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Bald in the Land of Big Hair: A True Story

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  256 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Bald in the Land of Big Hair is the hilarious—and often heartbreaking—tale of Joni Rodgers's journey through the badlands of cancer told with humor, occasional anger, and unflinching honesty. More than just a cancer book, this is a deeply affecting memoir of one woman's struggle to come to terms with everything that life throws her way.

Ultimately, this is a moving celebrat
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up Rodgers' book after reading A Little Bit Wicked, which she wrote with Kristin Chenoweth. (After reading this book, I'm convinced Rodgers wrote most of the Chenoweth biography) It is wonderful. One would think a cancer memoir would be angst-ridden and tear-jerking. This one is tear-jerking, but there's no angst or self-pity or woe. It is funny, upbeat, self-deprecating, and sarcastic. She talks, for example, about putting on Brave Sick Person Face when people say platitudes (e.g., "It ...more
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book on the first day of a 1500 mile road trip. My husband was driving. He generally doesn't like for me to read to him. But I had to read a segment of this memoir to him because it was so moving and so funny at the same time. It was so good I kept reading until we finished the book. I found myself so moved at times that I couldn't continue. I had to stop and reflect and just admire this woman's strength, her humor and her amazing writing skills.

I recommend this book for
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Actress, singer, comedian, writer: Joni Rodgers is hilarious even when she is writing about her experience as a cancer survivor. Blessed with a husband who is as funny as she is, who appreciates the quirks that make her who she is, and who gets her jokes, Joni describes her life B.C. (before cancer) and her concurrent beginnings as a novelist. The realities of cancer treatments and their side effects, and her work with support groups for cancer and aids patients reveal the special person she is. ...more
Mary Karpel-Jergic
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
An incredible book. Honest, insightful, humorous and exceptionally well written. What makes it even more wonderful is that Joni Rodgers survived cancer and continues to do so. The book charts her experience of the disease and its treatments along with the impact it has on herself and those close to her. It is an holistic stance on recovery and I would recommend it to anyone diagnosed with cancer.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, health
I think I read this book too close to my cancer experience. (Before I was on Goodreads.) It's not fair for me to go 'dis' it, but I remember not being able to relate to Texas big hair. It seemed forced at times. It hurts physically and emotionally to lose your hair to chemo. I kept my sense of humor by using 'curly hair' shampoo.

I'm glad others related and enjoyed more than I did. Timing makes a difference.
Jacki Stencil
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this for class!

I read this book for a masters class and I’m happy I looked this book up. It put in a different perspective of a young mother with cancer and the dynamics that go into it.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Thank you for this candid, laugh and cry and cry and laugh insight to the real life struggle of chemotherapy and surviving cancer.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
So much humor.
Loved it! Made me laugh out loud and choke back some tears. Going to look for her fiction now.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. It is very hard to get through at times-- Rodgers goes into great detail about her cancer, chemotherapy and the way her body, mind and family were affected by it all. While the book is very sad at parts, Rodgers keeps a very unique sense of humor through it that holds the book together and keeps it from becoming a sappy tearjerker. I was completely enthralled with the way she wrote about dealing with her doctors, facing her family, even dealing with the way people would loo ...more
Jan Eliasberg
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joni Rodgers has an absolutely original and vibrant point of view; her voice is mordantly funny, wildly optimistic, and emotionally rich and sober, often all at the same time. I could experience anything, even the horrors of death and illness, so long as I had her voice and her optimistic perspective to guide me: she remains rock-solid real, but always eager to find that improbable silver lining in every dark cloud. The book spins the reader on a Mad Hatter's Teacup Party ride of emotions that m ...more
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: My mom. Insistently.
Shelves: 2008-reads
Nothing in this book's CV suggests that I would like it: it's a cancer memoir set in Texas by a Christian who mentions her Christianity a lot -- and GET THIS it's funny! Even though it's about cancer! Life is hope! However, for whatever reason I bought it (at a library book sale for 12.5 cents) and for whatever reason I picked it up (to read in the restroom), and now I have reason to regret my unfair Book Profiling. It was genuine and genuinely enjoyable. It did not manipulate my emotions. I was ...more
Karen Faller
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Joni has a great sense of humor, which served her well in her cancer battle. Her story was unique in that it was not very medically oriented and did not focus much on treatments nor on hospitalizations, rather on the profound effects cancer had on Joni herself, and on her young family. She was so young and so vitally alive when she was diagnosed, and her children were so small as well. She and her husband made a great team, and I was left wondering what else she has written and how they are doin ...more
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I'm enjoying Joni's perspective about battling cancer. It's realistic and thoughtful. I could do without some of her more arty flights of fancy, and she lost my sympathy for a time when she suddenly disclosed that she'd had an abortion. I always wonder how women who decide it's "not the right time to have a child" then go on to have more children with the man whose fetus they aborted live with that decision. I would think that dead fetus would haunt you every time you looked at one of your livin ...more
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My sister gave this book to me after she read it going through her first year of cancer. After reading all those medical books she needed humor and this is about a woman who has a form of cancer and what she goes through with a big dose of humor. I found it the other day and noticed I had not actually finished it, assuming because of all that had happened in the 3 years to her death. Just maybe 1.5 chapters to go. In those chapters were a lot of lines that my sister had highlighted, so it was in ...more
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a book about cancer. The author writes openly and honestly about all aspects of her experience with cancer from the diagnosis, the treatment, the different doctors, nurses, visiting nurses, side effects, changing relationships with family and friends and the emotional ups and downs of her journey. She is very funny and attempts to use humor to get through even the most horrific parts of the disease. This would be a good book for anyone who is going through chemotherapy and knows what an ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
When i first started this book i felt the author was trying too hard to be funny,and when she switched to an honest and open dialogue, it was a bit awkward, but after awhile i started accepting the back and forth as her way of dealing with her cancer in the best way she knew how.
My favorite quote from the book:
" One way or another, all things come to their healing. Truly I promise you, grace is real, God is here, and in the end, everything is going to be alright."
Anne Sternbach
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
made me laugh. made me cry made me scared. loved it.

