My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

From acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach comes the complete collection of her “My Planet” articles published in Reader’s Digest. She was a hit columnist in the magazine, and this book features the articles she wrote in that time. Insightful and hilarious, Mary explores the ins and outs of the modern world: marriage, friends, family, food, technology, customer service, dental floss, and ants—she leaves no element of the American experience unchecked for its inherent paradoxes, pleasures, and foibles.

On Cleanliness:
Ed has crud vision, and I don’t. I don’t notice filth. Ed sees it everywhere. I am reasonably convinced that Ed can actually see bacteria. . . . He confessed he didn’t like me using his bathrobe because I’d wear it while sitting on the toilet.
“It’s not like it goes in the water,” I protested, though if you counted the sash as part of the robe, this wasn’t strictly true.

On the Internet:
The Internet is a boon for hypochondriacs like me. Right now, for instance, I’m feeling a shooting pain on the side of my neck. A Web search produces five matches, the first three for a condition called Arnold-Chiari Malformation.
While my husband, Ed, reads over my shoulder, I recite symptoms from the list. “‘General clumsiness’ and ‘general imbalance,’” I say, as though announcing arrivals at the Marine Corps Ball. “‘Difficulty driving,’ ‘lack of taste,’ ‘difficulty feeling feet on ground.’”
“Those aren’t symptoms,” says Ed. “Those are your character flaws.”
On Fashion:
My husband recently made me try on a bikini. A bikini is not so much a garment as a cloth-based reminder that your parts have been migrating all these years. My waist, I realized that day in the dressing room, has completely disappeared beneath my rib cage, which now rests directly on my hips. I’m exhibiting continental drift in reverse.

On Eating Healthy:
So Ed and I were eating a lot of vegetables. Vegetables on pasta, vegetables on rice. This was extremely healthy, until you got to the part where Ed and I are found in the kitchen at 10 p.m., feeding on Froot Loops and tubes of cookie dough.

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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3 Comments

  1. Just for Laughs Isn’t that typical, that I would only find out about Mary Roach’s humor column after she stopped writing it. I love her magazine articles and books, which are also humorous, but only incidentally, as she explains some scientific concept or lists disaster preparedness tips. 

  2. A delightful package of essays. This book came to me for review and when I found it was full of short (3-4 pages) essays, I was eager to pick it up and start reading it. I grew up reading Reader’s Digest with my parents and have even subscribed a few times over the course of my adult life. I have always loved the short stories and true-to-life wisdom that Reader’s Digest shares with its readers. So, when I saw these essays were from a column in Reader’s Digest, I knew it had to be a hit. 

  3. Short, dumbed-down Reader’s Digest writing – not her normal science writing My own fault for not looking more carefully – the cover image does have “Reader’s Digest” stamped on it. 

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