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Life Itself

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,305 ratings  ·  635 reviews
Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.

In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the lo...more
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing
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Community Reviews

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I consider myself major film buff, yet I was unfamiliar with Roger Ebert until a couple of years ago, when I accidentally stumbled upon his Chicago Sun Times blog. I loved his reviews, even the ones I disagreed with, and the candid tone of his personal blog entries, so I grabbed "Life Itself" the moment I laid eyes on its Woody Allen-style cover in the bookshop. Wow! What a ride this turned out to be! Probably my ignorance about him helped, as I didn't bring any preconceived ideas to the l...more
A Midwestern childhood and career in newspapers, told in plain, declarative language. Since losing the ability to speak, Ebert says he has recovered detailed lost memories of his past. This paragraph cut through me:

"I wonder what my father really thought about his life. He married a beautiful woman and I believe they loved each other. Whatever had happened in West Palm Beach stayed in West Palm Beach. He married in his late thirties, held a good-paying job, owned his own home on a corner lot. He...more
I am impossibly fond of this person.
Even if I wasn't a movie fan I would have loved this memoir by Rober Ebert. It is so honest, painfully so in some cases. He tells us not only about career achievments but fearlessly dives into his personal life. After finishing the book, I really feel like I know Roger. He has had a rough couple of years, but he doesn't pity himself. Instead, he focuses on what life still has to offer and looks forward to pleasures yet to come. He is brave, honest, witty, and inspiring. I admire him. Go for it,...more
4/4/13: I've been wanting to read this since it came out. Well, sadly, I shall start it today. RIP Roger. I'll see you at the movies.

4/24/13: Very enjoyable. I already liked Roger Ebert, but after reading this book I also respect and admire him. He kept such an amazing outlook even in the worst of times. He had a most wonderful relationship with his wife, Chaz.

Some highlights:

* I loved hearing about his passion for London (agreed!)
* His fascinating relationship with Gene Siskel.
* His relations...more
Honest, funny, poignant and insightful. Some of my favorite quotes:

About the movies
There is something unnatural about just…going to the movies. Man has rehearsed for hundreds of thousands of years to learn a certain sense of time. He gets up in the morning and the hours wheel in their ancient order across the sky until it grows dark again and he goes to sleep. A movie critic gets up in the morning and in two hours it is dark again, and the passage of time is fractured by editing and dissolves an...more
L.T. Vargus
As a movie critic, Roger Ebert's writing was always thoughtful without being pretentious and charming without being manipulative. In just a few words he could get across big concepts and a lot of personality, but, though he was a great entertainer, he was always honest and never pandered to his audience. His memoir continued this tradition.

The early portion of the book gave a very thorough account of his childhood. While the level of detail he recalled in portraying his perspective of the world...more
I think Roger Ebert is a fantastic critic and writer. I love his movie reviews and his uncanny, conversational ability to be your ally when exploring film. He never takes cheap shots at actors or directors to make himself seem superior the way some critics do. He won a Pulitzer. He's survived cancer. He can no longer speak, or eat, and still faces the world with wonderment and grace. Frankly, I admire him.

However, this book was a bit of a puzzlement to me. I feel like I know more about him thro...more
If it wasn't written by Roger Ebert, I may have given up on this book during the first few chapters. Unless you escaped from the Nazis or had a really exceptional childhood, most autobiographies should really skip quickly through one's early years. I am really glad Ebert had a mostly happy childhood in Champaign, but I don't necessarily need to read about it. Luckily, I knew the story would get better, and it did. Ebert is not a fancy writer, but he gets at issues and details that matter, which...more
Like Stephen King and Harlan Ellison, Roger Ebert entered my life at an early age and forever altered the way I looked at the world. Even though I was too young to appreciate it, I still remember the opening credits to Sneak Previews – the ticket, the popcorn, the candy, the broken soda machine – which also means I must have seen at least a couple early episodes of Ebert’s review show with Gene Siskel. I have stronger memories of At the Movies, the show that ran until Siskel’s death in 1999 (I d...more
I don't think I have ever picked up a memoir that was this detailed and thorough. Ebert painstakingly recounts the most minute details of his life and that might be a turn-off to a casual reader. However, I've been a fan of Mr. Ebert's for going on twenty years now so to me, it held endless fascination. I enjoyed reading about his life and I thought the chapters he wrote about certain celebrities were absolutely pitch-perfect and truly conveyed the affection he felt for them. There were chapters...more
Barry Hammond
Life Itself: A Memoir
By Roger Ebert
ISBN: 978-0-446-58497-5
Grand Central Publishing/448 pages/$29.99

Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times is a man of many talents and one who’s always held a certain interest for me. I was an avid watcher of such TV shows as Sneak Previews, and Siskel & Ebert at The Movies, which he co-hosted, with Gene Siskel. I’ve often looked up films on his website, Ebert Presents At The Movies. I’ve read some of his many film books, was impressed that he got...more
I think that nearly everyone is familiar with Roger Ebert either from his work as the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, his 23 year run as co-host with Gene Siskel of film review shows of different names, or from the many books he has published about films and the film industry. In 2006 he became ill with thyroid cancer and had a series of operations that were successful in removing the cancer, but ultimately robbed him of his ability to speak, eat, or drink. Most people, including, I suspe...more
Penny Peck
Remarkable. This is easily one of the best celebrity memoirs I have ever read, because Ebert is more of a reporter than a celebrity. Each chapter is like a newspaper or magazine column - self-contained, although all the chapters add up to cover his life and thoughts. But the fact that it is episodic makes it all the more interesting to read. You can sample a chapter here, or there, like dim sum. Then leave the book for a few days and pick it up again. Although his life is not terrible "event" fu...more
Frederic  Germay
This guy, I just love him! I grew up watching Siskel & Ebert, and later Ebert & Roeper. I credit this man for my appreciation of film, elevating my perception of the medium from mere entertainment to an art form worthy of analysis. And over the past several years, I've read every single review and blog post the man has written.

He has a simplistic melodic prose that doesn't descend into stuffy snobbery as A. O. Scott (another good critic) occasionally does, or unsophisticated surface blab...more
George King
This was an interesting book for me to read becasue I'm a film buff and I've taught film in the classroom. Ebert is almost painfully honest at times, particularly when talkng about his parents, religion, his sex life, and his recent illness and subsequent operations. Early in the book I thought there was too much name dropping on the one hand and too many references to people I didn't know or care about on the other. His discussions about movie stars and directors were enlightening and always en...more
I loved Roger Ebert, the people's movie critic. He was able to bring film criticism to the masses, and even if you disagreed with his reviews, you still respected why he believed the way he did about a movie.

I listened to this book as read by Edward Hermann. Mr. Hermann does an excellent job giving voice to Roger's words. It takes a little while to hear Roger's thoughts in Hermann's voice, but after awhile, you believe that you're listening to Roger instead of Hermann.

I also have a print version...more
Jay Connor
“Life Itself” is a perfect title for this more meditation than memoir. Though Ebert gives us the obligatory behind-the-scenes stories of the famous movie folk he knows, this is much more a study about life – his life and life itself.

In one of those bend-the-curve curiosities, my son, Patrick, who gave me this book for Christmas, came to enjoy Roger Ebert from his twitter feed several decades after I first enjoyed Ebert as the movie essayist for my home town paper, the Chicago Sun Times.

No doubt...more
This is a nostalgic and bittersweet memoir by the movie critic and writer Roger Ebert. Having suffered from cancer that robbed him of his ability to speak, eat, and drink, he remained extremely upbeat and positive, writing more in his last years than ever before. I read his blog and loved his twitter feed but didn’t read this until he had already died earlier this year.

Ebert grew up in Urbana, in downstate Illinois. He writes lovingly of his parents, especially his father, and his catholic upbr...more
Kevin Cecil
Roger Ebert never struck me as the type of guy who lost his virginity to a South African prostitute; but, he is. I was also surprised to learn he started reviewing movies on assignment, not out of deep love of cinema - which developed through viewing and time. As with many modern memoirs, it is actually an expanded patchwork of previously published blog entries. Each of the 50 plus chapters explores a specific theme, memory, or character but, when experienced as a novel, the overlaps and omissio...more
LIFE ITSELF: A MEMOIR. (2011). Roger Ebert. ***.
Early on in this memoir/autobiography, Ebert brags about his almost total recall about his past life. To show the other possibility, he gives the example of British satirist Auberon Waugh: “(He) once wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph asking readers to supply information about his life between birth and the present, explaining that he was writing his memoirs and had no memories from those years.” These memoirs start off in a stand...more
At no point in my life did I ever think I would be reading about Roger Ebert's sex life. But I did.

