I AM AMERICA (AND SO CAN YOU!) by Stephen Colbert (Grand Central), 240 pages, $29.99 cloth. Rating: NNNNN
Books by talk show hosts aren't always memorable. David Letterman's efforts are worth forgetting, and Geraldo Rivera's Exposing Myself gave the world a new kind of awful.
But Stephen Colbert is a refreshingly different talk show host - a comedian who stays in character (picture Bill O'Reilly with quicker wit) no matter the ludicrous theories he spits on his late-night show. As difficult as it is to pull off, I Am America (And So Can You!) mirrors that same personality without losing its edge.
Part of the fun is reading the one-liners coming out of the bullhorn of the right-wing Jesus-fearing bigot of The Colbert Report - about how religion forces you to take responsibility away from yourself and give it to God, for example, or the anti-God animal kingdom's tendency to spread the sinful trend of sex before marriage.
Colbert loves throwing in zingers, but the text is broken up with enough graphics, charts and photos to give the book delicious variety. A monologue that ran for 14 chapters would be tiresome, however sharply the humour was honed by Colbert and his team of three other writers.
Colbert's confident voice remains strong throughout the book, which includes elements from the TV show: jokes in the margins resemble The Report's Word sketch, and a section is devoted to the show's recurring War On Christmas.
Any proud citizen of Colbert Nation would be wise to buy this book; a library rental doesn't do it justice. I Am America's design offers goodies like an attached ribbon bookmark and stickers that say, "I think it, Stephen says it."
This topped the New York Times bestseller list for a reason - it's one of the most enjoyable books of the year.