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If at Birth You Don't Succeed: My Adventures with Disaster and Destiny
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If at Birth You Don't Succeed: My Adventures with Disaster and Destiny

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,413 ratings  ·  325 reviews
Comedian Zach Anner opens his frank and devilishly funny book, If at Birth You Don't Succeed, with an admission: he botched his own birth. Two months early, underweight and under-prepared for life, he entered the world with cerebral palsy and an uncertain future. So how did this hairless mole-rat of a boy blossom into a viral internet sensation who's hosted two travel show ...more
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  2,413 ratings  ·  325 reviews

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I found this to be a decent memoir about an entertainer who is living with physical disabilities. The writing was good and flowed naturally, however I just didn't find this read to be super engaging. I am not sure why since I cannot think of one thing in particular that was bad about this autobiography.

If anything the writing quality is probably higher than most... I think at times it just tried a teensy bit too hard to be funny. But the main reason I feel a little meh about this book is most l
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Splendid. Do yourself a favour and read this book.
Zach Anner is out of any doubt a talented comedian and an excellent writer, this book is about an intelligent and sagacious man who has the nuts to live life… for real.
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I wish that I had liked this memoir by Zach (with a H) Anner more than I did.

If you are not familiar with him, Mr. Anner lives with cerebral palsy, and back in 2011 won his own travel show on the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011. I recall the reality show that Mr. Anner was on that got him his own show, and I honestly don't remember much else besides saying that's cool when I heard who won. Since his show has been cancelled it seems that Mr. Anner has been hosting a web series with Rainn Wilson (Dw
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Firstly, whether or not you end up reading Zach Anner’s book, it’s definitely worth a trip over to YouTube to check out some of his videos. (Might I recommend this one, this one, and this one?) The guy is goofy and slyly funny. It’s always a happy day when one of his videos shows up in my inbox. He’s the kind of guy who decides to create a video series where all he does is give people virtual high-fives. Often he’ll make a joke that is funny at first, and then a second later, it gets even funnie ...more
Sarah Sherwood
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Maybe not everyone
Recommended to Sarah by: Zach Anner
I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway! Yay! I first heard about the book on Facebook when Zach announced it.

I am not sure what I expected. I suppose I expected to read a bunch of words written by Zach Anner. That's exactly what I got.

Zach Anner spends time recounting important events in his life. He writes about his time with Oprah and OWN. He tells stories from grade school, middle school, high school, and college. He made me laugh out loud a few times. I got teary eyed a time or two
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Zach Anner has wrriten a tender, laugh-out-loud funny, coming of age tale of a man determined to be defined by more than his disability. Anner details the ups and downs of the first three decades of his life, from his birth as the less-than-perfect specimen to his rise (quite accidentally) as a reality show host at the University of Texas at Austin and subsequent successes as winner of the Oprah Winfrey Network's "Search for the Next TV Star" and his YouTube channel. He writes with wit, warmth a ...more
Ashley Bratina
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
I absolutely adored this book from start to finish. As someone who also has Cerebral Palsy, I found this book not only highly relatable throughout, but also very humourous, (I was laughing to the point of tears in many spots) positive and thought provoking. Zach is not only a gifted comedian, but also a great writer with an contagiously uplifting spirit. I'm definitely recommending this to all my family and friends. ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Zach's musings on his life with cerebral palsy (the sexiest of the palsies hehe) ... and, more importantly, as a person. I am very particular about humor in books but Zach had me laughing from the opening line! His one liners were hilarious. His stories were equal parts entertaining and touching, while his positive and unique outlook on life was uplifting. Overall, I found this book entertaining, amusing, awe inspiring, and heartwarming and would highly recommend it! Also, please, please, please ...more
Jul 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: europe, america
Not as funny as Workout Wednesdays but an interesting book. I liked the reflections on not wanting his girlfriend to have to be his caretaker but that he was so used to being taken care of that he didn't even see the ways in which it happened at first. ...more
S. McPherson
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a good read with some hilarious, heartfelt and empowering moments!!
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Comedian Zach Anner opens his frank and devilishly funny book,  If at Birth You Don't Succeed, with an admission: he botched his own birth. Two months early, underweight and under-prepared for life, he entered the world with cerebral palsy and an uncertain future. So how did this hairless mole-rat of a boy blossom into a viral internet sensation who's hosted two travel shows, impressed Oprah, driven the Mars Rover, and inspired a John Mayer song? (It wasn't "Your Body is a Wonderland.")"

