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Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,081 Ratings  ·  1,031 Reviews
Why would a talented young woman enter into a torrid affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Through five lengthy hospital stays, endless therapy, and the loss of family, friends, jobs, and all sense of what it means to be "normal," Marya Hornbacher lovingly embraced her anorexia and bulimia -- until a particularly horrifying bout with the disease in college put the rom ...more
Paperback, First Edition
Published 1998 by HarperCollins (first published December 29th 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Nov 29, 2010 Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mature readers
Shelves: auto-biography
Possibly the finest auto-biography I have ever read. People who have suffered from EDs will complain that this book is packed full of triggers, but so is America's Next Top Model, and I can't say anything about the quality of THAT writing.

This book is a genuine, gripping story of a youth literally thrown away in favor of madness.

For anyone who has not suffered from some incarnation of disordered eating, it will seem surreal, and at times, utterly unbelievable.
The book is effortlessly fluid. T
eta: i think it's important to note that this book was first published in 1998 - when things like tumblr did not exist. for a generation that learned to get all information from books, this book was the key to tricks and tips for anorexia. not that you couldn't figure them out for yourself, but if you were on the edge or something, this gave you ways. i don't actually say that this book should be censored, i say i wish there was a way to put warnings on it. i say i think it's an important book f ...more
Sep 02, 2007 sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It would be tacky to put this on my "food" shelf, wouldn't it? But I did get so hungry while reading it that I got up and made spaghetti carbonara. It was delicious.

So this is a memoir of the author's ten-year struggle with bulimia and anorexia. I found it different from other works I've read on eating disorders, in that the author doesn't go for easy explanations of why she almost killed herself. She wasn't trying to be pretty or perfect or to control her world, at least not solely. She was rea
Mar 02, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mental health practitioners
I'm ambivalent about this book. Certainly, at times, she pulled no punches...yet at other times, still a bit under the sway of her disorder, she seemed to be bragging about her "successes" in the extremes of her eating disorder. She wasn't really healthy yet, and that came through in ways she probably never intended. In many ways, it helped me understand how eating disorders work. In other ways (again, I'm sure unintentional on the author's part), I began to understand how eating disorders and p ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marya is a fantastic fucking memoirist. There are a couple reasons this is all the more incredible: First, that she'd found such a voice and command of prose at 23, and second, that a 23 year-old would have lived a life worth writing about. The language is appropriately jagged, with short, sharp sentences, embodying a sparse, terrifying narrative of the scattered moments recalling her gradual and deliberate self-destruction.

She spares no one, including herself, in her examination of the causes a
God, there is nothing more tedious than a personal narrative that just goes on and on and on. I admire Ms. Hornbacher's willingness to put everything out there, but I find much of what she writes terribly suspect. Reading it from a non-eating-disordered perspective, I had to wonder if people who had been through this picked it up and thought "wow, that's just what I went through" or "hey, what a good idea, I never thought of doing that". Plus I'm not sure if the fact she's not yet over her illne ...more
Sep 17, 2010 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have no risk of developing an eating disorder
Shelves: memior, pschology
My relationship with this book is love/hate. It kind of reminds me of Prozac Nation in the sense that the first couple chapters about her average middle-class childhood are pretty boring and pointless. She tries to describe every little bad thing that happened to her like she is the only one in the world who ever received less than perfect parenting. However keep reading because unlike Prozac Nation this book actually gets pretty good as time goes on and you get into the shocking rock-bottom det ...more
Angie crosby
Aug 19, 2008 Angie crosby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Although I can see why so many like this book, I found it to be dangerous. As an anorexic I found the book great because it had tips in it. This is dangerous though also can be good to read for people trying to live with an anorexic or people who don't have this disease.

Definatly not a book for someone in the throes of an ED to read.

Edited to add disclaimer. PLEASE err on the side of extreme caution if you are recovering from ED or were planning to share this book with a young person who may be in a vulnerable position. As someone who has struggled from an ED myself, I can say that this book contains many things that could trigger you. It also contains graphic detail of how to hide food, how to get rid of food, how to trick people, etc.

