Review of Dave Barry’s “Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’m a huge Dave Barry fan. I have read all of his non fiction books and a few of his works of fiction.

Also, I love dogs.

So, Dave Barry + a book about dog, could only equal pure gold, right?

Well, as it turns out, silver or bronze.

Here’s the book description from Amazon:

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author of Dave Barry Turns 40 now shows how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent dog, Lucy. Faced with the obstacles and challenges of life after middle age, Dave Barry turns to his best dog, Lucy, to learn how to live his best life. From “Make New Friends” (an unfortunate fail when he can’t overcome his dislike for mankind) to “Don’t Stop Having Fun” (validating his longtime membership in a marching unit that performs in parades—and even Obama’s inauguration), Dave navigates his later years with good humor and grace. Lucy teaches Dave how to live in the present, how to let go of daily grievances, and how to feel good in your own skin. The lessons are drawn from Dave’s routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily life, which will leave you heaving with laughter and recognition.

Here’s my description:

Dave Barry, who is pretty much always funny, writes some general points about how his dog, Lucy, can be a role model for his own behavior. Then, he goes off on tangents about his life experiences and unique personal takes on news events and/or current affairs related in varying levels to each “Lucy lesson.”

He mentions getting older a lot and the things he needs to work on, such as less obsessing over social media and more real connecting with others, in order to get the most out of life. I could relate to this point as to many of his other points.

But I couldn’t help thinking that some people who didn’t really know his work were going to buy the book looking for a good “man’s best friend”-type dog story and be confused or underwhelmed by what felt at times like Lucy’s background role in the book.

There’s really not a lot of dog in this book about his dog. There are descriptions of Lucy and focus on the idea that she’s a good pet to have around, but no stories about Barry really spending any time with her doing anything interesting or bonding with her through anything other than typical daily life activities.

That being said, inasmuch as laughs, there were a number of times when reading the book that I did find myself laughing out loud to the point of actual tears.

There were also some humorous descriptions of dog behavior. For example:

This is typical for dogs: not only do they know when they’ve done a Bad Thing, but they also admit to their crimes. If you have two dogs, and one of them does a Bad Thing, they will both act guilty, because they both feel bad. Also they may have forgotten which one of them did it. They are not astrophysicists. If there were a criminal-justice system consisting entirely of dogs, this is how it would work:

Judge Dog: How does the defendant plead?

Defendant dog: Guilty, Your Honor.

Defense Attorney Dog: I also plead guilty.

Judge Dog: Guilty of what?

Defense Attorney Dog: I don’t know.

Prosecutor and jury dogs: We are also guilty, Your Honor.

Judge Dog: Me too!

Conclusion: If you would like a quick, funny read that is sort of about dogs but really more about how to make the most of your time and not take the people in your life for granted, with some of Barry’s hilarious observations of the world included, check out this book. Here’s the link to the book on Amazon.

Still have questions or want to hear the author himself talking about the book? In the video below, Dave Barry speaks about “Lessons from Lucy” at the Free Library of Philadelphia Author Events.

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