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The Elephant in the Room

One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America
Narrated by: Tommy Tomlinson
Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
5 out of 5 stars (111 ratings)

Regular price: $17.00

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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Roxane Gay’s Hunger, a searing, honest, and candid exploration of what it’s like to live as a fat man, from acclaimed journalist Tommy Tomlinson, who decided he had to change his life as he neared the age of 50 weighing in at 460 pounds.

When he was almost 50 years old, Tommy Tomlinson weighed an astonishing - and dangerous - 460 pounds, at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, unable to climb a flight of stairs without having to catch his breath or travel on an airplane without buying two seats. Raised in a family that loved food, he had been aware of the problem for years, seeing doctors and trying diets from the time he was a preteen. But nothing worked, and every time he tried to make a change, it didn’t go the way he planned - in fact, he wasn’t sure he really wanted to change.

He was only one of millions of Americans struggling with weight, body image, and a relationship with food that puts them at major risk. Intimate and insightful, The Elephant in the Room is Tomlinson’s chronicle of meeting those people, taking the first steps toward health, and trying to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point. From buying a Fitbit and setting an exercise goal to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill, America’s “capital of food porn”, and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery that is a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size. Over the course of the audiobook, he confronts these issues head-on and chronicles the practical steps he has to take - big and small - to lose weight by the end.

©2019 Tommy Tomlinson (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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Worth a Listen

If you listen to samples before chosing audiobooks, you may resist this one because of the voice. It is worth getting past that. Read by the author, the story explains the voice, and it seems right that he reads it himself. He is an excellent writer and storyteller, and this is an honest and open account of his life as a food addicted "fat man" (his term). If you know someone like that, you'll know them better, and judge them less often, after this.

Because you'll come to like the author so much, you may be troubled that he never once mentions a fresh vegitable or fruit. He seems to only recognize his love of what we now call junk food and his need to resist it, without ever discovering the pleasure of better foods that can supplant the harmful ones. He still seems to think of "diet" as what you don't eat, instead of what you do. Still, you root for him throughout and will want to read more of his writing when you are through.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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An intimate look at obesity

This book is an intimate look at obesity. The author admits that he really has it all -- wonderful parents and friends, a fascinating job and a loving wife. Yet he cannot restrain himself from overeating. He tells his life story with great humor and candor, blaming absolutely no one but himself for overeating. His voice, which is hoarse from a throat operation he had many years ago, is initially hard to understand but adds to the experience of the book. It's a good, albeit not super deeper read, and will make me look at all obese people a little differently.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fat identity explored, some positives!

Compelling and beautifully told, Tommy Tomlinson is generous with his audience as few can be. Intimate sharing, truthful challenges, and heartbreaking battles make up this biscuits and butter of this book. Read it. If you don’t laugh or cry, you may need to see a doctor. Thank you Tommy Tomlinson for your raw honesty. I hope your next book is about body acceptance and being fat positive, but for now, this is exactly what you needed to tell us, and exactly what we needed to read. Thank you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dennis
  • Whitby, Ontario, Canada
  • 02-02-19

That Voice!

After listening for the first three seconds I thought "They should've hired a professional narrator instead of letting the author read his own book"

I was wrong!

Tommy did a great job and his story about the reason why his voice is the way it is added more to the point of the whole book. Fantastic storytelling, interesting, engaging, and even more so to those "on the wrong side of 300lbs".

As a Canadian that consumes a lot of US media, for some reason I never came across Tommy's work until I stumbled upon this book's excerpt as a suggestion on some website. And I am so glad I did. Thank you Tommy for sharing your story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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What you’ve been missing

So relatable, even if your struggle isn’t weight or maybe even if it’s more than one things like myself. Small change in a fast paced world, Tommy really makes you feel like you’re sitting next to him a Momma’s table eating your third helping in a blue fog of misunderstanding and yearning for a Unsuck FM to change the song. Powerful and worth every moment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Be prepared to fall in love with Tommy Tomlinson

How often do you find utter honesty and rueful humor from an author who can rip your heart out? Tommy gives it all to us straight and true. As a serious eater myself, my mouth watered over the book's food descriptions.The author's narration enhances the book. I did not want this story to end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Tommy Tomlinson at his best

I’ve been a fan of his writing for a long time . . . I even got a chance to meet and know him . . . and he is one of the most honest, transparent and compelling authors that I know. Well I’m sure that the written book is phenomenal, it’s hard to imagine that it compares to hearing his story in his own voice. He takes you from childhood to adult life, skillfully pulling back layers of his own life to reveal both an inner child and a voice that want to be heard. It’s both revealing and inspiring. I highly recommend and will go get the written book as well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great listen

I appreciated the author’s honesty and found him endearing. I was rooting for him throughout the book and found myself proud of his progress! :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Raw, honest, engaging, endearing

Tommy Tomlinson really puts himself out there in this book. All that he has forever been embarrassed and ashamed to share, all he has hidden (or tried to), all he has denied (or lied about) is now wide open, shared with the world -- in a way that is so relatable. No easy task when trying to share what its like to be overweight to those who are not -- and who simplify the reality to why you just can't/won't eat less and move more.
Tommy does this in a way that is so endearing. He does not portray himself as a victim -- but he digs deep for the evolution of how he got to this point, blaming no one but himself.
I was in awe of how much just about every memory he has, every move he makes -- good and bad -- are so intertwined with either his weight or with food.
And I do not understand the readers/listeners who struggle with his voice -- I loved his voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Sounds so familiar

The story is familiar to me. The way Tomlinson weaves his history of being obese with his life stories is done very well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful