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No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,570 ratings  ·  285 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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Viking
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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
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
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 dont know Ani DiFranco at ...more
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 ...more
Julie Ehlers
I am not a pretty girl
that is not what I do

From Not a Pretty Girl

If I were to make a list of the people whove had a major impact on how Ive lived my life, Ani Difranco would be right up there. I first heard her album Not a Pretty Girl when I was 24 or 25, and Id never heard anything like it. Here was a female who was unafraid of the messiness of life and able to express it in a way Id never heard before. All categories collapsed, all barricades fell. I was no longer bound by all of the
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.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading other peoples (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 ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Its Ani Fucking Difranco. What else is there to say? ...more
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 ...more
Robin Bonne
Jul 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Big yikes. I dont even know where to start this review.
Ive always enjoyed Ani DiFrancos music, which is why I decided to listen to the audiobook of her memoir. She seemed to write solid, deep, feminist lyrics, which resonated with me. The fact that this book exposes her as a huge problematic mess was difficult, because it ruined the memories I have of enjoying her music when I was a teen.
It started with some classist observations and moved onto a solid chunk of internalized misogyny. She brags
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
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katrina Dreamer
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, lgbtqia
It is hard for me to give this three stars. After all, I am a big fan of Anis 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 wasnt learning anything new. As I read, I kept stopping to check the name of the ...more
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.
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 ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, memoir, 2019
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. Ive read some reviews
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 ...more
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, feminist
"The culture of the RBR office was getting away from itself and its radical feminist intention. Scot's approach had become dictatorial and did not reflect, in many instances, my core ideology. Unable to deal, I turned away. I drifted further and further from Buffalo and this thing that had once been my creation. I started floating groundlessly, hotel room to hotel room, escaping, whenever possible, into music.
The Truth about myself that I was avoiding lay somewhere in the fact that, behind the
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I've been a fan of Ani since 1998 and have seen her in concert six times. Admittedly, I've never really invested much in knowing about her as a person, I just really enjoyed her music, live shows, and the message behind the poetry of her lyrics. So, when I picked this up, I didn't know what to expect beyond maybe some feminist musings. I enjoyed the look into her life and some of her questionable life choices, some that could've ended badly if luck wasn't on her side. She didn't seem to regret ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This one's hard for me. Ani Difranco has and still is my #1 favorite musician. I discovered her in 1994 and never looked back. Her songs have been the soundtrack to my life. I still get goose bumply when I listen to her work. Her songs and lyrics just resonate in such as way that no other artist does.

I was so excited when I found out Ani had a book coming! And as a huge audiobook listener, even more excited that there was an audiobook that she narrates. I love me some Ani. I love the stories
Ani DiFrancos memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, is a loosely organized ramble through her life. Its frustrating, cries out for a stern editor, and often can leave you scratching your head, wondering what exactly that sentence meant. Its also a wonderful read in which certain phrases immediately stir up musical memories of Anis songs. If you are a fan of Ani, particularly a fan whos been with her since the 90s, you will enjoy this memoir.

Ani begins by telling the story of being on stage
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.
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.)
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
Rachel León
How to review this book?

I have loved Ani Difranco for over 20 years, like loved to my very core. Her music shaped my life (truly) and her poems and lyrics have shaped my writing. I could not wait to read this book.

It's kind of all over the place--one chapter you're reading about her music, the next a manifesto about capital punishment, followed by the story of a relationship--and you're like, what the hell is happening here?!? It's like a really intense game of pinball--bam, bam, ALL OVER THE
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
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is not linear and it goes off on tangents left, right, and centre (most of which I agree with, some not so much). Basically, it's just what I expected of a memoir by Ani Di Franco. Which is to say that it was a fucking amazing book. She's a fascinating human even when I'm disagreeing with her. I laughed and cried and I will probably read it again.
Holly Booms Walsh
I've been a fan of Ani for many years, and so I was excited to see this memoir come out. I was THRILLED when I found that she was narrating the audiobook herself. Sadly, the experience went way downhill from there.

I expected that it would be a little rambling and odd, as Ani herself is. I didn't expect it to be as condescending and problematic as it turned out to be. Ani had a crazy, mostly unparented childhood. While she speaks lovingly of many poets, mentors, and friends, she is mostly cold
Joanna Katz
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This woman can write!

I picked this book up because I respect her activism and have loved her poetry and music for years. She starts dark and heavy with 9/11 trauma, so I got to worrying the long memoir format was about to be a whole lot of pontificating. But, right after the intro, she dives back in time to pre- political consciousness and you spend a long while being charmed by recollections of her tiny free-spirited, industrious, tough-nut self. Gradually, as she comes of age and gathers
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: popsugar-2020
I've been a lifelong fan of Ani and dutifully preordered this from my local indie bookstore (yes I'm just now getting to it) and I am, to my great surprise, disappointed in this book. I enjoyed her recounting of her life and career and enjoyed getting to hear the backstories to many of her songs. However, by the end of the book, I couldn't help but feel profoundly disheartened.

It was admittedly uncomfortable to watch a feminist icon consistently discuss womanhood in the most bioessentialist of
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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.

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