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Take the Cannoli

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,119 Ratings  ·  692 Reviews
Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humor. She searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
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A People's History of the United States by Howard ZinnMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisAmerica (The Book) by Jon StewartAssassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell1776 by David McCullough
The Daily Show Reading Club
13th out of 319 books — 203 voters
Naked by David SedarisThe Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo MartinezSquirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David SedarisSleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike BirbigliaTake the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
This American Life
5th out of 100 books — 42 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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bookczuk
Mar 04, 2009 bookczuk rated it liked it
I realized reading this that I am familiar with this author from NPR's This American Life

Some of the essays captured my imagination, some did not. All in all it was a diverting read from the all that is occupying my time around her otherwise.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humo
...more
Ciara
Dec 22, 2008 Ciara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, NPR listeners, folks in need of massachusetts dinner party repartee
i wanted to like this book better than i liked it. at the end of the day, i like sarah vowell's writing: it's funny & engaging, it's smart & self-deprecating & informative. but there's so much strangely blind patriotism in here. yeah, it comes from a liberal perspective, what with vowell being all over NPR & being really critical of the bush administration & everything, but there's so much of, "if we could just fix these huge glaring problems with the government, this country ...more
Chrissy
Dec 03, 2013 Chrissy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Vowell takes you with her on a series of adventures, challenges and bizarre dares. She is a modern day Huck Finn with a glass of scotch in her right hand and a biography of Andrew Jackson in the left. From shooting off cannons, learning to make a non sentimental mix tapes, to the bizarre not so wonderful world of Disney, learning to drive with Ira Glass, to going Goth for a night, to her obsession with The Godfather, she doesn't hold back and I love her for it.
The chapter "What I See When
...more
Lauren
Jan 14, 2009 Lauren rated it it was ok
I have heard wonderful things about Sarah Vowell, and I thought she would be great because she was funny on Gigantic, that documentary about They Might Be Giants. I’ve never heard her on This American Life, but Ira Glass and This American Life are great, so I bet she is, too. But I didn’t like her book. I must admit, toward the end I left huge chunks unread. I’d, like, get to a boring chapter and think “aw, hell no. Next!” and I’d start reading the next one and pretty much be equally disappointe ...more
Jonathan
Mar 19, 2009 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Reading Sarah Vowell for the first time was like finding a long lost friend that I never met before. There was an immediate familiarity - the sense of deja'vu: as though we shared these conversations at the cafe about the awkward teenage years, sibling rivalry, quirky family relationships and more.

I immediately recognized something of myself in her writing, as well as something inspirational. I can't gush too much: there's a few pieces in here that are dry. However, I think you have to be a lit
...more
Romany Arrowsmith
Apr 26, 2016 Romany Arrowsmith rated it it was ok
Yawn. This was written by a person who is very obviously used to the format of radio presentations and has failed to adapt her style to that of written non-fiction. Don't get me wrong - I've always liked Sarah Vowell's contributions to NPR (to This American Life in particular), and definitely love NPR itself. NPR is love. NPR is life. Unfortunately, like a tattoo that looks pretty on paper but comes out all mushily deformed on skin, what is offbeat and wry and witty over the radio can come acros ...more
Jen
I really enjoyed this collection of essays from Sarah Vowell's travels and experiences. Her way of writing nonfiction is very entertaining but still manages to be educational. It's a fun mix. :-)

This book was divided into four sections: Home Movies seemed to be mostly Sarah's recollections of her own American life in her growing up years through to Y2K. So...interesting, but not necessarily educational. (It was educational, though, if you're the type who is interested in seeing how others live t
...more
Gordon
May 06, 2011 Gordon rated it really liked it
Sarah Vowell is both smart and smart ass -- if you've seen Jon Stewart interview her on The Daily Show, you know she does more than hold her own. She's a curious amalgam: she writes for NPR and yet revels in her "white trash" background.

All in all, Take the Cannoli is a very uneven collection of stories, which comes with the territory with a writer like Vowell. To grossly oversimplify, her style is to take whatever happens to be going on in her life or her mind at the moment and then whip it in
...more
Thomas Paul
Aug 08, 2013 Thomas Paul rated it really liked it
You would think that reading and reviewing a book written ten years ago about American culture might be tricky. You would expect that so much has changed that a book like this would be more like a history lesson than a view into America. But surprisingly, in spite of all that has happened since the turn of the century, Vowell's essays are as true and as a vibrant as when she wrote them. I have to admit that I am a fan of Vowell ever since I read her book Assassination Vacation. The best part of ...more
Sherry
Sep 19, 2011 Sherry rated it liked it
When I was returning The Wordy Shipmates, I saw the library had this book, so I went ahead and grabbed it. Like the first book of hers I read, I banged this out in a day.

