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The Basketball Diaries

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,256 Ratings  ·  372 Reviews
The original classic story about growing up with drugs and sex and about learning to survive on the streets of New York--once again in print. An urban classic of coming of age.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 7th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1978)
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Laura I'm currently reading this one, absolutely in love! I'd suggest any book of Bukowski, Palahniuk, Burroughs, maybe Vonnegut. Chuck Palahniuk's Choke or…moreI'm currently reading this one, absolutely in love! I'd suggest any book of Bukowski, Palahniuk, Burroughs, maybe Vonnegut. Chuck Palahniuk's Choke or Survivor, to be exact. (less)
Fight Club by Chuck PalahniukHigh Fidelity by Nick HornbyTrainspotting by Irvine WelshGhost World by Daniel ClowesInfinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Talking 'Bout My Generation...
15th out of 461 books — 437 voters
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12th out of 183 books — 371 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 09, 2013 TK421 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays-auto-bio
Before there was a “cop on every corner” in New York, there were some of the most interesting characters frolicking around, bounding up and down the streets as if they were players in a real-life version of a very fucked up Wonderland. Pimps and prostitutes and transvestites and junkies and businessmen and children and you-name-it all blended together and somehow figured out a way to live a somewhat harmonious existence in this concrete jungle.

This was the land of Jim Carrol. And it was in this
Mar 28, 2011 RandomAnthony rated it it was ok
The Basketball Diaries reminded me of an after school special (look it up, kiddies) gone very, very wrong. And while I'm sure this book attracts adherents because it's “real” or whatever I can't say the book held much of my interest.

Maybe The Basketball Diaries is one of those titles that when first published (1978) was considered cautionary and groundbreaking but needs too much license and contextualization in 2011. For example, these passages are supposedly Carroll's authentic (although edite
Apr 30, 2014 Melki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Sex, drugs and stealing purses.

My old lady found a nickel bag of grass in my hiding spot under the rug today and flushed it down the toilet. She had a long talk with me and asked me if I was addicted to the stuff. I told her it's heroin you get addicted to, not grass, and I think I finally convinced her. She was not so convinced that she'd give me back the five bucks though, when I asked her for it. In fact, I think she got a little angry about it.

Jim Carroll's early teens growing up
Jun 01, 2007 Gus rated it really liked it
I was 11 when I stole this book from my mom's bookshelves, and I remember hiding it beneath my desk and reading it during 6th grade history class. The scene with Winkie and Blinkie gave me such a boner I had to stop reading it in public. We always remember our first porn so fondly...
Carac Allison
Jun 10, 2014 Carac Allison rated it it was amazing
William Burroughs and Irvine Welsh wrote my favorite books about junk addiction. I love "Naked Lunch" and I love "Trainspotting".

I don't think of Jim Carroll when I consider those two writers. Because I don't think of Jim Carroll as a writer.

I don't think of "The Basketball Diaries" when I consider those two novels. Because "The Basketball Diaries" isn't fiction.

Jim Carroll was a prodigy diarist and "The Basketball Diaries" is a personal journal of his addiction. The power of the words comes not
I don't really remember a thing about this book except that I really did like it at the time that I read it, around age fourteen. When the movie came out I cut school and drank some cough syrup or something and went to go see the matinee by myself. This was in Leonardo DiCaprio's fleeting, long-past early-nineties moment of hotness, and in the movie -- which was bad -- he looked gorgeous and lanky leaping around on the basketball court in his Catholic schoolboy uniform -- dammmmmmn. Whew! Leo, o ...more
One example of the film being better than the book.
Alan Chen
Mar 31, 2016 Alan Chen rated it liked it
Jim Carroll grows up in the 1960s when the New York drug scene is rife and the streets are full of trannies, fags, and hustlers (his words not mine). He starts using young, 13, and grows up fast. His talent for basketball and his attractiveness makes him appealing to both men and women and he gets away a lot. He thought he can outsmart drugs but in the end the drugs overtook his life. During the course of his adolescence he is a star athlete, a stud, drug dealer, petty thief, car booster, and no ...more
E.D. Martin
Nov 23, 2011 E.D. Martin rated it it was ok
This book was insightful, in that it showed us the life of a very troubled kid in 1960's NYC. But what value is that, in that it was mostly his daily activities without any insight into why he did it? There was no growth, no reflection. No beginning, no end. This was a snapshot, not a reflection.
Jan 19, 2014 Tosh rated it liked it
In my intensity to read anything regarding the streets of New York City, I picked up this book at Alias East in Atwater Village. I have known this book for ages, but for whatever reason I had no interest in reading it. The only interest for me is New York. The drug part is not interesting to me, but i think anyone from that world or is about to go into that landscape, would probably find this book fascinating.

