In the past week or so I read (or re-read) three books whose collective theme, in retrospect, is one of cynicism, but they are coincidentally all perfect reading material for when you're on the hopper.
First up, and least cynical of them all, is a collection of travel writing called Not So Funny When it Happened. Featuring excerpts from such authors as Dave Barry, Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, it's a self-described compendium of travel humor and misadventure. I highly recommend it.
Next (in order of cynicism) is The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating & Sex. This book is hilarious, if not altogether the most practical self-help manual out there. It opens with a chapter describing the steps to determine if your date is an axe murderer, and things go downhill from there.
Finally, and what has to be the most patently cynical book I've ever read (including the works of the great Russian writers), I leave you with The Pessimist's Guide to History: An Irresistible Compendium of Catastrophes, Barbarities, Massacres and Mayhem from The Big Bang to the New Millennium. In what can only be described as a prescient moment, the book ends with this:
On New Year's Day, despite a few minor glitches, ATMs dispensed cash, utilities functioned, planes were still flying in the air, no nuclear weapons were deployed, terrorists did not strike, and as dawn broke around the world, the earth was still rotating on its axis.
It was enough to bring tears to a pessimist's eyes. Of course, we never know what's just around the corner, do we?