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Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  32,116 ratings  ·  1,348 reviews
Why would a talented young woman enter into a torrid affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Through five lengthy hospital stays, endless therapy, and the loss of family, friends, jobs, and all sense of what it means to be "normal," Marya Hornbacher lovingly embraced her anorexia and bulimia—until a particularly horrifying bout with the disease in college put the romanc ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published January 31st 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published December 29th 1997)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  32,116 ratings  ·  1,348 reviews

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Andy Marr
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've put off reviewing this book for some time on account of the fact Marya's both a friend and the editor of my novel, Hunger for Life. But having reminded myself that I read the book long before Marya and I became friends, and that it meant a great to me even before we got to know one another, I think I can justify writing a few words here.

It was my baby sister, Seonaid, who introduced me to the novel, back in 2007. She had recently read the book herself, and was keen for me to do the same, as
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: auto-biography
Possibly the finest auto-biography I have ever read. People who have suffered from EDs will complain that this book is packed full of triggers, but so is America's Next Top Model, and I can't say anything about the quality of THAT writing.

This book is a genuine, gripping story of a youth literally thrown away in favor of madness.

For anyone who has not suffered from some incarnation of disordered eating, it will seem surreal, and at times, utterly unbelievable.
The book is effortlessly fluid. T
eta: i think it's important to note that this book was first published in 1998 - when things like tumblr did not exist. for a generation that learned to get all information from books, this book was the key to tricks and tips for anorexia. not that you couldn't figure them out for yourself, but if you were on the edge or something, this gave you ways. i don't actually say that this book should be censored, i say i wish there was a way to put warnings on it. i say i think it's an important book f ...more
Elyse Walters
May 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this book when it was first released ---(its 'very' disturbing). I wouldn't know how many stars to give it actually. I never like to 'rate' memoirs in the first place.

I can't give it 5 stars --I can't give it 1 star ---(so I went for 3) ----but I'll never forget the story.

Eating disorders are a disease. Marya Hornbacher does not sugar-coat 'anything'. People who have suffered anorexic --(or been a parent of a child) --'lived' this life deeply may 'not' want to read this book. NO SOLID a
3.5 stars

I once had an eating disorder several years ago, so I appreciate Marya Hornbacher's unflinching honesty in Wasted. She holds nothing back in this memoir, sharing the immense pain that accompanies anorexia and bulimia: the preoccupation with calories that takes over your life, the obsession with food that steals your energy from your passions, and the shame and guilt that comes with not feeling strong enough to resist your disorder. Published in 1997, Wasted may have very well served as
Sep 02, 2007 rated it liked it
It would be tacky to put this on my "food" shelf, wouldn't it? But I did get so hungry while reading it that I got up and made spaghetti carbonara. It was delicious.

So this is a memoir of the author's ten-year struggle with bulimia and anorexia. I found it different from other works I've read on eating disorders, in that the author doesn't go for easy explanations of why she almost killed herself. She wasn't trying to be pretty or perfect or to control her world, at least not solely. She was rea
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Marya is a fantastic fucking memoirist. There are a couple reasons this is all the more incredible: First, that she'd found such a voice and command of prose at 23, and second, that a 23 year-old would have lived a life worth writing about. The language is appropriately jagged, with short, sharp sentences, embodying a sparse, terrifying narrative of the scattered moments recalling her gradual and deliberate self-destruction.

She spares no one, including herself, in her examination of the causes a
╟ ♫ Tima ♪ ╣ ♥
Edited to add disclaimer. PLEASE err on the side of extreme caution if you are recovering from ED or were planning to share this book with a young person who may be in a vulnerable position. As someone who has struggled from an ED myself, I can say that this book contains many things that could trigger you. It also contains graphic detail of how to hide food, how to get rid of food, how to trick people, etc.

