The best books that expose every flaw and failure that make human beings so relatable

Monica Parker Author Of Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin
By Monica Parker

Who am I?

I am fortunate to have been blessed with a positive disposition. When my toast falls on the floor I like to believe it will land butter side up. I learned at a very early age that owning one's mistakes and airing them out loud could bring on laughter or a smile of recognition that many of us suffer the same fears as we navigate this often uncharted life with our fingers crossed or hands in prayer, that we will mostly get it right. This is why I write the books I write. By nature, I am a happiness ambassador… And humor is my weapon of choice.


I wrote...

Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin

By Monica Parker,

Book cover of Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin

What is my book about?

Getting Waisted is a vivid look at growing up fat. It's a hilarious and painful ride from chubby baby to a never really thin adult. Monica’s story is also a love story, one where she comes to love herself and in the process finds her true Prince Charming. Monica is an actor, writer, and producer. Most notably she co-wrote the beloved All Dogs Go to Heaven. One of her proudest achievements was creating her insightful one-woman show, Sex, Pies and A Few White Lies. Her latest memoir, the very funny but brutally honest Oops I Forgot to Save Money—(not a how to but a don’t ever!) came out in the fall of 2021. Currently, she is hard at work on her first novel.

The books I picked & why

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Rules of Civility

By Amor Towles,

Book cover of Rules of Civility

Why this book?

The very rich and those who are fighting to stay so, as well as those who never will be, mingle together all wanting something from the other. This book transported me to a time where characters glittered, as did New York in 1928. But being vulnerable is a terrifying thing. They fight so hard to keep their champagne-infused house of cards from crumbling and even when it does, they lie and lie again to protect themselves and to protect the lie itself. It’s so bloody human.

From the second I started reading The Rules of Civility, I was all in. Towles’ way with words made me envious of his gift. But mostly I was entranced by the language, so beautifully rendered by every character – each of whom ‘presents’ a certain charm, poise, confidence brilliantly obscuring their fear and fallibility – as so many of us do.


Talking to Canadians: A Memoir

By Rick Mercer,

Book cover of Talking to Canadians: A Memoir

Why this book?

Rick Mercer is an authentic storyteller because all his stories are true. He has fought against the odds because he didn’t know he shouldn’t. He’s like a self-cleaning oven. He just shimmers every time he tells a tale of his climbing over the shards of a prior failure. They are his gold, that and his sharp wit and clear-eyed understanding of the human condition. He’s laugh-out-loud funny and deeply relatable as he doesn’t know to cover up any of the disasters that could have felled almost everyone else. All that and he is also whip-smart.

I am a dress designer, actress, author, and ‘inspirational’ speaker whose major talent is in revealing my failings. There are many… They are also what have given me a measure of success. I didn’t know any better not to. I like people who have taken chances against all odds. Rick Mercer is one of those people. 


A Million Little Pieces

By James Frey,

Book cover of A Million Little Pieces

Why this book?

I loved reading this book before it became tainted by fact checkers. That being said, it remains a fascinating, raw, and gripping read. His use of language as falls deeper and deeper into becoming hooked is similar to being a storm chaser. He can’t help himself chasing the highs, knowing full well the low may be the last one. “I want a drink. I want fifty drinks. I want a bottle of the purest, strongest, most destructive, most poisonous alcohol on Earth. I want fifty bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, five hundred hits of acid, a garbage bag filled with mushrooms, a tube of glue bigger than a truck, a pool of gas large enough to drown in. I want something anything whatever however as much as I can.

If there ever were more fatally flawed characters to be found within the reading and surrounding the hoopla that went on outside this book. I’d be surprised. If only Mr. Frey had called his book a novel instead of a memoir it would have found its place as a brilliant piece of writing about addiction.


Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory

By Sarah Polley,

Book cover of Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory

Why this book?

As if she were a forensic investigator, Sarah Polley digs deep into the many traumas that shaped her life exponentially from the scoliosis that brought about many surgeries she endured from childhood onward, along with the death of her beloved mother at a young age to becoming a mother in her own right, a surefooted story-teller, director and as always a gifted actress. Her collection of stunningly written essays made me want to protect her from herself and from the many others that profited from her being a child star: Carrying the daunting lead role of Alice-in-Wonderland, doubting her talent, doubting her stamina but showing up none-the-less night after night like a good soldier, even as she began unraveling. She doesn’t flinch as she searches for the truth with compassion, humor, and horror as she litigates her own memories.

As I read Run Toward Danger, I was in awe from page one of Sarah Polley’s bravery and honesty from the retelling of her harrowing, trauma-filled childhood, teenage years to becoming a uniquely fierce warrior-woman, with grace, love, insight, vulnerability, and above all humor.  


The Last Crossing

By Guy Vanderhaeghe,

Book cover of The Last Crossing

Why this book?

Epic is not a word I use lightly but in the case of The Last Crossing, it’s not an overstatement. At its core it’s a story of family, A cruel father, power, and his three sons, all of whom bare the scars from their upbringing. Loyalty, betrayal, insecurity, and often cruelty. Flaws and frailty live within us all but never quite so viscerally It’s the 1800s, set in the uncharted Canadian west, a wild and dangerous place but breathtakingly beautiful - strikingly different from the opulence of England playing out in opposition. There was also so much research put into this journey that while being taken on the adventure, I learned so much without ever feeling the lessons.

Reading this novel, I was stunned at its scope. History comes alive on this journey, which is often so uncomfortable, with a cast of characters that on occasion repelled me but also kept me from putting this book down for long. I could not get this story out of my head. I often dreamt about it. Colorful and compelling, along with Vanderhaeghe’s masterful storytelling, made it one of my most memorable reads.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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