This year is nearly a wrap, dwindling to just a few days. It's also a quiet week at bookstores around the county, with the exception of buyers clutching gift certificates.
If you have one of those, how about choosing something to make you laugh? It's been said comedy is tragedy plus time, but the timeline seems to be getting quite a bit shorter, especially if you're a news junkie.
So, whether your own life is tragedy-free or not, a major dose of comedy may be welcome relief from political upheaval and world crises.
Our humor fix includes "The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce--probably out of print but not outdated. Bierce defines politics as a "strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles," and he calls love "a temporary insanity curable by marriage." If these definitions have made you laugh, you experienced "an interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises."
Laughter relieves tension, whether you're dealing with CAT scan scares or ants in your pantry. Santa Barbara psychotherapist Annette Goodheart had an audience of diabetics laughing through tears at a recent daylong conference.
She says if you're going to be miserable, you might as well enjoy it. Furthermore, you don't have to be happy, have a sense of humor or a reason to laugh. Fake it until you make it, she advises in her book "Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn't Really Funny" (Less Stress Press).
Norman Cousins aroused public interest 20 years ago by devising his own laughter therapy to cure a serious illness.
His account in "Anatomy of an Illness" (Bantam) encouraged health professionals to research the positive effects of humor. Cousins referred to laughter as inner jogging.
Since that time, tons of books with catchy titles have littered the marketplace. An example: "Lighten Up: Survival Skills for People Under Pressure" by C.W. Metcalfe and Roma Felible (Addison-Wesley).
So unless you're getting e-mail jokes from everyone you never knew, pick up a book that tickles your funny bone. It will lighten your life, which incidentally Bierce defines as "a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay."
A multitude of events can be found at Borders in Thousand Oaks this week. The store is at 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd. 497-8159.
Today from 4 to 6 p.m., a reception featuring local artist Drew Davis at the cafe.
Wednesday at noon, the Literary Lunch Bunch, stories and snacks. Also, at 2 p.m., favorite stories from 1998.
Friday, the Jim Stubblefield Band will play from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday at 9:30 a.m., Borders Classical Music Group meets to enjoy the operas of Puccini. At 7:30 p.m., flamenco guitarist Robby Longley performs in the cafe. At 7 p.m. is Pajamamania, story time for kids with Rugrat stories and giveaways.
Catch you next year.
* Information on book-signings, writers groups or publishing events can be faxed to Ann Shields at (805) 647-5649, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.