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Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation

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In her book Self-Inflicted Wounds, comedian, actress, and cohost of CBS’s daytime hit show The Talk, Aisha Tyler recounts a series of epic mistakes and hilarious stories of crushing personal humiliation, and the personal insights and authentic wisdom she gathered along the way.
The essays in Self-Inflicted Wounds are refreshingly and sometimes brutally honest, surprising, and laugh-out-loud funny, vividly translating the brand of humor Tyler has cultivated through her successful standup career, as well as the strong voice and unique point of view she expresses on her taste-making comedy podcast Girl on Guy.
Riotous, revealing, and wonderfully relatable, Aisha Tyler’s Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation is about the power of calamity to shape life, learning, and success.

256 pages, ebook

First published July 9, 2013

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About the author

Aisha Tyler

4 books93 followers
Aisha Tyler is an American actress, comedian, and author, known for her regular role as Andrea Marino in the first season of Ghost Whisperer and voicing Lana Kane in Archer, as well as her recurring roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Talk Soup, and on Friends as Charlie Wheeler. She is a co-host of The Talk and the new host of Whose Line is it Anyway?.

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5 stars
1,414 (22%)
4 stars
2,163 (34%)
3 stars
1,940 (31%)
2 stars
537 (8%)
1 star
174 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 632 reviews
Profile Image for SJ.
430 reviews21 followers
August 16, 2013
This is unfair, but my main reaction while reading this book was "man, Tina Fey's Bossypants is so much better." Also, "wow, Aisha Tyler's writing style is kinda pedantic," but that observation is totally fair and true. Footnotes and five-syllable words galore! Maybe she felt more comfortable with the stiff, formal style that made me feel more like I was reading an academic journal assignment for class than a comedienne's memoirs because of her Ivy League background, but the effect was more alienating than endearing. She also tended to tell instead of show, which I realize must be somewhat necessary in this format, but still the amount of declarative sentences about what kind of kid/teen/college student/baby comedienne she was grew tiresome, and I'm pretty sure at least some of her self-descriptions were contradictory. I think three stars is a pretty generous rating, motivated in part by my desire to like and support Aisha Tyler in general as a smart lady nerd I can look up to. I just wish she had written a better book. And, like, not contributed to a patriarchal view on females by saying that an army of super-powered and highly trained girls could be destroyed by "a small group of cute, brooding, emotionally remote teenage boys." And maybe shared more about herself, which I know sounds bizarre given the nature of this book as a collection of embarrassing experiences from her life--but after reading it, I still don't feel like I know who she is, just a bunch of stories that happened to her. I don't even really have a sense of how she felt about most of them. I feel like I didn't get the whole picture.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews126k followers
July 27, 2016
Some people listen to their inner voice. Some people tell it to shut the hell up, hold my beer, and watch this! Aisha Tyler is one of the latter. A true comedienne, her book is one tale after another of bad decisions that make great stories. Tyler tells us what she learned through each experience, even if the thing she learned is that even though she may repeatedly make the same mistakes, she’ll have a heck of a story to tell at the end of it. This book caused me to laugh, cringe, and then snort with laughter again.

— Patricia Elzie

from The Best Books We Read In June 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/06/29/riot-r...
Profile Image for Kelly.
402 reviews14 followers
July 5, 2013
Aisha Tyler is many things that I am not: tall, childless, funny, confident, fearless. But she and I also share some qualities, if you can call them that. We’re both neurotic, both nerds, both prone to going off on tangents while telling a story. But let’s be honest: it doesn’t matter if an author and I have absolutely nothing in common, really, as long as she makes her writing work. And Aisha Tyler does just that.

Self-Inflicted Wounds is a memoir of sorts in which Tyler recounts all the times in her life, beginning at the ripe old age of five, when she (inadvertently) screwed herself over. From setting the kitchen on fire to boy problems to broken bones, she’s had a remarkable amount of incidents where she can blame no one but herself. Footnotes are liberally sprinkled throughout the cringe-inducing tales. This is an excellent format for the asides that a stand-up comedian can’t help but make when telling a story.

