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Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  29,545 ratings  ·  1,288 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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 ·  29,545 ratings  ·  1,288 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
...more
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mature readers
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
...more
stephanie
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
...more
Thomas
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
...more
sara
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
...more
Michael
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
...more
Tima
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Lisa
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mental health practitioners
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
Sara Batkie
God, there is nothing more tedious than a personal narrative that just goes on and on and on. I admire Ms. Hornbacher's willingness to put everything out there, but I find much of what she writes terribly suspect. Reading it from a non-eating-disordered perspective, I had to wonder if people who had been through this picked it up and thought "wow, that's just what I went through" or "hey, what a good idea, I never thought of doing that". Plus I'm not sure if the fact she's not yet over her illne ...more
Ashley
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who have no risk of developing an eating disorder
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
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.


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
...more
Sara
May 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
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
Mehrsa
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
Rebecca McNutt
This book was interesting and gives readers a glimpse into a disease (disorder?) that nearly killed Marya until she got control of her life again. Genuine and realistic, Wasted is really worth reading.
Nicholas
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.
Kirsty
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
...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
...more
Bookwyrm
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
Twxitbetwixt
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
...more
rinna;
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.

[TRIGGER WARNING FUCKING TRIGGER WARNING]

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
...more
Mary Kathleen
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is a lot of hate for this book, and I get that. Many find it very triggering. I get that. Many find Hornbacher unsympathetic. I get that, too.

I was thirteen when I read it for the first time, and I cried because it felt like she crawled inside my head and scribbled down everything that I felt and had never spoken of. Five years later I still have that copy of the book. It's now been dog-earned and highlighted half to death, and it's on the bookshelf by my bed.

Here's the thing: I don't li
...more
Rachel
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
尚人
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
...more
Kate O'Hanlon
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Gustine

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
...more
Rachel Brown
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, memoir
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
...more
Julio Bonilla
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
People made me nervous.


I enjoyed Hornbacher’s memoir of growing up with an eating disorder. She never gave up until she hit the ground, and needed to attend rehab.
Part of this is reminiscent of my recovery from trauma in 1987, moving forward with AD/HD.

I found the book at a Free Library, read it and now it BELONGS TO MY PSYCHIATRIST! 🤓

Anna Ryan-Punch
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ed-books
Reading Wasted is like being belted over the head.


Marya Hornbacher's 1998 memoir of her anorexia and bulimia (written when she was just 23) has been much criticised for its triggering nature and unresolved, bleak ending. Which is fair enough, on one hand. It does have huge triggering potential. There are startling amounts of research and theory pulsing through Hornbacher's writing, along with descriptions of her personal experiences that are magnetic, raw and deranged. It's a seductive and mesme
...more
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Mental Health Boo...: November nonfiction- eating disorder: wasted 6 29 Nov 15, 2019 10:32PM  

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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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