Basic Summary: Well, I think the title sort of covers it. It's a memoir of the author's
Jan 03, 2009 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Savina M.
4.5 stars.

I scrolled through some of the reviews, and most of the two-three star reviews complained about this book being triggering, dangerous, etc. They said it contained "tips" and should not be read by people with an ED.

First of all, people with an ED figure out the "tips" by themselves sooner or later. A simple google search, pro ED websites, all offer the same "tips". For non ED sufferers, these tips might seem new and absurd, but most people with an ED would have already known about them
Sep 22, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a difficult and painful book to read that it took me well over a month to finish it! Hornbacher in no way tried to sugarcoat her illness or attempt to make the reader feel sorry for her. And I have to say I both appreciated and admired her honest recount of her actions. She goes so far as to acknowledge that she still doesn't have a full grasp of understanding her disorder nor does she leave you with a false sense of well-being in the end. She ends her memoir telling you she was no ...more
Anorexia: mancanza di appetito. Una malattia che comporta una fame cronica, assordante, chiamata mancanza di appetito. Sembra una presa in giro.
Sprecata, tutto sta già nel titolo, che comunque é un giudizio che solo la Hornbacher ha il diritto di dare alla propria, fin qui, breve vita.
Rispetto al suo, posteriore, "Una vita bipolare", questa sua testimonianza mostra tutta l'urgenza dello scrivere, del mettere per iscritto quanto avvenuto e quanto compreso rispetto alla propria malattia. A volte r
Okay... what to say about THIS... LOL

I was expected a story about this woman's struggle with ED.
And yeah, it kind of was, but then it kind of wasn't.

Only a very small portion of the book is her actually owning up to her own personal issues & experiences. There is not very much of HER story (i.e. "I did this, I went here, I said that... etc) Not very much "I" at all.

Instead we have a book full of her being totally dissociated from the entire ED. Instead of "I" it's all "You".... "You will do
May 22, 2007 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Ok, I read this a long time ago, but it's still quite possibly the best book on eating disorders -- or even on adolescent mental illness -- that I've ever read. Hornbacher is intelligent, avoids cliches and above all, avoids making herself sound good when she can tell the truth instead. A bracing departure from the "girls can't help starving themselves to death when they see all those models in those glossy magazines" line of thinking about eating disorders -- a line of thinking that treats thos ...more
Apr 03, 2007 Noah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in a class I took called "Women and Madness". I was the only dude in there. This book will fuck with your head, but everybody that gets off on skinny model chicks should be required to read it. Not for the faint of heart.
May 04, 2014 Elyse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it was first released ---(its 'very' disturbing). I wouldn't know how many stars to give it actually. I never like to 'rate' memoirs in the first place.

I can't give it 5 stars --I can't give it 1 star ---(so I went for 3) ----but I'll never forget the story.

Eating disorders are a disease. Marya Hornbacher does not sugar-coat 'anything'. People who have suffered anorexic --(or been a parent of a child) --'lived' this life deeply may 'not' want to read this book. NO SOLID a
Given Wasted’s veritable glut of intimate details, Marya Hornbacher’s tone was curiously detached and impersonal for me, which meant I had a bit of a difficult time really getting into this one. Hornbacher seems at least a little cognizant of this: in one footnote, she insinuates that she suffers from alexithymia, and is thus unable to verbalize her emotional state, despite being otherwise ‘exceptionally verbal’. Humorously, Hornbacher neglects to address why, if this is so, she thought that wri ...more
Jan 01, 2009 Bookwyrm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will haunt you, I promise you. I still think about it often, though I read it for the first time I think about 4 years ago. The author chronicles her struggle with anorexia and bulimia (which she calls a combined disorder of "bulimarexia") but her language is captivating. It is also apparent that Marya has done her research; as she narrates her own experience she also includes passages from research on anorexia and bulimia to help show how she came to be afflicted and where she fits in ...more
Kate O'Hanlon
I gave this book five stars because it's a fantastic book. Beautifully written, honest and rich with insight.

When I read Wasted I was 16/17 and obsessed with my weight. I knew the book had critics who said that it shouldn't be read by people with eating disorders because it was filled with tips and because Hornbacher was equivocal when it came to getting better. I scoffed at them.

