In a politically-charged world plagued by a hidden virus, local writer and elementary school teacher Chris Brauer felt that it was the appropriate time to self-publish his first book.
“Life, in a Nutshell” was released on Nov. 4, and it’s a non-linear collection of 50 short anecdotes, jokes, observations and memories pulled from Brauer’s personal experiences that each celebrates the notion of not taking life too seriously.
“This book, to me, is kinda like dancing in your kitchen — just take a break for a bit and do something completely different, because it’s kinda hard to laugh at ourselves and at the world right now,” said Brauer, who teaches grades four and five at Yaqan Nukiy School.
Brauer began working on the book during the holiday season of 2019, which is also the period where most of the book’s entries are derived from.
“There’s this Christmas tree story in the book; a normal person would just tie the Christmas tree on top of the roof of their car. I thought it would be easier to drag it down main street,” said Brauer. “Looking back, everything is funny. With enough time, usually, everything is funny.”
A class needle felting project gone wrong, an intimate moment with his wife ruined by cat vomit and strange comments overheard at a staff Christmas party are just some of the many entries that make up the book.
“There’s so much negativity out there. You read the Creston Conversations group on Facebook, and it’s just people going off on each other,” said Brauer. “I don’t want to add to that. I guess this is my way of saying take an hour or a few to just laugh.”
The book, according to Brauer, is the result of learning not to take life and himself too seriously, after spending much of his early adulthood doing so.
“It’s just looking back at all the ridiculous things I do. Some of it is laughing at people in general, but most of it is laughing at myself,” he said.
He was compelled to publish the book on his own, after having no success with finding a publisher to take his two travel memoirs from his adventures in the Middle East and in Ireland.
“This seemed like the right time to put something out that was kinda funny. This seems like a good time to put something out, something lighter, so I just did it on my own,” he said.
With the help of a friend, he was able to self-publish the book — which is available for purchase on Amazon for $15 — through the e-commerce site’s Kindle Direct Publishing program.
“I’m hoping it finds a wide audience. But who knows. Somebody might hate it,” he said. “I’m hoping that it’s kinda embarrassing for me, and that’s ok. It’s hard to laugh at ourselves, but people can laugh at me if they’d like.”
Through the process of writing the book, he said that he learned that “he’s not really normal, but that’s ok.”
“This isn’t going to change the world. Maybe these little entries can have a ripple effect,” he said. “That would be nice. I do feel as a teacher that I’m trying to change the world.”
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org