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Memoirs of a Gas Station: A Delightfully Awkward Journey Across the Alaskan Tundra

3.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  374 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Early one May, Sam Neumann arrived in the breathtaking wilderness of Denali, Alaska with a smile on his face and adventure in his heart. But less than 24 hours later, both had evaporated as he stood behind the counter of a filthy gas station—his new place of employment—and tried to piece together what exactly had gone wrong.

Memoirs of a Gas Station is a delightfully awkwar
Kindle Edition, 220 pages
Published April 19th 2012 by Sam Neumann
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P. Christopher Colter
Sep 24, 2012 P. Christopher Colter rated it really liked it
Sam Neumann's Memoirs of a Gas Station: A Delightfully Awkward Journey Across the Alaskan Tundra is a fun read about a college student's adventures working for a summer at a resort in Denali, Alaska. Signing on with the resort's ownership for an unspecified position, Neumann and his friend Jim arrive in Alaska to discover that they have been assigned to work at the resort's gas station, which is one of the bottom-rung jobs in the organization. The book chronicles their attempts to make their job ...more
Tim Moon
Jul 14, 2012 Tim Moon rated it really liked it
This book really cracked me up. There are so many parts in this book that had me laughing out loud, sometimes to the point of tears. My friends/coworkers must think I'm nutty.

The story covers Sam's whole summer working near Denali National Park. There is a lot of drinking, some coed mingling and a lot of awkward situations. The personalities in the story are interesting to read about. Having lived in Alaska myself and having glimpsed the seasonal worker scene I can tell you that Sam hits it rig
Jim Bell
Feb 25, 2013 Jim Bell rated it it was ok
An adventure like the one Sam describes here is worth being shared because of its scale, and share it he does, although in a somewhat disjointed manner. Younger readers will probably relate to Sam's writing style quickly, as his youth is apparent here. That's not a bad thing, but it may put off older readers looking for more of a travelogue type of story. Some older reviewers were also bothered by language, more on that later. There are parts of the book where he is trying too hard to be clever ...more
Jun 01, 2016 Elisa rated it really liked it
This is a nice little complaint-form-turned-love-letter to Alaska, from a college kid working a summer job in Denali.

I think it's great that someone had a meaningful experience that snuck up on him (that was basically about every day situations in a resort in the northern-most state in the U.S), and turned it into a memoir of just that time in his life. It's funny, well-written, introspective, heartfelt, and it makes you want to go to Alaska. It's like a little travel book with personality.

A v
Kevin Johnson
Apr 09, 2014 Kevin Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: oyster
Confusing...The book was well written with an engaging, conversational style. I just have trouble understanding why it was written. It kind of came off as an extended essay of "What I did on my summer vacation". Not sure if I would recommend this book to others but I would be interested to read what this author can do with a little more substance.
Sep 04, 2012 Teeliles rated it it was ok
This is shaping up to be a really fun read!

Sadly, this book didn't live up to my expectations. The protagonist decides to spend a summer working at a resort in Denali, Alaska, but turns out to be woefully unprepared (for instance, he's too cheap to buy the waterproof boots the guide recommends, instead bringing 'water-resistant' ankle boots, with predictable results once he goes camping), and terribly disappointed that instead of working at the resort proper, he is assigned to -- you guessed it
Mar 05, 2014 Nicole rated it really liked it
This captured the essence of working in Alaska during the summer for me. While I was not a seasonal worker, merely a student in the local clinic, it really hit home with the balance of beauty and absurdity of living temporarily in Alaska. I was transported back to Denali and given a new perspective and humor thanks to this story. I recommend it for people even if you've never been to Alaska.
Jessica Schroeder
Mar 16, 2015 Jessica Schroeder rated it really liked it
So the author of this book is the brother-in-law of one of my best friend's! I figured if his Best Man speech at their wedding was at all indicative of how funny this book would be, than I was in for a treat. I was right.
Leigh Grady
Feb 19, 2014 Leigh Grady rated it it was ok
I am usually a positive person but I found this book narcissistic and not funny but I give the author kudos that he got it published - I feel that the author made so much fun of everyone - was he a perfect 10 - I think not!
Sep 24, 2012 Drew rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book but as it started out wonderfully. A few great stories and I was hooked. I thought I was in for another employment story which would have me laughing out loud like “Whatever you do don’t run” but what I found was a rehashing of the same thing very frequently, get off of work, drink, try to hook up with girls (it sounds like work there is very boring). There are some genuinely funny stories and some nice imagery of the Alaskan outdoors. The stories also seem to put ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Al rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, read-2012
Memoirs of a Gas Station is part travel book, part personal memoir, and part exposé of the world of seasonal employment. I learned a lot about Alaska (especially the area around Denali National Park) and got an interesting glimpse into what it’s like to work as a seasonal employee, both the good and the bad. Traveling vicariously when I’m stuck at home and getting glimpses of what life is like for people in situations I haven’t experienced are both things I enjoy, and Memoirs of a Gas Station de ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Katya rated it liked it
I lived in Alaska from age 20 to 28 and spent many a summer working in tourism. Sam tells it like it is... long days of routine and stupid questions followed by partying and adventures, a lifestyle that you grow to love and miss by the end of the summer. Like others pointed out, the book was a bit crude at points, but really- there are no noble Alaska summer quests. He portrayed himself and his coworkers quite realistically. (Random note: that's why it's popular for the large tour companies to d ...more
Jun 30, 2012 Susan rated it it was ok

