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You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations Hardcover – February 28, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 180 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Black’s fame is a peculiar but deserved one. He’s never starred in a big hit movie (although the giddily absurd 2001 cult classic Wet Hot American Summer should have been) or a top-rated television show (a supporting role in the 2000–2004 NBC series Ed is the closest he’s come so far), yet he’s brought his brand of sly wit and deadpan pop-culture commentary to a variety of places, including a gazillion of those I Love the . . . VH1 specials, memorable commercial spots (for Sierra Mist and Pets.com), and several short-lived cable series (The State, Stella). Now Black is carving out his own unique niche as an author, landing comfortably between Tina Fey and Augusten Burroughs along the comedy-memoir spectrum. He leaves out the Hollywood dish and avoids exposing any deep, dark family skeletons in favor of self-deprecating ruminations on his own neuroses, schoolyard fights, the toils and spoils of marriage, child rearing, pets, religion, masculinity, and, finally, coming to terms with being a traditional middle-aged family man and target BMW demographic. --Chris Keech


“All these years, Michael Ian Black has not gotten enough credit for what a good writer he is. This book is charming and good company and—best of all—amazingly honest. And really, really funny, of course—though you probably already guessed at that part.”
— Ira Glass, This American Life

"Memorable and funny. . . . An amusing look at masculine insecurity and confusion."
—Kirkus Reviews

“This book is so frank, so full of amusingly embarrassing confessions, I should probably be giving Michael Black a hug instead of a blurb.”
—Sarah Vowell, New York Times bestselling author and essayist

“It’s no surprise that Michael Ian Black’s book is hysterical. But I was surprised by how heartfelt and touching his memoir is. It’s true: Michael Ian Black has emotions!”
—A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All

"I loved My Custom Van. But I loved You're Not Doing It Right even more. Reading this book felt like taking a long road trip with Michael himself—which I’ve done. And I actually recommend the book more. Touching, hilarious, and truthful all at once. What else do you want, America?"
—Mike Birbiglia, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepwalk with Me

"Dear Michael Ian Black: please stop writing things in books that I wish I had written myself, it's starting to make me feel bad. Also, would you like to be friends someday? I sure would."
—Samantha Bee, senior correspondent on The Daily Show and author of I Know I Am But What Are You?

"Michael Ian Black is one of the finest comedy minds of our generation and a master at assembling words in a hilariously pleasing way. You would have to be a vapid crapsack not to enjoy this book."
—Chris Hardwick

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439167850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439167854
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is 243 pages long, and every one of those pages is great. Michael Ian Black has been making me laugh since 1993, but it wasn't until late in 2011, when I heard him do a piece on 'This American Life' about his late father and about Michael becoming a dad himself, that he made me cry. That piece is in this book (Chapter 9: Dead Dad Kid) and it's as heartfelt as anything I've heard or read in years. The rest of this book is just as good.

Don't get me wrong: I still laughed out loud during every chapter of 'You're Not Doing It Right.' But there's as much heart as there is comedy in its pages. Please buy it and read it and then read it again later. Then tell people you read it. When they ask to borrow it, tell them to buy their own. That's how we ensure we get more books in the future from this great writer.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Ian Black nearly abandoned this project, and you can see why. This is not just another giggly book by a comedian-actor. It is deeply, horrifyingly personal. It feels like you are reading the diary of a person struggling with depression, one who happens to be highly intelligent and an unusually good writer.

There is humor in this book, and you'll likely find yourself laughing out loud, but the humor's purpose is only as little candy sprinkles on top of a giant loaf of misery. Although it's likely to make you laugh, you're unlikely to find it funny. There is a difference. The little absurdities and wordplays induce laughter but mostly as a reflex. The overall feeling from this book is profound despair:

* "I wonder if, like me, there are people who occasionally experience the curious, disembodying sensation of not recognizing their present life as their own. It is a feeling I can only describe as being the opposite of déjà vu. Rather than feeling as though you are reliving some unique moment in time, it is as if you are experiencing the mundane activities of your everyday life for the first time. So that's what this book is about, those occasional instants when I do not recognize my life as my own, and I am left wondering how I got here."
* "I know her better than I have ever known anybody, but there are times when I have also never felt more distant from another person. The thing that nobody tells you about marriage is that sometimes it makes you lonelier than being alone ever could."
* "The fatigue reawakens all the scary fantasies I used to have of harming my child.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. I did not expect to love this book so much. I totally expected it to make me laugh my face off, because Michael Ian Black is good at that, but I did not expect it to bring me to near tears several times. Maybe almost as many times as it made me laugh out loud (Disclaimer: I was PMSing while reading a good portion of this so... reaction may have been slightly influenced by my enraged uterus, but as I am generally not an overly emotional person during any time of any given month, I don't think that is the case.)

Every page of this book is funny, but that's not what impressed me. What impressed me was the way Michael can take some common experience we all go through and write about it in a way that is both original and totally relatable. I found during the course of this book that we think very similarly, which is great because I love people who think just like I do.

Michael's brand of humor is generally not the kind that appeals to a broad population. You have to be a little smart to appreciate it. But I think his humor in this book is the kind that almost anyone could appreciate, and if you can't, you'll probably at least respect the brutally honest treatment he gives every aspect of his life from dating to marriage to having babies, owning pets, and even buying a car. The whole time I was reading this, I was like "Damn, I can't believe how much I am loving this book." What's more, I actually learned a few things from this book. Things about myself, even. Yes, Michael Ian Black gave me several epiphanies. One on an airplane, another on the subway.

I agree with the other reviews. Get this book, read it, and then tell everyone you know to read it. Michael's shameless pimping on Twitter annoyed me at first, but now I get it... this book deserves to be a best seller so much more than most best sellers out there.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Friends told me that Michael Black was funny but I really didn't know much about him so I read this book without hoping for more than an entertaining and humorous read. There was indeed plenty of humor but also descriptions of moments so touching that I was moved to tears,especially in the last chapter when Black expresses his love for his wife and explains why his marriage has deepened and become richer with time.

These may not seem like original topics ( many authors write about love and marriage) but Black's take, his way of mixing love, angst, boredom, and humor together is unique. He has a comic's knack for the verbal curveball that evokes surprised laughter from readers.

So what is the book "about".... that question people ask but often so hard to sum up when describing a book? Well, as Black notes, he focuses on " those occasional instants when I do not recognize my life as my own and I am left wondering how I got here " and that is definitely a recurring theme. The newborn baby who destroys Black's former routine and life. Looking in the mirror and seeing a 40 year old staring back when he doesn't feel experienced or wise enough to be 40. Black finds himself shocked, disoriented, and confused by parenthood, marital fights and even a period of sudden dizzy spells.

But there are also honest and funny admissions about his flaws as well as what he and his wife gained from marriage counseling. Intense details about their fights emerge. Divorce seems a very real possibility. Then Black wonders " When did our definition of ourselves as a couple become about the things we had to do instead about the people we want to be?"

I fear i'm making all this seem way too deep and serious when much of the book is far lighter - and funnier- than I can express.
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