Had this book in my kindle for a few years. Bought it after my diagnosis of lymphoma. Did not even know it was about that. We all know that breast cancer gets all the good press!
Opened it a few days after my first chemo.
It was like I was thirsty and the book was a drink that I loved. Hated. And feared. But it quenches me when nothing else can. Not sure what to do next
Rebecca O.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for a friend, then decided to peruse it before passing it along to make sure it was appropriate. So glad I did! The book alternates touching, spiritual, and funny moments. (the chapters describing the different responses of her two children dealing with their mother's lymphoma left me in tears more than once). Highly recommended.
Celeste Thayer
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it
This sweet and witty story of a lady who gets an aggressive cancer, and survives, is educational and touching at the same time. She speaks frankly of topics that tend to be edited out of popular cancer stories, such as her sex life with her husband and how her level of desire fluctuates throughout chemo, and how she keeps/doesn't keep in touch with her friends.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
A book that I would recommend to anyone who is or is close to someone who is going through cancer. It is an real and honest story of how cancer changes your life and how your outlook can make all the difference.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I accidentally downloaded this book onto my Kindle -- and it was meant to be. Never would have set out to read a cancer survivor's memoir, but was ready to handle it. Could laugh at some of her experiences, relate to many of her trials. Glad it's on my Kindle so I can read passages of it again.
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a funny account of what happens when you have cancer. all of the trials and tribulations of living thru that process is. told with complete honesty and a great sense of humor. I read it before recommending it to a friend, that has been just diagnosed.
Alex Scott
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I may have a bias towards this book, as I went to school with the author's daughter. However, regardless of your connection to the author, this is a very no-holds-barred memoir of a woman who tries to raise her family while battling an aggressive form of cancer.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
It was interesting to read the perspective of someone who has lived with cancer - one never appreciates their health until it is gone. Did get a little bored sadly and felt that it was the type of book one would take a great deal from if you had been in the same position
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Good writing. Very witty and poignant. I'm not very comfortable with people sharing very intimate details of some parts of their private lives that are best left in between their bed covers instead of the pages between their book covers.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent, honest, and at times funny first-hand account of a woman with cancer.
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A clever, and witty discussion of a tough topic. I'd like to read some of her other books now.
chambejd / Joy
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was an touching memoir about the author's diagnosis of cancer and her struggle to survive.
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a very insightful and funny book about dealing with cancer. I recommend it for any one who is interested in the subject.
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NYT bestselling author Joni Rodgers was born into a family of gospel/bluegrass musicians and grew up on stage, opening for huge-haired country music legends of the 60s and 70s. She continued performing until 1994, when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and used the chemo downtime to complete her first two novels, both of which were published to critical acclaim. Joni's memoir, Bald in ...more

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