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There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to…

There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say

by Paula Poundstone

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Paula Poundstone writes mini-biographies on historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, and Joan of Arc, but can't stop interjecting with anecdotes from her own life and commentary based on all kinds of everyday observations.

I quite randomly happened upon this book tucked away in a hidden corner at my library, and Poundstone's name jumped out at me. Like many other readers of this book, I've been highly entertained by her appearances on NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me quiz show, so I figured it only made sense to give this book a try as well. I have to admit it when I first started the book, I was a little unsure. Poundstone begins by clearing the air of the elephant in the room -- her well-publicized court case in which she was charged with child endangerment after driving drunk with her three adopted children in the car. For starters, I had no clue about this court case as it totally slipped under my radar, so it was a completely unexpected subject for me, although I could see why Poundstone would want to address it right away. And then for seconds, this isn't exactly the lightest subject to start off a comedy book, although Poundstone does manage to find the humor in commenting on topics such as the absurdity of the legal system.

Most of the rest of the humor in the book comes firstly from Poundstone's experiences as a single mother and making observations about her children's schooling, relaying silly things her kids have said, and commenting on the ridiculousness of keeping up with all the "must have" childhood events, like taking "pre-piano" classes. A secondary source of humor is rants about anything that Poundstone finds unnecessary like chapstick, dishwashers, etc. This may not sound that funny when I describe it, but it's quite hilarious when Poundstone has her take on it.

Meanwhile, the historic parts are oddly informative while still being peppered with dashes of humor. The audiobook version is read by Poundstone, so the listener has the added bonus of getting Poundstone's tones and inflections, which really sell the humor. I recommend this book for those who enjoy Poundstone's comic mix of acerbic wit and amusing everyday observations. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Nov 22, 2015 |
Definitely light reading. She should stick to stand up. There were some really funny moments, but perhaps not worth the time to read the whole thing unless you're a big fan.

But she's so great on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! ( )
  brianinseattle | Oct 1, 2014 |
Loved it!
  BelleVernon | Sep 8, 2013 |
Paula Poundstone uses history/biographies to augment the memoir nature of her humor. If you like Paula's humor and insights on how the world works, then you'll laugh through this book. ( )
  tangledthread | Nov 13, 2011 |
The audio book read by the author is hilarious. If you like Paula Poundstone, you'll like this book. ( )
  pandacr | Dec 4, 2009 |
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Canonized as a saint 508 years after her death, Joan of Arc led the armies of France when she was seventeen years old.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307382281, Paperback)

Part memoir, part monologue, with a dash of startling honesty, There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say features biographies of legendary historical figures from which Paula Poundstone can’t help digressing to tell her own story. Mining gold from the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, and Beethoven, among others, the eccentric and utterly inimitable mind of Paula Poundstone dissects, observes, and comments on the successes and failures of her own life with surprising candor and spot-on comedic timing in this unique laugh-out-loud book.

If you like Paula Poundstone’s ironic and blindingly intelligent humor, you’ll love this wryly observant, funny, and touching book.

Paula Poundstone on . . .

The sources of her self-esteem: “A couple of years ago I was reunited with a guy I knew in the fifth grade. He said, “All the other fifth-grade guys liked the pretty girls, but I liked you.” It’s hard to know if a guy is sincere when he lays it on that thick.

The battle between fatigue and informed citizenship: I play a videotape of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer every night, but sometimes I only get as far as the theme song (da da-da-da da-ah) before I fall asleep. Sometimes as soon as Margaret Warner says whether or not Jim Lehrer is on vacation I drift right off. Somehow just knowing he’s well comforts me.

The occult: I need to know exactly what day I’m gonna die so that I don’t bother putting away leftovers the night before.

TV’s misplaced priorities: Someday in the midst of the State of the Union address they’ll break in with, “We interrupt this program to bring you a little clip from Bewitched.”

Travel: In London I went to the queen’s house. I went as a tourist—she didn’t invite me so she could pick my brain: “What do you think of my face on the pound? Too serious?”

Air-conditioning in Florida: If it were as cold outside in the winter as they make it inside in the summer, they’d put the heat on. It makes no sense.

The scandal: The judge said I was the best probationer he ever had. Talk about proud.

With a foreword by Mary Tyler Moore

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Blending elements of memoir and monologue, the comedian offers a candid account of her life, using details from the lives of legendary historical figures to illuminate episodes from her own life and reflect on her own successes and failures.

» see all 3 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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