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There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  747 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Part memoir, part monologue, with a dash of startling honesty, There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say features biographies of legendary historical figures from which Paula Poundstone can’t help digressing to tell her own story. Mining gold from the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, and Beethoven, among others, the eccentric and utterly inimitable ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Crown (first published November 2nd 2006)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  747 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it

Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone - comedian, author, actress, interviewer and commentator - is a compassionate woman who's fostered many children over the years, and adopted three. Poundstone has had her share of troubles, however, and her alcoholism (driving her kids to Baskin-Robbins while drunk) led to her arrest for child endangerment in 2001. The upshot was 180 days of rehab, 5 years of random drug/alcohol testing, 12 months of foster care for her children, and financial woes. Some of the humor in this bo
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was previously only familiar with Paula Poundstone through the NPR comedy news show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. So I knew what to expect, in the sense that she is a comedian who is frequently sarcastic and irreverent. What I wasn't expecting was a story of hardship, struggles, and genuinely tragic mistakes.
The central conceit of the book is that in each chapter, Paula chooses a historical figure and writes about them, connecting their lives to her own life in a semi-coherent stream of conscious
Jesse Agee
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I turn to this book whenever I feel a little blue, and it always makes me feel better. Paula Poundstone gives a priceless sense of perspective to everything. Whatever humiliating punishment you're going through, especially if you brought it on yourself, Paula went through something similar or worse - and she will show you how to accept your sad mistakes, find the irony and humor in it if possible, and move on.
This is really an autobiography, but Paula Poundstone, in her own words, is so shy, sh
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
This was in many ways like an extended comedy set that Poundstone performs. Starting with one topic and as the story moves forward other points and characters jump in. She is self chastising throughout the book for her legal difficulties but her sense of humor is there.

Not an overwhelmingly funny book but a smile's worth now and again. Nothing that needs to be read at once but not a difficult reading. One that could be a change of pace.
Christine Cody
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Paula Poundstone's wry, humorous look at life (even the very serious legal troubles that took a big chunk of her freedom, money, and reputation) shines brightly in this book just as it does in her live shows. I was lucky to see her this past fall in Eugene and, as many do, met and spoke with her after the show. I realized later that I had talked with her assuming that everything she said on stage was exactly as it is in real life. That's the effect of Poundstone: transparent, honest, and without ...more
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I think Paula Poundstone is very funny. She spoke at a library event that I attended, and her speech was the best part of the event. And this book was funny. I could hear her comedy delivery in my mind as I read. I enjoy her humor and even laughed out loud while reading it. Still, it took some effort to get through the book, perhaps because it reads like the text of one standup routine after another. Since there is no really linear story here (except for the brief biographies of famous people th ...more
Alias Reader
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
audio book which is narrated by Poundstone.
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hear many good things about "Wait, wait... don't tell me..." and I like comedians, but somehow, I didn't like Paula Poundstone. It wasn't so much that she adopted children and endangered them (the court's words, not mine) by driving them to Baskin Robbins, while drunk. I think it was because she joked about some of the terms of her plea deal, maybe. I don't know. I don't recall the exact joke, but it was something about not being allowed to be alone with kids that were not her own.
There were
Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny
I'm a huge fan of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on NPR, and I always know it's going to be an especially good episode if Paula Poundstone is on. When confronted with the findings of some new study, she always asks exactly the questions I want to, and is so funny about it. How could I not want to read her book?

It took me a while to get into There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say, because the writing style threw me. As I read on, I started to really appreciate it: she writes simultaneous
Stephen Deloney
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the mix of personal memoir with historical biography.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, audible
I've always liked Paula Poundstone as a stand up comedian. She has a sense of whimsy that I find amusing and a deadpan type delivery that I appreciate. She is your wittiest friend who interjects a one line wisecrack that is often brilliant. I listened to her narrate this on Audible. Though I enjoyed it, I would not say this is her best material. I think it was a mistake to do mini biographies of famous historical figures and tie it into her own life. As interesting as some of her subjects are (S ...more
Caren Stein
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Paula is my favorite female stand-up comic. I loved this book so much, I bought the audio book so I could hear her and as I was like getting a seven chapter show. I think the way she integrated historical figures that she loves/admires was unique and I appreciated it AND, I learned things about them that endeared a few to me even more.
Paula should write and write and write some more. For those who give a psychological analysis of Paula's personal life instead of reviewing
Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it
I could complain that this book reads like a bunch of stand-up comedy lines strung together with little cohesive plot, but I will instead say a) Paula Poundstone IS a stand-up comic and b) the way she recalls her own history and the histories of famous people (the Wright Brothers, Beethoven, etc) is a funny and effective patchwork of disjointed anecdotes -- exactly the way I remember my own history and the tales of others. Reading this book is like dipping into someone's brain for a few hours, a ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, own, memoir
I've always like PP and I was very interested to read her book. It's set up in a very odd way, though that's to be expected - she's a rather odd person. It's distressing to hear about the trouble she had after being arrested for driving drunk with her kids in the car, but ultimately it's very heart-warming to hear how devoted she is to her kids (though they may grumble when they're older about having so many of their foibles revealed in the name of comedy). I listened to the audiobook read by he ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I like Paula Poundstone. I like "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" a lot, and when she is on the panel, I love that show. Her timing is so quick, her drollery so pointed, and her bursts of mock outrage so adorable.
While reading this book, I occasionally smiled, but had to admit that putting the words down on the page isn't what Ms. Poundstone does best. It just slows her down too much.