I have
Carrie Kellenberger
If at Birth You Don't Succeed: My Adventures with Disaster and Destiny is the only book I preordered for 2016. If I could've attended one of the author's book launches in the US, I would've gone just to meet this man in person. That is how incredible I think Zach Anner is.

(Shout out to the author - Zach, if you are reading this, you have fans in Asia. Come do a travel show in Taiwan! )

I have been following Zach Anner's adventures online and have been waiting with anticipation for his memoir to
Amy Ibarra
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Amy by: Coworkers
Shelves: favorites
Zach (with an H) Anner brought his story to life with one of the most comedic, heart-warming recounts that I've ever read. There were scenarios that literally made me laugh out loud whereas others captivated my entire undivided attention, face-in-book and all (including the ending!). I heard of this book from a few coworkers who mentioned it to me, and also mentioned that Zach was coming to my school (aside from the fact that I wasn't able to make it and get a signed :/ ). Although th ...more
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Zach Anner is amazing. Not because he is disabled but because he makes others realize that a disability is nothing to cry over. I have never felt more understood in my life. Everyone with a physical disability needs to read this book!
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
The very first few pages of this book made me smile and chuckle. As I continued, I gradually became bored. I feel terrible for not trying harder to continue this book, but I was bored. No more non-fiction for me. I don't think I can finish memoirs, unless each page has a short paragraph. About 95% of a chapter is a memory and the final paragraph is the lesson. I enjoyed the lessons more than the memories itself. ...more
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute, a little crass, but overall very average.
Lee Ann
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Part comedy, part inspirational biography, Zach Anner's If at Birth You Don't Succeed offers lots of good laughs and lots of reflective moments.

It's hard not to like Anner -- who you might know as "that guy who does the hilarious yet oddly inspirational Workout Wednesday videos". In his memoir he comes off as genuine, hard-working, and optimistic, even when everything that can go wrong does go wrong. In other words, reading this book is sort of like reading the script for a very long Workout Wed
Katie Followell
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
Truthfully, I didn't really love Zach Anner's memoir. I had a hard time getting through it for no good reason.

In my personal challenge of reading more books this year, I have tried to read more memoirs because I feel it is a good way of learning about other people's lives. I don't know a lot about cerebral palsy, and the celebrity reviews on the back made this sound like it was going to be a cutting-edge humor, laugh out loud journey in the life of a man who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Not only
Ashley (Red-Haired Ash Reads)
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it!

In this book, comedian Zach Anner uses his humor to discuss his adventures through life in a wheelchair. This memoir was both heartfelt and hilarious and shows that you can overcome anything with the right mind set.

“Over the years I have learned that a sense of humor is the only skill that turns sucking at life into a career.”

I was introduced to Zach Anner through his infrequent appearances on Rooster Teeth’s show On The Spot. His humor and outlook on life were
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Solid 3.5. Very funny, well-written. No surprises. A memoir culminating at the age of 30, even of a pretty interesting life such as Zach’s, is a bit over ambitious.

The book is intended for people already familiar with the author’s life. Given the import and global appeal of his message, I feel this is a mistake. The narrative would have benefited from more explanation of his family constellation earlier in the story, as well as a more linear structure.

