There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say
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There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  370 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Part memoir, part monologue, with a dash of startling honesty, There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say features biographies of legendary historical figures from which Paula Poundstone can’t help digressing to tell her own story. Mining gold from the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, and Beethoven, among others, the eccentric and utterly inimitab...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Crown (first published November 2nd 2006)
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Twoscrewsloose
I was previously only familiar with Paula Poundstone through the NPR comedy news show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. So I knew what to expect, in the sense that she is a comedian who is frequently sarcastic and irreverent. What I wasn't expecting was a story of hardship, struggles, and genuinely tragic mistakes.
The central conceit of the book is that in each chapter, Paula chooses a historical figure and writes about them, connecting their lives to her own life in a semi-coherent stream of conscious...more
Paula
I think Paula Poundstone is very funny. She spoke at a library event that I attended, and her speech was the best part of the event. And this book was funny. I could hear her comedy delivery in my mind as I read. I enjoy her humor and even laughed out loud while reading it. Still, it took some effort to get through the book, perhaps because it reads like the text of one standup routine after another. Since there is no really linear story here (except for the brief biographies of famous people th...more
Ken
I hear many good things about "Wait, wait... don't tell me..." and I like comedians, but somehow, I didn't like Paula Poundstone. It wasn't so much that she adopted children and endangered them (the court's words, not mine) by driving them to Baskin Robbins, while drunk. I think it was because she joked about some of the terms of her plea deal, maybe. I don't know. I don't recall the exact joke, but it was something about not being allowed to be alone with kids that were not her own.
There were...more
Rebecca Waring-Crane
Paula reads her own work and keeps me company on my commute to school. Using braided essay style she cleverly confesses her own flaws (serious, real), and makes witty observations about her own life in comparison with lives of historic figures: Charles Dickens, the Wright Brothers, Helen Keller.
Jennifer
how can someone so funny be so un-funny?
Joy
Paula Poundstone is my favorite guest on my regular Saturday morning
NPR show, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," so that led to my interest in knowing more about her She's quite open about her felony conviction for drunk driving with her adopted children, which led to them being in foster care for awhile. She has a lot to say about her kids, much of it very funny: "I don't think I ever met someone who didn't know how to raise my kids." And: "I let my kids watch some of the summer Olympics, because I wan...more
Don
I'd like to think that Ms. Poundstone could appreciate the circumstances under which I read this book. I was at a bag sale at a local library, at which I had the opportunity to fill up a shopping bag for just $1. Glancing at the table, I noticed a travel book that caught my attention, figured it was worth a buck, figured I could probably fill the bag with any old crap and even if I never read the other books I'd still have that travel book.

That being said, I do enjoy Ms. Poundstone on NPR's "Wai...more
Hilda
I love Paula Poundstone, I think she is one of the best female comics of our generation. I love her humor, her delivery - just the way her mind works. And I so admire her getting through her much-publicized rough patch with drinking, and losing her kids, etc. I was totally ready to absolutely love this book. As it turns out...not so much.


I just don't understand why she wrote the book the way she did. She has taken what to me seem eight random historical/cultural figures - Joan of Arc, Abraham L...more
Llewellyn
I read some not so great reviews of this book, but I love Paula's stand-up, so I decided to give it a shot anyway. But sadly, I have to agree with those not to great reviews...

The book is laid out like this:

Random fact about someone from history. Random fact about Paula. Random fact about Paula. Random fact from someone from history. Random fact about Paula. Something from history. Something about Paula. Etc.