Reminds me of an old vaudeville joke.
Top banana: "Ya wanna know what'd the secret of comedy?"
Second banana: "Yea
Michael Clark
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, incorporating biographies as lens to add humor to one's life story both the tragedy and the joys. I think stand up comics are some of the smartest people in the room with what they can pull out of observational humor. Bravo Paula for your wit, resilience and perseverance even in the face of horrendous circumstance, you are a hero!
Didn't pass my 50-page Test. I gave it the old college try, it just wasn't very funny or informative, and she seems really bitter and upset and kind of miserable. Which isn't going to keep me turning the pages.
Rebecca Waring-Crane
Paula reads her own work and keeps me company on my commute to school. Using braided essay style she cleverly confesses her own flaws (serious, real), and makes witty observations about her own life in comparison with lives of historic figures: Charles Dickens, the Wright Brothers, Helen Keller.
Feb 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
how can someone so funny be so un-funny?
Heather McLaughlin
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Paula writes just like she talks, which of course means this is a hilarious book.
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Best for: People who enjoy Paula Poundstone on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

In a nutshell: Comedian shares details of her life - including the time when she was convicted of endangering her children - against the backdrop of historical biographies. Seriously.

Line that sticks with me: I listened to the audio book, so I can’t quote directly, but I, too, was a girl cast as Peter Quince in an elementary school production of Midsummer Nights’ Dream.

Why I chose it: Ms.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say," is a memoir of sorts; Poundstone uses facts about various historical figures (Hellen Keller, Beethoven, the Wright Brothers) as a springboard for her comedy.

- The book provides more laughs per minute than her more recent work, "The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Happiness."
- The author flows deftly between historical fact and her own stories
- The personal nature of Poundstone's humor means that the book/>
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's Nothing In This Book I Meant To Say🍒🍒🍒🍒
By Paula Poundstone

If you are a fan of Paula Poundstones stand up comedy, or her witty humor, you will love this. Telling her story with candor, wit and totally straight up honesty, her memoir made me laugh out loud, and revel at her intelligence. Integrating historical figures lives she admires as a starting point in every chapter, (Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc and Beetho
Tom Schulte
I really enjoy Paula's perky comedic and quick answers on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! and that prompted me to read this book for hopefully more than that. One thing I learned there is that promptness in answering helped her on Celebrity Jeopardy! Game 3 even if she didn't do well for not knowing the answers. Well, she entertains me for the answers she imagines on NPR... There was a darker element to this as I had not known of Paula's battles with alcohol and "lewd act" charges (later dropped) mad ...more
Tom Franklin
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Poundstone's book is broken into chapters, with each one ostensibly about a famous person -- Abraham Lincoln, the Wright Brothers, Helen Keller, etc. These mini biographies are really just McGuffins, writing prompts, that allow Poundstone to take off on wild tangents.

To be fair, she does exhibit some control over her digressions. A given chapter will have stories that all more-or-less have to do with the same launching point -- problems with her kids; her conviction for child endange
Cathy O'Neal
Sep 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a horrible book. It doesn't know if it wants to be a history book, a memoir or a comedy book. In the end, it fails as all three. Normally, I enjoy Paula Poundstone. Not this time. Each chapter is a very surface-skimming look at someone in history (Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller). Interspersed throughout are glimpses at Ms. Poundstone's life with her three adopted children and slew of cats, dogs and reptiles. Here is an example: "Helen Keller said that she was like an animal until Annie Sulli ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Reading this book is like sitting through a 3-hour Poundstone stand-up set, so decide ahead of time if that's something you would kill to see (like me), or something you would never want to get anywhere near.

I was impressed by the sheer energy of this book, which packs a wallop over and over again. You don't end up with a coherent picture of Poundstone's life at all, but you get a sense for how humiliated and angry her brush with the criminal justice system left her, and honestly, I
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book contains several humorous biographical sketches of various historic figures (i.e., Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Charles Dickens, Sitting Bull) and Poundstone's autobiographical digressions where she talks about her kids, her career, and her arrest for child endangerment and sexual abuse. Hilarious. Seriously. If you like her, even a little, you will laugh out loud all the way through. I recommend the audiobook version because she has a wonderful delivery.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
History and humor: I love it! My husband & I listened to Paula read her book, as we traveled through Canada. We enjoyed her interlacing facts about historical figures with facts about her own life. Some we knew from history classes. Some we knew from Paula’s previous books & concert tours. Didn’t matter. We laughed. We sighed. We felt educated! So will you if you read it or listen to her read it.
John Hubbard
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
There are passages where I laughed out loud. The structure and much of the narrative are very lacking. Poundstone has been disappointing now as an author and a host, though remains the best panelist alive.
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Paula Poundstone is an American stand-up comedian. She is known for her quiet, self-deprecating style, political observations, and her trademark oddly masculine style of dress, a suit and tie outfit.
“It is my wish to die of unique causes, perhaps in a high-speed tricycle crash, a bizarre stapling incient, or as a result of inadvertently sucking my brains out through my ear while trying to untwist the vacuum hose.” 10 likes
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