All this aside, Zach is funny as hell. Eve
Ryan Moore
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If at birth you don't succeed is a must read for anyone looking for a hilarious, approachable, but very honest look at Life with Cerebral Palsy. CP is as he says the sexiest of all the palsies. He had a show on tv for a bit called Rolling with Zach on which he traveled the world. Life with CP isn't always easy, but we deal with life's bumps just like you. Probably with a lot more good humor. If they're laughing with you they're not laughing at you. Most of my CP friends are quick to make jokes a ...more
Keegan Taylor
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I learned about Zach Anner through Kristina Kuzmic, an Internet personality that I follow. I laughed out loud at parts of this memoir (the apparently not-disabled boy at Disney, for example) and I smiled at much more. I appreciated, Zach's positive outlook and his humanity. I also valued his humility, readily admitting to mistakes he's made in the past. There was a lot to look up to here.

This book wasn't completely riveting but I am definitely glad I read it. I'm not generally into crass humor l
Jess Witkins
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Four stars because this was a solid coming-of-age memoir with several laugh out loud moments, including the opening!

I've had Zach Anner's book on my to read list for awhile, waiting for an audio version because having enjoyed some of his video series, I wanted to hear the book in his voice. Thank you to my library Libby app for finally adding this one in. It did not disappoint.

Overall, I appreciated Zach's candor with sharing the struggles he faces, even in a humorous way, and moreso his repea
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was hilarious! Recommended to me by an OT/PT/SLP therapist group on Facebook, I wasn't sure what I was picking up. But I recognized the voice of the audiobook narrator as the author himself - and a young man I'd seen on YouTube once. Zach tells an out of order but quite compelling story of his life (so far), including having to drop out of high school, winning a travel show from Oprah, finally getting a girlfriend, and just generally making sense of life with cerebral palsy, the sexies ...more
May 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, comedy
I was laughing by page 2; Zach has a really upbeat and funny way to look at the world and the circumstances of his life! The first third is the strongest and follows his journey to getting his first tv show through an Oprah competition. However, the next two sections lose that cohesiveness. The chapters jump around a lot, from childhood to adulthood to family to different media projects, which makes it harder to get sucked in. Once you really get interested in something the chapter’s over and we ...more
Kayla Brown
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did not anticipate loving this book as much as I did. If any of my crip friends haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it (as well as everyone else).

Zach Anner is just so good. I laughed, then cried, then laughed harder. Disability is strangely isolating, and hearing him pour his soul out there like that made me feel less alone.

Zach, I was right there on the bathroom floor with you in spirit. Because, well, I’ve been there too.
Arielle Marie
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was really funny. There were many times that I actually laughed out loud while reading. There’s also some really good visuals in there. But more importantly, this book felt very human. Zach really does find a way to make you feel hopeful about whatever challenges you’re being faced with. You don’t have to relate to his story to get the benefits. I found it to be a moving and important piece of literature at the end of the day. Glad I picked it up!
Sydney Hart
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Zach engages with important and sometimes tough topics and elements of the disabled experience in a lighthearted manner that evokes empathy and warmth rather than pity, which as a disabled reader I found refreshing and incredibly important.
Sadly this book was too crude for me to finish. I was interested in the parts about life with cerebral palsy “the sexiest of the palsies”. But there comes a point where the line has been crossed in my personal comfort level in crudeness. I will be watching his videos on YouTube.
Thomas Henebury
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Funny, bizzare, and an presumably honest look at what it's like to live while using a wheelchair (I've only used a cane so I'll take his word for it).

Worth your time and your money assuming you aren't offended by many mentions of olive garden
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Zach Anner is an award-winning comedian, show host, and public speaker. In 2011, he won his own travel show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Rollin' With Zach. He also hosted the shows Have A Little Faith for Rainn Wilson's media company SoulPancake, and Riding Shotgun and Workout Wednesdays on his own YouTube channel, which has over 8 million hits. Zach lives in Buffalo, NY and Austin, TX, and spend ...more

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