Thursday, May 7, 2015

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Image result for encyclopedia of an ordinary

I admit that I am as enthralled with the idea behind Amy Krouse Rosenthal's book as I am with the book itself.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is her memoir, of sorts, presented in the form of an encyclopedia...A-Z. So we have entries such as Answering Machines; Anxious, things that make me; Monopoly (like me, she hates the game); the relief of a Rainy Day; memories of a Red Gingham Tablecloth; and Writing Tools - hand, typewriter, computer - and what influence they may have on a writer's style.  

There are plenty of entries detailing some of her quirks that I can identify with:

**She fantasizes about getting rid of everything in her closet except for an outfit or two.

**She not only eats when she is hungry, but also if she is worried that she will be hungry. For instance, if she determines she will be in the middle of watching a film at dinnertime, she grabs a sandwich before she goes to the theater, even though she is not yet hungry, to eliminate any future hunger discomfort.

**She returns again and again to the photo/bio of the author on the flap of a book she is enjoying.

I have done all those things. 

The entries are almost all short which appeals to my diminishing attention span. I swear, I found myself laughing out loud at an entry, nodding my head in agreement at another, and getting misty-eyed at the next one.

It seems I am always on the quest for a way to record my life, 
(see this post) and looking at it in the form of an encyclopedia certainly has its appeal.

Perhaps my first entry could be:

Encyclopedia - A word I learned to spell from a little ditty that was sung on Mickey Mouse Club. Jiminy Cricket taught us to chirp EN CY C LO PEDIA. To this day, I have to sing the letters to myself whenever I write or type the word.

And although Ms. Rosenthal didn't make an entry for Z, I would have to write:

Zero tolerance - for barking dogs, cigarette smoke, heat and humidity, rude service people, radio and television commercials, and magazine advertisements.   

Anyway, I adored this book. And as I sometimes do, I fell in love with Amy (which is why I now feel obliged to call her by her first name).  She would make a wonderful best friend! I found out more about her via a couple of her Ted Talks and her short films on YouTube. 

She loves a bit of wordplay, watches out for synchronicity everywhere, and wants to save the world by Beckoning the Lovely. 

She also has created a journal just for us - An Encyclopedia of Me: My Life from A to Z - so we can write our own record of an ordinary life.

Amy - woman to thank.


  1. I love the idea of this book! It's a great way to chronicle your life. And the fact that she's funny...priceless. Am definitely hoping to find a copy of this book! Thanks for such a great review!

    1. Lark, this is such a creative idea. Amy's take on things is, like you say, priceless. I discovered it on my library's ebook shelf so I couldn't look at her picture again and again as there was no flap! Hope you enjoy it and begin your own Encyclopedia.

  2. Well this was a learning experience. Once again you've lured me into getting another book. This time, since my library only has an electronic version, I stumbled through the process and think that I now have it on loan on my Kindle. I love the idea of the book and from the bits you provided, I think the three of us could be good friends. I started life as an essayist, so the form of this book attracts me.

    1. Joan, I read this on my Kindle too, and like I told Lark in the above comment, it prompted me to find Amy online because I couldn't see what she looked like from the book! This book has been around for a decade and I am now just discovering it. I think you will like it. I just may have to form an AKR fan club (if she doesn't already have one).

  3. You had me with the title of this book. I love the sound of it, and it sounds like there are plenty of similarities between me and Amy (and you--more all the time! For instance, I hate Monopoly, too.) Will definitely be looking out for this one, sooner rather than later.

    1. Kathy, I had you in mind when I was reading this book! I have a feeling you will like it. It is a quick read.

      Hah! Give me a lively game of Scrabble any day. Monopoly is just too, too boring for me.

    2. Yes Belle & Kathy Monopoly is not my ideas of fun at all and I don't recall ever playing it, I recall being enticed but always held my ground..."I'll just sit here in this high backed chair near a bookcase and the port and watch everyone having fun!!" Having spent (wasted?) a lifetime in corporate finance Monopoly was the last thing I needed for "fun"! I love Scrabble but as the world's worst speller its a challenge, thankfully in my career I always had someone to dictate my correspondence to and not be outed, In reading about W.B. Yeats the other day I discovered he also was a dire speller, so I'm good company.

    3. Tullik, you are just the one I would want to play Scrabble with! I could challenge you on misspelled words. I never did understand the fun of buying and selling all those properties in Monopoly. And somehow I always got picked to be Banker. Hated it.

  4. Belle, where do you find out about these books? Astoundingly, my library actually has it! And I like your "entries."

    1. Well, Kat, I was browsing my library's ebook collection - under Humor- and was intrigued by the title. Sure enough, it is a winner. It has been around for a decade but I am so happy I found it. I am glad your library came through for you. Mine only has the ebook edition...