This book is less history (which I believe is her "thing") and more personal, so unless you like the author as a person and voice, you can skip this book. This is more about her personal experiences of Americana, family, ancestry, high school, college, etc.

I liked it. Vowell is always funny. Her personal retracing of the Trail
...more
Trin
Jun 04, 2007 Trin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Sarah Vowell always inspires in me the same reaction as watching/listening to a really cool kid did in high school (or, okay, now): I desperately want to hang with her. (Especially because she's also friends with fellow essayist David Rakoff, whom I adore; one of the pieces in this collection is about the two of them going to DisneyWorld, and I had resist the temptation to leap up from my couch, waving my hand and crying: 'Ooh, take me! Take me, too!') In these essays about growing up/ ...more
Theresa Alan
Sep 22, 2015 Theresa Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Vowell is funny in a low-key way. For example, she writes that her father loves guns so much he makes them for a living, and she drops this bit of information in with men she dates so that when the end inevitably comes, they’ll dump her in a respectful manner. She writes about serious historical events like the Trail of Tears to light subjects like being terrorized by her UPS man because she works from home. This is funny and educational.
Jason
Dec 17, 2012 Jason added it
Shelves: read-2009
Having come off of the high of reading Assassination Vacation, I jumped headfirst into Take the Cannoli, a series of essays by Vowell that jumped from imploring television stations to not play "My Way" when Frank Sinatra would die (a plea that was prophetically ignored), to an essay exploring her separation from her father, a gun making republican to her New York loving Democrat, and the mending of that divide. Ranging from mildly annoying, in the way that performance artists are annoying in the ...more
Melissa
Apr 29, 2013 Melissa rated it liked it
Enjoyed it. Essays on being an American, and all the contradictions that entails. Most difficult was the essay about doing "Heritage Tourism" along the Trail of Tears -- her struggles with what happened to the Cherokees along the Trail conflict with her knowledge that the tribe were slave-holders ... an extended meditation on the inherent contradictions of being American.

In other books, she has a theme running through -- this one is more a collection of essays written at various times, many for
...more
Ruby
Mar 08, 2016 Ruby rated it really liked it
It's even more enjoyable reading her essays knowing what her voice sounds like. She writes with the same start-and-stop deadpan sarcasm that she speaks.
James
Striking - equal parts hilarious, poignant, and intriguing; at times my wife asked me what I was laughing aloud at, and at other points my heart ached - sometimes the two were only paragraphs apart. The more I read of Ms. Vowell's work, the more I think she would be a fascinating person to have over to dinner. Her writing exemplifies the truth that history is about people, and is most interesting and enlightening when it's presented that way instead of as a dusty version of Trivial Pursuit, the ...more
Anita Edwards
For fans of NPR's This American Life show (like me), this is probably exactly what you're expecting: quirky, rye, insightful and often touching humor. For example, its hard not to blink and laugh when you find out the black-haired, brown-eyed author and heroine has a blue-eyed blond TWIN sister.

Don't know what to call this type of writing--perhaps, a blogvel. Entertaining as it is, I just don't see how the life observations of a 20/30-something who hasn't lived though any catastrophic or world a
...more
Mary
Mar 27, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Vowell amuses her readers with facts. That is not a mean feat. I learned about the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee Nation, and Sarah's self deprecating humor helped me deal emotionally with America's 19th century genocide. The essay "Take the Cannoli" is named for a line in The Godfather when one character blows another character's head into bloody jam and then advises his compatriot to leave everything behind except the pastries he bought for his wife.

To my delight, I found a dangling mod
...more
Laura
Feb 10, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Sarah Vowell's sarcastic writing style so I breezed through this book within 24 hours. Unlike most of her other books, this one is less of a romp through American history and more personal (but not any less enjoyable) with essays on her family and upbringing. A lot of the essays were quite funny. But I think I most appreciated her secret love affair with the Godfather films because it reminds me of my similar guilty pleasure of "Goodfellas."
Mike
Jun 24, 2009 Mike rated it liked it
Recommends it for: jerks that listen to NPR
Mildly interesting collection of essays examining pop culture and American history. The author has a certain wit, and her essays are quite clever even if ultimately not particularly insightful. Happy well-adjusted people, even the quirky clever and observant ones, annoy me on some level. Sarah Vowell is like FDR before the polio bestowed to him a visceral understanding of the terror of life. I hope she finds a less painful avenue to that sort of wisdom.
Michele Cacano
Oct 17, 2014 Michele Cacano rated it really liked it
I've always liked Sarah Vowell. I think I first became aware of her when she was a guest on Craig Ferguson, but it may have been other shows, as well, but I doubt it. There's something about her that I just "liked". So, I've been meaning to read one of her books ever since.

