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Book Review: What’s Your Freakin’ Problem? by N.B. Piccirilli

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This book could be called a common sense handbook; or, maybe it’s more like a collection of letters from a friend reassuring us that our thoughts are shared by someone. What’s Your Freakin’ Problem? is entertaining and amusing. It seems to be part self-help and part blog rant covering sundry topics: beautiful people, busy people, nice people, stupid people and, of course, married people. What exactly is being said about some of these groups is nebulous, but the essays do bring a smile. It’s conversational throughout making the book accessible to all. Additionally, there are lists that gently help us examine ourselves. The lists include characteristics to avoid and smart-aleck comments. Great stuff.

For example, let’s consider my favorite essay from the book, “Stupid.” That in itself was enough to tug a brief smile onto my stoic lips. Mrs. Piccirlli states that “she has the s-word on the tip of her tongue a lot.” She’s not alone in that. Now this essay/chapter isn’t an explanation of the word “stupid,” nor is it a clinical or psychological dissertation on intelligence. It’s a cute discussion of how she feels about annoying people and actions. Once again, neither she nor we are alone with these feelings. She writes that she feels its cynical and unkind to refer to people or groups of people as stupid then admits what we all think: “However, some people leave themselves open to it.” Yeah, no kidding.

She cites an example of small town traffic. I found this timely, or ironic, or whatever, since I get to utter the phrase, “The road department here is stupid!” every day as I drive around my little town that doesn’t have the first clue as to how to improve roads without completely discombobulating the flow of traffic. After Mrs. Piccirilli discusses this “traffic stupidity” she adds a list: How to Avoid Appearing Stupid. Number three on the list was great, something about “not listening to what other people say and just saying uh-huh and yeah.” Apparently if you do that, the subject you were not really listening to will rear its ugly head in a group discussion and you’ll be able to do is say, “Uh…” and thus appear really stupid. The list, like all the others, is pretty funny.

A bibliography or cited research of some kind would have been a nice addition. This would have lent weight to the light hearted discussions and made the book a powerful reference tool for a self help library. Mrs. Piccirilli notes in the acknowledgements that she consulted with professionals, but the book still seems to be more of personal opinion than verifiable fact. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to read.

The packaging of the book itself is witty, too. There’s lot’s of gray in the world, as we all know, and there’s no real concrete answer to the question, what’s your freakin’ problem – but the book’s cover is black and white anyway.

Nicely done.

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