Although she often drops a mini-lesson at the end of a chapter, the best part about these episodes is that they’re funny. In fact, they’re so funny that I tried my son’s patience more than once. See, I’m still nursing him once or twice a day. And when you’re reading a funny book and don’t want your nipple bitten off, you try not to laugh. But as any private-school girl knows, withholding laughter just means lots of snorting and jerky shoulders. So my kid’s head is bouncing on my arm, and I’m trying to stop laughing, which is only making me laugh harder, and then I have to stop reading and use the advice from my scuba certification course: just focus on your breathing. She’s that funny.

To be honest, I didn’t know who Aisha Tyler was before Friends. I still haven’t seen her stand-up (but may need to, since I enjoyed this book so much), but I’m a big fan of Archer and think she’s pretty great on there. And now that I know how much I enjoy her particular brand of ranting, self-deprecating humor, I’m even more excited about her gig as host on the revival of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I was a tentative Tyler fan before, but now I’ll look forward to her upcoming projects with increased zeal. And isn’t that a successful venture for an artist?

All in all: Read this if a) you like comedy and b) you don’t mind lots of 17+ language.

Note: Only read this in public if you don’t mind people staring at you as you try your hardest not to bust out laughing.

Also note: I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for J.I..
Author 2 books34 followers
November 2, 2014
I love Aisha Tyler, so I was very, very disappointed in this book. Her standup is solid, insightful and raucous and she is an obviously very intelligent, confident and interesting woman, so it was honestly a surprise that this felt so flat and turgid. The frame of the stories is that Tyler wounds herself in some way (physically, emotionally, psychologically, etc.), and then tells us how she is to blame for this. There are a few times that this works, but most of the stories are simply events (as a child a spring horse toy breaks and she is cut by it) that she was present for, or else the "blame" is some backwards explanation. This is a problem because Tyler is the only one that cares about the frame, even though she pretty quickly realizes she doesn't have enough examples.

What really grew tedious, however, was hearing about how she was a nerd with no friends, when every story after her early childhood were stories about the things her and her many friends got up to, as they drank and partied throughout the country. But no, Tyler will then lecture the reader, she really is a loner with nothing.

Finally, Tyler wishes to lecture us. Be prepared for LOTS of speeches in which Tyler explains a very simple idea (perseverance is important, failure is a fact of life, etc.) in excruciating length and with a condescending attitude. It isn't that the advice is bad (it's actually good), it's that it is basic and relayed here with no real feeling, only the sense that you're being lectured.

I laughed every once in a while, there are some interesting pieces throughout and Aisha Tyler's story is actually very inspiring on a number of levels--it's just not a very funny comedy book or a particularly well-written memoir.
Profile Image for Jacky.
171 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2014
I got stern looks from my boyfriend numerous times while reading this book in bed, mostly because I was doing that kind of laughing where you're trying really hard to hold it in and be quiet so your whole body ends up shaking and then your laugh finally just comes out in a loud snort.

I also discovered that I REALLY REALLY want to be friends with Aisha Tyler.
Profile Image for Bill.
219 reviews76 followers
January 8, 2015
Overwritten beyond belief. Maybe her style works well in the standup format but a huge run-on sentence with five cheesy asides doesn't work written down. Couldn't get past the first chapter.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
478 reviews6 followers
September 8, 2013
Hmm. About halfway through this book I was ready to launch my kindle across the room. It was a lot of "look how kooky I am" and a lot of hyperbolic "I am the craziest to ever crazy" that I have read in other memoirs recently (The Bloggess, I am looking at you.). Funny that these two books are by people who have huge followings that I know of superficially, but not intimately. This may have something to do with it.

Once the stories got far along enough in Tyler's life to revolve around her career, I enjoyed them more. I guess because these were things I didn't know about (I mean, I know what it's like to be the outcast, and for me it didn't lead to drunken hijinx and lots of sex, SO MAYBE I AM JUST BITTER.) and so were fun to hear about from a distance.