I was excited to read this book, because living in Alaska has been such an interesting experience and I thought I would enjoy another take on it. It started out hilariously, but very quickly it stopped being "delightful" and became a droning self-absorbed account of the author's drinking and female conquests. There were a few good vignettes as he described his interaction with the amazing wildness of Denali, but if you removed all the pursuit of hedonism (and vulgarities) in between it would've
Dec 28, 2014 Marymudie rated it did not like it
This book has a great premise, but poor execution. We learned a lot about drinking and getting laid and a lot less about Alaska. There could have been some great character studies..... Ah, well, it wasn't a long read.
Dec 02, 2014 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-away
Good book, but not great. It was more about the lifestyle associated with that type of internship as opposed to an Alaskan journey. Having done the WDW College Program, it brought back memories.... good memories. That being said, if you are looking for a meaningful memoir about a guy's journey in Alaska, this is not the book. If you are looking for some fun stories about a college kid who spent his summer having fun, living with roommates from all over the world, going to bars, and living a life ...more
Kate Kelley
Aug 23, 2012 Kate Kelley rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Told from the perspective of a seasonal employee trying to both enjoy his summer and make some extra cash for college, Sam illustrates the time in your life where responsibility is looming but you still have 1 or 2 more summers before real life begins! Recalled in amazing detail, you feel like you are there and know the cast of characters that Sam meets along the way and are there with him experiencing Alaska from a seasonal employee's vantage point. Honest and well written th ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Mich rated it really liked it
Fun fun read. Light read with a smile 'Seasonal worker' antics. Just enjoyed this
Aaron Kuehn
Mar 01, 2014 Aaron Kuehn rated it really liked it
A great, great book!

Sam is funny and clever with the language. And his very believable stories about his summer in Alaska transported me. At times I craved going to Denali, at others I felt his frustration at the dullness of it all.

HIGHLY recommend.
Apr 08, 2013 Markus rated it did not like it
I started this but quit because the book was too crass. I was really interested in the experience, but the central character, the writer himself, was such wholly unlikeable whiner and the book was full of high school locker humor.

The author does have some talent and can have a good sense of humor. I did laugh out loud twice, but ultimately, he just needs to deal with his potty mouth. It just wasn't worth digging through the garbage to get to look for a few pieces of gold.

It was a freebie on Ama
Aug 26, 2012 B rated it it was ok
The premise of the book seemed promising. Sam, the author, spends a summer working at a gas station in Denali National Park in Alaska. Between the stunning scenery, opportunities for backcountry adventures, and slightly oddball seasonal workers, the book should have been a roaring success.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that Neumann pokes fun at frat boys early in the book, winds up sounding an awful lot like one... (continue reading)
Sep 16, 2014 Vickie rated it liked it
I enjoyed parts of this book such as details of camping trips and the daily routine of being a seasonal employee. I did tire of hearing about getting drink again and again.
Jan 23, 2014 Kathy rated it it was ok
Possibly the worst book I've read in a long time. Kept reading it in hopes that there would be some redeeming value. Full of demeaning descriptions of most everything including Alaskan wildlife. Booooo!
Nov 10, 2013 Bren rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books, 2013
I chuckled several times out loud while reading this book. It isn't the most challenging book to read, but it is fun. And annoying at some parts.
It did bring back the memories of being 20, finding a seasonal summer job, and realizing how 'unencumbered' those days were. I didn't smoke nor drink, but I did share several moments of Sam's summer job.

Just as "Wild" made me think I want to hike the PCT, Gas Station makes me want to be 20 all over again... just one more time.
Aug 06, 2014 Amanda rated it did not like it
This could've been insightful and funny and at worst an interesting read; instead, it was mostly about how the author is a colossal asshole. He forms quick stereotyped & sneering impressions of coworkers, complains about all the girls who don't fall at his feet, and drinks up his entire pay while complaining about how little he gets paid.
Diane Lybbert
May 06, 2013 Diane Lybbert rated it liked it
A young man takes the summer between his junior and senior years in college to go to Alaska and work as a seasonal employee in Denali National Park - unfortunately he is give the worst job available, the mind-numbingly menial and boring job at the gas station. Alternating between travelogue as he documents hikes in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness and personal memoir of too many drunken, pot-filled parties, the book is an entertaining read.
Feb 12, 2014 Patricia rated it did not like it
Jul 23, 2012 Cindie rated it liked it
If Sam hadn't commented that hockey is a sport that doesn't serve any purpose, I would have rated the book better. Sorry, Sam, you can't tell me the NBA draft is exciting and dismiss hockey. That just isn't fair.

In all seriousness, the book was fun, approachable, and easy to envision in my head as the stories unfolded. It also made me want to quit my job to be a seasonal employee in a national park...just not at a gas station.
May 31, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
Greet memoir, very entertaining. Descriptions of Alaska were awesome, and had me Googling images and maps to confirm what I was imagining. Story flowed well, was funny, descriptive, non-repetitive, and ended properly. I appreciated the lack of overly sexual descriptions, activities were handled tactfully (after all, this isn't a Harlequin romance). A fascinating read, and I'm looking forward to the author's next book.
Mar 10, 2014 Marvel rated it liked it
Funny - in a twisted, first time away from home college student way. I think it would make a good movie.
Jan 09, 2014 Shari rated it it was ok
Only finished reading the book so that it would count toward my goal. Started out nice, but, ended up being a story of complaints, belly aching, getting drunk and laid.
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Sam is the author of three books and many entertaining blog posts, all of which can be found at
More about Sam Neumann...

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