To me it reads like a young adult novel, or memoir. I would give this book out to teen
Neil Strauss
Oct 11, 2011 Neil Strauss rated it it was amazing
I strongly recommend for those who don’t regularly read.
William Prystauk
Aug 22, 2009 William Prystauk rated it it was amazing
Carroll’s diary chronicles his teenage years of drug addiction in New York City during the mid-1960s. He tells the reader candidly about his addictions to glue, codeine and heroin, what he did to get it and all the sex he had along the way.

Most importantly, Carroll established a consistent tone and voice full of sardonic wit and he never flinched at revealing his life at the time. For better or worse – most assuredly worse – Carroll has the guts to expose his ugly self to the reader and holds n
Frank Stein
Apr 05, 2011 Frank Stein rated it really liked it

The book starts out amazing, with Carroll writing in his diary as a sharp but un-selfconcious 13 year old willing to share his own mundane and amazing stories. At this point he's just a lower class Irish kid on the Lower East Side who has a talent for basketball but still spends most of his time running around shoplifting, doing drugs, and chasing girls. He relates it all with a beautiful honesty and lack of pretense. As the book progresses, though, he becomes more aware of himself as a writer a
Jul 15, 2010 Unbridled rated it liked it
I kind of want to make fun of this book, so I will, momentarily: "Listen up cats and kittens, I won't jive you, if you dig a 13 year old voice that squeaks to be hip, this is the book for you. No squares allowed, dig?" This diary reads exactly what you'd expect from a posturing 13 year old - as edited by the diarist with eyes on Rimbaud and Burroughs (and the rest of the Beats) many years later. Even though this sounds dismissive, I don't want to give ol' Jim too much of a hard time because ther ...more
Nov 19, 2007 Kevin rated it really liked it
I actually read with Jim in 1996 or so. It was at Berbati's in Portland and he was very shaky and nervous. As he kept reading though, he seemed to really take off and his words soared to wonderful heights. But I may be imagining that because I was high on acid that night. Ironic, since I think Jim was actually clean.
Nov 11, 2014 Ben rated it it was amazing
The book where I felt transported to a place so different than the world I knew. Still one of my favorite books.

And now for some riffage at TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog - http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c...
Blake Nelson
Jan 31, 2013 Blake Nelson rated it it was amazing
I was so young when I first read this, I didn't know that the word "lame" was just the normal word "lame", like kids used. I thought it was a fabric or something. I wasn't used to seeing how people actually talked, printed in a BOOK.
Guy Portman
Feb 17, 2014 Guy Portman rated it liked it
Shelves: transgressive
The book was a donation from goodreads friend Lisa

Author Jim Carroll recounts his New York youth in this classic piece of adolescent literature. The book, which takes the form of seasonal diary entries, covers the period of his life from the ages of twelve to sixteen. We follow the budding basketball star’s accomplishments on the court, and exploits off it, including his experiences roaming the city and numerous sexual encounters.

Innocence has long since departed this rebellious adolescent wi
Dec 15, 2014 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Someone found out I was reading this genre and told me to watch the movie. I got the book instead because with children it is hard for me to find time to watch movies. I know it's going to be a five star rating when I am ordering all the other books by this author through the library and interlibrary loan before I'm even finished with the first. I can't wait to read the follow-up to this piece, Forced Entries. It's interesting how almost everyone starts about the same on junk and ends up the sam ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing
The Basketball Diaries, by Jim Carroll
Book Review by: Adam Michaelis

