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My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,219 ratings  ·  288 reviews
Davy Rothbart is looking for love in all the wrong places. Constantly. He falls helplessly in love with pretty much every girl he meets—and rarely is the feeling reciprocated. Time after time, he hops in a car and tears across half of America with his heart on his sleeve. He’s continually coming up with outrageous schemes, which he always manages to pull off. Well, almost ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  2,219 ratings  ·  288 reviews

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M. Sarki
Nov 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I hated this book. I cannot believe it is so highly praised. It is so bad and juvenile that I can't bear to read another page. I am almost embarrassed to say I read around sixty pages of it before I threw in the towel. It just proves there is something for everyone out there in reader land. But this poor thing is just not for me.

Update 12-12-12: HA! I sold this bastardo. So glad to have it gone from my sight.
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Conflicted about this one. On the one hand, the writing is very good. On the other, it's just simply hard to like Rothbart. I was with him up until "Shade," in which he ditches, overnight, a sweet girl he has intense chemistry with when they talk for days cross-country over the phone -- the kind of connection that he claims to be looking for, longing for, throughout the entire book -- because, when he meets her face-to-face, she's just not pretty enough. So he lies to her with a wimpy, transpare ...more
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want a handful of life lessons (sixteen in fact) on how to fuck up more than a few relationships with a road map and GPS satellite in your hip pocket to comfort you on your dark days, then MY HEART IS AN IDIOT could provide you better comfort than a blanket, a glass of warm milk, and your favorite movie on the tube. Whether you’re a cynic by nature or even if you’re holding out for the storybook fairytale or maybe a hero that goes by another name, you could find yourself mixing equal part ...more
Leo Robertson
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert: the heart's not the idiot part of him. ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
If your heart is also an idiot, you'll relate with this book.

Davy Rothbart seems to get passed over by the ladies more often than most. Maybe it's because he's so earnest about falling in love with almost every girl he meets that the girls sense it is impermanent? Or just because nice guys finish last? Or because he seems to be on the road so often? I suspect it's a combination of these things, and also that, as he posits toward the end of the book, it's the chase he's really after. He loves fal
Book Riot Community
Full disclosure: I’ve read My Heart Is an Idiot before. I’ve read all of Davy’s books, and his magazine, FOUND, too. I just needed to read this one again. Davy’s essays are almost always about traveling the country, propelled or pulled by one love or another, and the strange things, people, places, situations he finds himself in along the way. I love his stories not only because I relate to them, but because one moment I’ll myself laughing loudly and the next I’ll be stunned into silence by one ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. It's a quick read. At first I didn't care too much for the book. His stories were good and the book well-written, but neither blew me out of the water. They sometimes felt a bit exaggerated, like those who collect stories tend to do now and then. And I didn't love his character- maybe if he was a little less self-absorbed, fell in and out of love a little less easily, partook in a little less drinking and driving - maybe then it would've been easier for me to love his stories as well. ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book very much reminded me of the time I was caught captive audience to a garden-variety narcissist on a 24-hour bus trip.

The whole time he wouldn't shut up about himself, obviously thinking his cringeworthy stories show him in the best light, while I was thinking "Oh boy, you couldn't make yourself sound more pathetic if you wanted to."

Another association this book gives me is trying to have a quiet drink with a friend, when a talkative drunk invites yourself at you table and ruins your ni
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: real-talk
I only read this 'cause I had to interview the dude for the Press Street Room 220 blog. I didn't dislike it as much as I expected to. It's kind of like reading a blog by someone who's funny and has some good stories. Hey do you think that blogs help save paper from making books like this? Or is that difference irrelevant due to all the books put out that are just compiled of memes and twitter posts? Dude, fuck the world! ...more
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed meeting Davy and hearing him read from his book at Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis. It was fun to read about his misadventures. He takes himself seriously and then sees the humor in his situation.

