Did you hear? YALSA announced the finalists for the 2015 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and the Morris Award (for debut YA authors)! These are two of my favorite awards ever. I started reading the Morris Award nominees in 2010, thought I don’t always get through them all.  (Maybe I should go back and fill in the gaps this year?) Apparently, I am not the only one who loves to read the nominees for these lists, because YALSA’s HUB hosts a reading challenge between the announcement of the nominees and the announcement of the award.

One of the fun things about participating in this challenge is that knowing I plan to read all the books means that I don’t read any descriptions. I printed out a list of the books, searched our catalog, and grabbed what we owned off the shelves. I ordered what we didn’t own. Holding a selection of 3 of the titles out to my co-worker, I asked which I should read first (assuring her I would eventually read them all, so this was effectively a coin toss). She suggested this one, for the humor in the dialog alone if nothing else, or so she’s heard. I trust her. I also trust Rainn Wilson, who has a blurb on the front cover.

This is one of those books that I think everyone should read. Shane finds humor in every awkward/embarrassing/painful situation he has found himself in. Some of that humor comes with hindsight and maturity. A lot of it now comes in the moment. This entire book is a testament to the concept of laughing at yourself. A case-study in the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” And while it certainly won’t cure a fatal disease, it just may make the time between birth and death worth something.

What really resonated with my about this book is that Shane’s experience is not so different than anyone else’s. Who hasn’t felt awkward around someone they liked, stressed about a new school and making new friends, tried to hide a painful injury out of fear, or let their hormones get the better of their brain? Sure, there are additional obstacles, but not so different that we can’t all learn from each other and relate.

Below, a few quotes that I found myself noting down as I read. The first three are all from the same story.

“However,  at that age, nothing made me more uncomfortable than being surrounded by other people in wheelchairs. I desperately wanted to show the world that I was normal despite my disability. ” p. 83

(I don’t remember exactly which part of this page I liked, but it’s all good stuff.)


“The best way i can describe Tim for you is that his favorite band was Limp Bizkit.” p. 85

“Unfortunately,  vindication doesn’t heal broken bones.  Neither does morphine, but it helps.” p. 135

Just go read it. Trust me. You won’t regret it. Laughing at My Nightmare is more than just a book. It started as a Tumblr and has progressed into a non-profit that raises money for muscular dystrophy research. Go. Support. Learn. Laugh.

Title: Laughing at My Nightmare
Author: Shane Burcaw
Age level: YA+ (there is some sex, so maybe not the younger YA crowd)
Illustrated: No, but there are photos and word bubbles
Times I put the book down: This book has fairly short chapters, which makes it perfect for picking up during short down times. (To answer the question, frequently, but never for long.)
Where I read this book: Everywhere. (See above answer)
Who I would give this book to: Everyone! Actually, I really think that J and J could both use the message of this one, but neither will actually read. So instead, I may sneakily share the Tumblr posts with them.
Setting: Mostly Bethlehem, Florida
Favorite Moment: Not a favorite moment, per se, but what made all the moments my favorite: the brutal honesty. Also, that this was a book about experiences, not a book about a disease.
Rating: 4 stars
Book Source: Public library