Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted
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Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted

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3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  785 ratings  ·  177 reviews
At once hilarious and incredibly moving, Giving Up the Ghost is a memoir of lost love and second chances, and a ghost story like no other.

Eric Nuzum is afraid of the supernatural, and for good reason: As a high school oddball in Canton, Ohio, during the early 1980s, he became convinced that he was being haunted by the ghost of a little girl in a blue dress who lived in his...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published January 1st 2012)
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Kate Carpenter
This book isn't really about ghosts. It's about sadness and growing up and the way the world likes to stifle the creative spirit. It's about friendship and loss and finding acceptable ways to express yourself when you can't get your brain to settle down. It's about darkness and acceptance of that darkness and how sometimes the world is poetry but mostly it's not. It's about how the very best thing about a person is often the very worst thing as well. It's about how it's amazing that anyone lives...more
Chris
I am so excited! I just found out that I won this book on GoodReads! I will read it as soon as I receive it. Thank you.


Came home from work to find the book waiting for me. I was surprised to get it so quickly! Thank you again. I will post again once I have finished reading it.


Great book. I read the preface and really wasn't sure it would interest me, but once I started reading I couldn't stop. In fact, I was annoyed to go to work without finishing it! I love books that I connect with so thorough...more
Caitlin
One of the best things about Giving up the Ghost is that it is not the memoir you expect. From the publisher's description it sounds like it's going to be sort of a search for information about his friend, but mostly a somewhat serious/somewhat silly romp through paranormal places. It's not that. Not even close.

If you were ever different as a kid, ever bullied or just shunned by the other kids around you, you're left with two basic choices: conform or defy them. Mr. Nuzum chose to defy his class...more
Sarah
With quotes on the back cover of my ARC from Chuck Klosterman and Rob Sheffield, I guess I was expecting quite a bit from this book. And I think seeing those two names had be expecting something very different from what I got. Additionally, I think the subtitle gives a different impression than what the book is really about. I'm not entirely sure I can elucidate what exactly this book is about - it's a memoir, I got that part covered. But is it about Nuzum's fear of ghosts, grown from an adolesc...more
Cynthia
Every so often a book comes along that stays with you long after you've read the last word. This is one of mine. The author is obsessed with ghosts of all kinds. Ghosts in the attic. Ghosts in his memory. Ghosts in his heart. Giving Up the Ghost is an emotional amalgamation. On one hand, Nuzum's account of cruising a dark and forbidding road rumored to be haunted by everything under the sun and moon was so incredibly funny that I found myself reading passages to friends and co-workers. But it wa...more
Barry
I heard the author interviewed on NPR and I was pretty apprehensive at first- a guy talking about his dark and tangled teen aged years, 80s rock, and the paranormal? It could be right up my alley or force me to do serious neurological damage from severe and repeated eye-rolling. I'm pleased to report that this book fit into the former category. I appreciate the fact that the author resisted the urge to sum things up or package them a little more clearly cut than they originally occurred because...more
Stewart
I'm a sucker for a good memoir so when I won this book through Goodreads I was excited to give it a go. Giving up the Ghost is easily one of the best memoirs I have read to date. Although the entire book revolved around Eric Nuzum's experiences with ghosts and his own personal hauntings, it actually felt like a story that we can all relate to in some way. Of course we all might not be scared of the ghost of a little girl in a blue dress or enjoy hallucinogenics on a regular basis, but this memoi...more
Kelly
Like every one else, I went into this book thinking it would be one thing and left with something completely different. Do you know how rare it is to find a non-fiction book about mental illness that puts you in their shoes and makes you feel as if it were you experiencing it as if you were there? That opens your eyes to what really goes on in the mind of a teenager with mental issues and how to view it from their perpetive? That inspires you to want to march for the health and progress? This is...more
Andrea Blythe
When I first saw the eerie cover and read the above description, I assumed this was a novel. It's not; it's a memoir. The instant I realized this was not fiction, the story became all the more compelling to me. A book about being really haunted? YES!

Nuzum neither presumes that ghosts are real or not real, he simply tells his own story with being haunted and how it became a contributing factor in a downward spiral of despair in self-destruction. While a teenager, Nuzum did many things that were u...more
Joanna Liberty
I love reading memoirs, partly because my favorite class in high school was about writing memoirs. While I still don't think I really accomplished the goal of the class (writing an awesome memoir), I did learn quite a bit about the craft of the memoir. To me, a successful memoir is one that is the author's personal story yet other people are able to relate to their own lives, to learn from, to understand, and to take a message away from the story. In this respect, Giving Up the Ghost by Eric Nuz...more
Sx3
I selected Eric Nuzum's Giving Up the Ghost to read because it was compared to Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mixtape which I had liked very much.

