Microthrills: True Stories from a Life of Small Highs
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Microthrills: True Stories from a Life of Small Highs

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  267 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Raised in Manhattan by her tiny sex-therapist mother and her two eccentric grandparents, Wendy Spero has always sought excitement in "microthrills," the small, strange highs that give her life meaning.

Her story begins in the one-bedroom, Upper East Side apartment she shared with her overly protective mother, where, as a little girl, she passed the time gnawing on strawbe...more
Hardcover, 238 pages
Published August 3rd 2006 by Hudson Street Press
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Heather
There were definitely some comedic highs in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Wendy referring to herself and her mother as the "spero hydra" (a microscopic organism which reproduces asexually and carries its little mini-me attached to its side). Funny and clever, and it left that image in my head for the rest of the book. And it is indeed an accurate representation of their relationship, which is one of the many facets of this book that i just can't relate too. She is just so freaking neurotic tha...more
Arminzerella
There’s a picture of two ladybugs – mating (?) - on the front cover of this book. I’m not sure why this spoke to me, or even, indeed, what it said when it spoke, but I picked it up and it shared my weekly commute with me. Wendy Spero, the author, reads the work herself, and she’s got a great performance presence and the voice of “A Character,” as my grandmother would say. She’s funny. But she also mumbles, occasionally, into her collar, so you can’t drive around with the windows open (as I’m won...more
Adam
Eh. I got this because I loved her at a reading I saw, but as soon as I started the book I realized I hated her style. She's got that "Everything I'm saying is so HILARIOUS AND FASCINATING!" tone that reminds you of your chatty friend who laughs too loudly, and her language is overloaded with adjectives in the style of a 19-year old blogger who thinks this is the key to sounding literate. Sometimes this becomes ridiculous: "With antiaging cream glistening from her pores, my elfin mother would of...more
Laura
You'll laugh until you hurt, flip the page, and repeat: Wow. What a total and utter surprise.

After reading the rave reviews on Amazon I figured I would get the book and it would be a letdown. Good, but not 5-star good. Well, I was wrong -- and the reviews were right. Do yourself a favor and get this book.

You probably won't learn any life lessons that you can teach your children, but you'll close the book with an understanding of life in another person's shoes. There were lots of things I was s...more
Samantha Penrose
Eh.
While I enjoyed Wendy's references to things that made appearances in my life (Toast of New York lipstick, Cut-co Knives, plastic bongs, and baja's), I was so put off by her lifelong obsession with stuffed animals that I was poisoned against liking her and her story.

On page 37, which is fairly early on for divulging such an annoying quirk, Wendy goes into detail about how her apartment is filled with furry, stuffed friends.
What's even more annoying than a grown woman filling her home with fl...more
Kevin Fink
Words cannot describe how much I loved this book. But here are some anyway: Wendy Spero paints a hilariously vivid picture of growing up an only child to a tiny, sex-therapist mother in a one-bedroom NYC apartment. Wendy Spero collects finger puppets and stuffed animals and gives them names without shame. Wendy Spero once sold knives door-to-door on a whim and became the best salesperson in the tri-state area. Wendy Spero smoked pot with Hugh Grant and her boss in a telephone booth in a bar. Wen...more
Clare
I had never heard of Wendy Spero before, but she's fairly hilarious, in the way Laurie Notaro used to be back with The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club. I did think the title of the book was a misnomer, though--it seems like she spent more time talking about her relationship with her mother (they're pretty much the Gilmore Girls, if the Gilmore Girls were New York City Jews instead of small-town Connecticut WASPs) than she did about her strange little obsessions. But I guess you can't put a pi...more
Julie
for whatever reason i have a lot of friends and family with o.c.d. it seems like more and more people have it these days or maybe i'm just becoming more aware. nonetheless, because of my personal experience with this type of personality i found the book to be fantastic! there were many laugh out loud parts which, when sneaking reading at work, is not always a good thing. like a couple other reviewers here i too enjoyed the chapter, gary. i love reading a good book with a great ending. much more...more
Gina
Feb 28, 2008 Gina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The easily entertained
Humorous, but not many laugh out loud moments. I had a difficult time relating to her. Of course reading about people & situations that are not part of your normal life is one of the benefits of reading, I just never got to the point where I really cared about her story. There were painful parts to tell like about her OCD & trying to find out information about her deceased father, but that was about the only times that I really felt for her. The rest of the time I thought she was high ma...more
Kristen
This is a fun, fluffy, summer book. Worth a browse while your significant other is using the bathroom at Barnes & Noble. Wendy Spero is not a literary genius and she's NOT David Sedaris by a long stretch, but she is quite funny. The first few essays, especially those about her mom, were great, then a few clunkers in the middle where she goes on and on about how cool her really irritating-sounding neurotic tics are, but my favorite essay was one called "Gary" about her dad. I think it's the m...more
Rebecca
Neurotic Jewish girl...check.
Obsessive compulsive neurotic Jewish girl...check
Funny obsessive compulsive neurotic Jewish girl...check

It is so similar to other books I've read, by Cynthia Kaplan, Jennifer Traig, Laurie Notaro, etc. It is funny, but at some point I lost interest in hearing stories about her life without any self reflection or growth. She's unapologetically herself, which is entertaining for awhile, but doesn't make for a very satisfying book. I finished it, but I can't really reco...more
Kate
This book wasn't at all what I expected, but I still enjoyed it. The title is a misnomer. It's not a collection of essays on "microthrills" but rather a collection of essays on a 1980s childhood filled with doormen, bat mitzvahs and yearly trips to Loehmann's. Because that's about as far from my own 1980s childhood as you can get, I enjoyed the book.

