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Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  977 ratings  ·  151 reviews
Emmy-Award winning writer and comedian Josh Gondelman’s collection of personal stories of best intentions and mixed results.

Josh Gondelman knows a thing or two about trying—and failing. The Emmy Award-winning stand-up comic—dubbed a “pathological sweetheart” by the New York Observer—is known throughout the industry as one of comedy’s true “nice guys.” Not surprisingly, he’
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Harper Perennial
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  977 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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I'm biased. But I think it is perfect. ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay so, full disclosure: I know Josh Gondelman. This isn’t a humblebrag or starfuckery or a way to inflate my own stature in the world because I happen to know an Emmy-winning comedian/writer.

I say it because most of this book exudes niceness, a quality too many of us conflate with being wishy-washy or bland. I told a friend of mine he was nice once and he took it as an insult. I don’t think Josh would take it as an insult.

He actually addresses his niceness right up front, setting the stage fo
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Josh Gondelman's book was a very pleasant read. I stress-bought it after getting lost on the way to a new gynecologist's office, and because I was bored while reading White Fragility. I'm not sure what that says about me.

I'm often perplexed when someone talks about a humor book making them laugh out loud. Because...are they lying? I find it extremely rare that any funny book can make me literally LOL. Josh's book was funny and nice, and he seems like a good person, and he and Maris are the cutes
Stephanie Griffin
I have no idea how this got on my library holds list. After listening to it, I’m still perplexed. Not much is funny (exception is the bit about teaching preschool). All the pop culture references seem to be 20 to 30 years old. I’m not recommending this book.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet and funny book of personal essays (and lists) about being the type of person who worries a lot and tends to give everyone the benefit of the doubt (even sketchy dudes giving you a dog and the Patriots bc your grandma was a fan). Standout pieces include “You Don’t Know, Now You Know” (becoming a rap fan), “The Thanksgiving Dragon”, “The Three True Stories of How We Met” (awwww 💖), and “Bizzy” (y’all, if you don’t follow @bizzythepug on IG well, your life has less snorty, pizza-begging pug ...more
Sophie Brookover
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of my favorites of the year: funny, warm, introspective, and menschy as hell. I read this on audiobook & I’d recommend that format to any prospective reader. Thanks to his background in standup, Gondelman is a delightful performer of his own material. If you like this, his album Dancing On A Weeknight is streaming & well worth a listen, too!
Shelley Gibbs
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtful, charming, wise, observant, full of heart & laugh out loud hilarious.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This book made me feel not lonely when I was home sick on New Year’s Eve. It speaks truth in hilarious ways and reminds me a lot of myself (but I’m not as funny).
Nov 17, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Nice try, yeah, but the results are not mixed, they are mediocre and also dull. No, seriously tell me who needs one more personal story of a guy, some comedian this time, telling you about his boring school life, his moving to New York, his bachelors apartment, and then - how he fell in love with his wife, how much he loves her still, how cool was is grandmother, because they shared love for sports, how he adopted an old dog - very Nobel gesture and surprise, surprise - he hates Trump, thinks he ...more
Cheryl Klein
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Gondelman is more of a hip-hop guy, but he would probably agree with the witch in Into the Woods when she says "Nice is different than good." He dissects the difference in his quest to become the latter, noting "Niceness is only enough under the best possible conditions. It relies on having adults in your life looking out for you, and on not facing prejudice." His humorous essays are smart and funny, the kind of light read that nevertheless makes you think. ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this collection of essays the way I enjoy a mug of hot chocolate after a long day. I don’t have it often, it’s not my first choice, but it’s comforting nonetheless. The footnotes sometimes made me chuckle more than the essay itself.
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, humor, memoir
Very charming, funny, and introspective/self-aware. Very relatable for a fellow anxious/awkward well-meaning white person.
Shoshanah Marohn
I read this because I like him as a podcast guest on The Last Post. It's a funny book, nice light reading. ...more
Feb 02, 2020 added it
Shelves: by-ears
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. It felt like he enjoyed reading it out loud, which I often wonder about with people who read their own books for audio books. I related to a lot of it, and appreciated the reflections and range of topics. I needed the chance to feel more hopeful, and this book delivered.
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was good for me for a few reasons: I’d just come off from a heavier family drama I read last week, we’re living in a dystopian hellscape (a pandemic during an election year — woof), and I’m addicted to the internet.

