Navel Gazing by Michael Ian Black
I will forever associate Michael Ian Black with “The State.” Even though we didn’t have MTV for long when I was in high school, I have very strong memories of watching the show and loving it. I own the DVDs (yup, actual, physical, non-Blu-Ray DVDs), and thanks to Mr. Black I can clearly describe to you what $240 worth of pudding looks like.
I now follow Mr. Black on Twitter, which is how I found out about his new book. I was looking for something to listen to at the gym and on my walks to and from work, and this one turned out to be rather perfect for that purpose.
The full title of this sweet, funny, interesting, relatable and vulnerable book is “Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom’s, which I know sounds weird).” It’s about Mr. Black’s attempts to wrestle with his own mortality and aging body while dealing with the fact that his mother is chronically ill. There’s an entire (vividly descriptive) chapter focused on how much he hates his feet. There’s one where he chronicles his attempt to learn what diseases he is predisposed to getting. And there’s a really great chapter focused on training for and running his first 10K race.
I very deliberately chose to include the descriptor “vulnerable” because I appreciated how Mr. Black stripped down to his deepest fears (which many of us share) and was brutally honest with the reader about his attempts to sort through them. It could have been SUCH a heavy book; instead, it was light in the right places, darkly humorous in the right places, and (sparingly) just plain dark when necessary. Mr. Black read the audio version, which I think really made the book come alive.