btripp_books (btripp_books) wrote,

Like a cat needs a self-help book ...

OK, If I keep reviewing these, somebody out there is going to accuse me of being a “crazy cat lady guy”, but the good folks at Ten Speed Press keep sending them and I keep finding them amusing, and so you get to read me bloviating about them. Actually, it's probably not fair to group in Dena Harris' Who Moved My Mouse?: A Self-Help Book for Cats (Who Don't Need Any Help) with my previously-reviewed Careers for Your Cat as they are by different authors, with different “hooks”, but it is somewhat inevitable, as they both look so similar, featuring the whimsical art of Ann Boyajian (whose contribution made it to the cover credits on the previous book, but she ends up listed below “Mr. Nom-Noms” on the title page here).

Whereas the “Careers” book spoofed the genre of Myers-Briggs career guides, Who Moved My Mouse? takes on an entire shelf-full of self-help books, one by one. Obviously, the joke here works best when one is familiar with the “source material” being re-imaged into a cat-centric universe (uh, as if there was another type), as I found the spoofs on the ones I had read being far more amusing that those on ones that I'd only heard of.

The book starts off with “A Cat's Conversations With God”, which I assume to be spun off of the (unread by me) Conversations With God books, then moves into what appears to be a generic “Purrsonality Profile” (I couldn't identify a specific book this was imitating), and then into “How To Win Friends And Influence Dog People”, no doubt following the non-Dog version by Dale Carnegie. Next it moves to the title chapter, “Who Moved My Mouse?: An Amazing Path to Declare Revenge on Those Who Dare Disturb What Is Yours”, obviously paralleling Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, and then to “Don't Sweat the Small Stuff … But Feel Free to Freak Out Over Anything That Moves Suddenly or Without Warning” which echoes Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--and it's all small stuff, and on to “Nice Cats Don't Get the Corner Litter Box” which certainly owes a good deal to Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office. Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People transforms into “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Cats”, Don Miguel Ruiz' The Four Agreements become “The Fur Agreements” (and, interestingly, this is the only source book specifically credited with inspiration for a chapter here), and The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook (which appears to deal with things like escaping from quicksand or performing a do-it-yourself tracheotomy) becomes “A Cat's Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook”, with pointers on avoiding baths and vacuum cleaners. A “bonus chapter” on The Secret closes things out, but this is a mere 2 sentences long.

At one point a Chicago comedy troupe had an unofficial slogan: “the drunker you are, the funnier we are”, and I'm reminded of that when thinking about this book … the more familiar the reader is with the “source material” the funnier the Cat-version takes on it will be. While this would be an amusing “kitty humor” book to somebody who had never wandered down the “business strategy” or “self-help” aisle of their local bookstore, it could well be a “gut-buster” for those who were both well versed in these genres, and can-opening adjuncts of the feline species. I, myself, am in the middle here, cohabiting with cats and having dabbled in the books in question, and I'm sure I found this far more amusing than some would, but far less so than others.

In any case, Who Moved My Mouse? is a short, easy read, with a predictable (if variable) humor pay-off, so should be something that anybody would enjoy. This only officially came out last week, so it is very likely to be available at your local brick-and-mortar book monger, but both Amazon and BN.com have it on discount for under $10. This would be appreciated in general by “cat people”, but is likely to most amusing to folks who are big into the books spoofed in it!


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