Hitting the road this holiday season? Whether you’re visiting family or nurturing your wanderlust, spending time in a car, train or plane is inevitable. Use that time wisely, and take a preliminary mental journey with one of these books sure to spark the imagination and have you ready to take on whatever adventure awaits.


The holidays approach. After your mother emotionally blackmails you into attending this year’s Misery Fest, you’ll find yourself asking the deep philosophical questions Aristotle and Diogenes wrestled with.

Questions like, “How am I related to Cousin Derrick? Didn’t he and his kids fall out of a tree only last week?!” And, “Exactly how many squirrels does it take to fill Aunt Mabel’s legendary Squirrel Casserole?” I know. I’ve been there. The answers are: Through your father’s father’s side. Yes, because their tails fell off two weeks ago. Forty-two squirrels.

Discussing controversial cookbooks is a delightful relief compared to listening to Cousin Derrick orate about the state flag, homosexuals or the lack of “appropriate” police brutality in 21st Century America. For this technique to work, the recipes must be easy, the writing must be witty and the book must be bursting with gorgeous, sexy, messy food pictures.

Hattiesburg resident David McRaney is a blogger, speaker, cat owner and author of international bestseller You are Not So Smart. He has also written and appeared in a commercial for Reebok, and released a second title last year, You Are Now Less Dumb.

you are not so smart

GF: Has your reputation as a Mississippi writer/author helped or hindered you outside Mississippi? And inside?

DM: I don’t think I have a reputation as a Mississippi author, or even a Hattiesburg author, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Today, everything is handled through email, over the phone, and over the internet. My professional life – agent, publisher, publicist, etc. – is almost entirely handled from New York and Los Angeles, and I interact with all those wonderful people and institutions from Hattiesburg without any need for travel. As far as my writing career is concerned, where I’m from just isn’t a factor.

GF: Have you ever broken any stereotypes on purpose or by accident?

DM: Just this last week I gave a lecture at Harvard. I stayed at a hotel very close to campus, and when I was checking in the person at the front desk asked me what I was doing in town. We chatted a bit, traded some small talk. Eventually he asked me for my driver’s license so he could enter everything into the computer and make sure I wasn’t a crazy person. The second it was in his hands he said, “Mississippi!?”