It's very random and awkward. After 25 pages I wasn't even sure I could take any more. I...more
Marilyn
I enjoy Poundstone's comedy. This is another comedian memoir, but the format is pretty unique. She parallels biographical stories of historic figures and uses them as a springboard for her stories. I almost quit after the first chapter because she makes light of her criminal charges/history. I'm glad I kept going because it got better; unfortunately it got a little slow/long. It's okay for a comic autobiography, but I wouldnt advise most people to read it.
Kathy
I like Paula Poundstone's humor a lot, and I did enjoy this book. I just think she's at her best with an audience to feed off of, especially when she engages with them in her act. The pace of the book was a little slow, and generated more chuckles than laugh out loud reactions. She has a stream of consciousness style and makes some big leaps between seemingly disconnected topics (which aren't so disconnected after all once you catch up with her line of thought). The fun is when she catches you b...more
Caren Stein
Paula is my favorite female stand-up comic. I loved this book so much, I bought the audio book so I could hear her and as I suspected.....it was like getting a seven chapter show. I think the way she integrated historical figures that she loves/admires was unique and I appreciated it AND, I learned things about them that endeared a few to me even more.
Paula should write and write and write some more. For those who give a psychological analysis of Paula's personal life instead of reviewing the bo...more
Susan
I often laughed while reading this book but I wish it had been shorter. I felt like it wasn't worth the time I spent finishing it but I could never read more than a few pages a night before getting sleepy. This is not literature ... it's a string of one liners, loosely strung at that. Paula's schitzophrenic style is funny in a performance but sometimes disturbing when reading. I kept thinking, "Now wait a minute - how did we get here?"

Unfortunatley her chaotic style distracts from her very inter...more
Pete
Paula Poundstone is a well-known comedienne who is a frequent panelist on NPR's news trivia show Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me. She has had several HBO and Comedy Central specials and tours the country performing her stand-up act. Now, she is also a published author. It must have been challenging to adapt what is a pretty standard - albeit unusually hilarious - stand-up act into a 250-page novel, but by interweaving her story with that of famous personages such as Joan of Arc, Helen Keller, and Abrah...more
Amanda
I love Paula Poundstone. I've been a fan since I was a kid and her observations and quick wit have never ceased to amaze me.

This book as a book isn't very good. It's basically a bunch of random stories mixed in with short biographies of famous figures. If I had read this as an actual book it would've taken me about a year because I seriously can't handle books written in that sort of format.

However, I listened to this as an audiobook. It is narrated by Paula herself. It was hilarious. It works...more
Jennifer Foshee
I adore Paula Poundstone, and I was happy to pick up her book when I saw her perform live a while back, in order to have something for her to autograph. Now finally I've gotten around to actually reading it.

And -- it's ok. Much like her stand-up, it's a rambling stream of consciousness jump from tangent to tangent. This tends to work better with her performances, where much of the humor comes from her delivery -- her timing, her inflections, etc., but it also works for the book, once you get int...more
Jesse
Oct 23, 2007 Jesse rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Paula Poundstone fans
I love Paula to death, but I'm not sure I'd ever pick this up if I didn't. It's very easy to hear her voice as you read each page, but if you don't like her humor or are not familiar with her work (and I feel sorry for you if you're not!) I think you're missing out. It would be kind of like watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2 without knowing anything about Johnny Depp or Pirates 1.

The book is broken down into chapters that focus on one historical figure each and then contrasts their life and acc...more
Danielle
I've always like PP and I was very interested to read her book. It's set up in a very odd way, though that's to be expected - she's a rather odd person. It's distressing to hear about the trouble she had after being arrested for driving drunk with her kids in the car, but ultimately it's very heart-warming to hear how devoted she is to her kids (though they may grumble when they're older about having so many of their foibles revealed in the name of comedy). I listened to the audiobook read by he...more
Julie
I could complain that this book reads like a bunch of stand-up comedy lines strung together with little cohesive plot, but I will instead say a) Paula Poundstone IS a stand-up comic and b) the way she recalls her own history and the histories of famous people (the Wright Brothers, Beethoven, etc) is a funny and effective patchwork of disjointed anecdotes -- exactly the way I remember my own history and the tales of others. Reading this book is like dipping into someone's brain for a few hours, a...more
Kathryne
Disappointing! A lot of foul language, didn't really tell that much about her life, and it wasn't even that funny.

I am listening to the audio version in the car. I love Paula's comedy routine - she has great cat jokes. I was expecting this to be more comedy but I should have read the description first. This is actually a memoir about her struggle with alcohol which lead to her arrest a few years ago and having her adopted children taken away from her for some time. She also provides some history...more
Therese
Poundstone writes in a fevered stream-of-consciousness, jumping from topic to topic, joke to joke, with nearly every sentence. No train of thought lasts more than a paragraph. In between the observational stand up, there are little drops of memoir, about her children and her arrests for DUI, child endangerment, and lewd acts with a child.

