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I Didn't Ask to Be Born: (But I'm Glad I Was) Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews



"This is a book with which everyone can identify on some level; it is humor at its best."―Library Journal, starred review

"George Booth's funny cartoon illustrations make a fine fit with these amusing essays, all written with the amiable and accessible lightweight lilt Cosby's eager readers expect."―Publishers Weekly

"The Cos again waxes funny on the commonplace happenings of life as we may know it."―Kirkus

About the Author

BILL COSBY is an American entertainer, comedian, actor, producer, author, educator, musician, and activist. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892969202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892969203
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #970,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The legendary comedian, author, and activist Bill Cosby continues to be as prolific and relevant as ever, reaching every generation and every audience since he began his career in stand-up four decades ago. He is one of the most influential performers of the second half of the 20th century. He has had an unparalleled career in television; has sold more record albums than any other comedian; his blockbuster books have sold millions of copies; and his generous support of numerous charities, particularly in the field of education, have endowed many Americans with the gift of hope and learning. Through his groundbreaking appearances on television, particularly in two landmark series each of which defined an American decade, Bill Cosby has touched the lives of millions of Americans. In the 1960s, "I Spy" broke the racial barrier in television by featuring Cosby as the first-ever black lead of a weekly dramatic series. In the 1980s, Cosby returned to television with a show that Coretta Scott King described as "the most positive portrayal of black family life that has ever been broadcast." "The Cosby Show" enjoyed years of number-one ratings and nearly unanimous critical praise.

Cosby's success on television has been matched in other areas. In 1986 he broke Radio City Music Hall's 53-year-old attendance record for his concert appearance. Cosby's also a giant in the publishing world. Fatherhood (1986) became one of the fastest-selling hardcover book of all time, remaining for more than half of its fifty-four weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List as Number 1. It has sold 2.6 million hardcover copies and 1.5 million paperbacks. Time Flies had the largest single first printing in publishing history--1.75 million. Now, I Am What I Ate,and I'm Frightened. A crusader throughout his career for a better world, his great success in the world of entertainment is complemented by his involvement with a host of charity organizations, making substantial gifts in support of education, most notably to predominantly black colleges and to various social service and civil rights organizations. On the evolution of his own style of comedy, Bill Cosby states that he was drawn at an early age to the masters of jazz, learning to emulate in comedy their ability to take an idea and continually find new and innovative ways of expressing the same theme. The legacy of Bill Cosby's comedic genius is as sweet, meaningful and universal as any piece of music ever played.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kim Adams on November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I recall how Cosby's TV series, THE COSBY SHOW, reassured American viewers through the politically charged 80s. Twenty something years later, our world is that much more on edge. Bill Cosby offers us a way to step away from daily turmoil through humor. I DIDN'T ASK TO BE BORN (But I'm Glad I Was) delivers Cosby's trademark quips that the entire family can enjoy. It is family, especially children, which tickles Bill's funny bone. I DIDN'T ASK TO BE BORN reflects on how to find the humor in everyday situations.

The title comes from a chapter in the book (and his life) when his 8 year old daughter defiantly claimed, "I didn't ask to be born." Cosby's response, delivered at the end of the chapter, is classic and one that I will use in the future. I suspect his subtitle has been his mantra throughout the highs and lows with his family and career. Can you think of a time that Bill Cosby wasn't laughing, encouraging, and loving those around him?

I DIDN'T ASK TO BE BORN (But I'm Glad I Was) is a perfect holiday gift, especially for the hard-to-shop-for person who seemingly has everything. That person can always use a laugh!

I received an ARC from the publisher for this review.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sapere Aude on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Like most of Cosby's books, this one mostly rambles through his thoughts and observations, telling stories from his life. The book contains numerous illustrations as well, by a New Yorker cartoonist which are very funny. Each chapter has a QR code which you can scan to get additional content and cartoons online.

My dad has always been a Bill Cosby fan and he got this book - I ended up with nothing to do and I read through it. I was pretty skeptical about how funny it would be given he's almost 70 now. I was pleasantly surprised and found myself laughing throughout the book.

I do remember listening to Bill Cosby's records when I was a kid (my dad had them), and I grew up watching the Cosby show like everyone in my generation. He hasn't lost his touch and has proven it with this book. He has an interesting way of looking at the world that just can't help get you chuckling. He draws so much of his humor from his life - you must wonder what it must have been like to have him as a father!

I think I enjoyed his humor especially now that I myself am a parent. His age definitely hasn't dulled his wit, its only given him more topics to joke about! His section on the bible's missing pages remind me of that old record of his ("Noah, build me an ark! What's an ark?" if you remember). I feel like saying any more would just be trying to tell you some of his jokes and I can't possibly do it as well as he does.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By N. Gregg on November 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just LOVE Bill Cosby! He's smart, a man of great character and comedy talent - he's made me laugh for decades! So it's hard to say, but this book did not meet my expectations. It was easy to put the book down - which for me is never a good sign.

Bill rambled and wandered. Often he'd have a good subject, you'd start to smile thinking you're heading up to the chuckle and the mark was missed, so I found this book disappointing. There was some good in this, time spent reading was not a total loss - but it still needs honing and editing.

I still adore Bill and look forward to whatever he does next - I just can't recommend this book.

Do yourself a favor, go to the bookstore and read a chapter or so before you buy it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Green, NCGBT VINE VOICE on December 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those things that after you get it you realize you been wanting one all along. Not that it's life changing or anything, just something you're glad to have gotten.

Set as anecdotes from different episodes in his life and spaced by cutting observations and wry musings, it's delivered in the classic Cosby style- like he's just sitting across from you and telling stories. Sometimes hysterical (the way he describes telling his friends about how pretty Bernadette Johnson was is priceless) but always amusing, it's another visit from a good friend you haven't seen in far too long.

To give a little teaser, here's one of my favorite snippets from the book, Message To The Groom: Think about having your mother (not her father) escort your bride down the aisle. As you watch them approach you can see your whole life coming at you. Your mother- that dear, lovely woman who saved everything when you were growing up: trophies, drawings, everything you ever did- walking with the woman who, as time goes by, will throw them all out.

After all these years Bill Cosby remains Cos, and it won't be until you read this book that you'll realize you kinda missed him. It's a fun, light read that'll definitely make you laugh and the bonus content ain't no slouch, either. Enjoy it- and thanks, Bill.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MasterAP on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
You can never go wrong with Bill Cosby.

With his latest book, it reads as if someone pulled out a tape recorder, sat down with Mr Cosby and simply recorded him for the entire day. Then the recording was simply transcribed into this book.

While some people might find it frustrating that he seems to fly all over the place with ideas, I enjoyed the feeling like I was listening to an extremely funny grandparent sharing his thoughts and recollections.

As is often the case with Cosby, you'll read many stories from his childhood with his friends who have silly names (Peanut who didn't listen to his mother), biblical thoughts on why God didn't have a wife and the first word a new mother shouts out.

George Booth adds some interesting pencil illustrations throughout the book which doesn't really add much of anything to the storytelling.

Once you've finished this book, you will feel as if you've just sat through one of Cosby's one-man-shows.

This is an enjoyable, easy read.
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