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Only once in my life have I had insomnia - for an extended period - and it was a miserable experience. So it was with some skepticism that I read Lenore Skomal's Wide Awake: The Insomniac's Manifesto To Ruling The World.

With the motto, "Sleep is for dreamers," the author puts forth a case that those of us who sleep away one-third of our lives are going about life the wrong way, missing out on a lot and should be ashamed of ourselves. And she does it in such a bright, tongue-in-cheek fashion, I found myself enjoying being scolded.

She takes delight in smashing myths, like "Everyone needs at least seven hours of sleep a night." The reality, she says, is that the "needs" list is limited: "food and water, shelter, and reality TV." She lists a number of well-known non-sleepers who did quite well: Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Thatcher; as well as some famous non-sleepers -- Rip Van Winkle and Sleeping Beauty -- who "never really accomplished much in their lifetimes."

It's a well-researched book. You probably didn't know that cows can sleep while standing up, but they only dream when lying down. Who knew cows dream?

Skomal refers to herself as a career insomniac whose lack of sleep has fueled her success as a journalist of 25 years, a newspaper columnist and an award-winning author of nine books.

Her latest work is a short, quick read and I got through it without dozing off. But now I need a nap.

Available from www.cidermillpress.com or www.amazon.com

                                            - Robert L. Haught


Rose A. Valenta drew the inspiration for the title of her book, Sitting on Cold Porcelain, from a trip to the bathroom in the dark of night and a thoughtless husband. But life is full of such experiences and this talented writer shows the skill to turn them into humorous episodes in this collection of snappy essays.
With a drawing of a commode on the cover you might expect to find some potty humor, and there's some of that. Let's face it: many bodily functions, both human and animal, can be sources of amusement and comedy writers have mined that field often over the years. Unlike crude stand-up comics and producers of some of the juvenile skits on "Saturday Night Live", Valenta handles topics like cow dung sculpture, whale urine and noisy sex with grace as well as wit.
The creator of "Rosie's Renegade Humor Blog" did trigger a "Red Stop Sign" alert on a computer in a friend's office but it turned out to be an error and, naturally, she got a funny article out of the incident.
Valenta is quick to see the humor potential in daily news events and some of her best satirical thrusts are aimed at real people and real life situations. She has a flair for puncturing the egos of public figures in sports, politics entertainment and other fields. Her longer pieces generally spring from conversations with Mrs. Giordano, an Italian "evil eye" doctor, and other Philadelphia friends.
Her philosophy on the craziness of life is aptly expressed in her saying, "So, what else is there to do, but share an honest laugh?" She has done just that, and done it well, in "Sitting on Cold Porcelain."
Available from www.amazon.com or www.smashwords.com.

                                           - Robert L. Haught

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