I would like to have read more about Ebert's life as a movie critic. He barely mentions anything about his love of film or the other critics who influenced him. He gives us nothing about what it was like to work day-to-day as a critic. Instead we get what amounts to be reprinted articles on Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Martin Scorsese and others. The profiles were fine but would better fit in a sepa...more
Mitchell Hahn-Branson
I'm sure I wasn't alone in starting to read this book the day Roger Ebert died. His passing gave me a greater feeling of loss than I expected: he was one of those writers who influenced my life and opinions so pervasively but subtly that I never really thought of him as a favorite writer or even a favorite film critic. Only when he was gone did I actually examine what his work meant to me and find how greatly he had affected my development as a movie geek and a fan of well-crafted criticism. So...more
Howard Goodman
A very fine memoir from a bookish guy from Urbana, Ill., who joined the Chicago Sun Times at an early age and a lucky time, when the 1960s were starting to turn the culture upside-down and the Sun Times gave him the unsought job of film critic. He became a very good movie reviewer, discovering the French New Wave before it had fully crested and championing the new wave of American directors like Penn, Nichols, Scorcese and Altman. Then came a TV show that paired him with cross-town rival Gene Si...more
Roger Ebert has been one of my heroes since I first began watching his TV show and reading his reviews when I was a little girl. I finally took the time to finish listening to this autobiography as a way of mourning his recent passing. The book was rewarding in a lot of ways. First of all, Mr Ebert's very vivid memories of his life experiences were fascinating to read for someone of another generation. His musings on movies and movie-makers, travel, literature, politics, philosophy, and well. ....more
Gerard Collins
This is one of those books that I somehow managed to download in different formats, and the mélange of ways in which to read or listen to the it just kind of allowed me to seamlessly switch between them and work my way through. The bulk was probably listened to as an unabridged download from Audible, narrated by Edward Herrmann, a.k.a. The Voice of the History Channel. I admit that I was kind of impressed, given the difficult task that he had. As I once wrote hereabout why I would sometimes opt...more
Adam Ford
This biography is not worth your time to read. Still, it is someone's life and there is always something to learn from every man's rambling, but this book is self-indulgent and suffers from a lack of a strong editor. The reader can tell that Ebert just wrote whatever he wanted and they published it. I just about quit the book a third of the way through--chapter after chapter about Urbana-Champaign in the 1950s from the point of view of a kid on a bike doing nothing particularly interesting. The...more
I am not a particularly big movie fan (I like them, but don't see that many, and don't have an interest in film, per se), but I picked up this book because of the glowing reviews. I am so glad I did. Ebert is an engaging writer--I was immediately drawn in and, other than the chapters about movie stars and directors (most of which were less interesting to me, though well written), held rapt by his recollections. His emotional honesty, along with the writing itself, is the most compelling aspect o...more
I wanted to give this book 5 stars before I even read it. I fell in love with Ebert's blog a couple of years ago and learned his best writing had nothing to do with movies. I bought the book as soon as it came out, but got stuck about halfway through.

I'm 28, but I like to pretend that I can keep up with any and all boomer references. The truth is that this book was so steeped in them that at times it was hard for me to follow. I've watched a lot of movies from the 60s and 70s, but I simply coul...more
The Short of It:

Written with humor and heart.

The Rest of It:

Everyone is familiar with Roger Ebert, right? His characteristic “thumbs-up” rating for movies he enjoyed, his battle with cancer that destroyed his face and took his voice forever, his antagonistic but often funny interactions with Gene Siskel? I grew up watching him. I spent hours in theaters watching the movies he recommended and he was probably one of the main reasons I entered college as a film major. But what I didn’t know and rea...more
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Contribute to share Ebert's passion 2 12 May 19, 2013 08:28AM  
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Roger Joseph Ebert was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic and screenwriter.

He was known for his weekly review column (appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and later online) and for the television program Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, which he co-hosted for 23 years with Gene Siskel. After Siskel's death in 1999, he auditioned several potential replacements, ultimately choo...more
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“Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” 77 likes
“I was born inside the movie of my life. The visuals were before me, the audio surrounded me, the plot unfolded inevitably but not necessarily. I don't remember how I got into the movie, but it continues to entertain me.” 22 likes
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