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No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir
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No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  419 ratings  ·  97 reviews
A memoir by the celebrated singer-songwriter and social activist Ani DiFranco

In her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Viking
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  419 ratings  ·  97 reviews


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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this right away when I received a review copy despite the fact that it isn't due to come out until May. Why? Because I had a huge Ani phase at a very formative period of my life, one that isn't completely over, because here I am writing this review and listening to... Ani. I saw her live in Portland in 1999.

Ani owns her own record label and can put out more than one album of her own work in any given year. Does she just have that much to say, or is she better at writing than editing? Is i
...more
Jesse
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I knew Ani had some problematic aspects but I came out of this book liking her much less than when I started. I wish I had just kept to the mix tape playlist she released on Spotify rather than this deeper dive into her life and attitudes.

This book was rambly and hard to read, but a few things stood out:
1) she had a number of relationships as a minor and young adult with men significantly older than her but did not really examine that in the book as problematic behavior on their part or potentia
...more
Kat
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you know Ani DiFranco and expected her memoir to be anything less than a beautiful mess of rambling tangents, poetic prose, strongly worded sermons of staunchly held political beliefs, whimsical idolization of folk heroes, lengthy philosophical lectures, occasional easter egg references to specific beloved lyrics from her discography, deeply personal and often painful confessions & memories all while not indulging an inch past what she cared to share, then you don’t know Ani DiFranco at a ...more
Anna
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is at its strongest when DiFranco reflects on her songwriting and touring experiences. It turns EXASPERATING when she decides to go off on weird pseudosciency tangents (not drinking milk for 6 months cleared up HER acne, so she wants to tell people with pimples to go off of dairy because it TOTALLY WORKS????), stuff about the Goddess, and just plain WEIRD shit about periods. Oh, and there are some bits where she talks very strangely about people with disabilities--which, as a person wi ...more
Katie
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
this book....does not have the range.

if you are interested in ani difranco's work, please allow me to lovingly introduce you to all 30 years of her musical career myself, song by song and album by album. please do NOT start, or even supplement, with this book.
Jessica
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is probably more like 2.5 stars than 3.

This reminded me of Tori Amos’ Piece by Piece. A rambly “memoir” written by a high-school shero that made me like them less and remember why I stopped listening to them in the first place. Bit of a bummer.
Renata
May 20, 2019 added it
Shelves: abandonded
OK, a few things, in no particular order:

- I loved Ani DiFranco's music as a #teen, and found her to be an inspiring feminist icon. That said, as an adult I became aware of some of her more cringey moments, but overall I went into this book feeling positive, nostalgic feelings about Ani DiFranco, certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and check out her memoir.

- Despite the fact that the title a) sounds like it should be a memoir of a Mexican immigrant? and b) also sounds like she
...more
Maya
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading other people’s (negative) reactions to this book is interesting. Ani is this figure from the 90s that I feel so many women hitched their formative years to as a pillar of... what? Feminism? Rebellion? Nonconformity? I love her in this way too. But for some, the stories they made of her in their heads, that is who she is to them and the almost shock of her not living up to that is just... interesting. Yes, this book is rambling at times and yes she glosses over what feel like happenings t ...more
Jen
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s Ani Fucking Difranco. What else is there to say?
Skye
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an illuminating memoir for Ani Difranco fans. I always assumed she was born in that Righteous Babe muscle flexin’ pose- but of course she wasnt. Of course there is a story behind that image, behind her record company, behind her guitar. This memoir is a gift. It highlights a young woman shifting cultural norms and working hard to keep the wheels of her life spinning. At the same time, it shares what her unique path felt and looked like from her perspective, not the hype of media or the f ...more
Niccola Nelson
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
To say I love Ani DiFranco is an understatement. Like a huge understatement. I discovered her in 1998 and it was LOVE at first LISTEN. I literally ran out and bought every album she put out and I haven’t stopped doing it and I’m almost 40. I play her albums in my car and my one year old daughter bops her head to it and I couldn’t be happier!

Her words, songs and poetry have moved me in ways I cannot explain and it was partly because of her that I moved from tiny little Rhode Island to Chicago. S
...more
Katrina Dreamer
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
It is hard for me to give this three stars. After all, I am a big fan of Ani’s music and it was her songs that helped me recognize that I am queer. But many parts left me feeling uncomfortable, like her rant about non-smoking and scent-free sections at shows (ableist much?) and her attitude toward the trans community. I agree with much of her activism, but I found myself skimming those sections because it felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. As I read, I kept stopping to check the name of t ...more
Betty
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, 2019, memoir
Ani Difranco was my savior during my college years. Her music meant so much to me and she is still, hands down, the best live performer I have ever seen. I have such fond memories of her smaller, intimate shows where you could sense her life force radiating off the stage, and feel the audience collectively falling in love with her. Then she started to get super popular, and I got distracted with other things. We grew apart. 💔
I was so happy to see she has written a memoir. I’ve read some reviews
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Nate Hawthorne
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
More philosophical and political than a typical memoir. Ani is an artist through and through. She believes in her truth and integrity, but does not seem to preach. My favorite parts were about the songs and relationships. Also her insight of other artists.
Tasha
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first CD I bought was Little Plastic Castle. Maybe that explains why I read this in one sitting. (Or maybe because I technically bought it as a gift for a friend and need to wrap it up.)
lisa
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
From the time I was thirteen I absolutely worshiped Ani. I memorized every single song in her repertoire and every word of her liner notes, went to every concert when she made it anywhere close to where I was, and in the very early days of the internet I scoured message boards, websites, and good old analog zines for any small scrap of information about her. I would have given anything for this book as a teen. Since those days of heady, cult-like worship, I have grown and "evolved" (HA! Ani joke ...more
Jill
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I'm not an objective reader of this book. Ani gave voice to our collective experience as young women in America at the end of the 20th century. I played her CDs until I wore them out; I went to her shows as often as I could find her. She was the soundtrack to my college years and my 20's, and while I've listened to her less in recent years (little kids around + expletives = tough combo), I've recently put her music back on and it still speaks to my heart.

