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The Body Shop: Parties, Pills, and Pumping Iron -- Or, My Life in the Age of Muscle

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  51 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
As a scrawny college freshman in the mid-1970s, just before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a hero to boys everywhere and Pumping Iron became a cult hit, Paul Solotaroff discovered weights and steroids. In a matter of months, he grew from a dorky beanpole into a hulking behemoth, showing off his rock hard muscles first on the streets of New York City and then alongside his co ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 26th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published July 8th 2010)
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Doug Lambeth
Jul 26, 2010 Doug Lambeth rated it really liked it
"The Body Shop" is heartbreaking, hilarious, and raunchy--with bad '70s hair, clothes, and music (if you're of the era prepare to be earwormed by the "Chicken Delight" jingle and "Disco Inferno") a phrase, it's epically good. Paul Solotaroff is a scrawny Jewish kid who blossoms after he discovers weightlifting, 'roids, and sex but ultimately loses himself in the maelstrom of late '70s debauchery and foolishness. His mentor, Angel, is one of the most brilliantly drawn characters ever; as is ...more
Bookventures Book Club
Aug 20, 2010 Bookventures Book Club rated it really liked it
Admittedly, I went into this book with some preconceived notions about it. One look at the over confirmed a few of them but I was also afraid that the book was going to be overly macho for me to enjoy it. Boy was I wrong! Ideally, The Body Shop can be described as a look into the male psyche in the late 1970’s. Research (and also detailed analysis in the book) suggests that this was the age of the body builders; spawned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, when men strutted around with huge biceps and abs ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Evie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I won my copy of The Body Shop from goodreads, and when the notification hit my email, I was pretty excited to have won a free book. Little did I know at the time that what was coming to me in the mail was actually a really good read!

I picked up the book and had a pretty tough time putting it down. I took it to work and read it during breaks and even nibbled paragraphs of it during lulls in conversation with my house guests. I finished it over the course of two days, because, well I just couldn'
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog:

I have a rather testy relationship with memoirs. Most I find to be either a flagrant lapse into "other-blame" (my mom was horrible to me; thereby I did coke) or a dry recounting of events that don't feel as though they actually happened to ANYone. Other times, the "self-promotion" factor becomes too much for me - I feel that if you're really THAT great, you don't have to toot your own horn - others will do it for you.
Aug 10, 2010 Matt rated it liked it
Definitely the best-written addiction memoir I've read (so the better one, of two, then). Solotaroff manages to make his sordid little tale entertaining despite its deep undercurrent of sadness and loss. Several times his humor and light touch left me unprepared for an emotional sucker punch; that conflict between mature self-deprecation and still-raw pain is Solotaroff's strength.
I got this book because the description sounded like something I would enjoy. I was completely shocked by how interesting this memoir is. It almost reads like fiction in some parts and Paul is a master with words.
Nov 23, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I mean...this was well written, and Solotaroff tries very hard to show that he understands the ways his journey affected the people around him. I just never really got into it because, I mean, addiction memoirs are a tough genre. RIght? Like, you have to show some remorse or at least awareness that your addiction was A Bad Thing, but you also have to show why the addiction initially seemed awesome, and you also have to, most of the time, show how your addiction also hurt the people who loved you ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Mystee rated it really liked it
My review is available here:
Sep 24, 2010 Ted rated it liked it
Shelves: new-journalism
Solotaroff excels at sharing gripping stories of '70's debauchery and eminating the presence of characters like Angel and himself who recklessly sought to be larger than life (through steroids and blow). He's also apt in expressing the epiphanies that can happen in lifting weights and in life, while disclosing his incessant feelings of vulnerability which frequently bottomed him out several time througout his life. While he does provide some ace period detail like bringing up Ron Blomberg of the ...more
Dec 18, 2010 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: swapped-donated
Paul grew up with a workaholic father, a strange mother and two stepmothers. When he went off to college in 1976, he was insecure, socially awkward, inexperienced, tall and gangly. He wanted to be the strong, man of muscle that women ogled and men respected. To become that man, Paul turned to drugs.

I had a very difficult time starting this book because it's so different from what I normally read and the point of view was very male. It's a mix of slang and heavy vocabulary with some Jewish (I thi
Nov 19, 2010 Darcy rated it liked it
While at times it was difficult to absorb the Studio 54-esq scenes, Paul Solotaroff's accounting of his foray into chemical muscle building was a great read and a real eye opener. Hearing the reasons some of these young men had for entering the dark and make-it-up as you go world of 'roids, I have a greater understanding. Paul's anxiety as he saw his body shrink in, not just days but hours, makes you see his body dysmorphia in the same way an anorexic sees her body and what she feels she must do ...more
Steve Gupta
Jan 25, 2016 Steve Gupta rated it really liked it
This was a real page turner for me. It was an interesting story and very well written. I have dabbled in strength training and have given serious consideration to performance enhancing drugs. Also as a shy kid, the coming of age tale struck me as well.
Oct 13, 2010 Suzanne rated it really liked it
I'd like to say a compelling story, beautifully written, but I'm afraid it might lead the more sensitive types to pick this up. It is compelling and is the writing makes you feel like you were there, BUT, it is also full of profanity, sex and illegal drugs. Paul Solotaroff chronicles his change from wimpy, studious Jewish kid to beefcake stripper in just a few short months with the help of weight lifting "mentors" who introduce him to steroids and the fast lane. You know it's a train wreck waiti ...more
Nov 29, 2010 Melody rated it liked it
Solotaroff is self-deprecating and wry as he documents his nightmare journey into steroid use in the 70s. He also abused drugs and alcohol and dancing (seriously). The stories are hair-raising and all too human, the writing is very good though it does descend into the purple on occasion. Some of the passages about how the author reacted to the pure animal joy of weightlifting certainly resonated with me. The parts that were more alien, about being a genetically non-muscular adolescent male, were ...more
Oct 31, 2010 Cat rated it really liked it
Sex, Drugs, and Working Out! This is a really well written memoir, extremely readable and entertaining despite the misery that Solotaroff is enduring for the sake of his juiced up physique. By the end of the novel I felt a little bit worn out by the narcissism and self involvement that characterized Solotaroff's search for manhood but his sense of humor keeps you reading. The language is crass and the clothes sound ridiculous. New Yorkers may enjoy the repeated insults to the people and culture ...more
Oct 01, 2010 Rose rated it it was amazing
Received this wonderful book as a First Reads winner. Had no idea what I was in for!! Having lived through the 70's and its machismo/modelbeauty world, I can now see what chaos was rendered to those who thought that THE BODY was the route to attaining nirvana. Hopefully, those who read and take the lessons of this book to heart will understand that THE BODY soon fails even the most astute caretaker but spritual enlightment lives on forever!
Aug 30, 2010 Francine rated it it was ok
I understand when writers are told to "write how you speak," but I couldn't understand this guy. It was sleazy though. I didn't finish it. I only picked it up because it caught my eye with the steroids, drugs, sex and disco blurb.
Feb 14, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
What a great book. So brutally honest,it is Solotaroff's conscious closet-cleaning. If you are also fascinated by people who risk it all, enjoy it, then pay the price, this is a your book.
Mar 17, 2012 Jeanpaul rated it really liked it
First book I have read on my Nook Color. So far so good.
Feb 07, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
This was a great 70's flashback.
Brad B
Brad B rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2016
Kevin Bradley
Kevin Bradley marked it as to-read
Dec 22, 2015
Reanin Mcroberts
Reanin Mcroberts marked it as to-read
Apr 26, 2015
Avram Ionut
Avram Ionut rated it did not like it
Feb 21, 2015
Derek marked it as to-read
Feb 19, 2015
Jill marked it as to-read
Nov 18, 2014
Hannah Ritchie
Hannah Ritchie marked it as to-read
Nov 10, 2014
Matt rated it really liked it
Nov 30, 2014
Spraynard1979 rated it really liked it
Jun 16, 2014
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Paul Solotaroff is a contributing editor at Men's Journal and Rolling Stone. He has written features for Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine, and he was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004. His work has been included in Best American Sports Writing. The author of two books, Group and The House of Purple Hearts, he lives in New York City.

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