Alexandra Petri
A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
February 09, 2019 Comments.. 298
A Field Guide to Awkward Silences Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri turns her satirical eye on her own life in this hilarious new memoirMost twentysomethings spend a lot of time avoiding awkwardness Not Alexandra Petri Afraid

  • Title: A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
  • Author: Alexandra Petri
  • ISBN: 9780451469601
  • Page: 409
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri turns her satirical eye on her own life in this hilarious new memoirMost twentysomethings spend a lot of time avoiding awkwardness.Not Alexandra Petri.Afraid of rejection Alexandra Petri has auditioned for America s Next Top Model Afraid of looking like an idiot Alexandra Petri lost Jeopardy by answering Who is that dude Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri turns her satirical eye on her own life in this hilarious new memoirMost twentysomethings spend a lot of time avoiding awkwardness.Not Alexandra Petri.Afraid of rejection Alexandra Petri has auditioned for America s Next Top Model Afraid of looking like an idiot Alexandra Petri lost Jeopardy by answering Who is that dude on national TV Afraid of bad jokes Alexandra Petri won an international pun championship.Petri has been a debutante, reenacted the Civil War, and fended off suitors at a Star Wars convention while wearing a Jabba the Hutt suit One time, she let some cult members she met on the street baptize her, just to be polite She s a connoisseur of the kind of awkwardness that most people spend whole lifetimes trying to avoid If John Hodgman and Amy Sedaris had a baby they would never let Petri babysit it.But Petri is here to tell you Everything you fear is not so bad Trust her She s tried it And in the course of her misadventures, she s learned that there are worse things out there than awkwardness and that interesting things start to happen when you stop caring what people think.

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    1 Blog on “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

    1. Oriana says:

      Okay so let's get this straight right up top: Alexandra Petri is funny AF. I discovered her during the halcyon days of the presidential debates (remember when all this was merely some CATASTROPHIC JOKE that would never actually come true????), doing these recaps which were just bonkersly hilarious. Here, please read them! First debate, second debate, third debate. She's also done funny riffs on Steve Bannon ("a dead lizard wrapped in a Confederate flag" lolol), Pizzagate, and Tr*mp's cabinet cas [...]

    2. Selina Kyle says:

      When I wonder if I've become too cynical, if I'll never get as "into" a book as I remember I was as a kid, I'm always relieved to find a book that can make me laugh. It's very rare that a book makes me cry. It's almost as rare to find one that makes me snort, giggle, or chuckle out loud. Let alone more than once.This one did. Petri has a great balance in her essays between hilarious absurdity and insights that range from deep to soothing. She digs at my (our) generation in ways that I think I wo [...]

    3. Jessica says:

      I frequently describe myself as an awkward turtle. It's a great way to convey my general uncomfortableness with social interactions while hopefully making people laugh, and thus make them like me despite my awkwardness. I've found it usually works in dispelling tension, making people snicker a little, and spurs people to offer me the reassurance that I'm not really that awkward. Alexandra Petri gets me, I think. This book made me laugh like a maniac on public transportation. It's one of the funn [...]

    4. Jaclyn Day says:

      This book is wonderful. I laughed (OUT LOUD) so many times I lost count. Each new chapter is more fun than the last, although the one about her misguided childhood obsession with Robert E. Lee and going into AOL chatrooms in character (”RELee”) was particularly delightful. (As a young middle schooler, I, too, had a misguided Civil War obsession and attended reenactments with friends. As I read that chapter, I thought, “Oh! I’ve found my people. At long last.”) Anyway, if you’re feeli [...]

    5. Mlpmom (Book Reviewer) says:

      3.5 StarsEvery once in awhile we need something fun, quirky, and just out there. Something to have a good time. Something original, carefree, and will leave us laughing because it truly is ridiculous in all the best ways.A Field Guide to Awkward Silences is one such read.Entertaining, sometimes bizarre, always fun, relatable, (because come on, how many of us have never been in an awkward situation?), and a laugh in every chapter, it is a book that is hard not to like, nod your head in agreement [...]

