at Greenville Public Library.

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