I'd give her an extra star for having a cover blurb from Ed Helms, but I'd have to take it away for having one from Sarah Silverman.
Paula
Definitely not laugh-out-loud funny (I think I only laughed out loud once near the end), but humorous in a quirky way. I probably would have felt more sympathy for her had she not grown up in upper Manhattan, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't looking for sympathy anyway. Some pieces were more amusing than others; the stuffed animal obsession, for example, was quite good. And the stories progressed, more or less, chronologically, which also was helpful.
Joseph Gowen
ICK! This book was supposed to be as funny as David Sedaris' essays on life, and the forward was promising. But then the author spent page after page on her love life in great detail. Just because her mother was a sex therapist, doesn't mean the reader wants that same disturbing frankness. After skipping about 20 pages, I decided to just close the book. Besides, it committed the unforgivable crime in humorous writing of not being funny.
Lindsi
I was recently down in LA for a consulting gig, and met the husband of this author (and the author herself). Funny, funny book - I found myself laughing to myself at least once a chapter.

I'm no literary genius, but this was a fun and entertaining read. Spero's fascination with candy, smelly erasers, and stuffed animals struck a familiar cord, and I didn't realize that there were others like me out there.
Npaw
Well written and laugh out loud funny. Maybe it's because we have the same birthday or maybe it's because we're both nuts, but despite growing up as far apart and in totally separate worlds, I could relate to everything in her book. She loves pop culture as much as I do and recognizes that freakiness is something most people strive for and never achieve. Bravo girlfriend.
Kristy
Meh. Wendy Spero's comedy memoir (based on her one-woman show) is fine, but just didn't really make me laugh all that much. I, in fact, found her rather irritating. I would imagine that hearing her read the material live would punch it up a bit, and this was a good thing to read on my in-law's couch over the holidays, but overall not recommended.
Tricia
This book has been relegated to the bathroom for a little "me time" literature. My me time is blessedly short. What with the kid and all. But I am enjoying it.

Edit: I finally finished this on vacation. It was good, but I wasn't as jazzed by the end. Not entirely the authors fault so much as where I was when I read it.
Sara
Hilarious. I identified strongly with several aspects of the author's personality & memories, especially the OCD-ness and the worry that adults would not believe her (me!) if she saw an alien (or ghost, in my case) that they themselves couldn't see. She blames ET, I blame Wait til Helen Comes.
Alison
I'm not bowled over by this so far--struggling through it.
--I finished it, but my verdict remains the same. Spero has a fluid writing style, but she seems to try too hard to be wacky (enumerating her compulsions, which unlike true OCD, she can control); an obsession with finger puppets). Not a great read.
Annie
i heart this book, maybe because i identified with so many of the author's stories? she's relatively normal with a few crazy tics and nothing much really happens but i was completely entertained anyway. this is right up my alley - stories about nothing much which are interesting nonetheless.
Lara
This was another of my Powell's haul - I went a little overboard in the Humor section with the clever memoirs. I could relate to Wendy - she grew up in the 80's with her single mom in NYC. Her observations are fresh and her writing is good, but in the end, the book was just okay for me.
Sheri
I thought this book was okay. I found some of the 80s references funny -- could relate to those. But didn't really get why she thought she had to keep talking about all the pot she smoked. That ruined it for me. I kind of wish she would just grow up a little (but that's just me).
laura
Oh my Goodness. This is my all-time favorite right now. Her explanations of smelly markers, her addiction to candy, even as a grown adult, and the winter coat debacle are amazing stories that describe my way of thinking perfectly. Happiness comes from the smallest things :)
Christina
This was the funniest book I've read in a long, long time. It was an absolute riot!

It was quick, easy, and hilarious. I was wary taking it on the train with me because I knew I'd be laughing so hard. I did anyway, and got funny looks. Totally worth it, though.
Maria
I actually listened to this on tape...but I would suggest it to anyone that needs to laugh, she is great reader!!! Book or tape this book is sooo funny! The author is a great story teller and great at highlighting the quarky things that make life oh so wonderful!
catherine
totally competent, and i appreciate the humor in an everyday (totally neurotic but still seemingly healthy) life, but nothing substantial or that remarkable. good read for a stressful time, when concentration is difficult or your mind is otherwise elsewhere.
Tina Desorcy
There were a few laugh out loud moments, and I jumped back in time a little when she mentioned Units -- remember that store? Ah... the 80's. It wasn't mindblowingly hilarious, but it WAS a very quick satisfying read. Take it on your next plane flight!
Kyla
A Christmas gift and perfect for the post-holiday snacking and couch lounging. Short, silly, after I finished it I kept thinking of her as someone I actually knew, a friend of mine who I happened to think about during the day. I was in her head.
Queenreese
I listened to the audiobook and have been plugging away at my own short stories again ever since, she's amazing! SO much fun listening to her tell stories while you're on public transport, laughing out loud and watching people stare!
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