    6. Vanessa says:

      I really enjoy her columns in the Washington Post, so I thought this would be a fun read. It was fine. I feel like I need to stop rewarding funny white women who write these slapdash books of autobiographical essays that I buy just because I like them as people. There were some nice and insightful and moving parts of it, but it was mostly only okay. Too bad! I mean, it wasn't awful, but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. Hold out for Mallory Ortberg!

    7. Trish says:

      Petri wrote something smart-funny lately that I read in one of any number of news outlets (maybe it was the Washington Post), so I decided to look at this book. Awkward about describes it. Sort of teeny-boppery foolishness. Wasn't impressed, except for the amount of time she must have spent on it. Anyway, she is funnier now, I'm happy to report, and has a column in the WP.

    8. Bri ( says:

      Disclaimer: I was provided with an Advance Reader Copy of this book for free from the Penguin First to Read program. All opinions expressed in the following review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin. Lately, the book market has been saturated by fun, humorous, and self-deprecating memoirs written by young women. Compared to all the similar memoirs I've read, Alexandra Petri manages to write her version in a more entertaining and unique way. The main reason that Petri's book stand [...]

    9. David says:

      I saw her blog entry about a change to the AP Stylebook.Last week, the AP Stylebook surrendered a few more inches of ground. “Over” is now a more than acceptable alternative to “more than,” when it comes to describing relative amounts. Over already gets used more than more than. I don’t know how to protest this, other than reversing the replacement. I am not more than this. I will never get more than this. Over a few people were saying it this way anyway, but that doesn’t make it rig [...]

    10. Anthea says:

      Gripped my attention from the start but lost me when I halfway into the book. I understand that its a biography but I didn't feel connected to the author all the way to the end. Overall was an okay read. Had some pretty witty and funny parts but that's it.

    11. Tara says:

      Witty, intelligent, original and EXHAUSTING. I can't imagine there would ever be an awkward silence in her presence. Ever.

    12. Rowan says:

      4.5 stars. Some of the essays were better/more polished than others, but overall this was a cheery and entertaining read, much like listening to your funniest friend who always has a good story.

    13. Noreen Zayna Barlas says:

      I am sure many will enjoy this book. I personally was unable to connect with the narrative and lost interest midway.

    14. Michelle says:

      The dazzle of the creative spirit is celebrated in this fun debut read: "Field Guide to Awkward Silences". Alexandra Petri recalls her undercover participation in a TV talent show, a "punster" in the Pun-Off competition, being the muse of an un-famous author, her Civil War re-enactment, her great love for all things Star Wars, and one of her final acts: crashing the "Textbook on Geriatric Care" dinner seminar with a convincing Russian accent!It is easy to appreciate Petri's quirky zany style and [...]

    15. Caitlin says:

      I won a free copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read, in exchange for an honest review.Everyone who tends towards awkward has their own way of dealing with those moments when you've said or done something wrong. Alexandra Petri embraces the strange. To be fair, she's usually trying to make things better, but instead usually makes things hilariously worse.She even seeks out chances to embarrass herself, auditioning for America's Next Top Model, and Jeopardy!, and entering national pun c [...]

    16. Justin says:

      Penguin gave me an advance copy of this for review.This was a fun read most of the time. I think this would make a great beach book or as something to read between books. I generally like this type of non-fiction if I'm going to read non-fiction. There were a few moments where I though Petri's writing was both over and underwhelming. What I mean by that is there were times when I'd be enjoying a chapter and suddenly I'd be Googling a word. Now I have an adequate vocabulary, but this was a little [...]

    17. Maria says:

      Being a native of Wisconsin, there were parts of this book that made me think, "I know exactly what she's talking about!" The Kohler museum, for example? A sight to behold! Wisconsin fairs? You haven't lived until you've tried a cream puff! I also caught myself thinking, "I hope my family never slighted her fatheror his Packer schedules!" First of all, writing this book took some guts! Petri knows how to take her personal experiences and make them into life lessons; lessons worth laughing at (so [...]

