By day, Don Ake of Jackson Township is a freight transportation economist and analyst at an economic research firm.
“Occasionally I’ll be quoted in the Wall Street Journal,” he jokes. “I guess my opinion does count for something.”
During his off hours, however, the witty Ake is an author and a humorist—a “prognosticator/brainiac”—who writes blog posts which he turns into books that offer an “irreverent perspective on everyday life.”
So, despite his reputation as an expert in the field of “truck and commercial trailer traffic,” his most valuable advice to his many readers are the answers he gives in his essays to such pressing questions as, “Should drinking exquisite cappuccino be more important than your job?”
Such questions and observations about life—“How eating scones can give you a superiority complex”—are served up in Ake’s second book of humorous essays, “Will There Be Free Appetizers? Musings of a brilliant idiot,” which was published earlier this year. Ake’s first book was “Just Make Me A Sammich: Absurd observations from a wild mind,” published in 2015.
“The books are basically a collection of blog posts that are edited and organized in chapters by theme,” said the author.
Ake began the humor blog as a humor column—“Ake’s Pains”—in college. He revived the essays online in 2011 after a three-decade hiatus.
Time constraints of a full-time job keep him from posting on the blog much more than every couple of weeks. While marketing his latest book also consumes time, Ake additionally has to deal with the never-ending events of life. Conveniently, life is where the writer gets his humorous ideas.
“Basically, I try to tell funny stories, and most of the stories are mostly true,” Ake said, sounding a bit like humorist Mark Twain in his self-assessment. “I’m a people-watcher. I kind of study human behavior. Lots of time it’s my own behavior—how I react to life. I take things you wouldn’t think are funny and write about them in a humorous way.”
Trying to lose weight is a typical topic.
“I can write 800 words on rice cakes and make rice cakes funny.”
Other fodder comes from living with his wife in their home near Akron-Canton Airport. In fact, a flight he took with his spouse netted him a story in the book about bags of peanuts being tossed on an airliner, an essay entitled “Women Go Nuts Over Me” in a chapter called “Marital Bliss.”
The humor in “Will There Be Free Appetizers,” which is available through Amazon.com and donake.net (autographed copies are sold for $10 at his website), is directed inward.
“I do not make fun of other people, I make fun of myself,” said Ake. “The stories are about being middle-aged, and growing older, and not liking it. Stuff in life that everyone can relate to, so that’s what makes it funny.”
Local books & authors
Here is a little more reading material from local writers or about local subjects:
“The McKinley Years: The Life and Times of our 25th President” by Christopher Kenney of Canton, education director at Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. In his 2016 nonfiction historical work, Kenney examines McKinley’s early life, his service in the Civil War, his time as a lawyer in Canton and his rise to the offices of governor of Ohio and president of the United States.
“Canton’s West Lawn Cemetery” by Kimberly Kenney, assistant director and curator at Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum. Kenney, who has written several books on Stark County history, including “Canton: A Journey Through Time” (2003) and “Canton’s Pioneers in Flight” (2008), visits both on the pages of her 2004 book about West Lawn and during tours she leads through the cemetery, some of the most celebrated of the community’s past residents.
“The Last Years of Robert E. Lee: From Gettysburg to Lexington” by Douglas Savage of Canton. The author of several novels, including the historical fiction book “The Court Martial of Robert E. Lee,” Savage in this 2016 book takes a real-life look at the final years of the enduring Southern leader, who went from “warrior to peacemaker” following the Civil War.
“Home Front to Battlefront: An Ohio Teenager in World War II” by Frank Lavin, former White House aide and ambassador to the Republic of Singapore, with foreword by Henry Kissinger. In his 2017 book, the author recalls the tale of a foot soldier–his father, Carl Lavin–who was a senior in high school when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and who enlisted in the Army and served during the Battle of the Bulge.
“All Rise: The Remarkable Journey of Alan Page” by Bill McGrane, with forward by President Bill Clinton. “All Rise” is the 2010 inspiring biography of one of the sport’s “most complex personalities,” Alan Page, who grew up in Canton, played football at a level to earn enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, gave birth to the Page Education Foundation, then earned election to the Minnesota Supreme Court.