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My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,425 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Davy Rothbart is looking for love in all the wrong places. Constantly. He falls helplessly in love with pretty much every girl he meets—and rarely is the feeling reciprocated. Time after time, he hops in a car and tears across half of America with his heart on his sleeve. He’s continually coming up with outrageous schemes, which he always manages to pull off. Well, almost ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published May 8th 2012)
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Robert
If you want a handful of life lessons (sixteen in fact) on how to fuck up more than a few relationships with a road map and GPS satellite in your hip pocket to comfort you on your dark days, then MY HEART IS AN IDIOT could provide you better comfort than a blanket, a glass of warm milk, and your favorite movie on the tube. Whether you’re a cynic by nature or even if you’re holding out for the storybook fairytale or maybe a hero that goes by another name, you could find yourself mixing equal part ...more
M. Sarki
I hated this book. I cannot believe it is so highly praised. It is so bad and juvenile that I can't bear to read another page. I am almost embarrassed to say I read around sixty pages of it before I threw in the towel. It just proves there is something for everyone out there in reader land. But this poor thing is just not for me.

Update 12-12-12: HA! I sold this bastardo. So glad to have it gone from my sight.
Amanda
Conflicted about this one. On the one hand, the writing is very good. On the other, it's just simply hard to like Rothbart. I was with him up until "Shade," in which he ditches, overnight, a sweet girl he has intense chemistry with when they talk for days cross-country over the phone -- the kind of connection that he claims to be looking for, longing for, throughout the entire book -- because, when he meets her face-to-face, she's just not pretty enough. So he lies to her with a wimpy, transpare ...more
Roxy
3.5 stars. It's a quick read. At first I didn't care too much for the book. His stories were good and the book well-written, but neither blew me out of the water. They sometimes felt a bit exaggerated, like those who collect stories tend to do now and then. And I didn't love his character- maybe if he was a little less self-absorbed, fell in and out of love a little less easily, partook in a little less drinking and driving - maybe then it would've been easier for me to love his stories as well. ...more
Melissa
If your heart is also an idiot, you'll relate with this book.

Davy Rothbart seems to get passed over by the ladies more often than most. Maybe it's because he's so earnest about falling in love with almost every girl he meets that the girls sense it is impermanent? Or just because nice guys finish last? Or because he seems to be on the road so often? I suspect it's a combination of these things, and also that, as he posits toward the end of the book, it's the chase he's really after. He loves fal
...more
Clark
I only read this 'cause I had to interview the dude for the Press Street Room 220 blog. I didn't dislike it as much as I expected to. It's kind of like reading a blog by someone who's funny and has some good stories. Hey do you think that blogs help save paper from making books like this? Or is that difference irrelevant due to all the books put out that are just compiled of memes and twitter posts? Dude, fuck the world!
Beth
This book of autobiographical essays kept reminding me of the movie Beautiful Girls. Here's a quote, to give you an idea of his style: "A plume of merriment rose in my chest that was six parts the gentle glow of heading into any bar on a cold, snowy night and four parts the wonderful, unpredictable madness of having a hundred-and-ten-year-old man I'd just met on the Greyhound bus as my wingman."

I love anyone who can make everyday life seem like an exciting joyride. The essay Human Snowball is t
...more
Traci
I won this as a Goodreads First Read. Good thing, as I have to say I'm not overly impressed with Rothbart. Oh, his writing isn't bad at all; he's quite good at setting the scene, describing the events, etc. But these essays come off as the whining, "life owes me" plaints of a 30-something hipster. Everything comes across as larger than life, with Rothbart creating a persona that I, quite frankly, didn't enjoy.

The author keeps talking about his pitiful love life, and yet, in "Shade", he writes ab
...more
Rebecca
I enjoyed meeting Davy and hearing him read from his book at Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis. It was fun to read about his misadventures. He takes himself seriously and then sees the humor in his situation.

Throughout the book he makes some wise observations in Davy-talk. Here's one I like. This is about young Hakim's strong desire to go to Canada, where he thinks he will get away from his problems and begin a new life as a DJ:

"But what would happen once he reached Canada? Missy and I had talked
...more
Autumn
I really enjoyed this collection of essays. As a longtime fan of Found magazine, I feel like I always have to check out Davy's work when I come across it. Some of these stories seem a bit farfetched, and I feel like some may have been greatly exaggerated at points- here and there, he acknowledges this by saying "I am not making this up"- which makes me feel like he may have embellished on some of the other details. Even still, the essays are great fun to read for anyone who enjoys fun essay coll ...more
Amadeus
These essays remind me of the stories guys tell you so you'll want to go out to dinner with them. The ones that make them seem adventurous, funny, capable of deep love, but not without faults that women will somehow find endearing instead of offensive. Maybe that was the point? Are you trying to ask us out, Davy Rothbart?!

