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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but...
This is a book about the author's first year at Harvard, a school that most of the world will never have the chance to attend. Reading it, I was taken back to my first year of college and I found myself involuntarily giggling, or grimacing depending in the situation being related. And seriously, boy does he relate some cringe-inducing stories, including the time he...
Published on July 2, 2012 by LovetoRead

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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh how I laughed, then felt bad about laughing
Mr Kester can write. He has a deft hand with self deprecation, can craft a witty phrase and knows how to pace a book. I bought his book today and demolished it, hell, I bought it off the strength of the first paragraph. That is how entertaining Kester is.

But he's also kind of a jerk, and he doesn't bother to hide it.

Give me a minute! I know that's...
Published on August 31, 2012 by Alex


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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh how I laughed, then felt bad about laughing, August 31, 2012
This review is from: That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World's Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time (Paperback)
Mr Kester can write. He has a deft hand with self deprecation, can craft a witty phrase and knows how to pace a book. I bought his book today and demolished it, hell, I bought it off the strength of the first paragraph. That is how entertaining Kester is.

But he's also kind of a jerk, and he doesn't bother to hide it.

Give me a minute! I know that's a harsh assessment, but all of the virtues I've stated come with some rather telling flaws. Kester's writing is at times racist and sexist, and the wry observations he makes about himself are juxtaposed with cruel observations about others. His calculus professor's accent is derided in lengthy swathes of dialogue, and Kester's maturity and understanding is so underdeveloped that he laughs in the man's face. Quite literally. He also goes to great lengths to describe a girl he finds unattractive, slapped on the ass and later found out had slept with a friend of his (who also mocked her cruelly). He does the same with a man he found overweight. Kester's writing does not just reveal a man who struggled under the weight of a high class university... It also shows that the experience did not give him empathy. His writing oscillates between hilarious reflections of himself, which are unflinching, and thoughtless meanness. It is, if I am being fair, well written meanness. But it does not speak well of Kester, and it makes the book an uncomfortable read at times.

However, I still finished the book, because when it is funny it is very funny and when it is cruel, well... You get an extremely rare insight into the mind of a man who is privileged, white and american, but with all the censoring turned off. If you want to know how the white boy on the football team thinks about other people, this book will tell you. There are no comforting lies here. This book is honest. You may not want to be friends with Kester after reading "That book about Harvard," but you will know him well, and you will find that he is a man who is funny, at times kind and at times terrible, and certainly a person who only realizes some of his flaws. In his defence, there are some incredibly sweet recollections to be found, particularly based around the child-prodigy Vikas, who Kester goes out of his way to befriend and support. These little moments with Vikas reveal that Kester does, at least sometimes, care about other people. They were the best parts of the book, for me.

Harvard is an incredibly white campus, you can find yourself struck by the sheer quantity of paintings of old white guys all over the place. Kester reflects that history, and I think there's a lot of value in that. If you think you may want to go to Harvard, or know more about the culture, then Kester is a worthwhile read. His experience is not the experience of everyone, but I would not call him entirely unusual. If you read this book with an open eye for Kester's flaws you will enjoy the experience, for the most part. Just be warned, all the epiphanies you may be hoping for don't quite happen, pretty much every "ism" there is pops up.