I'm older now and if not better, then at least different, and I do have a more troubled view of the book. Is this a
Mar 02, 2008 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to learn about a well-written, first hand account of an eating disorder progression
Recommended to Julia by: either Amazon or Powells
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

This book is unquestionably very well-written and fascinating, yet I struggled with how many stars to give it.
The author is, quite simply, a rather unlikable person. I hate looking at her photo on the cover, I’m glad I don’t know her, and I don’t really wish her well. This was troubling to me because it seems one should like (or at least have empathy for) the character one is reading about, particularly if the book is a memoir. Should feeling empathy for the author of a memoir be a prerequisite
Rebecca McNutt
This book was interesting and gives readers a glimpse into a disease (disorder?) that nearly killed Marya until she got control of her life again. Genuine and realistic, Wasted is really worth reading.
Becca! Die•apex
Jul 01, 2008 Becca! Die•apex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone struggling with an eating disorder.
This book is the firsthand story of a young woman struggling between two eating disorders, which eventually end up consuming her life.
It is all told in the first person, starting at Marya in a young age. This first person retelling of her struggles really gave me a clear insight into her life, and what made her the way she was. Marya told it as it is, and there are a few powerful lines put into that short book, that I will never forget. This book will draw you in, it almost carries a force with
Aug 11, 2008 tee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this the other day and could . not . put . it . down. I was sucked into it's nasty, vortex of destruction from the very first page. Having also just finished reading 'Madness', I can honestly say that my brain feels like tender, pulsating, minced meat right now. I have been on a Hornbacher bender and it feels quite like the time I dealt with alcohol poisoning and an acid come-down all in one evening. This shit is painful to read. And I'm stunned to think that I started reading with cautio ...more
Anna Packard
Jan 22, 2012 Anna Packard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well written book that, in my experience with patients with eating disorders, very accurately describes the nature of the illness and its associated complications (social, physical, emotional, etc). It is not a feel good book by any means. In fact it very much portrays the chronic nature of severe eating disorders in a very human way. It illustrates how this illness takes over and destroys lives. This book delves into the irrational and even psychotic nature of the illness. If someone ...more
I've read this one multiple times as well. Hornbacher was only 23 years old when she wrote this book so there is no sense of her having distanced herself from the disease or its lingering effects on her. This, combined with her talent for writing, gives readers a real sense of the horror of anorexia and bulimia and their power to dominate an individual's life. The author was bulimic as a fourth grader and anorexic at age 15. She was hospitalized several times and institutionalized once. This is ...more
May 13, 2016 Caprice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this five stars because it really stayed with me for a while, mostly because it offered a perspective on Eating Disorders that I hadn't had yet and was just a really powerful and unflinching book.
Rachel Brown
Aug 13, 2012 Rachel Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, memoir
Beautifully written and extremely intense, and well worth reading even if you have no interest whatsoever in the subject matter. I didn't when I picked it up, but my attention was caught by the arresting cover photograph, and the first chapter was so gripping that I had to either buy it or stand in the bookshop reading it for the next few hours.

One of my very favorite memoirs, with an excellent balance of personal narrative with just enough background and research to keep it from solipsism. The
Wasted makes for rather a tough read (I found myself recoiling from the page as the author recounts some of her experiences with anorexia/bulimia), but it's a worthwhile one. Hornbacher both understands eating disorders from personal experience and is sharp enough to have researched and analyzed why/how/when people develop them. Therefore, it's a memoir with a sociology/psychology twist. My only criticism is that Hornbacher's writing style is, um, artistic -- often distractingly so.
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Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.), in 1998, when she was twenty-three. What started as a crazy idea suggested by a writer friend became the classic book that has been published in fourteen languages, is taught in universities and writing programs all over the world, and has, according to the thousands of letters Mar ...more
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“You never come back, not all the way. Always there is an odd distance between you and the people you love and the people you meet, a barrier thin as the glass of a mirror, you never come all the way out of the mirror; you stand, for the rest of your life, with one foot in this world and no one in another, where everything is upside down and backward and sad.” 631 likes
“We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need.” 461 likes
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