Basic Summary: Well, I think the title sort of covers it. It's a memoir of the author's
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm ambivalent about this book. Certainly, at times, she pulled no punches...yet at other times, still a bit under the sway of her disorder, she seemed to be bragging about her "successes" in the extremes of her eating disorder. She wasn't really healthy yet, and that came through in ways she probably never intended. In many ways, it helped me understand how eating disorders work. In other ways (again, I'm sure unintentional on the author's part), I began to understand how eating disorders and p ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: memior, pschology
My relationship with this book is love/hate. It kind of reminds me of Prozac Nation in the sense that the first couple chapters about her average middle-class childhood are pretty boring and pointless. She tries to describe every little bad thing that happened to her like she is the only one in the world who ever received less than perfect parenting. However keep reading because unlike Prozac Nation this book actually gets pretty good as time goes on and you get into the shocking rock-bottom det ...more
Savina M.
4.5 stars.

I scrolled through some of the reviews, and most of the two-three star reviews complained about this book being triggering, dangerous, etc. They said it contained "tips" and should not be read by people with an ED.

First of all, people with an ED figure out the "tips" by themselves sooner or later. A simple google search, pro ED websites, all offer the same "tips". For non ED sufferers, these tips might seem new and absurd, but most people with an ED would have already known about them
Angie crosby
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Although I can see why so many like this book, I found it to be dangerous. As an anorexic I found the book great because it had tips in it. This is dangerous though also can be good to read for people trying to live with an anorexic or people who don't have this disease.

Definatly not a book for someone in the throes of an ED to read.

May 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Ok, I read this a long time ago, but it's still quite possibly the best book on eating disorders -- or even on adolescent mental illness -- that I've ever read. Hornbacher is intelligent, avoids cliches and above all, avoids making herself sound good when she can tell the truth instead. A bracing departure from the "girls can't help starving themselves to death when they see all those models in those glossy magazines" line of thinking about eating disorders -- a line of thinking that treats thos ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
just a little reminder:

you're beautiful.
you're worth it.
you're more than your body, your weight, your thoughts.
you're allowed to eat.
you deserve to eat.


as someone who is currently struggling to kick my eating disorder ass, i can say that this book triggered me a lot. made me realize how fucked up i am. but it also made me feel less alone and misunderstood. marya did not enjoy writing this book. i did not enjoy reading it. because it hurts. writing and rea
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a really beautiful and heartbreaking memoir of a troubled life. It's ostensibly about an eating disorder, but it seemed to me that it's about a long suicide. She's an excellent writer and you feel like you are part of the story--not necessarily rooting for her, but you begin to understand what it might feel like to slowly deprive yourself of sustenance and let yourself die. I hope she's better now ...more
Shreya Vikram
What is it about this book that's so terribly hard to read?

Marya's story has never been told so honestly, so unashamedly, never shying away from the details, never trying to blame or be obtuse or narrow-minded, never pretending this is anything more than the raw, unvarnished truth.

What really got me was the sheer amount of work she's put into this book. I have never seen so much research being put into a memoir, a genre that is infamous for being extemporaneous and vain. Wasted is anything but
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to sum up my thoughts on Wasted, seeing as I'm no literary buff.

There were a lot of things that bothered me about this novel. Hornbacher refers to sufferers of eating disorders as exclusively female, opting for 'she' in her analogies. She presents erroneous references to behaviors such as 'cruising' (she stated it was a precursor to gastric rupture, if that was the case I would have died many times and many years over). The book was full of ponderings and generalisations regarding
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Okay... what to say about THIS... LOL

I was expected a story about this woman's struggle with ED.
And yeah, it kind of was, but then it kind of wasn't.

Only a very small portion of the book is her actually owning up to her own personal issues & experiences. There is not very much of HER story (i.e. "I did this, I went here, I said that... etc) Not very much "I" at all.