Finally, I have. Take the Cannoli is a collection of previously published essays that I found humorous, thought-provoking, and insightful. She lives in the same nocturnal world of pop-culture nerd-dom that I do, albeit in sli
...more
Ted Hunt
Jul 05, 2014 Ted Hunt rated it liked it
I would say that this might be Sarah Vowell's most personal book, almost a memoir at first. She discusses her parents, her twin sister, her Oklahoma/Montana upbringing, and some of her high school memories. For me, the best part of the book was the description of the trip that she took with her sister along the Trail of Tears, which was how their Cherokee ancestors had come to live in Oklahoma. This section reminded me of "Assassination Vacation," my favorite book of hers. Unfortunately, much of ...more
Dave
Feb 13, 2011 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely personal essays by Sarah Vowell--I do tend to prefer her longer, more historical essays that weave into a story (like Assassination Vacation), but she writes so clearly and amusingly, it's not like I dislike any of these. Best: her learning to drive, battling insomnia, playing in the band, shooting her dad.
Arlene
Jul 27, 2015 Arlene rated it liked it
I adore Ms. Vowell. Let me clarify that, up front. I take a Vowell book with me on vacation each year. I didn't make some conscious plan to do so - I just find myself hunting for the next book of hers' I haven't read yet, each time I am packing.

Take the Cannoli is perfect for a vacation read. If you're heading to relax anywhere and while there you want to be entertained such that you will occasionally laugh, totally relate, and enjoy cultural references - this is the book for you.

I adore her bra
...more
Mike M
Mar 31, 2016 Mike M rated it liked it
Take the Cannoli is a collection of essays that originally appears in other sources, and as such it's a bit uneven. There's some hits as well as some strikes. I found myself skipping passed a few of the individual essays that just didn't grab me. Vowell is at her best when she's talking politics or (even better) history. BY far the strongest piece in the collection is a longer essay about a roadtrip with her twin sister to follow the Trail of Tears. (I'd love to have this topic expanded into a b ...more
Trina
Jun 23, 2008 Trina rated it it was amazing
Sarah Vowell is very funny, but she's also a great critic of popular culture, and specifically popular political history. She's always IN these essays, too, though -- I admire her courage to make it clear that she really cares about these issues.
Amber Martin
I've never heard of Sarah Vowell and in all honesty wouldn't of known about this book had a certain book store employee not recommended it. There were a few parts in the beginning I was amused by but they were few. The parts I liked were a tad out numbered by the parts that I didn't. It's not that Sarah isn't a good writer, she's got that going for her for sure. I'm just not a fan of her style and the fact that I feel as though she really wants you to agree with her (pretty political) opinion. I ...more
Wes Ferguson
Apr 16, 2014 Wes Ferguson rated it liked it
Sarah Vowell deploys remarkable wit, nerdy interests and an easy, accessible style to cover a huge range of subjects in her books. If I had a criticism of this collection of essays, it would be that sometimes she strives for resonant or emotionally evocative ending that don't really feel earned. They're kind of tacked on, almost like a non sequitur. Think David Sedaris. For me, the highlight here is her pilgrimage on the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee Indians were forcibly relocated to Oklaho ...more
RandomAnthony
Jan 26, 2008 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
"Take the Cannoli" is probably the best of the Vowell catalog. She writes with a breezy self-depreciation that never sounds forced or inauthentic. Good for planes and between harder books.
Dick Baldwin
Jan 12, 2016 Dick Baldwin rated it really liked it
Sarah Vowell is awesome. I especially loved the essay about The Chelsea (of course). Her awareness of American History and the fact that that is integral in her enjoyment of her activities is great...I totally relate to that. The essay about the history of America from the vantage point of the bridge in Chicago is the perfect example. I can't count how many times I've been in a place in the country and stopped to think of all of the enormously significant events that happened right where I was s ...more
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Sarah Jane Vowell is an American author, journalist, humorist, and commentator. Often referred to as a "social observer," Vowell has authored several books and is a regular contributor to the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International. She was also the voice of Violet in the animated film The Incredibles and a short documentary, VOWELLET - An Essay by SARAH VOWELL in the "Behin ...more
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“We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.” 1879 likes
“I have a similar affection for the parenthesis (but I always take most of my parentheses out, so as not to call undue attention to the glaring fact that I cannot think in complete sentences, that I think only in short fragments or long, run-on thought relays that the literati call stream of consciousness but I still like to think of as disdain for the finality of the period).” 44 likes
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