It’s the final day of Thanksreading 2019, and I’m focusing on an author whose new (and first prose) book I bought a little over a week ago: Alicia Tobin.
Tobin’s new book, So You’re a Little Sad, So What? Nice Things to Say to Yourself on Bad Days and Other Essays, is a collection of writing that’s equal parts humor and gentle self-care. It’s also proof that Tobin and I were separated at birth, I think.
I’ve been a fan of Tobin for years, beginning with her appearances on my favorite podcast, Stop Podcasting Yourself, and then through her own podcasts, Retail Nightmares and Super! Sick! Podcast! She is genuinely funny, leads with her heart, and is a just plain awesome human being. Not that she’d admit it (she’s humble, to boot), but she’s one of the shining stars on the Canadian comedy scene and deserving of wider exposure in the United States and beyond.
So You’re a Little Sad is the first book I crossed international boundaries to buy. It was released in Canada at the end of September. It won’t be available here in the U.S. until early 2020. I couldn’t wait, and I finally got a chance to visit Brome Lake Books, a lovely English-language bookstore in Knowlton, QC, earlier this month.
Tobin’s book was in the humor section of the bookstore, always a dodgy assortment of material. And I get it. She’s a comedian. But I take great issue with So You’re a Little Sad being within spitting distance of Dilbert collections and stale stand-up routines repackaged in book form.
Anyway, that was the day I became a book mule. It’s not illegal to bring only-available-in-Canada-books back into the U.S., but it’s the most James Bond thing I’ve ever done.
I read Tobin’s book in three days. More accurately, I devoured it.
Her essays range from gleeful whimsy (see her thoughts about raccoons) to heartfelt insight (the title essay, for example). Throughout the book, Tobin’s heart is on full display on her sleeve, and she makes it very hard to not buy a plane ticket to Vancouver just to buy her a coffee and chat for a while.
There’s a degree of personal revelation in So You’re a Little Sad that isn’t found in bestselling memoirs with three times the page count. At one point, she tells the story of her initiation into stand-up comedy. She entered that world at a pivotal time, and it’s an anger-inducing, fascinating tale. It’s also a powerful reminder of how entrenched misogyny is in our culture. (Hey, men! Check yourself before you wreck others. And yourself.)
As I read the book, I found that in some ways, Tobin and I shared somewhat similar experiences. We’re nearly the same age, and she spent her youth and some of her adulthood in Quebec while I was growing up a couple hours away in northern Vermont. Her struggles with anxiety mirror mine, and we both relied heavily on making people laugh as a coping mechanism. And we both use cooking and baking as genuine demonstrations of our love for others. I’m also getting ready to send my first book to an editor at the end of this week, and I felt a kinship with Tobin as I listened to her stories about working on the book via podcasts.
Also dogs. We both love dogs so much. SO MUCH!
I didn’t doubt for a second that there’d be an essay in So You’re a Little Sad about dogs. After all, on her Retail Nightmares podcast, Tobin has a segment called “Doggo of the Week,” and her relationship with her poodle Hank is well documented on Instagram.
She closes out her book with an essay about the dogs that have been an important part of her life. I read it the night after we took our pekingese Sally to the emergency vet (which I wrote about here), and that essay made me cry. Hard.
As I close out this year’s round of Thanksgiving pieces, there are many authors I didn’t get to, lots of gratitude to spread around still. But after the week I’ve had, and being the person I am right now on this journey through life, I had to cap the week off by giving thanks for Alicia Tobin. She hit me where I live with her work, and it’s a book I’ll be going back to time and again. And buying for others.
Happy Thanksreading (and Thanksgiving)!
If you’re in the states and can’t wait till next year to buy So You’re a Little Sad, So What?, you can find it here. It really is worth getting right away. But it’s also worth the wait. Oh no! It’s a paradox!!!