A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

Alexandra Petri

Praised by Dave Barry as "The funniest person in Washington", Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri delights readers with this hilarious, satirical memoir.

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Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri turns her satirical eye on her own life in this hilarious new memoir...

Most twentysomethings spend a lot of time avoiding awkwardness.

Not Alexandra Petri.


Afraid of rejection? Alexandra Petri has auditioned for America’s Next Top Model. Afraid of looking like an idiot? Alexandra Petri lost Jeopardy! by answering “Who is that dude?” on national TV. Afraid of bad jokes? Alexandra Petri won an international pun championship.

Petri has been a debutante, reenacted the Civil War, and fended off suitors at a Star Wars convention while wearing a Jabba the Hutt suit. One time, she let some cult members she met on the street baptize her, just to be polite. She’s a connoisseur of the kind of awkwardness that most people spend whole lifetimes trying to avoid. If John Hodgman and Amy Sedaris had a baby…they would never let Petri babysit it.

But Petri is here to tell you: Everything you fear is not so bad. Trust her. She’s tried it. And in the course of her misadventures, she’s learned that there are worse things out there than awkwardness—and that interesting things start to happen when you stop caring what people think.


Advance Galley Reviews

The author/narrator felt honest, which is always a good start to a nonfiction book to me. I wasn't a huge fan of the collection as a whole, since a unifying theme wasn't easily grasped. But the author's style was comedic in a self-deprecating way, and I enjoyed most of the stories she shared.

Stylistically, well written. Sometimes, it wasn't my style of humor but other times I found myself laughing out loud. She took a long time to reach the point of her stories. It was a good first read but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to someone or purchase it. Thanks to the author and First to Read for letting me peruse!

My downloaded copy gave me issues, so I didn't get to read the whole thing, but I enjoyed what I did read (a pathetic 30-some-odd pages). I liked the author's style - it was easy to read and felt honest - and I liked her sense of humor. The book definitely had potential, and I'd be very likely to give it another go someday when I can get my hands on it again.

I gave this book an honest try, but after the first 100 pages, I got bogged down in the pun festival and had no more energy to give. Why, you ask? I live with a Master Punster, a wordsmith, a man who has the same twisted, dry sense of humor I think that I do. That's why I married him. I see humor in all situations. So does this author. Maybe we are long lost sisters from our parent's wild days. My father was in the Navy after all. DNA doesn't lie. Please enjoy this read, it just was not for me. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy.

Amusing but each story took way too long to get to the point. I found myself getting impatient

I wasn't sure if I would ever meet someone more awkward than myself. Alexandra Petri comes close! The great thing is that she embraces it. I only made it through half the book before my iPad crashed and my download expired. I'm going to track this down and finish it though. It was good fun while it lasted.

Extremely enjoyable book, I empathized with the protagonist in some situation of my life and I liked the part about puns much more than I should! This "public diary" reveals mundane aspects of being awkward and what they can mean, but some of the phrases in the piece about becoming an adult even touched philosophy (IMHO, at least). Great read and I'll remember the author, looking forward to reading more by her!

Awkward moments happen. They're a part of life that most of us try to forget and hide away from society. Not Alexandra Petri. She embraces life to the fullest, learning about herself along the way. A Field Guide to Awkward Silences will make you laugh, smile, and inwardly cringe at her many relatable (and some not) life experiences. A great read, especially on a long summer road trip!

Wonderfully entertaining! I found myself nodding my head in agreement at some of her awkward moments that I've felt myself!! A must read for those that have h ad an awkward life!!!

I very much enjoyed this memoir, although I really was unsure going in I found myself laughing, relating and discussing with friends. Although I didn't understand everything that she went through or that she enjoyed I found her writing wonderfully fresh and look forward to reading some of her other works.

Lately, the book market has been saturated by fun, humorous, and self-deprecating memoirs written by young women. Compared to all the similar memoirs I've read, Alexandra Petri manages to write her version in a more entertaining and unique way. The main reason that Petri's book stands out also makes parts of her book inaccessible: she dives deep. Petri was the nerdy child that a lot of bookworms tend to be and identify with, but the beauty of nerdiness is that you dive so deep into your particular subject that sometimes the only people who can talk to you (read: stomach you) are your fellow specific nerds. This means that when Petri spends an entire essay detailing one sect of her nerdiness, you can feel left out if you're not familiar with the topic being discussed. However, when Petri discusses a nerdiness you experienced, reading the essay feels like curling up with a cozy blanket and chatting with your best friend on the couch for hours. Overall A Field Guide to Awkward Silences is a pretty enjoyable read as long as you skip the essays that you feel don't jive with your own particular brand of nerdiness or humor. Unfortunately, I'm one of those annoying people who feel like they need to read every chapter, even within a set of unrelated essays, and force myself to slog through things that don't really interest me. If I hadn't done this, I probably would have enjoyed Petri's memoir more than I ultimately did. The essays I enjoyed the most were "Ten General Rules", "How to Join a Cult, by Mistake, on a Tuesday in Fifty-Seven Easy Steps", "Trivial Pursuit", "We Are Not a Muse", "The Dog in the Manger", and "So Far, So Good."

