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My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,620 ratings  ·  380 reviews
In the vein of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, a collection of side-splitting and illuminating essays by the popular stand-up comedian, alum of Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project, and host of truTV’s Talk Show the Game Show.

From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by Atria Books
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Larry H
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

"We talk about nature and nurture when analyzing a person's character. We see two ways that an identity is formed. One is biological, the mean of parents' traits passed down genetically. The other is environmental: How did the world around this person guide and encourage him? The problem is that by either of these methods, I shouldn't be me. I should be shorter and dumber and not at all concerned with what pairs well with star anise syrup in a cocktail." (BTW, it's notes of orange.)

Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
I have an addiction to celebrity memoirs, especially those of comedians. I've read and/or listened to dozens of them, and though I'd never heard of Guy Branum, the cover and his work credits made me interested.

To be honest, I expected something... funny. All of the comedian memoirs I've read have been funny, or at least, tried to be funny. My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture didn't.

The book is really a memoir of someone's life as an outsider in a medium-sized,
Ulysses Dietz
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My Life as a Goddess (A Memoir Through (Un)popular Culture)
By Guy Branum
Published by Atria (division of Simon & Schuster), 2018
Five stars

Guy Branum’s brilliant memoir is essentially J.D. Vance’s overly-praised “Hillbilly Elegy” as written by a funny gay man. I surely didn’t expect that when I bought it, but there you are. What this book really drove home to me – again – is that gay men need to write our stories, because we’re still largely getting left out of mainstream history (which means
Jessica Woodbury
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was reminded recently when hearing Guy on a podcast that I've been meaning to read this book and while I am not very familiar with him, I immediately became a fan. The world of celebrity/comedian essay/memoir books is growing and while there are several very strong entries, they can also be a bit of a mess. But Guy's book carves out its own unique space, examining many of the central moments in his life through pop culture, and has a distinctive voice that makes it a real joy. I loved his ...more
Mariah Roze
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
"From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside looking in.
Self-taught, introspective, and from a stiflingly boring farm town, he couldn’t relate to his neighbors. While other boys played outside, he stayed indoors reading Greek mythology. And being gay and overweight, he got used to diminishing himself. But little by little, he started learning from all the sad, strange, lonely outcasts in history who had come before him, and he started to feel hope.
In this collection of
Matthew Faulkner
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I hate critiquing memoirs. Who am I to judge someone else’s life and experience?

This book was difficult to slug through. 50% of this book was fascinating and I could deeply relate to. There were lines from the book I wanted to share with friends and family and be like, wow, this guy is me! His college experience, coming out story and fascination of all things pop culture resonated deeply with me.

But then 50% of the book were strange allegories that I could not connect with. Guy devoted an
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I'm familiar with Guy Branum's work but wasn't really a superfan or anything coming into this, but I was so impressed with how smart and funny and insightful he is. From the subtitle (and from other books I've read) I was a little nervous about this being a deep dive into sitcoms I never watched, but instead it's something much more universal. (While also specifically being a powerful story of growing up a closeted gay teen and later coming out as an adult, and processing the ...more
I didn't know anything about Guy Branum previously, but now I am a huge fan. Branum is a stand-up comedian/actor/writer/lawyer/all-around talented fella. He is also gay, very tall, and very large. And he's very, very good at trivia and quiz bowls. (You will be better at both those things as well if you read this book and remember even 1/3 of the references - there's a Jenny Holzer allusion, FFS!)

Though this book is full of humorous autobiographical essays, it's also got a ton of great insights
Erin Cataldi
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will admit, I had no idea who Guy was before I read this book, not even an iota. After reading this though, I am in awe that I somehow completely overlooked his whole career. He's so funny! How did our paths never cross? Part memoir, part humor, part history and pop culture lesson; this memoir is unique and entirely fun to read. I'm a huge fan of footnotes and there are A TON of footnotes; humorous asides, sarcastic comments, clarification, etc. It's genius! The stories I enjoyed the most were ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a goodreads giveaway not knowing anything about Guy Branum. I was looking forward to a funny memoir, but this book was mostly Guy describing tv shows and movies. I don’t feel like I learned many things about him and I certainly didn’t laugh.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I expected to like this book, and to find it funny. I did not realize the levels of humanity, thoughtfulness and heart I would experience as well. I loved this book and I absolutely think you should read it. Yes, you.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this more than I did. Bits are laugh out loud funny, but over all it feels flat. Mr Branum is obviously quite smart and witty but I was hoping fore more in the vein of David Sedaris and less in the vein of a literary journal.
Sep 01, 2018 added it
This was a lovely read. I'm mostly familiar with Guy from his podcast, Pop Rocket, and I loved his thorough analysis of multiple topics in this book.

Guy is incredibly funny, but he also manages to convey incredible pain and general cultural analysis. Many parts of this book aren't a laugh riot, but that's fine by me. In my opinion, the purchase was worth it simply for the amazing chapter "The Man Who Watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."
Megan O'Hara
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This was kind of a slog and sometimes had so many digressions that I lost the thread of whatever the essay was originally about. I also wish that he treated the reader like less of an adversary with whom he couldn't possibly have anything in common. That said I really enjoyed some of the essays (especially the one about finding yourself in narratives you are meant to be excluded from, but also the ones about fatness, his Passover seders, how he came to stand-up, and the epilogue).
Cameron Harrie
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was smart to include the subtitle of this book, "A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture." This is by-and-large a book of cultural critiques and to some degree, straight-up descriptions of plots of movies and TV shows. Many of the cultural references from his childhood are admittedly outside of my own timeline, but I understood a fair amount. If you are someone who knows of Guy from his truly fabulous podcast "Pop Rocket," you won't be out-of-place, until Guy derides you for probably not ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

I started with the Kindle edition and then realized that I should switch and listen to it in audio. I have no regrets about this book. This is NOT a cohesive and chronological memoir, but a collection of bio-essays on Branum's thoughts, experiences, strengths. I will be going back through the Kindle edition because there are quotes from this book that I need in my life.

