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Life Itself: A Memoir

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  4,837 Ratings  ·  801 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
Audio CD, 14 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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Joe Valdez
Aug 04, 2016 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Life Itself is the 2011 memoir by film critic Roger Ebert, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Chicago Sun-Times who through partnership with film critic Gene Siskel, co-hosted a nationally syndicated TV talk show that made him a household name as a critic, with his insights, interviews and patented thumbs up/ thumbs down summary of movies. Multiple failed operations to combat cancer in Ebert's salivary gland resulted in his inability to eat, drink or talk, as well as permanent disfigureme ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, favorites
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
Oct 12, 2011 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
I am impossibly fond of this person.
Sep 21, 2011 Florence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2017 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. Loved it. Afterwards I watched the documentary ,which is on Netflix now! Read it, and see it!
Nov 15, 2016 Lynn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am an avid movie fan and devotee of critic Roger Ebert. However, I was not fond of this book. It was long and boring and had too little detail on movies for my liking. The best chapters are those dedicated to famous directors: Woody Allen, Martin Scoresese and Werner Herzog. The sections on alcoholism (his mother, his father, and himself) were equally gripping. However, the sections on his childhood, his early sexual experimentation, his illnesses, and countless descriptions of favorite restau ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 07, 2013 Laurel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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
Feb 16, 2012 CC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
L.T. Vargus
Apr 24, 2013 L.T. Vargus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best
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
Dec 29, 2011 Tad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2016 C.W. rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Roger Ebert is great and it was fun to hear a bit of his life story. He was my favorite film critic and I always loved to see what he'd say about a movie. This felt a bit all over the place - skipping around constantly, repeating itself some times, without any real reason other than an attempt at being less of a linear biography I guess - but I still enjoyed it. His writing is great and a lot of fun; despite disagreeing with him on plenty of things, I found it interesting to hear all of his thou ...more
Oct 10, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
George King
Dec 29, 2011 George King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Barry Hammond
Aug 14, 2011 Barry Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Greg Z
When Ebert is talking about films and actors and directors, this biography soars. Similarly, when he talks frankly about his TV show/film review showcase with his co-host, Gene Siskell, I wanted to know even more. But Ebert inexplicably opens with a very lengthy introduction to the book and when we come across the same events again, later, portions of this book feel repetitive. And there is much talk of business dealings which just seem to be filler information. I like Ebert, I watched him on TV ...more
Rob Neyer
Roger Ebert was the first movie reviewer I ever knew, and so I'll always have a soft spot for him. Technically, I came to know him at exactly the same moment I came to know Gene Siskel, as I don't recall paying attention to a movie review before the first time I saw Ebert & Siskel on television. But Ebert seemed more the populist and Siskel the esthete, and when I was 15 or 16 I certainly was more in tune with the populist. For a stretch of years, I would be sure to catch the show every Sund ...more
Frederic  Germay
Jan 05, 2013 Frederic Germay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2012 Penny Peck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: celeb-biogs
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
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 here about why I would sometimes opt ...more
Mitchell Hahn-Branson
Mar 19, 2012 Mitchell Hahn-Branson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film, ebert
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
Naomi V
May 01, 2013 Naomi V rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, 2013
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
Jun 03, 2013 Ti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 06, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jay Connor
Feb 11, 2012 Jay Connor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Howard Goodman
Dec 06, 2012 Howard Goodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Contribute to share Ebert's passion 2 15 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
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“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.” 31 likes
“All I require of a religion is that it be tolerant of those who do not agree with it.” 24 likes
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