It's hard to believe some of these tales. Perhaps they are really realistic fiction. Perhaps some are just mildly embellished. Perhaps life really does work in crazy ways and t
...more
Steve
Davy, Davy. We have the lab test results back, and the prognosis is not good. The idiocy appears to be spreading. It's no longer strictly a cardiovascular situation.

This collection of essays by Found magazine and website originator and sometime This American Life (NPR) contributor Davy Rothbart shoots for poignancy and heartache, but typically gets derailed...well, by idiocy. At best, his voice comes across clouded in sap-soaked puppy love ("Ain't That America") and at worst, he's a cringe-indu

...more
Mark Stevens
I came across “Human Snowball” in The Best American Non-Required Reading-2013 and I thought it was fiction.

Um, wrong.

“Snowball” starts with a fairly factual opening statement: “On February 14, 200, I took the Greyhound bus from Detroit to Buffalo to visit a girl named Lauren Hill. Not Lauryn Hill the singer, who did that cover of ‘Killing Me Softly,’ but another Lauren Hill, who’d gone to my high school, and now, almost ten years later, was about to become my girlfriend, I hoped.”

I mean, that
...more
Hollowspine
I have enjoyed listening to Davy Rothbart's performances in bars singing Bus or Beer with his brother, in old theatres doing Found vs. Found Footage Festival battles with Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, and over the radio on This American Life. So, it follows that I'd be interested in this book. I downloaded this audio book for a family vacation but never got around to listening to it, now finally, in a marathon of listening got through it in one listless day with my retired parents. I know, I'm p ...more
Jennuineglass
A lovely friend of mine sent me this book with a "you may be able to relate" sentiment. And so I started this book, impressed with the author's NPR connections (longtime a fan of this American life and Wait Wait....Don't tell Me) and expecting some sort of insight on life and love and the pursuit of happiness as it were.

The book is 16 short stories, or rather true life stories, gleaned from Mr. Rothbart's (admittedly) interesting life. Not all are centered around his pursuit of romantic love, th
...more
Emily May
Davy Rothbart falls in love with everyone he meets. Though most of the essays in My Heart is an Idiot include his propensity towards broken-hearted longing and the chase of some fleeting hope for romantic love, he seems just as enchanted by strangers he meets on buses, in bars, and through happenstance. The greatest strength of these stories is that Davy's interest in the secret heart of other people's lives, regardless of race, class, or pretty much anything else, shines through them.

I appreci
...more
Isobel
I picked up a proof of this in a charity shop whilst I was in New York. I've been in a reading slump but was drawn to this by the cover and the short "essays"/stories. Whilst I was reading the book I really enjoyed it, it was nice just to be enjoying reading again. I am glad someone else has pointed out in other reviews, however, that most of his "lost love" stories come off a bit misogynistic. He works through probably about 25 girls through the course of the book, all of whom he idealises and ...more
Kevin
I've got to admit, I didn't get quite what I was hoping for from this book. I was looking for a transcendent moment, a bit of catharsis in which the author explained the frailty of humanity, ie why we're all morons, especially in matters of the heart. This didn't happen for one very good reason: this is a book about life and in life, real life, that **** doesn't happen. What did happen was a very good selection of moments from a guy's life, moments of heartbreak and joy and the idiotic genius in ...more
Mary Lucas
To be honest, I didn't expect to like this book. I picked it up on a whim because my boyfriend thought it looked funny. It was only after running out of decent reading material that I gave this book a shot.

I couldn't put this book down.

Davy's stories were compelling from the very first page. And they kept getting better and better. His adventures are enthralling, heartbreaking, funny, and brutally honest. I laughed the entire time I was reading this, but there is an underlying sadness in the sto
...more
Em
I hope he isn't another James Frey...I want to believe people's "true" stories. OR I want them to say, "based on true events" or "mostly true".
My only other pet peeve...what's up with the misuse of "me" versus "I"? I get that it's a local dialecty kind of thing...But Rothbart is too quick and too smart to let that pass in the written version of these stories page after page. It discredits him in that it seems an attempt to keep some sort of "street cred". It comes off as too self-conscious.
But
...more
B. Rule
I got this book after seeing Davy speak. It's interesting because he was extremely likable in person, but that does not translate on the page. While he's a good writer, he is totally unlikable and unpleasant as a narrator. It doesn't help that the first piece is a story about his cruelty to his deaf mother. The rest of the stories in this book are about him cheating on his girlfriends, drinking to excess, and generally thinking of women as fantasy material rather than real people. It's a shame b ...more
Frances
I had a number of laugh out loud moments in the book. While not all of the essays are great, most are. Either this guy has a sad sack crazy life or he is really good at pulling threads of his experiences together to make it sound like he bumbles all the time. My favorite essay was Human Snowball. Rothbart takes the bus to Detroit on Valentine's Day to see a woman with whom he is hoping to develop a relationship. Along the way he meets interesting characters -including a 110 year old man - and th ...more
Amber Creed
So first, a quibble. Did you guys know that Davy is the man behind Found magazine? If you weren't sure, he'll drop that fact in every other essay. I may be exaggerating, but the Found humble-brag just irked me after a while.