Although if you have any issues with the author after reading, he will be making an appearance at the Harvard Coop on September 13. You can bring it up with him there! I hope the girl with the high waisted jeans shows up and punches him in the nose, seriously, he's got that much coming.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but..., July 2, 2012
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This is a book about the author's first year at Harvard, a school that most of the world will never have the chance to attend. Reading it, I was taken back to my first year of college and I found myself involuntarily giggling, or grimacing depending in the situation being related. And seriously, boy does he relate some cringe-inducing stories, including the time he walked across campus in his underwear, and when he was arrested, and...well, I'd better stop there, although there are many more to share.
I enjoyed also the different interesting tidbits he shared about life at Harvard. Stepping around the protest clubs in the way to class, dodging tourists anxious to get a glimpse of a "real Harvard scholar", choking on the cafeteria food, taking part in the "primal scream", and more.
While there was much that I enjoyed about this book and it is a really fast read, I wish that he had made it a bit longer. I would have enjoyed reading a bit more about the rest of his time at Harvard, and also would have liked to know who the girl is that he wrote the book to impress, (i.e. did her name start with "H"?).
The book is also quite crude in parts, he channels his 19-year-old self very believably and there are some parts that I did not find as enjoyable to read. Overall though, it is a good book and a fun read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, November 17, 2012
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Having been a Harvard student myself many years ago, with a son about to start the college application process now wondering whether or not Harvard might be the right school for him, I could enjoy Kester's book on two very different levels. It's a hilarious read, with many laugh-out-loud passages. But it's also a sobering and insightful commentary about the school, its traditions, and the perspectives and priorities of its students and faculty. There's a lot there, and it's all done well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Can't Wait For the Movie!, July 7, 2013
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This review is from: That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World's Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time (Paperback)
I had a great time reading this book and in fact loved it. The first half of the book is hard hitting laugh out loud funny and the second half just wraps up beautifully. It's very easy to imagine this story becoming a National Lampoon movie with a young SNL cast member. The material and ending is simply gold. In addition, I learned a good bit about Harvard in a way that humanizes it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Novel!, June 28, 2013
This is a very funny read! The story made me reminisce about my own college experience, and I could definitely identify with some of Kester's more awkward moments. He does a great job depicting Harvard!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely HIlarious, July 30, 2012
This review is from: That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World's Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time (Paperback)
This book is absolutely one of the funniest books I have ever read. The only thing that this author makes more fun of in this book than Harvard is himself. I read almost this entire book the first day it was in my hands. That is saying something for a state school educated guy like myself. Well done sir, well done.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read - funny, articulate, and well-written!, August 31, 2012
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This review is from: That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World's Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time (Paperback)
I absolutely loved this book. Aside from the fact that it had me laughing out loud, it was also well-written -- a rarity in today's overly chick lit-saturated market. The jokes and stories delivered a punch, and reminded me a lot of David Sedaris in the narrative and delivery.

Perhaps the book's greatest strength was the depth of the plot. I fully expected it to be a humorous, albeit lighthearted, story. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the author showcases his personal challenges alongside the funny anecdotes, including his struggles to fit in and questions about whether he truly belongs at Harvard. This really tied the whole memoir together, and by the end, I felt as though I knew the author well as a person.

I would definitely recommend this book, though probably not for anyone younger than high school age...some of the topics are a little "mature."
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not what you'd expect. Or is it?, July 6, 2012
By 
C2015 (CA/NY, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World's Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time (Paperback)
Funny. This is a truly funny book. It is also quite moving in parts and Mr. Kester has a way with words that makes him grow on us as the book progresses. I admit it took a few pages for me to start to like his style but I'm very glad I stuck with the book. After six pages or so I did not want to stop reading. On page 172 I was crying and several chapters later I was pulling for Eric to survive his year at Harvard with an intensity that surprised me.

Expecting another memoir about a year at an Ivy League school I was very surprised (and I do not believe in spoiling plots) to find how like the rest of us Mr. Kester is. Trying to adapt, to fit in, to play football, pass calculus, and to deal with a beautiful girl who isn't exactly what he or his audience expected, Eric Kester wrote such a good book that I can't wait for the sequel; his sophomore year!

Full disclosure: I had an advance reader copy and read the book in June.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of laughs, May 29, 2014
By 
James J. Ryan (Mamaroneck, NY, US) - See all my reviews
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Hilarious send up of a storied place. Harvard Yard has never had a scribe like this one. Truly laugh-out-loud funny.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterical, May 13, 2014
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If your older middle aged sentimentalities are stuck in your youth be prepared for some current telling it like it is in certain university social circles (in lots of places, nut just Harvard). A real relief if you need a break from angst and beach reads are too fluffy. Wry and just hilarious.
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That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World's Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time
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