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Reckless: My Life as a Pretender

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  3,349 ratings  ·  601 reviews
Chrissie Hynde, for nearly four decades the singer/songwriter/ undisputed leader of the Pretenders, is a justly legendary figure.

Few other rock stars have managed to combine her swagger, sexiness, stage presence, knack for putting words to music, gorgeous voice and just all-around kick-assedness into such a potent and alluring package. From “Tatooed Love Boys” and “Brass
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Doubleday
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Lesley Watson Too many pages were spent on her childhood and teenage years. I guess she was trying to give the reader the foundations of her life, but it needed a r…moreToo many pages were spent on her childhood and teenage years. I guess she was trying to give the reader the foundations of her life, but it needed a really good edit. It only got interesting when she left the US and landed in London, but I felt she skimmed over this so quickly. A shame because it was such an exciting time to be in that place at that time, and she was rubbing shoulders with a who's who of the London punk music scene. I felt that she really skimmed over the inception of The Pretenders - would have been nice to have had more details. I can understand why she didn't really go beyond 1981 and into her personal life / relationships, but it would have been more interesting than the first 3/4 of the book(less)

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Oct 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
It's a rare and special thing when a memoir can rob you of almost all the respect you had for an artist. I've been a Pretenders fan most of my life, and was thrilled when I learned that Chrissie Hynde, who always seemed so clever and interesting in interviews, was going to be writing her memoirs. I was dying to know what went into her process as a songwriter and a musician, and to hear about how she fought her way through the "boy's club" of rock n roll to find her place and voice at the top. Th ...more
3.5 stars!

Reckless is a great title for this book AND for Chrissie Hynde.

This woman has been through some serious shit. Most of it self inflicted and just plain crazy. STDs, drugs and Rock & Roll-she's been through it all.

The book ends after two of The Pretenders died, (a long time ago), and I think that's apt because that's when her recklessness ended, (mostly), too.

Growing up in the sixties allowed her to do a lot of things that could not be done now. You can't knock on the windows of cars
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was really disappointed. I was so excited to read about this rock legend who was from my hometown. She really only talked about the Pretenders for the last 40 pages and she covered nothing past the death of two of the original members. What she talked about was biker gangs, drugs and 100 other characters that where a part of her life for a minute. I had a hard time following where she was going and what she was saying about particular events. She used a lot of expressions I wasn't familiar wit ...more
Andy Lopata
Very disappointing. I really wanted to enjoy this as Hynde is one of my favourite rock stars. There are some great stories in here and an insight into a massive decade or so of rock history. But it's poorly structured, poorly written and fragmented. In short, it needs the firm hand of a good editor.

Leave the book and pop on a Pretenders album instead.
This book was a major disappointment. I really like the Pretenders and even have her solo album "Stockholm" on vinyl. But this book is so repetitive. At least 75% of the book goes on and on about her drug abuse, which gets really boring after a while. And only about the last 50 pages are about the Pretenders, and then only the early days as the book comes to an abrupt, unsatisfactory conclusion, when the band's guitar player dies, even though the band continued on for many years. Not recommended ...more
Oct 06, 2015 marked it as abandoned
I generally steer clear of books recommended on NPR, but in this case, the author suggested that I not buy her fucking book.

I can understand not wanting to be part of the rape culture dialog, that's her prerogative. But she was downright hostile and basically refused to talk about her book, on a book tour interview. Sheesh.

Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll pretty much sum up what Chrissie Hynde's memoir covers. I like her music with the Pretenders and remember listening to their hits on my car radio while I was commuting to work. She writes with engaging prose, irreverent wit, and manic energy. In short, she delivers just what I expected, and I found it entertaining. Her "reckless" lifestyle isn't one I envy or admire, but her main focus is always on the excellent music, her true art.
Sep 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
If you like Chrissie Hynde and think her music is brilliant, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! She seems like she is a complete idiot who has not learned very much from her life experiences.
How is this woman still alive?

Why are:
random sex with strangers
hook ups with friends
the song-writing process
transatlantic journeys
the punk scene

So boring?

Honestly, the author name drops, tells it like it is without artifice, but it's just not very interesting. Very few people go from under-achiever groupie to rock star but CH matter of fact style of writing and focus on minutia drains the drama out of her story.

