Balm for the weary soul

I don’t have to explain the giant orange reason my soul is weary, but I will explain to you why Giant of the Senate by Al Franken is like a balm.

1. It’s funny. Especially the audio book read by Franken. I’m guessing it must be funny on the page, but hearing Franken read it with his brilliant comedic timing makes it a real joy. I also noticed something I hadn’t before. He sounds like a Minnesotan. A bit like my uncle Roy actually. I guess that is a hard accent to lose. Although 2 years in DC and 2 years in Hawaii in my 20s did the trick for me–mostly.

2. It’s uplifting. Franken’s story about his time in the U.S. Senate and the personal and political lead-up to being elected, gives one a lot of hope that political discourse, and kindness are not things of the past. It made me less apt to throw myself off a bridge when thinking about, or reading about President 45.  It is one thing to be unhappy about a politician with opposing view points (on everything), but it is another thing when that politician is a verifiable serial liar of the highest order with a 5th grade vocabulary and a propensity to act like a 5th grader as well. Franken not only hearkens back to sunnier days, but provides a real pep talk for our path out of this.

I can’t say whether or not a “normal” Republican would find his pep talk equally inspiring as a lefty like myself. In some ways I think they could, because I hope against hope that they realize the abomination running our country, but also because Franken has plenty of nice things to say about Republicans and particularly the Republicans he works with in the Senate. (Unless you are Ted Cruz. He doesn’t really let up on Ted Cruz.)

3. It’s informative. I am continually amazed by how little Americans understand about how their government works. I find myself cringing on Facebook when a friend posts a meme or makes a statement that makes it clear they don’t remember much about junior high civics. This book would go a long way to making them far less ignorant about the basic workings of government. And Franken definitely gets in the weeds when talking about congressional process and maneuvering, getting elected to national office, policy, and politics in general. I may be a bit of a politics and policy nerd, so I am not sure how well I can judge how a general reader might find some of his discussions. For my part, I thought it was great. I learned more than a bit about ag policy, Native American issues, and the ACA.

4. It’s uplifting. I know I said that already, but it bears repeating. The book reminds me that the political ideals of my formative years in Minnesota are not the politics of Michele Bachmann and her ilk. It’s traditionally been the home of sensible Democrats and sensible Republicans for that matter. I would not be embarrassed to be represented by the Minnesota Republicans of my youth. It also reminds me, and makes me proud that even today Minnesota has the highest voter turnout of any state (narrowly beating out Wisconsin).

5. It’s unputdownable. If you think you may enjoy this book, you probably will enjoy this book. And even if you think audio books aren’t your thing, this might be a really good time to listen to one. Franken had me laughing out loud and sitting in my drive way at the end of my commute because I didn’t want to stop listening.

8 thoughts on “Balm for the weary soul

  1. Karen K. July 10, 2017 / 4:39 am

    Sold! I’ve loved Al Franken since I saw him draw a map of the U.S. on late night television. Also, everyone hates Ted Cruz, even other Republicans. Lindsey Graham in particular is has made some really good zingers. And I could definitely use something uplifting, I can hardly bear to read the news.


    • Thomas July 10, 2017 / 5:19 am

      So funny you should mention Franken’s map drawing skills. I remember seeing that back in the day as well and being totally blown away.


    • Annie Xia July 12, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      WHOA. I just watched the video of him drawing the United States. That’s so cool!


  2. readerlane July 10, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve got an Audible credit burning a hole in my pocket, and this sounds like the perfect anecdote to a bad news day/week/4 years…


  3. Laila@BigReadingLife July 10, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    This review is a balm for my weary soul as well. I’m on hold for this at the library and now I think I’ll have to get on the list for the audio version.


  4. Liz Dexter July 10, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    I’m glad there is some good stuff out there to counteract the horribles!


  5. Grier July 11, 2017 / 2:41 pm

    Franken for President in 2020!


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