Goodreads Project, Part 15: Humor

Goodreads Project, Part 15: Humor

I’ve reached Humor, the fifteenth and last category in the Goodreads’ Best Book of the Year contest. In this category, I read the book that won: Henry Winkler’s memoir, Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond.

Being Henry

This book was not what I expected from the “Humor” category. I thought it would be comedy. Instead, it’s the memoir of a guy who rose to fame early in a sitcom and then had to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. He occasionally writes a funny line, but the story isn’t particularly funny.

Working with a co-writer, James Kaplan, Winkler tells parallel stories. In his public life as The Fonz, he reached world-wide fame. But in his private life, he struggled with dyslexia so severe that he couldn’t read. In the era in which he grew up, that meant even his parents and teachers accused him of being lazy or stupid, a message he internalized.

Winkler includes entertaining details about his work on Happy Days, including the episode in which Fonzie literally jumped the shark and thus gave birth to a meme. But when the eleven seasons were done, he was left with the fear that success like that might never come again. So, we read about him trying to avoid typecasting, working small jobs, doing voice work, doing anything he can. Eventually, he finds therapy and the Barry series, both of which provide some healing.

Also, by the time one of his own children turned out to be dyslexic, the world had a label for what was happening. For Winkler, that was an enormous insight and relief. To his list of odd jobs, he added co-writing a series of children’s books (Hank Zipster) about a dyslexic boy, based on his own memories.

For me, some of the most interesting parts of the book are his comments on acting. He talks about having to find the character in himself and needing to trust his own instincts. I found that similar to how writing often feels to me.

The Project: A Wrapup

I’m happy I did this project. I read some books I otherwise would never even have heard of, and I enjoyed most of them. I learned some things, such as what life was like on a sailing ship or how acting feels when it’s done right. And doing the project gave me a sense of accomplishment.


Deep as a Tomb

Sixteen-year-old Myla feels the land in her blood and bones. Royal heir Beran wants revenge for murder. Forest native Kaven wants to protect Myla from every danger. Thrown together as fosterlings in the same household, Myla, Beran, and Kaven must each decide how far they’re willing to use personal and political power to get what they want.


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