Laura Starks
Sep 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is in a word BORING. I pushed myself to finish it even though I have several other books in the queue.

As others have stated, the first 75% of this book focuses on Chrissie's unremarkable suburban middle class childhood, and her blase, rudderless, boring, drug fueled young teenage years and young adulthood. While reading this, I didn't even get the sense that she wanted to be in a band, or be a musician, apparently nothing else to do, and since she doesn't seem competent enough to perf
Barry Hammond
For someone who wrote such precise and insightful lyrics in her songs and who has such a thoughtful and well-observed memoir it comes as a slight shock that Chrissie Hynde's opinion of her younger self seems to be a person who hadn't the slightest interest in writing, history, or education but was a total slacker whose only interests were music, drugs on the side, and an attitude as an outsider. She certainly paid her dues before making it as a musician as her long list of dead-end jobs, bad rel ...more
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An honest account about the downside of sex drugs and rock and roll chrissie's life leading up to and to the end of the Pretenders with the deaths of the guitarist James honey an Scott and bass player Pete Farndon yes I've read the reviews that it does not go into her life with Ray Davies but I think she is honest enough it was a disaster and they rowed a lot but it's not a kiss and tell it is however clear she was one hell of rock chick and a survivor
Michael K
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chrissie being a formidable woman who's still got a lot of girl left, and a writer who barely has to try to achieve brilliance (as is part of her account), what you get here is succinct, honed brutal hilarity, even when it's dark because tragic elements like drug-deaths are involved.

The account stops abruptly when the first lineup of The Pretenders is halved. Most of what we've known about Chrissie takes place after that but it's clear that, for Hynde, something vital ended and what's after is o
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I love rock and roll memoirs and was a huge pretenders fan but this book did not do it for me. Simply said, Chrissy Hynde presented herself in less than a laudable light. She just did not seem like a good person and her multiple stories that included name dropping, indiscriminate sex, and drug abuse got old. She also offers little growth or introspection. The best part of the book was her descriptions of her early life and her love for the dying city of Akron.
Sep 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
As a fellow Akronite, as well as a Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde fan, I looked forward to reading this book.

Unfortunately it isn't well written (where the hell was the editor?). It contains a lot of jargon and slang that the average reader, including me, just doesn't know. Maybe British readers will fare better. Or punk rock stoners. I however found entire chapters difficult to follow.

If I had done as much drugs, and as often as depicted, I doubt I could string two actual memories together tha
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Chrissie Hynde has a unique voice, both as a songwriter and an author. I enjoyed every word of this book. I especially liked reading about her youth in Akron. I have been a Chrissie fan from the beginning, but I never realized exactly what a wild life she led after leaving home. Also, she made me realize how essential James Honeyman-Scott was to her music, and how tragic his loss was for her.
Doubleday  Books
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This no-holds-barred memoir by the former Pretenders front woman and iconic singer/songwriter Chrissie Hynde is not to be missed. Her prose, like her music, is powerful, unsparing, and totally honest.
- Judy J., Doubleday Marketing Department
Laz the Sailor
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This biography feels like it should be Part 1, detailing the crazy youth of a very talented songwriter. The descriptions of the sex and drugs far outweigh the rock&roll. There are numerous vignettes that include some intriguing people, but they fly by like snippets in a movie trailer. I want to go see the real movie now.

Despite the above, the writing is fun and quirky, with crazy vocabulary and amazing incidents that no one should survive - Chrissie is the female version of Keef.

I still want to
Dorian Box
Sep 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an interesting story of Chrissie Hynde's life leading up to being the front-woman for the Pretenders, but don't expect to learn much about the actual band or its activities (other than drug consumption). The Pretenders don't form as a band until near the end of the book. The book also skips around a lot, discussing people who have not clearly been introduced to readers, which makes it a bit confusing to follow. But the book leaves no doubt that Chrissie Hynde was a true bad-a**, no B.S. ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I meant to read this when it first came out. Then I forgot. Earlier this year I was reminded when my blogger friend Susan at The Cue Card reviewed it.

Who was not a Pretenders fan in the 1980s? I was singing in a cover band at the time (back then it was known as a TOP40 band because we performed the hits of the day as long as people could dance to them.) I sang "Brass In Pocket" with all my heart, though I could never quite capture the sound of Chrissie's voice.