Gondelman writes charming anecdotes that I found genuinely interesting and funny, woven into the greater theme of niceness and goodness and what those words really mean. Pop culture references and self deprecation are things I love, and they made for perfect companions to hi
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book despite my (self-destructive?) kink being reading self absorbed memoirs by white people. Josh is well aware of his privilege as a straight white male and he wants to make the world a better place though even I draw the line at essays on football and sneakers, I am more of a flip-flop kinda gal.

With metaphors that are David Sedaris perfect and some stories that didnt turn out to be the way I expected, this was a good book from Mr Maris Karizman (author of my favorite S
Jessica Daniels
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Josh! I am a frequent requester of his Twitter pep talks and I loved reading about how he came up with the idea. He is funny and self-deprecating and also really really awesome. I grew up so cynical and for a long time snarky bad attitudes seemed to be the "it" thing, but it's actually really nice to be nice. It feels good to give and to receive niceties. Snarky sarcasm is exhausting, but sincere kindness gives me life. I so appreciate reading about Josh's kindness, the part he comes by o ...more
Megan Sanks
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was honestly probably the funniest book I read all year. Each essay had at least one line I immediately wanted to tell Miranda, but mostly I just want everyone to read this so we can laugh about it all together. I related to a lot of what Josh talked about!

Samantha Irby was spot on when she said, "Josh Gondelman is a human cardigan and this book is like a warm, consensual hug."
Andrea Lagdameo
I love this book and I now to be a better person

This was such a nice read. I literally laughed out loud so many times and also felt warmth and sincere happiness in most parts. This book has inspired me to be a better person and to believe that things will always get better.
Oct 16, 2019 added it
I found this to be relatable and funny. I laughed and cried and actually finished a book for the first time in what feels like months (maybe only three weeks but that’s a long time for me)
Dan Wilbur
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Even the Zodiac killer was polite enough to remember to leave a note after he did a murder.”
Jan 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
One word: Yawn! (Need I saw more?)
Jonathan Dowdell
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
EXCELLENT collection of essays from a great comedian and comedy writer.
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this collection of essays. Very light reading.
Mar 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Not a must read, but an amusing distraction. If you have a geeky Jewish boy in your life, you will find points of resonance.
Robyn Faryna
Jan 04, 2021 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
My first ever dnf. This was so boring. Like, wholesome sure, but incredibly boring.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Ya let me down, Good Reads. This book got great reviews here but It. Was. Booorrring. Trying and failing? This guy’s life is a series of steps forward. Was expecting funny essays detailing his nice-guyness but instead, got a series of mundane stories about ... well ... can’t even remember, they were that forgettable. Almost a whole chapter implying some sinister reveal about the guy they got their dog from who...just turned out to be a pathological liar. I get how that would be interesting to ta ...more
Alexandra Plesa
Perfectly pleasant, but not particularly memorable.
Laura Shaffer
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Josh Gondelman writes beautifully about the hilarious and heartbreaking alike. From adopting his pug, Bizzy, to losing his grandmother, he brings humor and heart to his writing.
Clint Ryan
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
One of last years Jólabókaflóðið books gifted by my father in law, I had no expectations and no idea who josh Gondelman is.

“Nice Try” is a witty trip down memory lane, with Josh retelling awkward stories from his childhood to recent marriage.

While we couldn’t have been raised more differently, I found this highly relatable and experienced very similar moments in my upbringing. I guess everyone was awkward and weird growing up! A hip hop nerd and sneaker head, Josh brings witty anecdotes that cl
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