Overall, I bet I'd probably like this book better if I were an avid listener to her podcast. I really wanted to love love love this book because I love Tyler's work on Archer and generally I think she's a kick-ass lady. But I guess in the end, I'm glad I picked this up when it was on sale for $2.99.
Profile Image for Latarsha.
64 reviews3 followers
July 6, 2014
I thought this book was just ok. Aisha seemed to be trying really hard to show readers how funny she is, how much of a misfit she was growing up, how commited to her craft she is and how large her vocabulary is. There were some nuggets in there about the importance of sticking with something and doing the scut work when things aren't going well or you hit a challenge that you never faced before which I appreciated because I'm going through that right now. But other than those few chapters, this was just ok. 2 stars doesn't seem fair, 2.5 would be more accurate but eh, you didn't miss anything here.
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,173 followers
July 15, 2014
I wanted to like this so much more than I did. I've long respected Tyler's work on The Talk and I'll never forget her turn on Friends. But. I laughed more in the footnotes than the book itself and that's saying something. It often felt like she was trying to be funny, instead of actually being funny. And normally, I think she's funny! Perhaps the "self-inflicted wounds" theme was a stretch for some stories but the book just didn't do it for me.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
596 reviews
August 10, 2013
The stories got more vague as they went along. And footnotes are annoying. There were hundreds in this book. I wanted to like it.

In an early chapter she described the Vulcans but mislabeled them as Klingon. This has nothing to do with the star rating, however. It just needed to be noted.
Profile Image for Casey.
402 reviews7 followers
February 8, 2019

Okay I actually started to tear up a little in the middle of reading this. I love Aisha Tyler (not Taylor, as apparently some people think it is.) She's a great host on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and just doesn't give a fuck. Her personality shines through this book and while I marked it as a memoir, that's only part of it. Really Aisha gives out life advice, and reiterates how important hard work is. You have to fuck up to know you're doing life right, otherwise you'll never learn.

I do wish she had talked more about her career as a whole, mainly she talks about her stand up career and the struggles she had to go through starting out in comedy. I like how she reinforced how even if you're good, the funniest comic out there, you still are a green horn when starting out because comedy (stand up at least) is time plus talent. Not just one or the other.

She is an interesting person (as are her parents) and all I can say is I'm glad she decided to quit her job with the Parks and Rec. and made the jump to comedy. She is a unique voice, and we'd be remiss without her.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,901 reviews132 followers
February 4, 2020
Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation

I Picked Up This Book Because: I like the authors tv/comedy.

Slightly biographical mostly anecdotal recounting of some the most embarrassing times in the author's life. While it was funny and we got to know Ms Tyler I think it went on a bit too long for me. She covers her early life, primary and college life and the beginning of her career.

At the end she states she wanted to write a funny book and she definitely succeeded in that.

The Random Thoughts:

The Score Card:

Profile Image for Erica.
1,331 reviews435 followers
November 12, 2020
My exposure to Ms. Tyler has been somewhat limited and fairly biased. See, it was like this: I first saw her in that ping pong movie with Christopher Walken as the evil Chinese ping pong bad guy emperor and she would hang out behind Mr. Walken in her hot little outfit and a blow dart gun and was all badass. I told Gabe, "That chick is both hot and bad! I love her." Fast forward a few years and we're watching "Archer" and Gabe tells me that Lana Kane is the hot, badass chick who spews poisoned darts from her dart gun in the ping pong movie and I was all, "NO WAY! That's SO COOL! AND she says 'YUP!' just like I do so, obviously, we are the SAME!" (except for the part where I'm a shortish, rounder, white girl who is not famous or badass but other than that, we're practically twins)
AND THEN I read an article/blog post/Facebook note she wrote about being a gamer and I decided I was smitten with this tall, hot, badass, geeky woman and I voted for her to play Wonder Woman, which is neither here nor there except to say I am very picky about whom I feel should play Wonder Woman in movies so, obviously, I think highly of this person I don't know.
And that's been it. I don't watch her shows, I don't quite get her Girl On Guy podcast (though to be fair, I've only listened to one or two while being distracted at work) and I really don't know much else about her other than she's tall, wields blow dart guns in movies, is Lana Kane, and plays video games. I follow her on Twitter and Facebook but how often do I hang out in those places? Not often.
And yet, when this book came across my desk, I was all, "YAY! I MUST READ THIS!" and so I did!