I note all of this because it makes me p
...more
Ed Mckeon
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always admired Ani DiFranco. Her songs, and performances are fiercely truthful, and tumultuously musical. I met her early in her career at a Folk Alliance Conference. Her showcase performance was intimidating in its power. Then I sat next to her in a late-night hotel room showcase for another up-and-coming artist, and she was as friendly, engaging and funny as she had been ferocious on stage. This book reflects all that. DiFranco is honest, forceful, self-effacing, indignant, gracious and p ...more
Melinda
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A mixed bag, kinda like her musical catalog! I loved getting to learn the back story of some of my favorite songs (and I had an epic spotify playlist of her stuff from the early to mid-90s playing while I read this). I bristled at the complaints over her fans' neediness and the torture of photo shoots (like...you work for yourself -- why are you doing them??). And I rolled my eyes waaaaaay back every time she did the "I'm just a folksinger" routine or went off of some tangent about menstruation ...more
Kathleen Gray
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have always enjoyed DiFranco's music but I am not the superfan other reviewers seem to be. I found this to be an interesting and well written memoir about a woman coming of age and into her own. Tough circumstances only serve to make her tougher- into the righteous babe. Don't look for the meaning of her songs and know that this ends in 2001, when she's 30. It also does meander a bit and can seem haphazard but that's the nature of a memoir. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. Those interested in ...more
Cathy
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Insightful, inspiring, and unpredictable (in a good way)--kind of like seeing her live.
I've been a fan since the early 90's, so learning about her childhood and how she came to meet and play with folks like Pete Seeger, Andy, and Goat was fascinating to me. Her views on feminism, women's choice and patriarchy are much needed in today's cultural and political climate.
Kristin
I am left disappointed just like when I saw her in concert. I will no longer enjoy her music as much as it was all a lie, all for a Lesbian cult following she didn't want.
Elise Skidmore
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
My daughter, who is a long time fan of Ani DiFranco, gave me this book as a gift. I had the benefit of listening to the audiobook which was read by Ms. DiFranco, and I find that's almost always a plus when listening to a memoir. Even though I'm only marginally familiar with her body of work, I found the book interesting and insightful. Ms. DiFranco is a true feminist and independent woman, who wasn't afraid to take chances and make her share of mistakes. If you're a fan of her music, I think you ...more
Cheryl
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may not love every song this womyn sings, but the ones I love, I am obsessed with. I remember exactly where I was when I discovered her, in a now defunct record store in New York City, and I think it was ‘Untouchable Face,’

Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of you
Too bad you had to have a better half
She's not really my type
But I think you two are forever
And I hate to say it, but you're perfect together
So fuck you
And your untouchable face
Fuck you
For existing in the first place
And who am I?
T
...more
Shannon
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
ashley  lloyd spanton
Ani DiFranco has been a long time shero of mine, but I've always felt she puts so much of herself into her songs that I've never thought to look into her life much more beyond her music. I was excited to read this memoir for a bit of insight into her upbringing and was pretty fascinated by the unconventional life that formed her artistry.

I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Ani, which I think added to the experience. She read the book like she reads her poems on her albums, with that poe
...more
Sarah Clement
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I love Ani Difranco. A lot. I own all of her albums, and I feel there's an Ani Difranco album for most moods. If you love Ani, this book may be exactly what you expected. None of the stories surprised me or made me feel like I understood her work better, but they were consistent with my assumptions, based on my love of her music. I feel like she's a fairly open book, so perhaps that's why. But this book made me realise Ani's narrative talents are much better suited to songs than they are to a lo ...more
Hillary
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I should say it's a four-star read for me. It rambles. It's not linear. It's not for casual fans. It shows Ani as someone who is not always thoughtful and wise (well, you know, human). She doesn't apologize for who she is and what she stands for, and she is stubborn as hell, but she's still willing to evolve (though maybe never as quickly as some would prefer).

She has been called a "TERF sympathizer," and though I found the section on the Michigan Womyn's Festival difficult to read, I can apprec
...more
Ian
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There has been no collected history of Ani’s past up to this point. In the years leading up to her memoir there was always small clues here and there; a story shared on stage or a little snippet in an interview. But there was never much “near” to who she was outside of her stage presence and albums. And that is how she wanted it. And after reading her memoir I get it.
I have been an avid fan of Ani’s since Little Plastic Castle, and was a member of a fan website, that would later be bought by RB
...more
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Ani DiFranco is a Grammy Award winning singer, guitarist, and songwriter. She is known as a prolific artist (having released nineteen albums) and is widely celebrated as a feminist icon.
“If you get caught with your pants down, take 'em off.” 1 likes
“That first night he rolled over and gave me half of his bed to sleep on but by the second night, reprehensible as it seemed, he insisted I use my body to pay him rent. A little send-off. It is hard to know sometimes what constitutes “rape.” Rape is a black dot in the center of a dark smudge in the center of a very big grey cloud that dissipates and pales at the edges. I have found myself in various gradations of powerlessness around that dark center and never quite known what the name is for where I am.” 1 likes
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