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Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore Hardcover – October 13, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (October 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805080309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080308
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,575,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Somewhere between passive aggressive and passionate aggression lies the perfect humorous response to an irritating event. Writer Ian Urbina—who started this project by writing an article for the New York Times and attracting legions of the slightly annoyed—has compiled a lovely collection of non-injurious (but highly mean) solutions that soothe the cranky soul.

The introduction gets off to a brilliant start: Urbina coated a pint of his frequently "borrowed" ice cream with a thick layer of salt, driving his ice cream thief of a housemate to furiously outing herself as the culprit. Additional tales offer websites that reject unappealing date prospects for you, examples of anti-honking haiku distributed on telephone poles all over Brooklyn and a flat-out heartening recounting of the original parking meter fairies in Anchorage, AK.

Heartening fairies and websites providing confrontation avoidance techniques aside, this is no typical relax-and-be-nice book that help readers calm down and appreciate life. Instead, it offers the dual purpose of giving everyone a chance to appreciate the sheer creative genius lurking in your average curmudgeon while inspiring the world to further feats of nearly meaningless anger management Jill Lightner

About the Author

Ian Urbina is a reporter for The New York Times, based in the paper's Washington bureau. He has degrees in history from Georgetown University and the University of Chicago, and his writings, which range from domestic and foreign policy to commentary on everyday life, have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Harper's, and elsewhere. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, son, stepdaughter, and a nuisance of a dog.

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Customer Reviews

Really fun read.
Catherine Mason
Although the book had a few cute annocdotes, there were too few (despite repeated references) to stretch it to fill a book (even this short one).
Barry F.
It was very comforting to know that there are many people out there giving it back to the MAN who tries to keep us down.
Ping T. Fok

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By John Kador on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There's a scene in the movie Animal House when John Belushi announces, "What we need here is a really futile gesture!" Life's Little Annoyances is an inventory of really futile gestures that are nevertheless very satisfying. The author is a reporter for the NY Times and he brings a reporter's eye for detail, skepticism, and irony to the book. When faced with life's little annoyances, some people really confront the problem, unafraid of confrontation, taking fearless direct action to resolve the problem. Those are not the people described in this book. Life's Little Annoyances presents a hilarious inventory of mostly futile gestures, and the response is laughter at the myriad ways we humans avoid confrontation and pretend we are accomplishing something by subversive futility.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Nelson on October 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is light reading. Something my dad would like. The book's selling point - at least for me - was the idea itself. There is something strangely interesting and, dare i say, inspiring in seeing of how people deal with all the little tedium of life. Petty, yes - but universal and gratifying. Aside from their vicarious pleasure, the tales were fulfilling almost for their pettiness, not in spite it. Mostly, the stories were fun because they not only feature frustrations that everyone can relate to. (I think. Well, at least everyone I know could relate to it.) But it was also fun because of the deviously clever things that people did in response to these little frustrations. Aside from the introduction of the book, which is laugh-out-loud funny, I had a couple sections that I really liked. The story about the guy who would slip expensive little things like condoms and razor refills into the shopping cart of people who double park their cart in the middle of supermarket aisles? Awesome. I also liked the story about the guy who overpayed parking tickets by 3 cents to get back at the parking officials by forcing extra paper work on them and by forcing them to cut a refund check. The one about how people deal with dog owners who dont pick up after their dogs is truly bizarre. I had read a couple of the topics before. Examples: TV-B-Gone, the mini-universal remote control that you can attach to your key chain to turn off annoying televisions in waiting rooms and bars. Same went for the Knee Defendor - a little plastic thingy for preventing the people sitting in front of you on planes from leaning their seat back too far. BUT, it was still sort of cool to hear the stories behind the inventors and the experiences that motivated them.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Debra Hamel VINE VOICE on January 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those oblivious, the-world-revolves-around-me types who leave their grocery carts in the middle of the aisle, chain mail forwarders, spammers and telemarketers and express line abusers--they're not criminals, exactly, so you can't lock them away or kill them. Still, in their small abuses they detract significantly from the quality of our lives day to day, and for that they merit some kind of punishment. But how precisely to go about it? New York Times reporter Ian Urbina may have some ideas for you in his book Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People who Just Can't Take it Anymore.

Starting with his own experiences exacting revenge from a roommate who was routinely pilfering his cookie dough ice cream, Urbina includes some 70 stories about people fighting back against the rude and unthinking among us. His short tales of righteous revenge--the ideas [...] were collected from the fed-up people described by his subtitle--are divided among nine chapters by genre of annoyance: from mail-related (junk mail, the profusion of AOL disks one receives), to service-related (overly zealous store employees), to the vehicular (tailgaters, proselytizing bumper stickers).

The most even-tempered of readers may choose to turn the other cheek when irritated by life's smaller annoyances. The rest of us will probably come across a few ideas in Urbina's book that we'd like to try out ourselves. I can see myself, for example, putting telemarketers on "hold"--that is, on speakerphone, so they can listen while I finish dinner, change a diaper, watch TV, etc. And I am intrigued by the idea of mailing off blank "blow-in" cards, those subscription cards that fall out of magazines all the time, so that the company responsible for them will have to pay postage.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TundraVision on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Here are anecdotes on relative retribution from creative folk who have had it "up to here" with the everyday annoyances of contemporary living. Readers will learn innovative techniques for dealing with Express Check-out cheats, "Sneaking Out of [automated telephone answering directory] Purgatory," "Guerrilla Warfare in the Parking Lot" and other necessities of daily survival. This reviewer was especially inspired by "Breaking their Script" - dealing with "Customer Service" reps who provide no service at all - merely spewing their canned responses no matter what the customers' issues.

This is not St. Francis or Freud - just a fun little oft chortle-producing book in bytes small enough for the average trip the loo. /TundraVision, Amazon Reviewer
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on January 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like others who have reviewed this book, I first learned about it by way of a piece about it on CNN and I am glad that I asked for it for Christmas.

Full of short vignettes (1-3 pages) about the inanities of modern life and some people's amusing ways of dealing with it, this is the perfect bathroom book, if you know what I mean.

My favorites include:

*the man who dealt with the 'adult' bookstore in his community by giving every customer he saw as he drove by a friendly honk on the horn in an attempt to make the customers wonder if someone they actually knew really saw them patronizing a porn shop.

*the man who mailed all kinds of things to the credit card companies in those nifty return envelopes that they include with their offers, including their shredded offers, other junk mail and even strips of metal!

*the guy who has a website that demonstrates the proper way to park a car. He puts business cards with the web address on the windshields of bad parkers.

My only complaint is that the book is just too short. It's great fun, but it's too short.

Overall grade: B+
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