Need a little levity this season?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 12, 2017

For cat lovers

“Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me,” by Cynthia L. Copeland.

This $12.95 book has, of course, adorable pictures of cats being cats and the usual cute sayings, but it goes a little further. It includes stories about extraordinary cats and famous cat lovers, tips for traveling with your cat and food you can share, among other things.

It’s a book you can read more than once, especially when you need a pick-me-up. The furry authority of cats makes things better.

In it, you’ll be reminded to “Draw strength from solitude,” to “Watch and wait. The world will present itself  to you.”

There’s a page of advice, “3 good reasons to put yourself first.” Cats have perfected this. The page says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and “you’ll lift up those around you.”

What cat owner has not been cheered by a warm greeting and a good cuddle from the cat after a long, hard day?

Cats get plenty of sleep, they eat small meals frequently and drink lots of water — surely a model for better living.

When you see the quote, “Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time …” from James Mason, you’ll nod your head — they do know how to make fun. It also offers tips to keep your cat amused and interested and out of trouble, if that’s possible.

They need stimulation because, as this book tells us, “Your cat is smarter than your iPad — a lot smarter. An iPad can process an astounding 170 million operations per second, but your cat’s brain can handle 6.1 trillion. As for storage space? Your cat wins again: 91,000 gigabytes to an iPad’s 60.”

Your cat-loving friend, and his or her cat, will be happy when they get this book. They can read it together.

If you are a dog lover, the same author has written “Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me,” but we all know cats rule, dogs drool.

You want quirky?

“Random Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird, and Totally Not Boring Things to Know,” by Mike Lowery.

Author/illustrator Lowery has a style reminiscent of New Yorker cartoonist and graphic novelist Roz Chast.

The critters and creatures he draws are loose and kind of goofy looking, making them somehow endearing. And the facts range from the amazing to the downright gross, but always interesting.

Lowery loves illustrating and he is addicted to learning wacky facts. He can take an everyday object and find its odd factor, then draw it.

The press material that came with the book aptly describes how the book lets readers “fall down a rabbit hole of pure blissful randomness.”

This is the book you can bug your spouse and kids with.

Hey, did you know: “A student from the University of Michigan recorded that his customized licking machine required 411 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie pop” ?

And here’s another good one: “In Ancient Rome, people would put a piece for burnt bread in wine to soak up the acidity. This became linked with the ritual of drinking to one’s health or toasting.”

Or: “In Japan the term for getting fired comes from the word that means ‘to behead’.”

It’s a lot of fun, really, and Lowery’s drawings are clever. Even his lettering adds to the whimsy of the book.

He created the “Doodle Adventures” series and “The Kid’s Awesome Activity Calendar.” And he has 171,000 followers on Instagram.

The book is for all ages and would even make a good teacher gift for $14.95.

Silly and serious

“Life Is a Joke: 100 Life Lessons (with punch lines),” by the Javna Brothers.

The Javna Brothers are John and Gordan Javna, creators of the wildly popular Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series, now in its gazillionth edition. (Also my husband’s favorite books).

If Mike Lowery loves to draw weird facts, John is obsessed with them.

This book offers story jokes with a quick punch line — or not. Some of the jokes are absurdities. Then John and Gordon present the life lesson the joke is meant to illustrate, such as joke No. 80, “Don’t Take It Personally.” After the joke about a wimpy boxer, the life lesson is about accepting criticism and considering its source. Take time to step back and ask three questions: Do you care what this person says or thinks about you? Is the criticism constructive? Is the criticism destructive?

As the authors suggest, it’s not something to read cover-to-cover. Dip in here, there, anywhere. You can refer to it later, especially if you’ve been beating yourself up about something, or you just need a laugh and an adjustment to your perspective.

What qualifies the guys who share scads of trivia for bathroom reading to offer life lessons? Well, the joke and lesson combo has worked for them with their families and friends. And they cite the nearly universal tradition of learning from stories. Its human tradition. Think of Aesop’s fables.

“Life Is a Joke” is not that serious. You can tell from the banana peel on the cover. At $12.95, it’s another handy gift book for the holidays.