Book Review: Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman

June 24th, 2020

Details from Audible:


True Stories from Painful Beaches
Narrated by: John Hodgman
Length: 5 hrs and 23 mins
 4.7 out of 5 stars (2,153 ratings)

Publisher's Summary

John Hodgman - New York Times best-selling author, semifamous personality, deranged millionaire, increasingly elderly husband, father, and human of Earth - has written a memoir about his cursed travels through two wildernesses: from the woods of his home in Massachusetts, birthplace of rage, to his exile on the coast of Maine, so-called Vacationland, home to the most painful beaches on Earth.

Vacationland is also about Hodgman's wandering in the metaphoric wilderness of his 40s, those years when dudes especially must painfully stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weirder dads that they are.

Other subjects covered include the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison, and advice on how to react when the people of coastal Maine try to sacrifice you to their strange god.

After three best-selling books of fake facts, Hodgman is finally ready to tell the truth - in the same outlandish, audacious, and inimitable style that has won him fans in every medium he has worked: books, stage, social media, television, and movies.

©2017 John Hodgman (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Initial Thoughts:

 A friend of mine played a clip from this book, a clip about garbage disposal that I found very funny. As with a lot of stuff I take my sweet time, forgot about stuff but about a year later I finally started to listen to this audiobook and finished it this week. I have leftover books from Audible and if you want long enough and don’t renew your subscription they give you more credits, so I got credit and I got this.

 Main Points:

 I’ve got to say I loved this book. Hodgman has an ok voice but he is genuinely funny and it’s a dry humor that I love. I’ve never been a fan of humor books (at least not a big fan) but this book could be a turning point. It made me laugh out loud lots of times and much more importantly it made me think, it surprised me and it delighted me.

Hodgman has this ability to take something that is completely mundane (like buying a boat for example) and make it interesting or even sometimes profound. What he says about systemic racism in the US is really interesting as what he says about white privilege and how many men inappropriately treat women.

For me what was really great about the book was when he dealt with topics that I can relate to well, like the death of a parent, making simple connections to nature, and the importance of not giving up on something just because it’s hard and you don’t enjoy it.

 Final Thoughts:

 I could go on and on about this book but I’ll wrap things up and let you enjoy it for yourself. As I said Hodgman has a nice enough voice and he does a good job with the voice work. He puts a lot of emotion into his voice and for me, it’s always a nice bonus when an author reads his own book. There were parts I felt he overshared or just dealt too much with something that was not important or even interesting. So I give it a very high 8.5 out of 10. I would highly recommend this book. It does, however, have swearing and deals with adult themes (like drug use) so I would say ages 17+. I’m listening to his podcast and even signed up for his newsletter, so I will certainly be back for more Hodgman.