Yet even though both books deal with death, Giving Up the Ghost hit a little closer to home for me so I couldn't read it in chunks. I had to take it in small bites or I would be overwhelmed with nostalgia laced melancholy.

Although I didn't grow up in Canton Ohio (where the author is from and where much of his memoir is based), I went from teenager to adult...more
M. Fenn
I received a copy of Giving Up the Ghost by Eric Nuzum as an Early Reviewer and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Nuzum's memoir deals with his troubled childhood and adolescence, the Little Girl in the Blue Dress who he thought lived in his attic, and Laura, his best friend he knew next to nothing about. It's a poignant tale, sometimes funny, written from Nuzum's point of view as a fairly successful adult as he tries to figure out his fear of ghosts. He travels to some of the best known haunted places...more
Brian
Oh man, I wanted to love this book. It's about, among other things, lost love, haunted places, and it's set in Ohio. I even interrupted reading two other books to read this one because I was so excited about the possibilities. However, it just never comes together into anything other than essentially a list of events and a bunch of cliched conclusions.
Vivi Vo
Eric Nuzum tells the story of his ordeal in the book Giving Up the Ghost and how he plans to overcome his phobia of ghosts, mainly revolving around a blonde girl and in a blue dress who he believes is haunting him, both in his dreams and every aspect of his life. He starts his book reminiscing about his high school years in Canton, Ohio where he introduces his crush to his best friend at Puttolinks, a closed and rundown golf course. Every person that Eric meets die within a couple months of know...more
Danelle
Eric Nuzum grew up in Canton, Ohio in the 80's. While he was in high school, he believed himself to be haunted by a ghost - a small girl in a blue dress who lived in his attic and showed up in his dreams. Whether She was a spectre, a ghost, a warning, or just a drug-induced hallucination, the result was Nuzum being committed to a psych ward. Numbing himself with drugs and alcohol, failing his classes, slowly pulling away from life, Nuzum had one thing keeping him from ending it all - a friendshi...more
Cemeterygal
I heard the author interviewed on NPR, which made me want to read this book. I really wanted to like it and like it a lot, and I did like it. Was it was different than I expected? Yes. If you are the type of person who wants everything answered at the end of a book and tied up in a neat little bow, you will be disappointed (I admit I was--I want the neat little bow). There are some mysteries in this book that are never resolved. But that's life. Sometimes there are things that happen in our live...more
Scott Rhee
Everybody has a ghost story. I had what could be called a "paranormal' incident when I was younger, although as time passes and my skepticism grows, I often wonder if I imagined it. There is a certain tragedy in that. Eric Nuzum, in his book "Giving Up the Ghost" would probably feel the same way. Nuzum, a Canton native, was personally haunted, in his dreams and in his everyday life, by a terror-inducing vision of a young girl in a blue dress starting when he was about ten years old until his ear...more
Maraezimmerman
Eric Nuzum has written a very engaging, sometimes intense book on what it means to be haunted, both by traditional ghosts and by life events. Nuzum takes us to some of the most haunted places in the U.S., in an attempt to find and confront his fear of ghosts. Interspersed throughout his current life are chapters on his childhood, teenage and early 20s, and how he was haunted by the ghost of "Little Girl." Throughout his ordeal, his only true friend is a girl named Laura, who has since also died....more
Jennifer Osterman
I found this memoir to be exactly what Rob Sheffield described it as: "...powerfully sad and evocative...". I was drawn into the story of Nuzum's terror, his psychiatric decline, his experience as a misfit and social outcast, but it never struck me as hilarious. It was moving, sympathetic, intriguing, mystifying...amusing, but never all that funny, to me. That isn't to say that I wasn't raptly engaged in Eric's ghost hunt - both of the ghosts of the past and of the future. I found both parts of...more
PJ Malik
As an adult who is also afraid of ghosts, I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I wasn't sure if the story would be frightening, resulting in my needing to read it during the daytime, or something else.

Eric's story reminds me of the restlessness of youth, searching for meaning and finding confusion. Reading about his journeys to re-trace his youth made me laugh, and made me introspective about my own paths. His explorations of what it means to be haunted are thought provoking. By revisit...more
Crysta
Given that one of my roommates considers herself an amateur ghost hunter, when I unpacked this book at my job at a metaphysical bookstore, it instantly grabbed my attention. Also, I like 80s rock. I debated whether to give this a 4 or a 5 star rating, but in the end, I decided it was worthy of a 5 since I spent an entire shift with the ghost of the book floating around my head taunting me to read more. I finished it in about 3 days, staying up until 4am the last night because there was only a *l...more
Andrea Mullarkey
I was so suckered by the subtitle on this book. I mean, there was no way for me to resist “a story about friendship, 80s rock, a lost scrap of paper, and what it means to be haunted.” I should have guessed it was mostly going to be a ghost story, but that little 80s rock hook and the possibility that everything could hinge on a tiny piece of paper was too enticing. Never mind that it has a 133 call number. Still it was a fairly straightforward memoir about a young man who is haunted by the ghost...more
Melissa
This isn't a bad book, but it's not exactly a good one either. Two parts memoir and one part journalistic investigation of famous haunting sites, it would have been better off had it just stuck with memoir. It's not that I'm not interested in a journalistic investigation of famously "haunted" places, it's just that I'm not sure this book was the right place for it. The memoir parts of the book are much stronger than the ghost-hunting parts.