She's a funny lady. Really funny. But she seems desperately unhappy underneath that humor, (no where to go on thanksgiving, asexual, alcoholic, OCD, lonely) be...more
Ara Lucia Ashburne
Her stand-up and off the cuff improvisational remarks on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me are far more amusing then this book. She does though, address and reveals a fair amount about what happened in that dark time when she lost her kids and was on probation for drunk driving (this is in the beginning of the book). But for the most part her interwoven stories of various historical figures inter-spliced between that of her autobiographical content left me just wishing she had written a straight up memo...more
Jordan Kinsey
"Why do some heterosexuals believe that same-sex marriages could destroy the sanctity of their marriage? I'd be insulted if my husband suggested that two other people getting hitched could somehow make what we had go to seed. I haven't seen that idea in a Valentine - 'My love, in order to hold fast our commitment, I will go to the ends of the earth to keep gay couples from marrying.'

'That's nice, honey, but we haven't slept together in weeks, your work bores me, and the bathtub needs caulking. A...more
Leigh-ann
I enjoyed the book, but because it doesn't exactly have a plot it can sort of "plod along". It was funny, but so rambling and tangential that it was like being at a comedy show and not like reading a conventional book. I enjoyed the revelations about Poundstone's personal life, but the tie-ins to famous people from history were a bit far-fetched and really not necessary (except to make the book long enough for publication). I will say that I was impressed with Poundstone's parenting skills, and...more
Tara Lynn Johnson
Started strong. Fizzled toward the end. There's a funny bit about having to use the computers at Wawa to order a sammich (the lady showed her how to use the computer and could have made 2 or 3 sammiches in the same amount of time). Lots of funny bits throughout. She tells her story in comparison, in the midst of, inspired by the stories of famous people, like Abraham Lincoln. That works well, except for the last two chapters. Things seem to really go off the rails in the Sitting Bull chapter.

Bu...more
Jill
This was an entertaining book to listen to because I enjoy her style very much. There were some "F" words, which I didn't appreciate, but otherwise it was interesting and fun.
Gregg
I find Paula Poundstone to be quite funny and enjoyed this self-penned book about her life intermixed with the lives of famous historical figures. She talks quite a bit about her arrest for drunk driving and time in rehab and the challenges of raising three adopted kids as a single mom. She obviously felt put through the wringer by the legal system and the media. Her insightful humor is evident throughout. Listening to the audio version of this book, read by Poundstone, was a real plus.
Beth Craig
In the past I really enjoyed Paula's comedy. She is funny without having to be crude in anyway. What I didn't realize is that she atheist and that she was arrested a few years ago for drunk driving and child endangerment. I guess we are all human and can make mistakes.
The history nerd in me loved how she wove comedy and autobiography into telling biographies of people such as Joan of Arc and Abraham Lincoln. It was entertaining.
L
Nov 01, 2010 L rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to L by: Ron
Shelves: never-finished
Parts of the book were quite witty & humorous, but mostly it just left me feeling kind of sad & concerned for her because a lot of it is poking fun at herself. And all the biographical parts about other people (Joan of Arc, Lincoln, etc) just seemed really random and a bit boring. I've watched a bit of her standup stuff, and I think probably what the book is missing is Paul Poundstone's delivery & intonation.
Christian
While I LOVE Paula - she is one of my favorite panelists on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me - this book really didn't do it for me. I get the approach she was using in the way she told her biography through the lives of these historical figures - but it just fell flat for me. Her punches did not quite carry the wit and humor that they do on the show. I'm definitely still a fan, but just didn't like this book.
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Paula Poundstone is an American stand-up comedian. She is known for her quiet, self-deprecating style, political observations, and her trademark oddly masculine style of dress, a suit and tie outfit.
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“It is my wish to die of unique causes, perhaps in a high-speed tricycle crash, a bizarre stapling incient, or as a result of inadvertently sucking my brains out through my ear while trying to untwist the vacuum hose.” 5 likes
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