(Audio)Book Talk: SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS, by Aisha Tyler

SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS by Aisha Tyler, via indiebound.org
Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation
Aisha Tyler (Twitter) (Facebook)
Audiobook read by the author
It Books/Dey Street Books (July 2013), Hardcover (ISBN 0062223771 / 9780062223777)
Nonfiction (memoir/essays/humor), 256 pages
Source: Purchased audiobook (Harper Audio, July 2013, ISBN 9780062263322; Audible ASIN B00D98KXPW)

“They say” that when you look back over your life, you’ll have more regrets over what you didn’t do than what you did. I don’t completely agree–if what you’ve done was immoral, illegal, and/or caused irreparable damage, I think some regrets are entirely appropriate. But for the many decisions and opportunities that don’t fall into any of those categories, I think it could be a good argument in favor of taking big chances. I’m trying to keep it in mind more, as I’ve reached a point where there’s (probably) more of my life to look back over than waiting ahead of me.

Aisha Tyler’s Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation would argue in favor of the “doing and not regretting.” Her collection of comedic essays drawn from many of her own learning experiences also seems to be offered in the spirit of “Let someone else make the mistakes, so you don’t have to make them all yourself.”

Tyler notes in an introductory passage that Self-Inflicted Wounds is not autobiography, although it is autobiographical. That’s accurate, but Tyler’s personal details—child of divorced, hippie-influenced parents in the San Francisco Bay Area; hard-working student and unexpected Ivy Leaguer; self-made comedian, TV/podcast host, actor, and writer; voracious reader and champion of nerdery, comedy, and profanity—give readers a good sense of the perspective her unique background has given her. Elements of that background obviously influenced her choices, but they also clearly nourished the intelligence, drive, clear-headedness, and positivity that have enabled her to–as she references a motto from her days at Dartmouth–“boot, then rally,” reassessing and moving forward from the setbacks, over and over again. Tyler’s experience as a stand-up comic seems to have influenced some of the “tales of epic humiliation” she chooses to share—there are a lot of drinking-related stories—but she holds on to the common thread.

The ability to laugh at yourself is another factor in recovering and learning from what goes wrong, and Tyler is pretty comfortable with doing that. That comfort level gives Self-Inflicted Wounds a genuinely encouraging tone; it’s not “self-help,” but it comes across as helpful in a similar way to Patty Chang Anker’s Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave. The tone is enhanced by Tyler’s reading of the audiobook; her voice has the authority and directness that Archer fans know from her character of Lana Kane, but softened and more approachable, and I would absolutely recommend reading this one by ear. Self-Inflicted Wounds is fast, funny, and frequently insightful.

Rating: Book and audio, 3.75 of 5
Other opinions, via the Book Blogs Search Engine

Book Talk: SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS by Aisha Tyler at The 3 R's Blog

Book description, from the publisher’s website

In Self-Inflicted Wounds, Aisha Tyler, comedian, actress, and cohost of CBS’s daytime hit show The Talk, recounts a series of epic mistakes and hilarious stories of crushing personal humiliation, and the personal insights and authentic wisdom she gathered along the way. 

The essays in Self-Inflicted Wounds are refreshingly and sometimes brutally honest, surprising, and laugh-out-loud funny, vividly translating the brand of humor Tyler has cultivated through her successful standup career, as well as the strong voice and unique point of view she expresses on her taste-making comedy podcast Girl on Guy

Riotous, revealing, and wonderfully relatable, Aisha Tyler’s Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation is about the power of calamity to shape life, learning, and success.

Opening lines (from the Introduction–note that this book also has a Preface and a Prologue):

“I am not a psychologist, but I do know some shit about people.

“This is not a boast. This is just the truth.

“If you were to question why the hell I think I can write a book about human failure and its power to transform people with the strength of its sheer awesomeness, I would have to plead no contest. I am uniquely unqualified to pontificate on the behavior of others and its significance.
My undergraduate degree is not in psychology, or human behavior, or sociology, or even anthropology. My undergraduate degree is in government, with a double minor in environmental studies and drinking shit.

“I have no letters after my name. (Other than H.N.I.C., which is a very easy degree to get.)”


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