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Learning to Play With a Lion's Testicles: Unexpected Gifts From the Animals of Africa
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Learning to Play With a Lion's Testicles: Unexpected Gifts From the Animals of Africa

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  27 reviews

The cheeky title of Melissa Haynes's story of adventure in Africa, Learning to Play with a Lion's Testicles, earned the book some big publicity on NBC-TV/Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on September 4,2013 where it topped the show's list of "Titles Not to Read" for September 2013. Melissa's book was also a big smash on the March 11, 2014 Ellen Show, where Ellen and guest
Paperback, 235 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Behler Publications (first published January 1st 2013)
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 ·  91 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Anastasia Riebs
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

I was expecting something entirely different inside this book; despite the title, the cover art fooled me into believing this book was much more serious than it was. There was the element of the author's struggles to come to terms with her mother's death, but the mood of the Learning to Play with a Lion's Testicles was ridiculously engaging. Melissa Haynes obviously felt very little concern over maintaining her dignity as she repeatedly threw
I. Merey
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I might not have ever read this book had it not the word 'testicles' in the title.
A friend browsing on Amazon saw that and decided this was the perfect gift for my bookshelf. Go figure... and that title might just be the most un-cliched line in the entire book.

I think I would miss many good things though if I disregarded them on that basis alone, but to leave some honest criticism, much of this book was built up of cliches. Middle-class blonde American girl goes off to Africa after her mother
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a tough one to rate. I would have liked more depth in the coverage of the conservation aspect. Instead, it's more of a short memoir of how that experience helped the author deal with the grief of family loss. But my biggest issue is that (and I'm sorry if the author reads this), she's too whiny and a bit of a jerk through most of the book. On the other hand, the conservation park stories, though too few, are interesting. And the parts dealing with her mother resonated with me for ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was not quite what I expected but I really enjoyed it anyway. I was looking for a more conservationist experience and what I got was a personal growth story. I can't say I'm disappointed though, it was a quick read and held my interest. While it was deep in parts, it was also laugh out loud funny in others. Her experience in the game reserve is amazing, whether she's running from lions, being charged by a rhino, or having dung thrown at her by a pissed off elephant; she never gives up ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A touching story of dealing with loss in an unexpected way.....volunteering on a African game reserve. It has humour ( think a little James Herriott ), adventure, and learning some life lessons. A very easy read and I found myself not wanting to put it down till I finished. I don't know if I will ever travel to a game reserve but this is pretty close with the descriptive story-telling. I went through a number of emotions as I read and to me that's a good book. Highly recommend this book.
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having such an odd title, I was skeptical. I really enjoyed this story. Beautifully narrated by the author, it had me crying along with her thru her struggles and laughing out loud at her adventures. I would recommend this book.
Samantha White
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read an advanced copy and it is excellent! A moving story of coming to terms with guilt over death and the adventures of volunteering on a wildlife reserve and what animals can teach you. Highly recommend.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book had many strengths but many weaknesses too. I was very irritated by the spoilt blonde but deeply moved when she wrote about her mother. The last chapter about what she learnt was the best of the book.
❤ Tila Grey Maddox ❤
I'm not going to read this book, cause its not really a book I'm interested in reading. But I'm laughing so freaking hard at the title lmfao. I saw this book on Ellen Degeneres & couldn't stop laughing lol
Kelly Marlin
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!! Couldnt put it down. It made me laugh, it made me cry. A must read.
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bios, wildlife
I'm not going to say that the second half of the book made the first worth it... but it DEFINITELY softened this review! Within the first twenty pages or so I was already convinced this would turn into a hate-read (but as short as it is I figured I'd power through just in case it miraculously got better).

First thing is first. 'Playing with a lion's testicles' means taking foolhardy chances, the book title suggests she needed to somehow learn this? No. She did this from day one... as if she was a
I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway :)

I liked this book a lot.