    18. Chris says:

      Alexandra Petri is hilarious. I enjoy reading her columns in the post (she's to thank for the fact that I haven't had to subject myself to any of the Republican debates), and I figured I would see if she was as funny and enjoyable in book form.She is. Unlike other "comedy memoir writers". that's a thing? She comes across as someone I would get along with and be friends with. She also has the capacity for supremely awkward interactions without shame and embarrassment. As someone who has always be [...]

    19. Suzanne says:

      Some of the essays in this book are so painfully funny that even reading them aloud to someone else, in a vain attempt to gain control over this written material, will cause you to choke or hiccup. Probably best to tell them to get their own copy of the book. Early on, the author describes entering a dog agility contest herself, claiming she was running in memory of her deceased dog, and being allowed to run the course. She did not place (of course.) I so wish I had seen this happen. She has bec [...]

    20. Danni Green says:

      I first encountered Alexandra Petri because I'm the kind of person who gets enjoyment out of watching pun competitions on YouTube, and I was particularly excited to find and root for a contestant who (a) is a woman (of which there are not many) and (b) addresses feminism, onstage, in a male-dominated competitive performance environment (because she's a badass). I was excited to discover she's written a book, which I enjoyed reading very much. This collection of semi-interrelated essays are witty [...]

    21. Jack Coates says:

      Comedy books are never all that good because the timing is just not reliable and the patterns are so predictable still, this one was better than usual and I finished it. There are some genuinely funny and touching essays in here.

    22. Sandra says:

      It's true - interesting things do happen when you stop worrying about what others think. I enjoyed the beginning of this quirky, strange, rather out there tale. The middle to end was where she lost me. This small town gal just couldn't relate to her lifestyle and background.

    23. Brittany says:

      This book is hilarious. I want to be best friends with the author. Seriously. Kindred spirits or something.

    24. Jane says:

      Definitely funny. The essay on her whistling competition made me laugh so much, I gave myself hiccups.

    25. Shari says:

      Looking forward to getting this book in the mail. I can't believe I won this book on !

    26. Heather says:

      It pains me to give this 2 stars because I think Alexandra Petri is brilliant and hilarious, and I love her column in the Washington Post, but this book is not great. The stories make her seem very young, one is about how she is not a good driver, another is about the fact that her friend group has started getting married. Her articles in the Washington Post bring humor to the absurdities of current political news, but the stories in the book feel neither topical, nor all that funny. This was di [...]

    27. Peebee says:

      Alexandra Petri is a columnist for my hometown newspaper, and I adore her writing. (And I can't wait for the day she can replace the newspaper's long-time humor columnist who I don't find funny at all). I waited a long time for this book on hold, and so had built up a ton of anticipation to read it. But unfortunately, I didn't care for it that much. I guess the theme of the book is about her propensity to try way too hard, and it was carried out by her trying way too hard to make some of these v [...]

    28. Megan Peters says:

      Bought this because of the author's gorgeous opinion piece: Men of the World: You Are Not the Weather. This book is two years old so by the end of it you can see the growth between the essays in this book and that really compelling piece, but this is definitely much less mature, with sparks of brilliance flickering here and there. Some of this is excellent -- merrily funny, and she clearly has a way with words, poignant and thoughtfully in the right places -- and some is pretty misguided (like t [...]

    29. Claire says:

      I'll be honest, I did not know who Alexandra Petri was when I picked up this book, but it didn't matter at all. I love her now and I want her to be my best friend. I want her to pick me up at the airport wearing a foam cow hat and playing the accordion. I don't even particularly care which one of us is wearing the foam cow hat and playing the accordion, I want her to be just as hilarious and insightful in person as she is in print. Petri, if you're reading this, have your people call my people a [...]

    30. Christine says:

      I love the smart, witty, effortless humor in Alexandra Petri's columns in the Washington Post and was excited to read her book. However, I didn't particularly enjoy this read; the anecdotes were largely from Petri's childhood and upbringing. The humor throughout feels forced, and Petri comes across as the insufferable friend who is always going to extremes to prove her cleverness and get a laugh. I'd love to read something by Petri that was less personal and instead highlighted her brilliant com [...]

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