That said, the book suffered from many instances of seem...more
Kerfe
Nuzum's personal demons affirm the fragility and ephemeral nature of our relationships to past, present, future, to each other and ourselves. Some parts of life will always remain a mystery: "Because life isn't neat and binary and clean; life is messy, troubled, and leaves ghosts in its wake."

The insecurity and sense of disconnect that is American adolescence comes across strongly in Eric's story. The fact that his experience was more exaggerated and intense than most, his hold on normal routine...more
Jason
Oct 28, 2012 Jason rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jason by: Kim
A seemingly understated work that manages to deliver in a most fulfilling way. In 'Giving Up the Ghost' Nuzum manages to combine the most appealing parts of three very distinct styles. His contrite detailing of a troubled adolescence feels like the musings of Augusten Burroughs, while his recantations of traveling to supposedly haunted places to face his spectral fears are comparative to the work of Sarah Vowell. Finally, Nuzum is able to legitimize a narrative whereby the reader knows who is de...more
Julie
Outstanding book--possibly his best yet. The story holds your interest from the first page. It's rare to find a book that keeps your attention throughout and keeps you wanting more (I read it in two days). The author has a truly unique perspective on life and holds nothing back--allowing you to see into his struggle with ghosts. He shares off the wall antics told with zeal, and something more that is very relatable. He makes you think about your own ghosts and wonder why some ghosts stay and oth...more
Cami
I need to get the last couple of chapters read still, but the library wanted it back.

This is a tale of a very sad portion of the author's life. I found his reflections on loss, on being a directionless individual and on the haunting visions/dreams of a little girl in a blue dress touching and sensitive.

I agree with a friend's review that it's not for everyone, but I think it's worth a look. I think that the person Eric Nuzum describes himself being at the time written about herein, hold a part...more
Heather
I just read this book in one sitting, and it made me both laugh and cry. Not being into supernatural phenomenon whatsoever, I felt hesitant to read the book. But (thankfully), the book is less about ghosts than it is about love, friendship, life, loss, mental instability, search for "truth," and, ultimately, the acceptance of all the unknowns of life lest they drive a person insane. If I had a shelf for "favorite memoirs," Giving Up the Ghost would fit snugly on that shelf.
Dave
The blurb on this book grabbed me right away. Teenagers? 80's music? Ghosts? Lost love? Sign me up!
It is a true story, told in the 1st person. I really did enjoy it. It's sad at times, and I wish he'd told us a little more about his 'before' and 'after'...
But overall this is a great read, and took me back to the 80's when I was a teen, and I knew a girl who touched my life in a deep and profound way...

A good book....
Pamela
I was put off by the misplaced modifier in the 2nd sentence of the book and it didn't get much better from there. This book didn't go anywhere or tell me anything. There was no back story to explain any of the incidents that the author related in the book. There was no conclusion to wrap it up. It was just a boring snapshot in time of the author's teenage years and an attempt to tie it to a time in his adult life.
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ERIC NUZUM is a recovering pop culture critic, VH1 pundit, and author of Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Music, A Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to be Haunted (2012), The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula (2007/2008) and Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America (2001). He writes a lot of inane stuff that falls somewhere between the...more
More about Eric Nuzum...
The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America

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“If there is one thing I'd learned about hospitals, it's that they aren't interested in healing you. They are interested in stabilizing you, and then everyone is supposed to move on. They go to stabilize some more people, and you go off to do whatever you do. Healing, if it happens at all, is done on your own, long after the hospital has submitted your final insurance paperwork.” 17 likes
“Right there in that room, listening to the tape Laura gave me, I decided that I wanted something more than what I’d allowed myself to become. Listening to the voices and piano notes fade in and out, I decided that I wanted to be happy. If I had to fight for things in life, I wanted to fight for something bigger than the right to eat with a fork. I wanted to love and be loved and feel alive. I had no idea how to find my way, but listening to that music wash over me, I felt, for the first time, that the struggle I faced would be worth it.” 3 likes
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