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Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  59 reviews
From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit.

Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Blue Rider Press
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4.15  · 
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 ·  334 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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The only reason I was interested in reading this was because I read a short story by Craig Ferguson, (though I can't remember which collection it was in), and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this audiobook as well.

Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American and he is hilarious. He's honest about his addictions and alcoholism, about his marriages and about his career. At times I nearly lost it, listening to him talk about the huge zit that appeared on his nose, just before the big school dance. He talke
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction, e-arc
I loved Craig Ferguson's late night show. I enjoyed his radio show whenever I could. Even when I wasn't a big reader, I read and enjoyed his autobiography. And I enjoyed this book as well. This feels more introspective than American On Purpose, and there is plenty here to dig into and think about, from dealing with your past, fears about your present, and uncertainty about the future. It might not sound it, but I feel like it's ultimately a hopeful book, one where we can learn from each other an ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.

Craig Ferguson's memoir is full of laughs, reflections, and sage advice. I enjoyed that the memoir was in the form of essays. He was open about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the impact it had on his life. I learned how a pile of dog poop can change your entire year. I can never look at NFL mascot matchups quite the same ever again.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys snarky, honest memoirs.
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway. I enjoyed watching Craig's late night show years ago, so I was interested in reading this book. Craig's brand of humor shines in this book with a thoughtful look at various events in his life that have had an impact on him. It's the perfect read for any fan or anyone looking for a unique yet humorous nonfiction read.
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
While I didn't enjoy it as much as American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, I enjoyed this book as Ferguson jumped around his life with essays about his Scottish childhood, love, meeting Princess Diana, kids and not being on TV anymore.
this review is for the audiobook edition, narrated by the author, craig ferguson.

yep, it was okay. i find ferguson, generally, pretty clever and entertaining. and he can certainly throw together a sentence that smacks! but i never really clicked with this one - apart from quite enjoying listening to his scottishness.
Faiza Sattar
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
★★★★★ (5/5)

One of the interesting quirks of the aging process is that events that seemed to have little or no impact at the time resonate with a thunderous importance later on, like an expertly constructed detective novel.

From the very beginning, I settled on two words which described this book perfectly: delightfully sad. Craig has a unique way with words. He spins and weaves intricate emotions with exceptional brevity and boundless wit. As evident from his most notable stint as a host for a la
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s through a collection of essays that we get to see more of an intimate portrait of the late night television host and comedian, Craig Ferguson. While I preferred his other books more, this was an intriguing read and above all, filled with that which makes us all human and makes us realize we’re not all that different.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
“Couldn’t put it down” is a statement often associated with thrillers and mysteries. These genres come packed with suspense. Yet, memoirs and essay collections can also be hard to put down, even when they contain very little suspense. Such is Craig Ferguson’s new monologue-style book of essays, Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations & Observations. I didn’t read it in one sitting; my schedule didn’t allow that. But each time I sat down to read a couple mo ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
To expect a second autobiography from Craig Ferguson would've been a fruitless expectation. Ferguson is not interested in talking about the latter half of his talk show; about the robot skeleton and the pantomime horse; about the interviews or the game shows. He uses this book as a form of self-therapy. There's a lot of thoughts, a lot of analyzing his own psyche, and endless pontification on himself and how he's tried to come to peace with his life. Throughout the book, Ferguson drops many refe ...more
Marion Tilley
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Craig Ferguson hosted the "Late, Late Show," I often enjoyed his opening monologues. He could be funny, profane, wise, sarcastic, empathetic, and crazy in the course of speaking for a few minutes.

His memoir, "Riding the Elephant," demonstrates his range in tone as well. As a writer he carefully uses language while probing his own psyche and revisiting key moments during his ever-evolving life journey. I both laughed and cried while reading his observations about living in rough post-war Gla
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was more work to get through than my usual romance or fantasy. Unlike fiction, you have to read every word. I only skimmed a teeny bit through things that didn’t interest me.
Ferguson recounts episodes and thoughts. He is very opinionated but often philosophical, funny, and wise.
I am a big fan of his, which made me appreciate the book even more. I follow him on Twitter, watched his late-night show, went to a taping of that show, saw him host a Dr. Who panel at Comic-Con, went to one of his s
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a big Craig Ferguson fan. The truth is, I know him. He is funny and genuine, whether on camera or not, and he has a habit of smiling, being witty, and saying things that are bit smarter than the conversation he is having. That comes through here, in this glib, introspective memoir that more than occasionally says things which may have been true for Craig, but should be true for all of us. You will smile a lot, and learn something about Craig, but also about yourself. Craig has had a winding ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You'd be hard-pressed to call Craig Ferguson a coward after reading this book. It's his version of a diary, but unlike a teen girl's diary, his is unflinchingly honest and possess at least 34% fewer unicorns, which is odd since he's Scottish and unicorns are apparently from Scotland, but rarely from Cumbernauld.

