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Publisher's Summary

John Hodgman - New York Times best-selling author, semifamous personality, deranged millionaire, increasingly elderly husband, father, and human of Earth - has written a memoir about his cursed travels through two wildernesses: from the woods of his home in Massachusetts, birthplace of rage, to his exile on the coast of Maine, so-called Vacationland, home to the most painful beaches on Earth.

Vacationland is also about Hodgman's wandering in the metaphoric wilderness of his 40s, those years when dudes especially must painfully stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weirder dads that they are.

Other subjects covered include the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison, and advice on how to react when the people of coastal Maine try to sacrifice you to their strange god.

After three best-selling books of fake facts, Hodgman is finally ready to tell the truth - in the same outlandish, audacious, and inimitable style that has won him fans in every medium he has worked: books, stage, social media, television, and movies.

©2017 John Hodgman (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Not your typical coming of age story

If you've ever liked anything fromJohn Hodgman- Vacstionlabd is for you. If you have never heard of John Hodgman-re-evaluate your life. And also Vacationland is for you.

Layered with absurdist humor and sober sincerity, Hodgman captures snapshots of moments between his mid-twenties and early forties to tell his own coming of age story from early to mid adulthood. The book deals with family, and friendship, and the meeting place of who you were and who you have become.

Moments in Hodgman's life and their place in the world are described so beautifully and cleverly that I often found myself simultaneously laughing and weeping while listening on the subway (which-yes-made me look like a crazy person).

Also, both having read some of Vacationland in print and listened to all of it on audio, having it read out loud to me by Hodgman makes something that's already great even better. I would read from my fiancée's hard cover of the book, but even then I would go back and re-listen to the audible (buzz-marketing) version just so that I could listen to Hodgman tell the stories himself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Funny, happy, sad, melancholic

John Hodgeman has a self awareness that grants him a rare sense of humor. This part-memoir part-reflection gives the reader a glimpse into the forces that have shaped his life. If you are a fan of John in any way, you will likely enjoy this book thoroughly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Both poignantly personal but also broadly insightful

I was tempted to take a flyer on this book since I heard Hoffman’s narration of another book (Year Zero by Rob Reid, also hilarious in the vein of Hitchhiker’s Guide). Having grown up in Maine, I was pushed over the edge, to hear how “Vacationland” was described from someone from away. While it takes John a while to get to Maine in the story, retracing his life from his teen years, the journey was well worth it. His story is often hilarious, at times mildly neurotic, frequently touching, with meaningful, really insightful perspectives on today’s society, and the nature of privilege within it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful and funny

John Hodgman is one of the best storytellers whom I have ever read. This particular audiobook is both hilarious and touching. I couldn’t have chosen a better listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Recommend to any fans.

If you are a fan of Hodgman, there's a lot to love here. I anticipated the book to be fun, like his podcast, and it is, but it is also very self-reflective. Much of the book is about coming to terms with the pains of life. My only real criticism is the pacing. The first half is mostly funny with some self-reflection, and the second half is mostly self-reflection, with bits of humor. Both parts are good, and it mirrors the process of getting older, but I could have used a bit of a reprieve from morbid realisations with more comedy.

The proformance was fantastic, the writing very good. If you are interested in the book, you will probably enjoy it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It really grew on me.

Even funnier than I expected, the author has a droll, deadpan delivery that is hilarious to listen to. Seemingly random anecdotes all come together to deliver thoughtful and conclusions that were more meaningful than I expected. It made me want to go to Maine- even if the water there is made of hate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Live The Maine Experience

without actually going there.

That is how Maine prefers it anyway.

For a book about Maine, Hodgman delivers. Wonderful, Self-Aware Wit in his humor.

This book makes you feel smarter than you actually are.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Surprising and Moving Fun