Everyone who tends towards awkward has their own way of dealing with those moments when you've said or done something wrong. Alexandra Petri embraces the strange. To be fair, she's usually trying to make things better, but instead usually makes things hilariously worse. She even seeks out chances to embarrass herself, auditioning for America's Next Top Model, and Jeopardy!, and entering national pun competitions and speed dating at a Star Wars convention. The important lesson she has to offer is one we already know--awkwardness is not so bad. Embarrassment will not kill you. And sometimes caring less about what people might think allows wonderful things to happen. Divided into little event-chapters, this book is an easy, light read. Some of the episodes were more awkward than funny, but her tone is humorous throughout, without going overboard. Anyone who has had one of those moments of regret can relate to the feelings behind the stories, even if they personally haven't experienced them to quite the degree happening in the book. Overall, a good read for someone looking for a laugh, or the understanding that a few mistakes don't matter too much in the end.

As someone who grew up a history-obsessed, word-loving, trivia-collecting Midwestern child, I never expected to find a book which was relatable to my childhood. I was wrong. Delightfully and hilariously wrong. Alexandra Petri's tales of awkwardness are hysterical and thought-provoking. I loved every page. If you're a fan of writers like Laurie Notaro and Sloane Crosley you should find something to enjoy in A Field Guide to Awkward Silences. (An ARC of this book was obtained through Penguin's First to Read Program)

Ms. Petri truly hit the nail on the head with her memoir. Not only did I relate to many of the things she wrote about, I also found humor in my own flaws. I would definitely read something from her again. My best part of the whole book though was towards the beginning when she said she never really tried her best at anything so that way she knew she could never fail. Good Read!

3 stars. I found this collection of humorous writings about the author's inherent awkwardness to be hit or miss. This is my introduction to Petri's essay writing and I found some of her anecdotes (especially the ones concerning a Pun Competition and her Jeopardy experience) laugh-out-loud funny. There were probably more, though, that were just plain silly. So while this was a pleasant book to read, I wouldn't say it was my favorite book of humor. I received an eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I tried to read this book but couldn't finish. I didn't find it that funny. Since everybody else seemed to love it I guess it must be me and my weird sense of humor.

"Those were the two things I knew about myself: that I was a writer, and that I didn’t mind looking stupid.” (p.3) As a result, Alexandra Petri easily has enough material probably for many more essays than are in this book. From pun contests to whistling contests to learning how to drive and more, she tackles some of the weirdest moments in her life. The selection of essays turns into almost a loosely organized coming of age story, where the age is after college and not too sure one is a grownup. The essays are mostly good fun. I mean who doesn’t love a Star Wars nerd? Even if you don’t love Star Wars, you will understand because “Everyone has one erroneous belief that gets him through the chilly February mornings of the soul.” (p.149) Seriously funny in many parts, gently humorous in others, the essays are autobiographical in nature. They center around Alexandra and her various experiences. This is my first exposure to her writing and I have to say I really enjoyed it. There is one sad story in it, but she even manages to put a little spin on that. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for the quality of writing and for the humor. Also In spite of being a collection of essays, there is a pace which propels the reader forward at a good pace. I’d recommend it for those who like Jenny Lawson’s Lets Pretend This Never Happened and books by David Sedaris. Looking forward to its release in early June so I can get a hard copy for my daughter’s birthday. I’ve enjoyed an ARC on my Kindle to prepare this review. And as such, the quotations may or may not be in the final copy or in a different place.

As a fellow Washingtonian, I've been a fan of Alexandra Petri's work for a few years, and I was thrilled to read her book. She is witty and a wonderful story teller. Most of the stories had me laughing out loud on my commute to work. Her "awkwardness" is relate-able, and charming. Overall a great read. I received this ARC from Penguin's First to Read program.