Look, you can read books from celebrities, or about celebrities, but there's only one with a Scottish accent, sharp wit, and who is tall enough to stand behind everyone else and still abl
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny thing.
As far as life experiences go, Craig Ferguson and I couldn't be more polar opposites.
But one thing we do have in common is having defied the odds.
We're both still here walking the earth.
He achieved this by defeating the demons that controlled his addictions and me by defeating a catastrophic illness in 2018.
We're both survivors.
We both had more reasons to stay than to go.
So we fought and we won.
And despite how different we are, it amazes me how similarly we think about things.
I love
Joe Slavinsky
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had just finished a rather depressing fictional novel about a comedian, and was hoping this wouldn't be similar. I'm happy to report that this book was just the opposite. I found it up-lifting. It's a well-told story of what Mr. Ferguson has gone through, since his early alcoholic days. It's pithy, and sad, and yet laugh-out-loud funny. I never watched his late-night show, when it was on. I've only seen highlights on YouTube. I found him funny, and ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book I feel like I may have missed out in not having stayed up late to catch his show. He comes across as both irreverent and endearing. Especially relatable are those moments in life we all struggle with, the trouble our own stupid choices create for us, the milestones of birth, marriage, procreation, divorce, the loss of loved ones, and our own mortality. Many passages made me smile.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Memoir of Craig Ferguson of Late, Late Show fame. He narrates this beautifully. These are stories of his life pre, during, and post late night TV show, dealing with marriage, children, loss of parents, illnesses, and addiction. And it's hilarious!

I love Craig's perspective on life and living in the US (He became an American Citizen several years ago). I recommend this to fans of Ferguson, and those who enjoy good memoirs.
Stefan Fergus
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting anecdotes. Some of the stories weren't new to me (maybe they were in his stand-up shows?), but nevertheless each chapter/scenario was engagingly written, often amusing (if not laugh-out-loud-funny, which I don't think was the point anyway), sometimes touching.

If you're a fan of Ferguson's memoir, "American On Purpose", then I think you'll find this an interesting and worthwhile addendum.
Cathy Craigmile
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book!

Love love love this book! If your not familiar with Mr Ferguson first biography this is a good book to rwad as a a stand alone book, bur irs a great book to read as follow up to that.
It was funny and sad, raw and if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction I highly recommend this book! But this book is about much more then his battle with alcohol.
The ending had me in tears in a good way
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so love the way he writes...

Craig was one of the first writers who encouraged me to step out of the darkness and into the light. I have missed him, he has a way of describing the horrible hold alcohol can have. It takes someone to be real and honest and vulnerable in order for us to see.
I can't thank him enough, he is a truly gifted spirit.
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything there is to love about Craig

This is a memoir to savor. Each chapter can stand alone, but also works together in a mosaic of laughter, triumph, tears, and humility. Craig as this being human thing down, and anyone who lets his words in will be better for the time he entertained them.
Beth Duke
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s not hard to adore a book by Craig Ferguson, especially if you’re already a fan of his witty, self-effacing humor. “Riding the Elephant” was a visit with an old friend, one who always makes me laugh and leaves me teary-eyed, too. This is a lovely book. Read it.*

*Do not read it if you are a serious devotee of cargo shorts.
John McGinnes
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me of all the stories that my father used to tell me while he was alive. Always funny and often beautiful, with a surprisingly precise life lesson. Borrowed it from the library for two weeks and read it in two days. After it goes back to the library I will be buying a copy to keep. That's the highest praise I can give a book. Absolutely wonderful!
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, humor
I liked the different anecdotes, mostly humorous, some not. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author. Mr. Ferguson has a gift for storytelling and I laughed until I cried at some of his stories. "Out, out, damned spot" was my favorite. At least one I'd heard before in his stand-up routine, but was still good.

If I could, I'd give 4.5 stars. The only reason it didn't get five is because he made a couple of comments I thought were inappropriate. But that's just my opinion.

An awes
Aaron Culley
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book made me realize how much I miss seeing Craig Ferguson on TV. While he seems perfectly happy to be done with hosting a talk show (something he mentions more than once in this book), his departure left a void that I don't think anyone else can ever fill.
Pam Mooney
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly entertaining! Sometimes reflective and sometimes laugh out loud funny. Should be required reading for high school and/or college seniors. May be give them perspective as they enter the real world. Everything it advertises itself to be and 100 times more. A good read.
Herb Hastings
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so much more that the usual ghost written celebrity memoir. Ferguson is an excellent writer. The content of this work gives a glimpse of the inner working of a complex mind. It is funny, honest, sad, and ultimately hopeful. I highly recommend this book.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I opted for the audio of this book because the queue was shorter than for the real book through the library.

I love Craig Ferguson. I could listen to him read the dictionary. Such a great follow up to his first memoir American On Purpose.

Highly recommend both!
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I miss Craig each evening as he was the only late night host that distance himself seriously. I've read his other books and this one has less feeling than the orhers. I still enjoyed it but American on Purpose is his best.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American comedian, television host, actor, and writer. He is the current host of CBS's The Late Late Show, a role which earned him an Emmy nomination in 2006. He became an American citizen on February 1, 2008.
“I don’t know why I was so afraid of failure; the most interesting people I know have failed more than they have succeeded. This may be because life is not as simple as it appears to a desperately ambitious young man, or it could be that all my friends are losers.” 0 likes
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