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Let's Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties
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Let's Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties

2.52  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Former SNL writer and The New Yorker staffer Patty Marx employs the weapon she wields best--not that weapon; Patty believes in gun control. Instead, she uses her sharp-edged humor to tackle the most difficult facet of aging: the mind's decline. From forgetting her brother-in-law's name while he was wearing a nametag to hanging up the phone to look for her phone, Marx confe ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Twelve (first published July 7th 2015)
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Oct 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Patty Marx writes very funny stuff for The New Yorker, and Let’s Be Less Stupid feels like a magazine article that just grew too long. Marx has such a clever mind that I hate to give this book a lukewarm review; I just think the short magazine version (which I read) was sufficient. On the other hand, if you need a bit of diversion, you’ll find this amusing. Say you’ve been working on War and Peace or Infinite Jest and your brain is fried. You’ll finish this quickly and laugh.

Marx is very self-de
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Let's Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties

Patricia Marx

Brain games or my final thoughts on Patty Marx' new book about the human brain

Last night my brain hurt. It didn’t hurt like a pulled hammy or a broken heart. My brain felt more like a piece of Play-Doh if Play-Doh had feelings and resided at a public day care center where it endured the daily torture of being squeezed and stomped and ripped apart by two-year-olds on Red Bull.

Because my brain hurt, I decided to take two
Dec 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book reads like a proposal the author/her editor forgot to flesh out before sending out for publication.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
"If grown men can have bar mitzvahs, grandmothers can give birth, and Mick Jagger can sing 'Time Is on My Side,' then can't I have the mental prowess of someone who looks young enough to be carded?"

This is really a padded magazine article rather than a book. Slight but entertaining.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a cute book to read if you've never thought about your brain or your IQ. I have, so this book was only mildly humorous.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
To demonstrate how much I needed this book and how bad my memory is, I actually mixed this up with the book "one day we'll all be dead and none of this will matter" because 1) that title also has words crossed out and 2) a pink cover. Definitely NOT the same book. *sigh*.

Patricia Marx is a great writer and loved this more than I thought I would. Also pointed out the difficulty in figuring out what research is good (and not) about memory/neuroscience/behavior research. It was encouraging, and fu
Apr 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was halfway between a non-fiction educational and a fiction comedic short novel. I did not like this combo. There are all these little quizzes to see if you are in a state of mental decline, and while some of the questions seem valid, others are clearly sarcastic. I would have preferred if this book had leaned harder one way or the other. There are no references which makes me think that this was all humor. However, it wasn't that humorous.
Jan 17, 2018 added it
Enjoyed it! A quick read and entertaining. The memory activities are hysterical!
Becky Roper
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
A short look at brain cognition from a SNL writer. It was mildly amusing and somewhat informative. It would have been better shortened to a magazine article. Bottom line: there's not much you can do about cognitive decline as you age. Rats!
Katie Bruell
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This was quite funny and entertaining, if a bit pointless.
Liz Logan
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Let's be more funny.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was not for me. It was originally a gift and I thought it would be a light read. The author is best known for her work in The New Yorker and on SNL. But I failed to catch on to the humor. It seemed like one joke that just went on way too long! Some of her sentences were funny but it was just too much. I'm sure its the right book for many people, just not me.
Joy Schultz
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mildly funny fluff. Certainly the multitude of things the mind retains instead of what it *ought* to retain is true enough and amusing; that said, Marx's list of practices to try improving her cognition are less prominent.
Alicia Nevárez-Warner
Jan 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Alyssa Hopper
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
i guess
Mar 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Marx spends four months seeing if she can raise her IQ through a series of brain-building exercises, things like meditating, learning a new language, playing games. Her brain is measured physically in the beginning, and at the end, and her IQ is tested before and after.

The results of the experiment are predictable, and while I kept saying I am not going to finish this book, it is really a waste of my time, because of the humor sprinkled throughout, and the fact that I was laughing at proper int
Arlene S
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Combination of musings on declining brain function and a comedy act in book form; neither objective really works for me ( not the brain function info., nor the jokes). The comedy would likely come across better in person, although according to her experiements with various brain strengthening regimens there is not much we can do to improve brain function and be less stupid. So, all we can do is keep a sense of humor about it? I guess so.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
If one's taste in humour runs to the excruciatingly, painstakingly, calculated pun, then one might make it past page five. Mine doesn't, so I couldn't.
Robert Miller
Aug 16, 2015 rated it liked it
This short book touches on some memory issues, and one’s general ability to learn or understand stuff (I.Q.), in a soft and light mirth style; although she often includes some contemporary, if not avant-garde, neuroscientific theories and discoveries (briskly), most of the book deals with her forgetful mind and ever-present need to know her intelligence quotient. There are plenty of quizzes and puzzles designed to test a person’s mental status, for those who desire to engage in such things, with ...more
Sherry Monger
Sep 24, 2015 rated it liked it

