Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

Title: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges
Author: Jen Mann
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: October 13th 2015
Source: Ballantine Books

Book Description:

For fans of Laurie Notaro and Jenny Lawson comes an uproarious and oddly endearing essay collection for anyone trying to survive the holidays in one piece.

When it comes to time-honored holiday traditions, Jen Mann pulls no punches

In this hilariously irreverent collection of essays, Jen Mann, nationally bestselling author of People I Want to Punch in the Throat, turns her mordant wit on the holidays. On Mann’s naughty list: mothers who go way overboard with their Elf on the Shelf, overzealous carolers who can’t take a hint, and people who write their Christmas cards in the third person (“Joyce is enjoying Bunko. Yeah, Joyce, we know you wrote this letter.”). And on her nice list . . . well, she’s working on that one. Here, no celebration is off-limits. The essays include:

• You Can Keep Your Cookies, I’m Just Here for the Booze
• Nice Halloween Costume. Was Skank Sold Out?
• Why You Won’t Be Invited to Our Chinese New Year Party

From hosting an ill-fated Chinese New Year party, to receiving horrible gifts from her husband on Mother’s Day, to reluctantly telling her son the truth about the Easter Bunny, Mann knows the challenge of navigating the holidays while keeping her sanity intact. And even if she can’t get out of attending another Christmas cookie exchange, at least she can try again next year.




I was super excited when I heard about this book. I read and loved the first book, People I Want to Punch in the Throat. I have a hard time around the holidays thanks to my family's own dysfunction, so I couldn't wait to read her snarky take on the holiday season. I was left with a bit of a blue Christmas though, as this collection of essays fell flat for me.

I think the issue is in part: there's just not enough. I don't mean that the book is too short. What I do mean is that there's not enough actual holiday content. It feels like the author had maybe a few funny stories but tried to stretch them out a bit in order to fill a full book's worth. The end result isn't flattering. It makes the essays seem a bit forced in their humor. The writing was a bit boring, and while I did get a few laughs out of it, it wasn't nearly as laugh-out-loud-worthy as its predecessor. I like that Mann isn't PC. She's blunt and to the point and snarky, and I have a very similar personality type. But it's not enough to just throw around swears and sass; that does not a good essay make. I was whelmed.

I also feel like this book wasn't edited in the best way. It was choppy and just, didn't flow right. I wasn't able to get lost in the book at all, because it was so fragmented. I understand that this is a collection of essays and not a novel, but even so there was something just off about it.

I'm not sorry I read this. Like I said, it made me smile and I got a few laughs out of it. I think it's a book that's more of a coffee table book you bring out for the holidays and then pack up for the rest of the year, or perhaps a good gift for that one aunt on Facebook who posts nothing but memes featuring minions and wine. I'd definitely recommend the book before this one more, though, so if you haven't read it, add it to your to-read list before considering this one.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!


  1. Aw man, it's such a bummer to hear this was a disappointing read. I know how much you loved the first one and I was excited and eager to get both. But I think I might stick with the first one. Awesome review as always my love.