And another thing... in my mind, the Davy I was picturing is NOT the way he looks in real life. I was seeing this tall, gangly man with some shaggy hair (think Shaggy from Scooby Doo, even), with tortoise-shell glasses that maybe attracted girls who like hipsters. Imagine my
...more
Arwen
Usually when I give three stars, it means I thought the book was decent and not a waste of time, but also well short of brilliant. In this case, though, I'm giving a highly conflicted three stars.

On the one hand, Davy Rothbart has a gift for storytelling. It's not just the way he strings words together, but the way he frames situations and brings characters alive and etc. I was captivated enough to read the book in a day.

On the other hand, some of the stuff this guy does is repulsive. Standouts
...more
Kandace
By now I should know better than to select short story collections or, as in this case, a book of essays for What We're Reading. Not because I'm not a fan of the genre. In fact I LOVE both short stories and essays. They are perfect to give you a flavor of a writer. They are bite-sized, but don't underestimate their impact. Some of my favorite pieces of writing have been short stories (Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper!!!).

No, it's not that I can't get into them. It's that I find th
...more
Jenny C.
Rothbart is a wonderful story-teller. His essays are full of lingering details and descriptions. At the same time, he infuses them with humor and deep insight. I enjoyed going along for the ride until I got to "Tarantula." Until that moment, I'd believe in his quest for pure love. I wanted to root for his earnest, witty, and sometimes quirky attempts to connect to women. His honest take on cheating, though, changed his persona in my viewpoint. After that, I still liked the stories, but it was mo ...more
Victor Cushman
I love Davy's style of writing. He is an equally good speaker, having seen him at TEDxPhoenixville in 2013. It is a quick read, or you can parse the stories one at a time.

While he may not impress others, here is someone who is able to capture what so many of us actually are, characters living our lives, falling in and out of love, doing dumb things, and feeling what romantics feel, making mistakes and yet moving on, somehow. I like that. It's storytelling, of life, it is real.

If you are a nerd,
...more
Carrie
I liked some of the stories in this autobiographical book of essays. I like the author's telling of his adventures, and how everyone he met became his friend.

But I was so turned off by the first essay--about the author's teen years and his incredibly disrespectful behavior towards his deaf mother--that it was hard to enjoy the rest of the book. Maybe writing about it was cathartic for the author, but that doesn't make it pleasant for the reader.

Amy Kattan
This book was nothing special. Granted, maybe this just isn't my kind of book. Davy is a good writer and while some of the stories were captivating, I found myself saying "what?" after finishing each one. For most of the stories, I had no idea why I was reading them. I'd finish each one and think "what was the point of that?" I also didn't think a lot of the stories belonged in the same book. I went from reading about peeing in bottles, to a beautiful story about 9/11, to beer pong at a frat hou ...more
James Mersol
Davy Rothbart's memoir/essay collection was really good! I'd recommend "Human Snowball", the essay that got me to buy the book, above all others, but almost all the essays are funny, thoughtful, and memorable. I wasn't a huge fan of the last essay in the book, which I had to reread to remember what it was even about, but otherwise I loved his stories. The structure of the book also deserves some mention - most essayists seem to structure their collections somewhat haphazardly, but Rothbart inter ...more
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80090
Davy Rothbart's magazine Found is dedicated to discarded notes, letters, flyers, photos, lists, and drawings found and sent in by readers. The magazine spawned a best-selling book, Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World, published in April 2004. A second collection was published in May 2006. The magazine is published annually and co-edited by Rothbart's friend Jaso ...more
More about Davy Rothbart...
Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World Found II: More of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas: Stories Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World FOUND Magazine #1

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“I often wished that I could split myself a hundred ways and live a hundred separate lives [...]. But in the end, I supposed, we only had one life to lead, and the roads not taken would always outnumber and outshine the roads we end up taking, day by day, without plan.” 5 likes
“Marry her right away. Tomorrow, if you want. You don’t know how much time you get with someone, so you might as well start right away.” 2 likes
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