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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  527 ratings  ·  79 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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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  527 ratings  ·  79 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.
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.
Kate Woods Walker
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had this on pre-order since the day I heard of it. Beautiful prose, interesting scenes, just a smidge of showbiz. I hope now to see the remaining two volumes of his Between the Bridge and the River. We miss you, Craig!
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hollywood
I enjoy Ferguson's style and listening to him tell his story was entertaining and a little bit uplifting.
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
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
Gregory Williams
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Really enjoyed this. I’ve always found Craig Ferguson’s repartee with his guests to be playful and easy to watch, and hoped his memoir would be similar. What comes from these pages is authenticity and honest, full-throttle humor, along with meaningful and compelling stories of his life and tribulations, all of which makes him an even more sympathetic and interesting person.

Thank you, Craig, for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable and accessible- this is your truest and most meaningful talent.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oh, this is such a good book. I listened to the audiobook (narrated by the author). When I finished, I restarted it to listen some more.

I first learned about Craig Ferguson from his late night show. He was funny, and I was impressed when he refused to lampoon Britney Spears following her mental health crisis.

Then, I read American on Purpose. I loved that book, too.

Riding the Elephant is darker than American on Purpose. Still, Ferguson's life and candor are interesting.

Highly recommended.
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.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Craig Ferguson's mind is funny, often sexy, and quintessentially beautiful. All of this pours out onto the pages of this book. I was instantly drawn into this work by the raw emotion that fills the first pages and carried me through a rollercoaster of feelings to the very last page. That last chapter, though. It really got me. If you want your chest to fill with chuckles and your heart to spill over in a poignant rush, all in a few pages, and then do it over, again, read this book.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, essays
Enjoyed this memoir. Ferguson is open about his alcoholism and a wide-ranging array of fears, phobias and obsessions. Funny but thoughtful.
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
Richard Janzen
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Absolutely love Craig Ferguson, but didn’t love the book.
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
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
Sue Bottino
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars) I really enjoy Craig Ferguson's sense of humor and I find him hilarious. I loved reading the bits about Scotland and the culture. But I thought this book mostly skimmed the surface of the personal difficulties that he struggled/s to overcome a lot of the time (OCD, alcoholism, class issues, violence at school, etc.). I would have liked to have known more about his childhood and what shaped him early on. A lot of what he wrote made me laugh and think "this is totally right!" But I don ...more
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.
Chris Jaffe
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: entertainment
This is a very enjoyable and easy to read book that is sometimes quite touching. It's not a narrative, but a stream of essays that form a semi-autobiographical series of reflections. There are great stories ranging from the zit that changed his life to the memory of a teen girl he met who was dying of cancer. Some stories I forgot shortly after reading but in general it's an extremely good book.
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
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have long been a fan of all things Craig Ferguson. Whether it's his time on the Drew Carey Show, or working with a pantomime horse and gay robot skeleton sidekick on The Late, Late Show, Craig’s brand of humour, mixed with his passioned take on the world around him, he has always resonated with me deeply.

This book is a continuation of that feeling. The stories are by moments moving, by others laugh out loud funny. If you are a fan of Craig Ferguson, I highly recommend this book.
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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.” 1 likes
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