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A Beginner's Guide to Paradise: 9 Steps to Giving Up Everything Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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"Hilarious and brilliantly written."—AJ Jacobs, editor-at-large, Esquire
"A must read!"—New York Post
"The male answer to Eat, Pray, Love!”—BookPage
"Charming and ferociously entertaining.”—Peter Mountford, author of A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism
"Witty and immensely entertaining!"—Passport Magazine
"Sincerely funny."—Kirkus Reviews
"Nonfiction Winner"—Faulkner Society's Words & Wisdom Award
"1st Place New Nonfiction"—Los Angeles Book Festival
About the Author
Burnt out and facing a quarter-life crisis, Alex Sheshunoff quit his Internet job in New York City and bought a one-way ticket to Yap, bringing with him a few t-shirts and the hundred books he was most embarrassed not to have read. While out there, he'd read those books, meet a woman, build a bungalow, adopt a baby monkey, and write his own book- a hopefully-humorous memoir called A Beginner's Guide to Paradise.
Because of his unique last name, Alex is often asked if he's somehow related to Ian Shenanigan Sheshunoff, the first-place winner of the Diaper Derby Crawling Contest at the 2008 Alaska State Fair. They are indeed related. Ian is his son. Today, Alex and his wife, Sarah, live in Ojai, California with Ian and his equally talented younger brother, Andrew Commissioner Sheshunoff.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although I read it in two days, there are many short chapters in the book, each with an "outline" of what is to come, and what the author "learned". In ALL chapters, these short, pithy statements were witty, subtle, and intelligent.
Since each chapter is only a few pages long, I recommend reading this in short bursts. It will give you time to savor the author's prose and wit.
When you are:
a. Considering moving to a remote island in search of paradise?
b. Waiting for a root canal procedure to commence?
c. Trapped beneath something heavy and the only item within reach is this book to pass the time before help arrives?
d. Procrastinating from writing your own book?
e. Wanting to read a delightfully absurd and insightful memoir by a talented, debut author?
f. All of the above?
To give you a hint, Sheshunoff’s treasure chest of poignant witticisms sprinkled with reflective prose embodies universal appeal. We have all dreamed of “getting away” from it all, but few of us have the moxie to do it. Albeit fueled by a quarter life crisis and an embarrassment for not having read several literary classics, Sheshunoff’s pursuit is familiar and captivating, bringing us closer to understanding ourselves as we follow along with his outlandish adventures.
Do yourself a favor; make a frothy, fruity drink, sit beneath a palm tree (or poster of a palm tree) and read this book. You’ll laugh, cringe, and be fully engaged with Sheshunoff’s life choices and results. Fun, creative, and sharp-witted, "A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise" is a book you don’t want to miss.
The answer, by the way, is f.
It's insights like this that drive this memoir from mere vanity to a narrative describing a transformation of perception, a transformation many of us need. I read this book in a fever while outside it was extremely cold and blustery for what felt like two weeks straight and while I was sitting under the fluorescent light bulbs for hours on end, I really wished to be on Yap with Alex. I had reservations about the memoir because I had already read The Beach but A Beginner's Guide To Paradise does not blow the same tired south easterly winds, this memoir was a breath of fresh air.
The style is not only approachable but the format is engaging. Each bite-sized morsel chapter is equally delicious and adds momentum to the memoir. Alex grabbed me particularly because I too have flirted with wanting that start-up success and lifestyle and he has it all, but yet he leaves it. I could not understand why and so I too unwillingly, but in the end, satisfyingly reevaluated what exactly I was looking for.
One thing that I think readers on the fence should know is that Alex really goes into great detail not just about his emotional response to the stimuli around him but the actual physical things he packs and prepares for and experiences. Above all else, the tangible nature of his narrative and his voice, like that of your good (albeit, also funny) friend recounting his tales of his great adventure, makes it an extremely fast and accessible read, good for the lazy poolside days as well as the nightly last few moments before sleep with the sleet beating on the window pane.
This next section little blurb really resonated with me and I want to share it because he touches on the exact thing I would think on the precipice of such a risky adventure but he jumps and after reading this I think I might be able to as well:
"I asked him to give me a second to think it over. Suddenly, I felt afraid. When is it a good idea to listen to fear and when is it a good idea to fight it? Maybe this was the moment when most people turned back to the deep-cushioned couches of their familiar lives and said, 'Nope, not for me.'"
Simply stated, I laughed my ass off reading it. Sheshunoff is witty, insightful, honest and self-deprecating, unafraid and turning his missteps into “lessons learned,” finding humor in it all.
I started the book on a rainy Saturday morning in front of the wood stove and, pulled on by the poignant storytelling, kept churning through the pages even after the sun began to shine and all my friends went outside.
This book is highly advised for anyone that aspires to adventure and love and wants to view a life outside the conventional norm.