Only now I don't feel quite so enthusiastic. I mean, it's fine as far as memoirish things go but...well, see, ok, first off, I was irritated with the format. Each chapter starts with a quote about wounds followed by a semi-related quite from Tyler. Then there's the essay followed some sort of moral at the end, or at least a pro-tip/life lesson that we can take and benefit from. Why is that necessary? Why the quotes and quips at the beginning? Why the tidy little lessons at the end? It seems a tad cutesy but also condescending and I suspect the publisher's hand in this...but that's just because I don't want to think Ms. Tyler is being condescending to her readers.
She's a decent writer, though perhaps a little unfocused but that's sort of the comedian's thing, right? Rapid cycle thinking leads to funniness but rapid cycle writing is sometimes a little harder to follow. Regardless, it's easy enough to get the gist of each chapter, though perhaps not necessarily the purpose. I guess I was never sure for whom this book was intended. Her fans? Well-known people who have low self-esteem and a lot of doubt? Her friends and family? I don't know.
Her account of her life ran fairly parallel to the lives of many people I know, myself included. Her family situation may have been a tad odd what with her living with her dad while her sister lived with her mom, but that's not unheard of, it's just not as common as one parent having all the kids. Like me, she grew up in the 80's, went to college in the '90's, had dorky tendencies that included good grades and not being able to hold her liquor or her wasabi. It was all very normal-sounding. There's nothing wrong with normal but I think I thought these self-inflicted wounds the title spoke of would be...I dunno...more monumental? Different from what my friends and I have experienced in our own growing-uphoods? Her embarrassments were normal teenager/young adult fiascos, things most of us went through in one form or another and have long since forgotten. More than anything, I felt myself remembering shenanigans of my own doing when I was a youngster. Sadly, that's where I usually found the laughs - in my own memories.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that this wasn't what I'd expected. I think I hoped for high hilarity and over-the-top situations and what I got was something more like a "Hey, remember when..." conversation you'd have with someone you sort of know from your past but don't really remember.
Also, dude, come ON! She keeps talking about her freakishly cool dad and there ARE NO PICTURES! The only picture in the whole book (and we're not counting the cover) is of her in a pretty bad see-through dress that she wishes would not ever appear again...only she put the picture in her book so...it will not stop appearing. Where are the rest of the pictures? Memoirs about youthhood tend to come with matching pictures and this one did not and I was sad.
Profile Image for Lindaisa.
477 reviews44 followers
November 11, 2013
I have to say....even though I did enjoy this book, I expected it to be a bit funnier. What do they say about having expectations though right?

'Self Inflicted Wounds' by Aisha Tyler is a book (memoir) about the best of Aisha's 'self inflicted wounds' throughout her life and career.

Aisha defines a self inflicted wound as being some kind of injury, physical or psychological, that you bring upon yourself, you can blame no one else, the fault is yours and yours only.

Put self humiliation with an intelligent, witty, potty mouth comedian and of course you expect a book full of fun and laughs on each page...however, Aisha unfortunately missed the mark on the 'funny' with most of her anecdotes for me.

I first attributed my dissatisfaction with the 'humor' in this book on not hearing the book told in Aisha's funny and distinctive voice....so of course I got the audio-book from Audible (for free.) That worked for a chapter because, 1. It's not the same as listening to her on her podcast and 2. She reads slower than I do (lol.)

