If you've ever traveled too close for comfort on an airplane, or even worse been seated next to a passenger you simply don't jive with, you'll enjoy hearing David Sedaris' account of how he accidentally spit his cough drop onto the lap of his sleeping neighbor--the very same seat mate he recently quibbled with due to his refusal to switch seats. This is only one of the hilarious tales Sedaris expertly weaves in his When You Are Engulfed in Flames, a collection of 22 essays that range from the mundane to poignant to downright bizarre. It's difficult to summarize this work in a nutshell, as the subject matter varies from a cantankerous old lady to learning Japanese to befriending (and naming) spiders that inhabit the window pane. One thing is clear though, and that is Sedaris' uncanny ability to assess what mundane about everyday life and spin it into something uniquely insightful about human nature, not to mention funny--laugh out loud doesn't even cover it. Expect to spit coffee on yourself if you're listening while driving (this is still legal). "The Smoking Section," Sedaris' account of trying to quit smoking in Tokyo, is probably one of the most brilliant pieces of humor writing around. The CD book is read by Sedaris himself, and includes four live performances of public readings; while I'm sure the book is also excellent, the audio recording isn't to be missed.
Recommended by Rachel DeBusk