Throughout the book he makes some wise observations in Davy-talk. Here's one I like. This is about young Hakim's strong desire to go to Canada, where he thinks he will get away from his problems and begin a new life as a DJ:

"But what would happen once he reached Canada? Missy and I had talked
Andrea (formerly Amadeus)
These essays remind me of the stories guys tell you so you'll want to go out to dinner with them. The ones that make them seem adventurous, funny, capable of deep love, but not without faults that women will somehow find endearing instead of offensive. Maybe that was the point? Are you trying to ask us out, Davy Rothbart?!

It's hard to believe some of these tales. Perhaps they are really realistic fiction. Perhaps some are just mildly embellished. Perhaps life really does work in crazy ways and t
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book of autobiographical essays kept reminding me of the movie Beautiful Girls. Here's a quote, to give you an idea of his style: "A plume of merriment rose in my chest that was six parts the gentle glow of heading into any bar on a cold, snowy night and four parts the wonderful, unpredictable madness of having a hundred-and-ten-year-old man I'd just met on the Greyhound bus as my wingman."

I love anyone who can make everyday life seem like an exciting joyride. The essay Human Snowball is t
Apr 26, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook, library, dnf
DNF - quit forty-five minutes into the audio book when the white author casually drops the n-word while describing the atmosphere of a story. I was already waiting for the book to "get to the good part", but I no longer feel the need to keep searching for a good part. ...more
Nov 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Davy Rothbart is a creepy asshole. I mean, if these essays are true, which they purport to be, then he is just that guy at a party who likes to tell long rambling stories about boring non-events that almost happened, girls he tried to hit on but weren't interested, or stupid situations he got himself into and that only he finds amusing. I was rooting for every female he came in contact with throughout the book to run away screaming as fast as they could--which most of them seem to have done. Why ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
I won this as a Goodreads First Read. Good thing, as I have to say I'm not overly impressed with Rothbart. Oh, his writing isn't bad at all; he's quite good at setting the scene, describing the events, etc. But these essays come off as the whining, "life owes me" plaints of a 30-something hipster. Everything comes across as larger than life, with Rothbart creating a persona that I, quite frankly, didn't enjoy.

The author keeps talking about his pitiful love life, and yet, in "Shade", he writes ab
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this collection of essays. As a longtime fan of Found magazine, I feel like I always have to check out Davy's work when I come across it. Some of these stories seem a bit farfetched, and I feel like some may have been greatly exaggerated at points- here and there, he acknowledges this by saying "I am not making this up"- which makes me feel like he may have embellished on some of the other details. Even still, the essays are great fun to read for anyone who enjoys fun essay coll ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Davy, Davy. We have the lab test results back, and the prognosis is not good. The idiocy appears to be spreading. It's no longer strictly a cardiovascular situation.

This collection of essays by Found magazine and website originator and sometime This American Life (NPR) contributor Davy Rothbart shoots for poignancy and heartache, but typically gets derailed...well, by idiocy. At best, his voice comes across clouded in sap-soaked puppy love ("Ain't That America") and at worst, he's a cringe-indu

Mark Stevens
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I came across “Human Snowball” in The Best American Non-Required Reading-2013 and I thought it was fiction.

Um, wrong.

“Snowball” starts with a fairly factual opening statement: “On February 14, 200, I took the Greyhound bus from Detroit to Buffalo to visit a girl named Lauren Hill. Not Lauryn Hill the singer, who did that cover of ‘Killing Me Softly,’ but another Lauren Hill, who’d gone to my high school, and now, almost ten years later, was about to become my girlfriend, I hoped.”