His ability to look at a larger subject and then reflect on its components before returning to the whole is
I'm really excited that the first book I finished in 2019 is a 5 star book, though I am surprised by the mixed reviews here. I am familiar with Guy Branum from his long running pop culture round-table podcast on Max Fun, Pop Rocket. I've listened to probably about 50 random episodes of it, just ones that sound interesting and love his commanding humor and erudite connections. If those sound like things you also would like, this book is for you. I loved this, I think because I, like Guy, am smart ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! I think it took me a little too long to read based on the genre - it was a little dense (but not necessarily in a bad way for me). I think that while he explains a lot of the cultural references he's discussing, there is a lot of information you sort of already need to have on your own coming into the book to fully understand everything. When I had that info, it was really fun, because it felt like knowing a secret language and getting to put all of the pieces together. ...more
Taylor P
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found so much of Guy Branum's memoir My Life as a Goddess deeply relatable, both on a personal level and in a more universal sense. I enjoyed reading his insider perspectives on comedy and Hollywood, and I equally appreciated the highly allusive depictions of his existence before he entered the entertainment business, particularly the passages about his family and how he handled his coming out to them. I am hesitating to give My Life a fifth star (it is probably actually a 4.5-star book) for ...more
Adam Sockel
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are countless celebrity memoirs in the world and almost as many where people tell their story about coming out but few are as insightful and powerful as Guy's. He manages to tell his side of the story while also thoroughly breaking down the aspects of his story beyond himself. He is well read, quick witted and hilarious. I've long enjoyed his stand up and his comedic writing but the aspects of this story that really moved me are when he uses unflinching honesty to explain his relationship ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I listened to this on audiobook over the last few weeks and really enjoyed it - I love a good memoir and have read a number of memoirs by comedians, but I found Branum to be a bit...hmm. I felt like he went deeper than many of those memoirs do? Like he was interested in being funny, yes, and there were some parts that were very funny, but there were also a lot of parts that were raw and painful and sharp and true, too. Plus a lot about living in rural California, which is a thing I feel like ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn’t actually finish this book because the parts I loved and felt super seen by didn’t nearly make up for the incredibly entitled and unempathetic attitudes that pervaded it. Happy Endings is a subversive triumph and it’s embarrassing that a comedy writer wouldn’t see that. Freddie Mercury was bi. *Gay white men still experience white privilege and male privilege*. You can still be classist af even if you grew up poor. Being smart enough to use the language of social justice without truly ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read if you're into: close readings of pop culture, close readings of Queen songs, close readings of John Wayne films, close readings of personal experiences as if they are fiction (but in a good way).

Do not read if: you don't know what close readings are.

AKA this is a pop culture books for people who knew how to English majors, even if they weren't English majors. I cried like four times. I loved it.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
this book really did not live up to the hype!! Lots of people I like and podcasts I listen to recommended it but it was so underwhelming. I think the thing that bothered me the most was the tone, it was v pretentious. And I know it’s in the title that this book covers unpopular culture so I should’ve been prepared but I just did not enjoy reading extended metaphors and analyses of shows and movies that I have not and will never see
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I definitely recommend the audiobook for Branum's great narration and accents. For the most part, I found the memoir and his stories entertaining, honest, and at times inspiring. There were a couple of chapters that seemed like they could have been cut (Canadian history!), but overall, a good reading experience.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Preface: I didn't know who Guy Branum was before reading it. I don't watch much TV. I've only absorbed about 10% of pop culture over the past 10 years.

And yet, this book is hilarious! It's worth listening to for his rants about Canada, Babette's Feast, RBG, and various historical facts alone. I didn't know him before but I'd like to go out for cocktails with Guy now.
Sam (she_who_reads_)
There’s not much I can say about this beyond the fact that it is absolutely hilarious, and at times, poignant and heartbreaking.
If you are a fan of Guy Branam and his humour, then you will love this as much as I did! If bawdy, blunt, and sometimes graphic humour isn’t your thing, then maybe skip this one. But I loved it!!
Tim Mclaughlin
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I wish I could go back in time and give it to myself when I was 15. Guy is hilarious, obviously, but he also has some of the most insightful analysis of issues affecting gay men. His writing is super intelligent, but also super approachable.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
imo this is a must read. I learned and took away so so so much from this. Everyone go read it.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5? Repetitive and meandering, but he's funny and has both a unique perspective and good story to tell.
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“I’m not supposed to like myself, and I’m certainly not supposed to think that I should matter. The world has spent a lot of time telling me that, and in the past thirty or so years, I often listened, because we all listen. The world is mostly full of fine facts and good lessons, but some of those facts and lessons were built to keep you down.” 6 likes
“Because a goddess's job isn't to be good. It's to have compelling stories lyre players can tell about her at the court of kings and princes.” 1 likes
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