The first few chapters of it were a little clunky and hard to wade through; I didn't like the switching back between the city life (view spoiler) and the reserve (where a lot of the life lessons happen). I think that the book would do better to clump the city stuff in the beginning and THEN move to Africa... for narrative purposes and less
Becky Everhart
Once I saw the meaning behind the title and got over my initial shock (wonderful marketing ploy, eh?), I was excited to read this one. I love volunteering, and although I will likely never get to do so abroad, this was a way to see what that would be like and live vicariously for a bit. At some points, not having to experience these things firsthand was quite the blessing. I have done my share of back-breaking labor and am happy to escape mucking an elephant house repeatedly. Other points in the ...more

I don't read non fiction or memoirs ever ; but I do like watching The Discovery Channel when Lions are being featured, I love these beasts! & that is exactly what drew me to this novel, at a glance.

I took my time reading this book because I wanted to conserve the experience and really reflect on Melissa's journey. I think I enjoyed this memoir so much because it was: very real, funny, inspiring, and took place in Africa! I can honestly say I am inspired and have added volunteering in a
Sep 18, 2014 rated it liked it
This safari kicked it out of second gear midway through its short 209 page journey. In the beginning I was spinning my wheels on antelope species, primitive African tools, and inhospitable Serengeti terrain. The road then opened up and delved into the dark emotions the author experienced after the death of her mother. As a reader I enjoyed being on the jalopy ride enough to give this memoir . And if dismembering carcasses truly brings the inner peace the author describes I would consider ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wasn't sure what to expect from the title but I did enjoy it very much. Some serious moments as the author recalls her mothers suffering through cancer. Having just lost several people this portion was quite heartbreaking.

The African safari portions were comical. I could envision many people having the same unrealistic expectations of volunteering. The ideal of a wonderful, romantic adventure only to be disappointed with the reality of hard, back breaking and very un-glamorous work.

All in all
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After reading an advanced copy I would highly recommend this book. As an animal lover I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptive nature and the healing powers that Melissa received and attributed to the animals she interacted with while volunteering on the wildlife reserve. It is a touching tale of coming to terms with guilt after loosing her mother, moving forward and includes some great truimfs over lifes lessons.
Eli Cowan
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Honestly I saw this book on facebook or something and thought " haha funny title" so I bought it and read the first chapter and stopped reading it, but then I started reading a lot again so I decided to finish this book and at first it was a little hard to get into, but then I got really into it. It's actually a very good book about how through extensive exposure therapy anyone can overcome there fears and internal problems. 9/10 would recommend to some people.
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy in the mail (autographed to boot)I could not wait to read about my friends adventures in Africa. I love the emotion, the rawness and the healing that Melissa experienced throughout. Funny how grief is different in each and everyone of us. Even the animals. A touching read. Thanks Melissa! xo
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. Melissa's experiences of volunteering on a South African conservation project were told with a sense of humour and how she finally deals with her grief over the lose of her mother is poignant. This book is sure to turn up on book club reading lists and will get people thinking about volunteering.
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found myself cheering Melissa on and hoping she made it. She made some great discoveries about herself and her what she was running from. Being in Africa definitely a great place for her to find herself and heal.
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It was about healing and accepting death but was a very enjoyable, funny read
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was hesitant to read because the name was so weird! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and encourage others to read!
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing. Makes you laugh, makes you want to cry, very well written. Laughed throughout the book.
Kristin Lees
Mar 10, 2014 marked it as to-read
Ellen Show
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
It was ok.
Zan Marie Steadham
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
This memoir is a vivid story of deep grief and learning that will leave you cheering the author. Good read.
rated it it was ok
Mar 17, 2014
Sharon Borstein
rated it liked it
Jul 12, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2013
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Pretty good 1 4 Oct 21, 2013 06:21AM  
Publisher Giveaway 1 10 Apr 09, 2013 12:04PM  

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Melissa Haynes: Chronic adventure junkie, conservationist and ink slinger.
They say when we step outside of our comfort zone magic happens and Melissa didn't just step out of her comfort zone; she shot herself out of a human cannon to get as far away from it as possible.
But the real magic happens when we give of ourselves because in giving we receive and we receive beyond our greatest dreams.
“There is no such thing as a man-eating shark, only shark-eating men exist.” 2 likes
More quotes…