I mean, that
Read this looking for a light & funny read. It definitely has its laugh-out-loud moments; it also has a lot of subtle misogyny (women viewed solely as love interests & plot devices) & is dripping with white privilege, which, I just don’t want to engage with at this moment in time/history, you know? Funny stories but I kept thinking about how a black person would never survive the “quirky!” and “crazy!” experiences Davy describes.
Becca Bastos
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
really loved this one. captivating stories, sweet moments... highly recommend !
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
Immensely readable, enjoyable writing style, and the author has no trouble outing his very human behavior.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have enjoyed listening to Davy Rothbart's performances in bars singing Bus or Beer with his brother, in old theatres doing Found vs. Found Footage Festival battles with Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, and over the radio on This American Life. So, it follows that I'd be interested in this book. I downloaded this audio book for a family vacation but never got around to listening to it, now finally, in a marathon of listening got through it in one listless day with my retired parents. I know, I'm p ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
A lovely friend of mine sent me this book with a "you may be able to relate" sentiment. And so I started this book, impressed with the author's NPR connections (longtime a fan of this American life and Wait Wait....Don't tell Me) and expecting some sort of insight on life and love and the pursuit of happiness as it were.

The book is 16 short stories, or rather true life stories, gleaned from Mr. Rothbart's (admittedly) interesting life. Not all are centered around his pursuit of romantic love, th
Emily May
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Davy Rothbart falls in love with everyone he meets. Though most of the essays in My Heart is an Idiot include his propensity towards broken-hearted longing and the chase of some fleeting hope for romantic love, he seems just as enchanted by strangers he meets on buses, in bars, and through happenstance. The greatest strength of these stories is that Davy's interest in the secret heart of other people's lives, regardless of race, class, or pretty much anything else, shines through them.

I appreci
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked up a proof of this in a charity shop whilst I was in New York. I've been in a reading slump but was drawn to this by the cover and the short "essays"/stories. Whilst I was reading the book I really enjoyed it, it was nice just to be enjoying reading again. I am glad someone else has pointed out in other reviews, however, that most of his "lost love" stories come off a bit misogynistic. He works through probably about 25 girls through the course of the book, all of whom he idealises and ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've got to admit, I didn't get quite what I was hoping for from this book. I was looking for a transcendent moment, a bit of catharsis in which the author explained the frailty of humanity, ie why we're all morons, especially in matters of the heart. This didn't happen for one very good reason: this is a book about life and in life, real life, that **** doesn't happen. What did happen was a very good selection of moments from a guy's life, moments of heartbreak and joy and the idiotic genius in ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I hope he isn't another James Frey...I want to believe people's "true" stories. OR I want them to say, "based on true events" or "mostly true".
My only other pet peeve...what's up with the misuse of "me" versus "I"? I get that it's a local dialecty kind of thing...But Rothbart is too quick and too smart to let that pass in the written version of these stories page after page. It discredits him in that it seems an attempt to keep some sort of "street cred". It comes off as too self-conscious.
Mary Lucas
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I didn't expect to like this book. I picked it up on a whim because my boyfriend thought it looked funny. It was only after running out of decent reading material that I gave this book a shot.

I couldn't put this book down.

Davy's stories were compelling from the very first page. And they kept getting better and better. His adventures are enthralling, heartbreaking, funny, and brutally honest. I laughed the entire time I was reading this, but there is an underlying sadness in the sto
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started off fairly disinterested - the author's voice seemed disingenuous to me. However, as I came to discover this is just what he does. He wanders over the country and sincerely attempts to fall into souldeep love with every woman he encounters. Even the essay re: Byron is about him falling in love with this story and the absent couple. There were few questions, and he's not trying to find an answer to anything (unlike other books of essays).

He made me nauseous with the bottles of pee story.
B. Rule
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I got this book after seeing Davy speak. It's interesting because he was extremely likable in person, but that does not translate on the page. While he's a good writer, he is totally unlikable and unpleasant as a narrator. It doesn't help that the first piece is a story about his cruelty to his deaf mother. The rest of the stories in this book are about him cheating on his girlfriends, drinking to excess, and generally thinking of women as fantasy material rather than real people. It's a shame b ...more
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Davy Rothbart's magazine Found is dedicated to discarded notes, letters, flyers, photos, lists, and drawings found and sent in by readers. The magazine spawned a best-selling book, Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World, published in April 2004. A second collection was published in May 2006. The magazine is published annually and co-edited by Rothbart's friend Jaso ...more

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