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on June 12, 2012
Adam Carolla's "Not Taco Bell Material" is a laugh-out-loud memoir about growing up poor and awkward in the San Fernando Valley. The series of stories each centers around a particular abode, and comes complete with each home's purchase price, square footage, and a summary statement of the home and his life at the time (such as "Zero hope"). As a kid, Carolla moved around quite a bit, and he recounts many hilarious family events with an eye for detail and the absurd.

I laughed many times during my quick read of this book, and loved how he presented the little facts about his family that made them unique and lovable, in their own way. He describes how his grandmother's house had only one bathroom, yet two front doors. These two doors were right next to each other. At 90 degrees. His mother was so honest that when little Adam found a $50 bill, she made him return it to the `Lost and Found.' The owner of the $50 bill collected it and gave Adam a $10 reward, which he had to split with his sister (Boo! Hiss!). Some of these quirky but funny family details were somewhat David Sedaris-like, which I consider a great compliment.

Adam's self-deprecating humor is on display. Every so often he offers a small funny anecdote, labeled a "Tan Gent," most of which are little stories which display the biting wit that permeates his podcast and Lovelines shows.
Overall, I really enjoyed "Not Taco Bell Material." It's a perfect beach read, funny and quick. I give it my highest recommendation.

I'm a big fan of funny male memoirs. If you enjoyed Adam's book, then you may consider trying the following:
Artie Lange's Too Fat to Fish is another great book by the famous comic. Artie doesn't hold back when describing some of the crazy things he used to do for fame, drugs, and women. Highly recommended and a quick, hilarious read!
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on June 14, 2012
The Aceman does not disappoint with his new book. When I read "In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks," I was pretty new to Adam's podcast but was familiar with him from the Man Show. That book catapulted me into Ace-like obsession! And now, with "Not Taco Bell Material," the hilarity continues and we learn even more about the obscene circumstances that bought Carolla into our ears and hearts every weekday. In this latest book, an autobiography to a certain degree, he shares his stories dating all the way back to his unfortunate youth.
If you're not an Adam Carolla fan, read this book. You'll love it because it will probably make you hate him more, and people like you who don't like Ace have no feelings and revel in any semblance of humanity (in this case, the aforementioned hatred.)
If you love Ace, this will cause your love to spiral out of control and probably cascade you into an Carolla-induced obsession like I went through.
If you have no idea who Adam Carolla is, this book is the best introduction, and congratulations on the wonderful wellspring of complaints and observations you have yet to hear! SNIFF

I can speak for the 20 year old white female demographic (although I'm probably not the best representative of such.) Ladies, buy the book. Good day!
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on June 15, 2012
Warning inslutument alert: I'm white, over 60, raised upper middle class. I have a great gig, (going on thirty years) a couple of houses, grown kids and I still had to get my cough meds out because I was laughing so hard at these sophomoric fart jokes my chest was hurting.(so not a good beach read unless you want to come off looking like a howling moron) Thanks Adam, you helped me fondly remember a simpler time.
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on June 12, 2012
Adam does it again with another hit of a book. I couldn't put it down the entire day and loved the structure of the book being split in to chapters of his life at each house.

In the end, buy this book because you will not be disappointed.

Get it on!
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on June 12, 2012
Not Taco Bell Material is a hilarious recounting of Adam Carolla's formative years up through his discovery by Jimmy Kimmel and subsequent success, but the humor covers up a deeper message about a poor, traumatized kid growing up and persevering in the face of adversity. Adam grew up in the 1970s and faced adulthood in the early 1980s -- a time, he notes, when unemployment in the United States was actually worse than in 2012. Each chapter centers around the "dump" he lived in during that phase of life, from the ovens he slept in in the attic to the ovens he slept in in the garage, to the oven he moved into with his friend "The Weez."

Adam recounts in vivid detail the effects on his psyche of living in these various locales, which, combined with the non-parenting provided by his divorced mother and father, sent him on a trajectory of working digging ditches, cleaning carpets, and painting commercial buildings through his late teens and early twenties. While print is not Adam's medium of choice, Not Taco Bell Material's prose is polished and highly readable. Likely due to the talents of his co-author Mike Lynch, Adam's signature sense of comedic timing, sarcasm, and penchant for hilarious and poignant metaphors are clearly recognizable in each sentence.

Ultimately, the story is about someone who dug himself literally and figuratively out of a rut in life. That rut could just as easily have trapped him in an unending cycle of living in dumps, hooking up with other damaged people and cranking out another generation of do-nothing Carollas. Instead, he applied a little discipline and kept it together long enough to get his big break. In the meantime, he put his energy into developing (sometimes) positive relationships with his group of likewise underachieving friends, learning important life lessons along the way.

While Adam makes no bones about his motivation for working being to make money, he also provides a service in relating his story to the "Participation Award" generation. The book is an ode to the Pop Warner football ethos of the pre-Internet era -- a time when those who lagged behind got some helpful external motivation from their windbreaker-wearing coach and showing up wasn't an accomplishment in and of itself. We get small glimpses of Adam's later success while he recounts the tougher times, reminding us that a little suffering can pay off. In an age advocating taking from the rich and giving to the poor, Adam tells us that's ultimately a fruitless strategy. Success was possible for an underprivileged kid from North Hollywood, but none of it was handed to him.
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on June 25, 2012
Adam Carolla is a man who was sick and tired of the way he was living. But he didn't endlessly blame his parents or society for the bad hand he had been dealt in life. He worked his butt off to change things.