I enjoyed John Hodgman’s Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches on an emotional level. Maybe that’s too obvious a statement, but I say this upfront simply to warn you that I have no pretense of objective evaluation in this review. I was and am moved by this book. It spoke to me in my current context (entering my late 30s worried about family and future) and asked the questions I ask myself. I found the book to be insightful, moving, and funny, but I’m not sure that it is (or wants to be) universally so. Okay, enough lame caveats. I liked the book and you should too. Not sure why I’m worrying about the book review police throwing me in book review jail.
Vacationland is a fast read, but leaves a lasting impression. It gave me one of those magical time-travel evenings in which I sat down to read and suddenly five hours were gone and I stared at the final page thinking, “wait, how did you do that?” Those experiences, at their best, leave me feeling fundamentally changed in some way. It’s also the kind of book that, once finished, prompted me to sit with the big questions and leave my warm house on a cold, damp night for a rambling 1AM drive to think about the nature of human endeavor and impermanence. Am I selling this as a fun book yet? Because it is. It is a fun book. It’s just not fun merely for the sake of fun like many of Hodgman’s earlier works (which I also enjoyed). Vacationland is fun in an honest, real life sort of way that marries silliness with tragedy and pain with absurdity. It is, in my opinion, what grown-up American humor should be at this moment in our history, a moment when earnestness and sincerity seem to be on the ropes at the highest levels of government and public life. This book is not one man’s truth used as a cudgel to beat back any opposition. It is an essay in the original sense of the word, a work of trying, a strenuous attempt to find a truth -personal or universal. It isn’t hard to understand how in the current political/social context, Hodgman isn’t interested in throwing more fake facts onto the pile. You sense him living with the question of, “okay, what now” in these pages, and that’s a question that resonates with most of us.
The last point I want to make is that Vacationland is one of those books that works (in part) because its author is just good company. John Hodgman has a voice and knows how to use it. John is brilliant and observant and self-deprecating and aware of his own nonsense. He can go from truly poetic to ridiculous in the span of a sentence and the tension between those peaks and valleys creates an enjoyable narrative rhythm.
This book made me cry. It made me laugh at surprising moments. It made me want to walk out onto the sharp-edged Maine beaches of my own uncomfortable questions and wade out into the nickel-gray water and find myself stronger and more whole from the experience.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyed, except....

Mr. Hodgman's pronunciation of Piscataqua is incorrect. Other than that I found it to be a delightful listen.

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Solipsistic

As a middle-aged, liberal white guy with a patchy beard, I found this difficult to relate to.

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  • Susan Buttress
  • 11-21-17

Hodgman’s tales in his own voice - perfect!

Summary: Funny, poignant, candid, and true tales from the life of bestselling author and humourist John Hodgman. I laughed, I wept, and I laughed again. A must-listen!

I’ll admit upfront that I am biased: I admire John Hodgman enormously and enjoy his humour.

His previous immensely popular books of fake facts led the reader on wonderful journeys down rabbit holes of trivia. But times move on and fake facts are no longer the fun diversion they once were.

Vacationland is a stunning change of pace for Hodgman.

Entering his 40s he reached sudden clarity on his own mortality and potential lack of relevance in a youth-driven culture. He does not show any bitterness, however, but accepts that this is the natural order of things. We pave a way for those who come after. But - he is not obsolete yet!

In modest and self-deprecating terms he describes himself as a “strange, white, male monster with bad facial hair”. He shares key moments of his life, and sets them in the context of the locations where he has lived, from The Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts to the “painful beaches” of Maine where he attests he will someday accept his death. He talks about his teenage years, fatherhood, and life as a ‘minor television celebrity’, and reflects on the events that have made him who he is.

Read by Hodgman himself, the style is conversational with beautifully descriptive passages that really evoke the visual scene. The tales are funny, revealing, and downright heartbreaking at times. He shares himself with us as never before.

John Hodgman is a wonderful storyteller and Vacationland totally satisfies, yet leaves you hoping for sequels. Highly recommended!

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  • John Sharpe
  • 11-20-17

Enjoyable Yarn

I didn't abandon this book after a few chapters, promise myself I'd get back to it and eventually return it. I listened from start to finish. I was not familiar with the author but I like him.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-05-17

Vacationland

If you know and like John Hodgman, this is a good book. If you don't, then it is still good, but I think at times his attitudes could be misconstrued, his humour is dry and self-deprecating and he has a clear awareness of his own character and the privilege he experiences and talks frankly of them.

Not being American I didn't see their Apple PC Ads (in which John Hodgman played the PC) when they aired and so my first introduction to John Hodgman was through his appearances as a deranged millionaire on the Daily Show. This led me to his first book, which led me to the audiobooks of fake facts and then his podcast. Eventually I saw the ads and enjoyed them too.

Of all of these versions of John Hodgman (all to some degree made-up) this book feels closest to the podcast, which is hardly surprising because, the podcast is his wisdom and thoughts and often includes glimpses into his life, and this book is full of stories from his life, true ones.

I adored the fake facts books but I grew to admire and love John Hodgman through his podcast, this book shares more of the things I love, his honesty and awareness of the unfairness of the world, his often poetic yet realistic descriptions of the world, his love for his family and, possibly most important, his weird dadness.