Her memoir is a trip through the
Deborah Pickstone
Disappointing. The writing is mediocre and it is repetitive; we took some drugs, then we took some more drugs - and then we took some drugs. She seemed to have a big issue with being female - unsurprising, given the era; women were still very much second-class citizens, one of the reasons she stood out as a lead singer - there weren't many. Still and all, she was very naive, by her own telling. She seems to have seen herself as more 'like a man' than feminine but her idea of feminine (back then) ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Utter disappointment. Obvious that the publisher hoped she had another Patti Smith memoir and decided to split one book into two (I'm guessing another volume is coming) and the editors were too cowed by Chrissie to use a red pen. If you relish a poorly written, long-winded history of Ohio, unending accounts of endless drug use, unfounded and over-indulged ego, and an artist's early account with barely a nod to the artists around her-- this is your book. There is nothing on craft. There is no per ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Wow! Im so glad Chrissie Hynde is alive. She's always been a music hero of mine, so I was keen to read this, but it was hard work. Not because it's badly written, but because it's so brutally honest and detailed that it was not always easy to read. So many drugs, so many shit decisions, it's amazing she lived to tell it all. The book got better for me at once the story of the Pretenders arrived, although she was such a part of the music scene that her stories about the people of the time are fas ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'm giving up. I have already listened to 4 hours of this less than 9 hour book. it does not hold my interest. Also the pretenders have yet to get together. I usually don't give up on books. but I have to many to read and listen to then to keep listening to a book that I just don't care about
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
The title of this book should be "Reckless: My life as a total fuck up with a death wish (With a bit at the end about me being in a band)." The final 70 pages of the book are about The Pretenders - and those pages are only about the first few years of the band. The first 250 pages of the book are Chrissie recounting her many lame jobs and stupid drug-addled behaviors. It would have been a much, much better book if she had spent about 20 pages on her childhood, about 40 pages on her life as a was ...more
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I never cared for Chrissie Hynde or the Pretenders. Never liked their music and got the impression that she was arrogant and mean mouthed. (I love to read bios on people I love and people I dislike......either end of the spectrum...the middle is what bores me.) I will never like their music but my opinion of Chrissie Hynde has changed and there were several surprises to me. The biggest ones were:

1. She doesn't trash Ray Davies. I expected her to do so since he has not had kind words for her.

Donna Thompson
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I see in other reviews that Chrissie has gotten some flack for various aspects of this book. I just want to go on the record as saying this is one of the better, and more personable, rock autobiographies I've read. I'll admit, I was never much into the Pretenders. I liked their songs well enough, I was just never a rabid fan. My interest in Chrissie stemmed from the fact that she's from my hometown of Akron, Ohio, and also, from everything I'd come to know about her, she seemed like a nice, down ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I like that she told her story in a narrative style as if it were a conversation. She didn't try to blame others for her bad choices but was humble about her own role in her success. She didn't have to be vulgar when telling about her relationships with the men in her life. She's also quite funny. She relayed her grief over the loss of two band mates with grace. That had to have been a long, horrible time for her and Martin. Music fans need to read this.
Corinna Bechko
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love this type of musician biography, and reading about this period of music history. Is it the most literary, insightful autobio ever? Of course not. Chrissie Hynde is a songwriter, not a novelist. For deep emotion, look to her music. What this does offer is a snapshot of a bygone era, and what a clear, warts-and-all glimpse it is. In short, I enjoyed every page, even when I was cringing on Hynde's behalf. I wish more famous women would tell their own stories in this way.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel exhausted. This was a powerful book.
Written about the author, by the author. It's unflinching and honest about drug abuse, bikers, bands, bad boys and bad girls, the desire to make music, success and tragedy.
There is dry humour here but lots of dark, scary times. Chrissie Hynde has a way with words , both in her song writing and in this book.

quote from New York Times

" Through all of the tragedy and the mishaps, Reckless remains first and foremost a love letter to rock 'n' Roll"
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Chrissie Hynde is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the leader of the Pretenders. Hynde released nine studio albums as the Pretenders, beginning with1980’s Pretenders, which Rolling Stone ranked in the top 15 best debut albums of all time. Most recently, she released the album Stockholm, under her own name, in 2014. She lives in London.

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