Alexandra Petri has done a lot of things and is just the right amount of awkward and crazy. The essays do not necessarily connect in any cohesive way, but are rather bite-sized stories that you can read in 15-20 minutes. Overall, the book was fun and lighthearted. It had some chapters that fell flat for me, but others that are going to stick with me in the way that will probably later confuse me as to whether I read about it or was there. Some sweet insights and a lot of humor made for an easy read. Petri regularly crashes events and situations and her life is all the more awkward and interesting for it. Some of my favorite chapters were Go Whistle for It, The Naked Pun, Grab Life by the Debutante Balls, Trivial Pursuit, and Under the Dome. Go Whistle for it was just a fun chapter about how people can be incredibly passionate about anything. Petri finds herself surrounded by people who LOOOOVE whistling, and competing in a whistling competition when she doesn't really have any particular skill in it. On the flip side, The Naked Pun is about her love for puns. She enters a contest here and does have the skill. As a lover of puns myself, I ate this chapter up. Grab Life by the Debutante Balls is about her being involved in a ball her sophomore year of college. She is an independent woman and tells the story from that perspective as well as the perspective of somebody who feels as though she was born in the wrong time. She imagines the golden ages from photos and pictures, but then realizes that those are probably snapshots of a single calm moment rather than indicative of what life was always like. Trivial Pursuit is about her plan to kill Trebek. Not really. She just wants to go on Jeopardy again. She tells about when she was a teenager on the show. Under the Dome is about her childhood life. I can't tell you more, because she would like to build up trust with you before you know her nasty secret. But this chapter is about how every kid grows up thinking that their traditions are normal, until the day they realize that not every family is like theirs. Fun book of essays. There is a lot of humor and a little bit of insight.

If there is one thing that Alexandra Petri isn’t it is definitely awkward. She’s out there and she knows it, embraces it and has fun with it. As she regales readers with cringe-inducing stories of her outgoing personality, you get a sense of how great a life led without worrying about awkward moments can be. Pleasant and chuckle-worthy most of the time, though just plain trying to hard in certain chapters, this is a light read that hits the inspirational spot without getting preachy or boring. It’s not life-changing but it might just inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and work thru the awkward.

Being a native of Wisconsin, there were parts of this book that made me think, "I know exactly what she's talking about!" The Kohler museum, for example? A sight to behold! Wisconsin fairs? You haven't lived until you've tried a cream puff! I also caught myself thinking, "I hope my family never slighted her father...or his Packer schedules!" First of all, writing this book took some guts! Petri knows how to take her personal experiences and make them into life lessons; lessons worth laughing at (sometimes). This memoir is written in short story format, which is great in parts and not so easy to follow in others. Parts of this book had me laughing; parts had me cringing, and parts had me scratching my head. I did come to a few conclusions at the end of this book: - I want a reading list from Alexandra Petri. - I cannot wait to read more of whatever she writes. Over all, this memoir is a hilarious read that I would recommend to someone who needs a good laugh.

This was a fun read most of the time. I think this would make a great beach book or as something to read between books. I generally like this type of non-fiction if I'm going to read non-fiction. There were a few moments where I though Petri's writing was both over and underwhelming. What I mean by that is there were times when I'd be enjoying a chapter and suddenly I'd be Googling a word. Now I have an adequate vocabulary, but this was a little ridiculous. I ended up skimming over some parts. There were also parts where it felt like she was trying too hard to be funny. Like when she was talking about trying to be a failure, well she failed this time...at least for me. If you're interested in this book I'll say this...This was a good book overall, but I found myself reading a chapter or two when I was between books. I think I would have actually enjoyed the audio book, but even then I'm not sure.

All in all, this is a funny quick read about the humor and awkwardness of growing up! As I got into the book, it started to flow and I feel Petri really hit her stride. There were parts of this book that I loved especially the parts about Mr Oliver, Bertrand, and her family's dog (a touching yet comical side). We all have our quirks from our childhood into young-adulthood, Petri was just brave enough to put it on paper ((and let us laugh at ourselves in the process))!

Some of the essays in this book are so painfully funny that even reading them aloud to someone else, in a vain attempt to gain control over this written material, will cause you to choke or hiccup. Probably best to tell them to get their own copy of the book. Early on, the author describes entering a dog agility contest herself, claiming she was running in memory of her deceased dog, and being allowed to run the course. She did not place (of course.) I so wish I had seen this happen. She has become my new hero. I love her writing and her essays. I received this ARC from Penguin's First to Read program.

What a fantastic book! It's one of the funniest things I've read since I discovered David Sedaris. Wry, warm, and insightful. I feel like I could be friends with Alexandra Petri, and I'm a little sad that I'm not.

I absolutely loved A Field Guide to Awkward Silences! It was warm, welcoming, and everything I expected it to be and more.

 


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