The Basket Ball Diaries addictively illustrates Jim Carroll’s diary of his life in his teenage years. The book goes between ages twelve through sixteen in his life after the cold war. Set in NYC Jim tells a day to day entry of his life and his experiences he has. From sex to hitting up heroin, he tells all. Being pressured and self drive there is another side of Jim; a striving young poet and a kid with a passion to succeed. Th
Sara  (
I thought I knew what this book was until I read it. I THOUGHT it was about a poor Irish-American kid trying to be a great basketball player, and that part is somewhat true for the first part of the book. What I didn't realize was that this was a memoir about heroin addiction. It is alarming to see such an addiction play out in diary form. For example, you get the sense that Jim's habit has picked up a bit, but when all of a sudden he starts nonchalantly mentioning about turning tricks to get mo ...more
Eddie Tran
Jun 11, 2010 Eddie Tran rated it liked it
I don't really remember a thing about this book except that I really did like it at the time that I read it, around age 17. When the movie came out I cut school and drank some cough syrup or something and went Anyway, I'd be interested to go back and reread this and see if it's still good. I'm really fascinated by my own adolescent fascination with substance abuse and general nihilistic fucked-uppedness, which is something I've finally realized not everyone has, and which I have only fairly rece ...more
Jun 11, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
This book was completely overrated – I've heard it was a classic, but I felt that it doesn't deserve the acclaim that it has. For one thing, it had no basic resolution or anything approaching a plot, it was just the same "I woke up, I took drugs" every day – after a while, it was just flat out boring. I felt that there was no point to it, then I thought maybe the pointlessness WAS the point, that may be what it was trying to show is that a drug addict's life goes nowhere. I felt like all the imp ...more
Apr 02, 2013 Carmine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Leggere un libro come questo fa male al proprio ego, devo ammetterlo. Il perché è semplice da individuare. Questo è il diario tenuto da Jim Carroll, dall'autunno del '63 all'estate del '66, quindi scritto a soli tredici anni (fino ai sedici); quello che dicono i vari Kerouac, Burroughs, Patti Smith è verissimo: è uno scrittore nato. La potenza che emerge da queste pagine mi ha sbalordito. Il resto lo spiega benissimo Tiziana Lo Porto nella sua splendida prefazione:

"Tutto quello che c'è da dire
Oct 07, 2009 Mona rated it it was amazing
With Jim Carroll's recent death, I decided to re-read The Basketball Diaries. The last time I read it was while I was in college in the early 90's.
I was immediately spellbound by the book's brashness, bravado, grit, and honesty. I was also impressed by how Jim Carroll could distill the essence of human nature with his observations of the world and himself.
Unapologetic and direct, the book invites you to alternately loathe and revere the world of a self-centered street punk growing up tough on
Mar 03, 2014 Natalia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If I had to chose one book as my favorite of all time, it would be The Basketball Diaries. I've basically lost track of the number of times I have reread it.

The fact that the book is, in fact, Carroll's diary makes it so much more real. His experiences aren't censored and modified. Instead, you are given an intimate and raw look into a portion of Carroll's teenage years and his struggles with substance abuse, as well as just growing up, in 1960's New York City.
Aug 21, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully haunting, set in the 60's with the horror of addiction and fear of nuclear war in the forefront, Jim Carroll poetically writes about a gritty New York we will never see again. A tragic, yet gorgeous and sometimes funny read.
S.C. Sterling
Mar 05, 2016 S.C. Sterling rated it it was amazing
Amazing book and story!! I would say it is one of the top 5 book about addiction.
Natalie Pietro
Apr 06, 2010 Natalie Pietro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, own, bio, poison
I only picked this book up because Leonardo Decaprio was doing a movie based on this book. So I thought why not give it a try. Well being a young girl in Jr High School reading this book kinda blew my mind on everything I was taught.
Young boys, wild in the streets, drugs, girls, Priest. Wow, what a powerful book.
I dont think the movie is anything like this book. I was very disapointed when I wathced the movie. I really did expect more.
This movie is colorful, dark, and very orginal. I loved ev
Nigel Muhammad
Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries was recommended to me by my mother. She suggested I read it, as she had too, years ago, and also enjoyed the movie for it when it came out. I trusted her suggestion and gave it a read. However, I’m not too sure how much I really enjoyed it. This book is a rather vulgar read, in both its language and its suggestive themes. In a way, this does help it- It fits the setting well, and adds to the tone it's going for- but it’s definitely not for everyone.

The more e
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Mr. Boucher's Rea...: Reading Response: Basketball Diaries 5 13 Sep 30, 2013 01:20PM  
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James Dennis "Jim" Carroll was an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.
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“It was a dream, not a nightmare, a beautiful dream I could never imagine in a thousand nods. There was a girl next to me who wasn't beautiful until she smiled and I felt that smile come at me in heat waves following, soaking through my body and out my finger tips in shafts of color and I knew somewhere in the world, somewhere, that there was love for me.” 107 likes
“Little kids shoot marbles
where the branches break the sun

into graceful shafts of light…
I just want to be pure.”
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