Anyway other than the book not being as funny as I thought it would be, it was still really good. Aisha has a way of telling the story in a well paced, self defecating manner that doesn't seem awkward or make you uncomfortable, and then wrapping it up in a way that lets you know that even though she's learned her lesson from each particular wound, she wouldn't hesitate to do the same exact thing over again.

The theme of the book isn't about failure and humiliation. Its more about the things learned and gained from those failures and bouts of humiliation. Aisha really pushes the reader with each chapter, to grab life by the balls and give it everything you've got so at the end of your very short existence, you feel like you've lived it to the fullest and haven't just ridden this thing called life til the wheels fell off, but til the doors, roof and undercarriage have been destroyed as well.

With Self Inflicted Wounds, Aisha gives a unique perspective on life's gaffes and using her own as a platform to push her readers to live life so they have no regrets and make sure to get drunk and fuck shit up every chance they get!

Ps: at least now I no longer feel bad about not reading things of 'substance.' back to my -- vampires, witches, shapeshifters, lions, tigers, bears, oh my! -- i go :)
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,206 reviews188 followers
December 21, 2015
Aisha Tyler is SMART. I don’t know why this surprised me—or wait, maybe I do. Before listening to her book, the only thing I knew her from was “The Fifth Wheel,” a trashy reality dating show she hosted in the early 2000s, when I was in high school and had nothing better to do than watch fake-tanned idiots socially and sometimes physically abuse each other on television. Shockingly, her turn as host of such an illustrious program amounts to only a tiny footnote in her career, as I had to search high and low before finally finding a mention of it on Wikipedia, which was a relief because I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamed the whole thing, even though to this day I can hear her lilting “I’m Aisha Tyler” in my head, which I remember specifically, because at the time I thought her name was Myesha Tyler and got all confused later on when I finally saw her name in print.

Fortunately, Tyler is capable of a lot more than sarcastic jibes at catty coeds. She has an enormous vocabulary—huge, massive, vast, expansive, colossal—and uses it to great effect in her book, Self-Inflicted Wounds. It’s not really a memoir, because she doesn’t tell her life story or even focus on a particular time in her past. Instead, it’s all her most embarrassing stories, neatly collected in one place. Drunken mistakes, social faux pas (what is the plural of faux pas? I bet Tyler would know), career missteps. Who wouldn’t want to write a book like that?

Tyler’s self-deprecating wit made me chuckle aloud a few times—not an easy feat for any book, especially one so clear about its intention to be funny. And audio is definitely the best format, because there’s nothing like hearing the jokes delivered by the stand-up comedienne who wrote them. Her impression of her dad knocked me flat. Also her description of riding on the back of his motorcycle as a kid with a book propped on his “capacious lats.” Aisha Tyler is definitely the kind of nerd I can relate to.

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Racheal.
1,014 reviews83 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 26, 2016
Tyler talks about how comedians plumb the depths of their shame and terrible life experiences to use as fodder for their acts, and this leads me to why I ultimately stopped listening. She reads the book to great comedic effect, but there is this almost gleeful reveling in her misfortunes that is paired with a complete lack of any real emotional depth or introspection. It reminds me of how her episode of Mental Illness Happy Hour is one of the few I've never listened to because I've heard that she talks about her life very matter of factly and poo poos any real attempt to get vulnerable. I'm not really interested in an exploitation of one's missteps that completely leaves out any emotional honesty
Profile Image for Gina Boyd.
466 reviews3 followers
July 15, 2013
I follow Tyler on Twitter because she's the voice of Lana Kane on my beloved "Archer," and reading her book makes me think that she kinda IS Lana Kane! Aisha Tyler is cooler and more bad-ass than I will ever be, and I wish she were my friend, because I truly think she'd make me a better person. She'd inspire me to work harder and spend more time out in the world. (I mean, sure, I could let her BOOK inspire me...but it's easier to daydream about being friends with her than it is to actually take her advice. If she knew me, though, she wouldn't let me get away with that.)

Ignore my laziness and read this book if you have any interest at all in kick-ass, funny women.