This book is very funny at times, but is equally if not more resonant as a discussion of personal philosophy. The essence of the book is, if you don't like the way things are going, do something about it. Stop blaming other people. Stop asking for handouts. Stop making excuses. These are very simple concepts, but ones that I am shocked to see countless Americans unable to grasp.

I am thrilled to see that Adam Carolla continues to find more and more success. His honesty and self-determination are rare qualities these days. As a young man in America, he is a great inspiration to me. I find motivation in his triumphs, and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the art of personal accountability and success.
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on September 25, 2012
I love the Adam Carolla Podcast (checked to make sure I spelled his name correctly), but this is his second book that I have purchased and they are both like watching reruns of a favorite tv show. All of the stories I have read so far in the book (about halfway through) I have already heard on the podcast. So, if this is my contribution to funding the podcast, I am all for that, but as a fan hoping for some new entertainment, this book falls far short. Maybe this is the way it is needs to work to fund this media, but it feels like I have been cheated.

I am not even sure how many stars to give the book. If you are a fan and don't listen to the podcast its 4+, but I can't give it more than 3, since its essentially summer reruns.
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on June 14, 2012
Honestly more people need to read this book and listen to Adam. The insights and way of thinking should replace our entire gov. I was not a carolla fan until the podcast and now am a fan for life. I want to see this made into a movie as well as the early days of k rock. Check it out if you also hate participation trophies and think common sense and logic are good things. Don't check this out if you get offended at good points, hard work, perseverance, or anything funny. Ace man I'm a big fan thanks so much
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on October 11, 2014
I've always been a fan of Adam Carolla pretty much no matter what type of project he was involved with and this book is no different. I felt like he was way funnier than Jimmy Kimmel, and he was a great addition to the Love Lines cast. I listen to his podcast just about every single day. If you've listened to his podcast for any length of time, you'll recognize many of the stories in the book. Its the first of his books that I have read. It is basically his autobiography told chronologically using the various houses he's lived in as guides to the shape his life was in during any given period. It is an interesting and unique way to write a biography. While I enjoyed all of his stories, I finished the book feeling like he could have done better. I'm not sure what, or how. Just after watching and listening to him for so many years, I feel like this wasn't his best work. Like he could have added a little something here or there that would have made the book better. I'll read In 50 Years We'll All Be Chicks, and President Me to see if his books have improved from this one. Regardless of what I find though, I'll still be an Adam Carolla fan no matter what.
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on June 21, 2012
This is less a book than a rambling meathead bildungsroman. It's frequently hilarious: Carolla takes shots at everyone, but his main target is always himself. Vulgarity and fart jokes (and worse) abound, but then this is a book by, for, and about men. Particularly, blue-collar white men, a demographic that doesn't get much attention from the media these days. The book sometimes reads like one long drunken bacchanal, but hey, that describes life for many guys between the ages of 18 and 30: crappy jobs, bad girlfriends, booze, and jackass friends.

What makes this book stand out is not the comedic booze-and-drug hijinks, but Carolla's obvious dedication to rising above his circumstances and making something better of himself. He's the first to admit that many of his problems were self-inflicted, and that the first step in overcoming his poverty and lack of options was to change his way of thinking. All that stuff that struck you as fun and hilarious at 18 -- living in dumps, getting drunk every night -- seems pretty pathetic when you hit 30. Carolla seems to be saying, "Hey, if a meathead like me can do it, anyone can do it!" (Hence the title: he was actually turned down for a job at Taco Bell.)

If you've listened to Carolla's podcasts, you'll know that he's on something of a crusade against the "participation trophy culture" that permeates the lives of young people. I think he intends this book as a contrarian view to the philosophy of "you're just fine the way you are!". His answer is that you're *not* fine the way you are, especially if you're doing crappy low-wage work and living a life devoid of roots or goals. Part of the book is a love-letter to Pop Warner football, and the sense of achievement and inclusion Carolla felt while playing the sport.

His vulgar, hilarious stories will speak most profoundly to men, I think. Women may find them simply gross and unfunny anecdotes...and so they are (gross, that is; but often hilarious) up to a point. But they are also true stories that most guys can relate to: Carolla is just saying, "This is how guys act around each other." Carolla extols the vulgar joys of male friendship, and in this feminized age, that's refreshing. He sees nothing wrong with hanging out with friends on a weekend, drinking beer and farting and watching football games. He can be a "lowland ape", as can most men, but he's also an intelligent professional and a dedicated family man.

Carolla's obvious fondness for his friends (particularly in light of what they've done to him, and he to them) may mystify many readers, particularly women. As Carolla describes his friends, they are barbarians, barely-civilized brutes. And so they probably were, once upon a time, as was Carolla himself. But it's hard to read this book and not come away thinking of your own friends and all their flaws: we often love people not just in spite of their flaws, but because of them. Sometimes our jackass friends grow up, sometimes they don't...and sometimes we liked them better before they "grew up".

You can read this book as straight comedy (and properly, because there were times I was almost crying with laughter), but there's some deeper stuff there if you go looking for it. Having said that, I suspect that Carolla dictated the book rather than wrote it himself, because it has a fairly disjointed, discursive style. It's not necessarily a knock against the book because Carolla never claimed to be much of a writer, but the book does tend to meander a bit. (But then again: it's about Carolla's life, which itself meandered a bit.)
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