Instead we have a book full of her being totally dissociated from the entire ED. Instead of "I" it's all "You".... "You will do this
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book will haunt you, I promise you. I still think about it often, though I read it for the first time I think about 4 years ago. The author chronicles her struggle with anorexia and bulimia (which she calls a combined disorder of "bulimarexia") but her language is captivating. It is also apparent that Marya has done her research; as she narrates her own experience she also includes passages from research on anorexia and bulimia to help show how she came to be afflicted and where she fits in ...more

This book is unquestionably very well-written and fascinating, yet I struggled with how many stars to give it.
The author is, quite simply, a rather unlikable person. I hate looking at her photo on the cover, I’m glad I don’t know her, and I don’t really wish her well. This was troubling to me because it seems one should like (or at least have empathy for) the character one is reading about, particularly if the book is a memoir. Should feeling empathy for the author of a memoir be a prerequisite
Mary Kathleen
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marya Hornbacher's Wasted, a memoir of the author's struggles with bulimia and anorexia, was March's choice for the Mad Woman's Book Club which I run on Goodreads. I was quite interested to see firsthand what coping with an eating disorder is like, particularly over such a prolonged period, having never read a book which deals with the issue.

Hornbacher begins with some startling admissions: 'I became bulimic at the age of nine, anorexic at the age of fifteen'. Her introduction is insightful; she
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-biographies
As someone who's always had issues with food and weight, reading this memoir felt like taking a terrifying journey with Marya Hornbacher all the way down the same rabbit hole that I myself have often skirted around the edges of. While my own "food issues" (I call them that due to never having been diagnosed) are not as severe as the writer's, I find it painful to realize that there were many disordered behaviours/ideas described in this book that I (and I suspect I am not alone in this) have bee ...more
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was such a difficult and painful book to read that it took me well over a month to finish it! Hornbacher in no way tried to sugarcoat her illness or attempt to make the reader feel sorry for her. And I have to say I both appreciated and admired her honest recount of her actions. She goes so far as to acknowledge that she still doesn't have a full grasp of understanding her disorder nor does she leave you with a false sense of well-being in the end. She ends her memoir telling you she was no ...more
Kate O'Hanlon
I gave this book five stars because it's a fantastic book. Beautifully written, honest and rich with insight.

When I read Wasted I was 16/17 and obsessed with my weight. I knew the book had critics who said that it shouldn't be read by people with eating disorders because it was filled with tips and because Hornbacher was equivocal when it came to getting better. I scoffed at them.

I'm older now and if not better, then at least different, and I do have a more troubled view of the book. Is this a
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
WASTED is one of those books that will have you shaking your head and mumbling to yourself, "oh my god, that is insane." As detailed in this book, eating disorders are indeed a type of mental illness. People with anorexia or bulimia struggle so hard to get better because their brains are preventing them from thinking in a normal fashion. Just as you cannot tell a person with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to "just get over it," the same with eating disorders.

The ending of this book was rathe
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As someone who has struggled through anorexia nervosa, it is very difficult to read books like this. The irony is that I am drawn to them, needing to find some connection with what other people have gone through with eating disorders. This was a wonderful book.
I love the author’s voice. She makes sure to be as stark about eating disorders as possible, not allowing for any romanticizing of these diseases, which can sometimes happen with other authors. There is nothing pleasant or mysterious about
Elle Nash
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I recommend reading this if you feel like relapsing into the eating disorder that you recovered from 5 years ago. Or maybe if you're curious about someone in your life who suffers from it and want to know just how violent self-hate can get. You know, either or.

Simultaneously dispels and reinforces stereotypes about white women with eating disorders. Appreciate the die hard honesty, though. I never pick it up unless I feel like not eating for a day and a half.

Also, I am not sure why people are co
Rachel Brown
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, psychology
Beautifully written and extremely intense, and well worth reading even if you have no interest whatsoever in the subject matter. I didn't when I picked it up, but my attention was caught by the arresting cover photograph, and the first chapter was so gripping that I had to either buy it or stand in the bookshop reading it for the next few hours.

One of my very favorite memoirs, with an excellent balance of personal narrative with just enough background and research to keep it from solipsism. The
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Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.), in 1998, when she was twenty-three. What started as a crazy idea suggested by a writer friend became the classic book that has been published in fourteen languages, is taught in universities and writing programs all over the world, and has, according to the thousands of letters Mar ...more

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