Profile Image for Devi.
113 reviews7 followers
September 7, 2013
The best thing I think I can say for this book in this moment is that I read it cover to cover in one sitting, something I haven't done with any book in months unless graphic novels count.

Three and a half stars for humour plus one star for utter relatability. (Relatable in the gawky, weird, too-tall nerdy chick who got boobs too early and went through an ill-conceived goth phase sorta way. Me too, Aisha. Me too!)
Profile Image for Liz N.
Author 1 book11 followers
November 23, 2013
I've followed Aisha Tyler's standup for years now, and I'm part of the Girl on Guy Army (we are legion). This book is as strong as I've come to expect from her. It's genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and in many places strikingly poignant and touching. There are a lot of life lessons in here, many of which spoke very strongly to me; 'Be Brave' is how she signed my book, and after reading this, I feel more ready to embrace that than ever.
Profile Image for Jackie Chanel.
Author 37 books114 followers
February 15, 2014
I am a big Aisha Tyler fan, basically since watching her on Talk Soup. I really enjoyed this book. It was insightful as well as hilarious. I don't know if it's because I had a similar childhood and was too as big of a nerd as she was/is but i found myself relating to almost everything she said. I'd definitely recommend this to my friends.
859 reviews14 followers
June 10, 2019
This book essentially receives two stars because of my expectations. When I read a famous person's autobiography I'm looking for the experiences they had that I haven't. So this well written reminiscence of her early years disappointed. Except for being a black woman in Oakland I had very similar experiences with Ms. Tyler- I also grew up when it was acceptable to send your children outside until sunset unsupervised and discipline them in public. I too stupidly played with dangerous stuff and injured myself as a child. I read a lot in high school and had trouble relating to peers and went to college in the 80s.

Ms Tyler does eventually get around to the early part of her career in entertainment but presents it in a matter-of-fact sort of way with an emphasis on the theme "you have to work hard and take risks". So much so that the last third of the book felt more like a self-help book than an autobiography. The author is, of course, funny and intelligent throughout her book but the humor is often oblique and dated.

Bottom line: While Aisha Tyler is an impressive woman there are no real insights in this book.
Profile Image for Taylor.
165 reviews12 followers
October 4, 2017
It feels unfair giving this only 3 stars, but that's what it was. Worth the read and glimpsing another person's (humiliating and epic) life experiences, but not anything that really blew me away. I freaking LOVE her podcast which is why this book was one of the first on my to-read list, and this was good, but I still like her podcast better. It really picked up at the end once she started talking about Dartmouth and getting her feet under her as a comedian, but until that point, I, much like her character Lana on Archer, was like ."Meh."
Profile Image for Megan BG.
492 reviews13 followers
May 23, 2019
There were some funny tales. But then there's a whole chapter about "sometimes I spit on the audience" (not a long chapter...but not an actual story of it happening, just that it happens sometimes). At the beginning, she is pretty clear that it is not a memoir or autobiography, so there isn't the usual timeline of her life (very little mention of her career outside of standup). Just some funny stories. And some not-that-funny stories.
Profile Image for Kris.
2,935 reviews70 followers
July 5, 2017
I really like Aisha Tyler. She is smart, funny, and talented. So I guess I expected more from this book. It was good, but not great. Funny, but not hilarious. And nowhere near as relatable as I found her in other things. I still like her, this just wasn't my favorite.
Profile Image for Kristen.
567 reviews
January 29, 2018
3.5/5. A few very funny stories, but it was difficult to keep my attention at times.
Profile Image for Justin.
221 reviews9 followers
May 11, 2021
A neat little series of anecdotes. I’d purchased it in ebook format but ended up listening to the audiobook on Libby.

I enjoy Tyler’s work and wish I could find some more of her stand up.
Profile Image for Jessica Fellows.
115 reviews
April 27, 2023
Great book!! Highly recommend listening to the audio book for fun. Favorite chapter “I killed a Hobo” not gonna spoil it for you.
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