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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892969202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892969203
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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

4.2 out of 5 stars
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A light, easy to read, easy to relate to, book.
Gary M. Nelms
Once you've finished this book, you will feel as if you've just sat through one of Cosby's one-man-shows.
If you've seen Bill Cosby himself on dvd, you are sure to love his book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 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 17 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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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Shamontiel L. Vaughn on November 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you saw Bill Cosby on "Lopez Tonight" when he did a solo comedy act, then that's pretty much how this book is going to go. You're going to get ready, get set to laugh and then end up politely smiling. I am a hardcore Bill Cosby fan. I follow him on Twitter, own the entire "The Cosby Show" series, watched his second show, watched plenty of his stand-up acts, bought and recommend most of his books and I 100% agree with his opinions on the state of Black America and education. So this isn't the review of someone who is mad about his recent beef. The book just flat out wasn't funny.

I read this on a plane headed to Hawaii, and I'm thinking, "Great combo. Bill Cosby's comedy and one of the most beautiful places in America. This'll definitely put me in a good mood." Nope. I got to the point where I was frustrated trying to get through it and finally put it down, picked it up again and put it down. The problem with the book is that he would get to a funny moment and then start rambling EXACTLY like he did on "Lopez Tonight." Go straight to "The Missing Pages" chapter and you'll see what I mean. His take on the Bible started off amusing, but it just went on and on and on.

But then stories like "The Morphamization of Peanut Armhouse" would bring me back to the Bill Cosby I know of and love. "Bernadette" sent me into fits of laughter that made me wipe tears from my eyes by the time I got to the airport. "My Son's First Bad Word" was another Bill Cosby notorious moment. The book was looking up at the beginning. Then I got to "If Only Native Americans Knew Then What They Know Now" and rolled my eyes. The comeback for "Too Late for Me But Perhaps Not For You" was absolutely awful. . . and gross. "Raise Your Tail" was nothing special.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathon D. Burns on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bill Cosby is a funny guy. Ask pretty much anyone and they'll tell you the same thing. If you don't believe them, find some episodes of The Cosby Show, or look him up on YouTube. I've found him to be able to merge humor and wisdom together in a ways that many couldn't. So, I eagerly looked forward to reading I Didn't Ask to Be Born and readying myself to explain to those around me why I was laughing.

I Didn't Ask to Be Born is a collection of `observations' that Cosby has made. Many of them are stories from his own life, where he always stresses either the unusual nature of it, or in some case the seeming normalcy of life. For example, the chapter "The Missing Pages" find Cosby wondering what happened `between' Bible stories, and "Too Late for Me but Perhaps Not for You is a story of his interaction with his daughter. Interspersed through the book are short, one panel comics, which typically relate to the story being interspersed.

In reading I Didn't Ask to Be Born there were times where I could nearly hear Bill Cosby speaking in my ear. The writing and flow of the stories read as if they were written to be read aloud. While on one hand, it was fun to imagine Cosby's voice speaking, I couldn't help but think how much better it would've been to actually hear him. Reading something meant to be written isn't nearly as good as hearing it. Some of the stories seemed to drag, or had awkward pauses, which I imagine might've been meant for funny expressions on behalf of Cosby. But you can't read facial expressions or hand movements.

Sadly, most of the stories weren't actually that funny.
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