A funny but not earth shattering book, Let's Be Less Stupid is written by Patricia Marx, a former writer for Saturday Night Live. She is concerned that as she ages there is greater evidence of brain decline - a view bolstered by taking an online IQ test that shows her score to be 75. Looking for cognitive rejuvenation, she looks for ways that we can all increase our intelligence with chapters like "I Get Me Smarter Soon". Marx finds interesting tidbits like there are 6000 videos posted to YouTub
Mar 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book about being less stupid is well...stupid. For someone who wrote for SNL, it's not surprising that the author continues to not be funny in this book, despite desperate attempts. It seems like she is an anxious person that got worried about the effects of cognitive decline due to age one day. So, hey, why not write a funny little book on it quickly? She completes an mri, fmri, and a psychological evaluation at the start and end after spending weeks trying to improve her mental capacities ...more
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: novices interested in memory function
A little book that comes in at 186 pages, this is one to be borrowed from the library - I wouldn't spend any money on it. It is a cute book about memory with some helpful studies and some exercises that are a bit annoying, as they are often just made up by the author as a way to be funny - I found myself just glancing at them and moving on. Not so funny, really. For those who study memory, you may find that the studies the author refers to are not news but rather the foundation of what we know a ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Every once in awhile, I like to read something funny. Dave Barry writes funny. Lewis Grizzard was a master at writing funny. This, not so much.

I came across this book in a NYT book review. The teasers were great. I should have remembered that, like the previews of a movie, all the best stuff is in the teaser. The first couple of chapters were hilarious. After that it seems a little as if Ms Marx got tired of coming up with good one-liners. Half of the book is filled with doodles of Ms Marx' brai
Marianne Wason
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Read a review and got it from the library -- disappointing. It is too cute by half and approaches silly-dumb sometimes (she should have paid more attention to her own title). Her four-month program to increase her IQ or mental acuity has some interesting tidbits -- she had MRI's before and after -- but her mental "quizzes" are . . . stupid. She reaches a good balance in the chapter on meditation -- funny without being silly or snarky. Her main intent is humor for the sake of humor, not humor as ...more
This is one of those books that is trying so hard to be funny it just kind of falls flat. I feel like the author had some interesting information, and did a huge amount of research, but then she tried to be slapstick about what she was doing and it just wasn't that interesting. There was not enough science to be interesting from a psychological standpoint, and not enough humor to make it funny. Also, I read this as a library book, so all the quizes were pretty pointless as I couldn't mark the bo ...more
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was underwhelmed.
I was also really glad I didn't pay for the book.
It's a mildly humorous book about cognition, but not that funny and not that well written and not that informative and not that interesting. Had it been what it should have been (an article in Time or Slate or something) I would have read it and sighed about lower standards in journalism these days.

Also, at least two of the answers to puzzles are wrong. Probably more. It's not a well edited book, either.
Jenifer Holland
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I actually didn't finish this book. It was witty, smart, and intriguing, but it is NOT meant to be a library book. Repeat: NOT. It is replete with quizzes, multiple choice games, and cosmo-style multiple choice questions, that would probably have been fun if I owned the book and was marking it up, but just caused me to skim ahead otherwise. Very clever, topical and fun, but my take is that it was probably more entertaining to write than to read.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Marx takes us from her own funny experiences with memory loss to explaining proven neuro-scientific discoveries and theories. She explores ways one can attempt to become smarter and/or at least try to stop the decline. The quizzes were clever and her humorous tone was present throughout. In summary: decline is inevitable.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciate all the delving into unusual information for the "tests" in the book, and for her joyful sense of humor about life, and the "tests." Really made me think, and realize how little information we get from mainstream news, TV, etc.

Short book, but highly entertaining and must have taken the author years to get all the pertinent information in the book. She is a driven personality.
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Patricia Marx is an American humorist and writer.
Born in Abingdon, Pennsylvania, she earned her B.A. from Harvard University in 1975. Her writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic Monthly. Marx is a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats, and one of the first two women elected to the Harvard Lampoon.[1][2] She is the author of the 2007 novel
“Ninety percent of all the data in the world has been produced in the last two years. Six thousand YouTube videos are posted a minute—and that figure was computed in 2011; by now there’s probably not a number high enough to convey how overwhelming it all is. Here’s another cocktail party statistic: The amount of information we generate every two days is equal to the amount produced from the beginning of civilization until 2003. That factoid comes from Eric Schmidt, formerly of Google, so you can partly blame him for all your mental clutter.” 1 likes
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