Book Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls

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It’s sad to admit but I am quite late to the party in terms of reading David Sedaris. I’d seen his books many times and they’ve been on my “want to read” lists for ages, but I’m finally getting around to actually reading them. All I can say is that I wish I had started earlier, based on Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. If laughter is the best medicine then this book should be patented as a new age cure-all.

Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls cover

Between my fear of birds and my fear of needles, it’s a testament to the cover artist that I opened this book.

I can’t recall how or why LEDWO became the first Sedaris book I chose to read – maybe because it’s his newest work (published in April 2013) or maybe it just wasn’t on hold at the library when I did a search. Either way, I was immediately hooked by the writing in the first chapter, “Dentists Without Borders”. Each chapter is a narrative essay on a different topic; “Dentists Without Borders” discusses the practice of dentistry in France (where Sedaris sometimes resides) as compared with how European healthcare was described to Americans during all the national healthcare furor. Sure, this probably sounds like a very dry read based on that description but Sedaris’s wit and sarcasm is infused throughout. For example, this exchange between a Dr. Barras, the woman in France who does the deep cleanings on Sedaris’s teeth, and Sedaris.

“You have what we in France call ‘good time teeth,'” she said. “Why on earth would you want to change them?”

“Um, because I can floss with the sash to my bathrobe?”

I have an irrational fear of visiting the dentist so that first chapter felt very familiar to me but also made me howl with laughter – because it wasn’t happening to me. The second chapter, “Attaboy”, discusses the differences in parenting styles between Sedaris’s childhood and today. [Spoiler alert: many parents today want to trend further toward the “friend” side of the scales than the “parent” side, based on my independent observations in malls and department stores.] There were many times in the book where I laughed so hard I cried giant tears and was left gasping for breath. (If you’ve ever had the misfortune to see me in this state, you know that it’s somewhat horrifying but also a huge compliment to whoever made me laugh that hard in the first place.) My husband actually banned me from reading this book before bed due to the fact that it took me at least five minutes to get over a laughing fit brought on by a particular turn of phrase – and sometimes I would start back up again soon after.

Sedaris is a master of spotlighting the absurdities in mundane tasks. One of the things I loved immediately about his writing style is his ability to say the types of things I’d often love to say…if I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble. Whether or not he actually said them in that moment is irrelevant. Sedaris leaves you with the feeling that he got the last word and that, by association, you did too.


Verdict: I didn’t run out and buy my own copy of this like I did with Tiny Beautiful Things but I enjoyed this book in a completely different way. I hadn’t laughed that hard in ages! Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls is full of witty, intelligent humor. I’m glad that I finally found Sedaris – better late than never.

Recommended for: Those who enjoy dry humor, a sassy narrator, and/or ridiculous life stories.

Price: $8.89 (Kindle) – $16.44 (hardcover) on Amazon

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