Read My Life And Hard Times by James Thurber Online


Widely hailed as one of the finest humorist of the twentieth century, James Thurber looks back at his own life growing up in Columbus, Ohio, with the same humor and sharp wit that defined his famous sketches and writings. In My Life and Hard times, first published in 1933, he recounts the delightful chaos and frustrations of family, boyhood, youth odd dogs, recalcitrant Widely hailed as one of the finest humorist of the twentieth century, James Thurber looks back at his own life growing up in Columbus, Ohio, with the same humor and sharp wit that defined his famous sketches and writings. In My Life and Hard times, first published in 1933, he recounts the delightful chaos and frustrations of family, boyhood, youth odd dogs, recalcitrant machinery, and the foibles of human nature. ...

Title : My Life And Hard Times
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781853753978
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 140 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Life And Hard Times Reviews

  • Chrissie
    2019-03-16 23:18

    Before starting: I need something light, and I love memoirs, so this should be perfect.And it was! A very short memoir that says it all. Some writers don't have to talk and talk and talk, just a few short episodes, all humorous, tell about the essential elements of James Thurber's boyhood growing up in Columbus, Ohio - the flatlands. Even though the chapters could be seen as short stories, they are not! They are true episodes in this humorist's life. The book was written in the 30s and it has lost none of its charm and humor. That is what I call a classic.So many classic's are dated in their writting style. This isn't. What is covered: his relationship with his mother, from whom he got at least part of his biting humor, eccentric relatives, dogs, of course dogs, school and military training, ghosts, burglars, the day the dam broke and yet didn't and of course his difficulties with his fading vision. So few words, but they say it all and they say it with humor.

  • George K.
    2019-03-09 20:08

    Δεύτερο βιβλίο του Τζέιμς Θέρμπερ που διαβάζω, μετά το παραμύθι φαντασίας για παιδιά "Το άσπρο ελάφι" που διάβασα πέρυσι. Εδώ έχουμε να κάνουμε με κάποιες αναμνήσεις του συγγραφέα από τα παιδικά, εφηβικά και φοιτητικά του χρόνια, όλες τους δοσμένες με ευχάριστο χιούμορ και γεμάτες υπερβολές και διάφορες τραγελαφικές καταστάσεις. Μπορεί να μην ξεράθηκα στο γέλιο -εκτός από δυο-τρεις στιγμές-, όμως καθ'όλη την διάρκεια της ανάγνωσης του μικρού αυτού βιβλίου ήμουν κατά κάποιο τρόπο με το χαμόγελο στα χείλη. Πέρασα πολύ ευχάριστα την ώρα μου, έστω και αν δεν κράτησε πολύ. Συμπάθησα τον συγγραφέα και την, κατά τα φαινόμενα, παράξενη οικογένειά του. Επίσης μου άρεσε ιδιαίτερα ο τρόπος γραφής του Θέρμπερ, καθώς και το όλο στιλ αφήγησης των αναμνήσεών του. Μακάρι να ήταν (τουλάχιστον) διπλάσιο σε μέγεθος το βιβλίο, για διπλάσια αναγνωστική απόλαυση. Τέλος, πλάκα είχαν τα διάφορα σκιτσάκια που συνοδεύουν το κείμενο.

  • Huma Rashid
    2019-03-04 00:58

    I read this book for the first time shortly after moving to the Midwest. I moved here from Boston when I was ten, and a year or two later, I was flipping through my anthology textbook for my Literature class and found a short story written by James Thurber. It was absolutely hilarious, so I went to the library and checked to see if he had written any actual books. This popped right up so I borrowed it and took it home to read.This short 'autobiography' is dry, witty, self-deprecating and interesting, but for me, it was a lesson in how to be Midwestern. I became much more firm in my Midwesternity after reading this. It's an odd thing to say, and I realize this, but you really do have to read this book to understand what I mean, and once you do, you will. You really, really will. This book oozes Midwestern values and perspectives. It's absolutely undeniable. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something light and fun, but still serious in a self-deprecating, exasperated way. It'd make a great airplane read; you'd probably be able to finish it on a flight from DC to Chicago. You won't learn any axioms about the universe, you won't feel emotionally purged, and you probably won't be on the floor laughing, but you'll take something else away from it, I'm sure. I think it has to be different for everyone. After all, this is just a man telling stories about his family, which is what makes this book so pleasant, irritating, and fun to read.

  • Bucko
    2019-03-08 23:13

    I remember having to read "The Dog That Bit People" in class during my sophomore year of high school. Twenty five bowed heads in a room, each making no sound (save the occasional sigh), and one nerd giggling his bespectacled head off, which was meThese stories are absolutely superb. "The Night the Ghost Got In" and "The Dog That Bit People" are wonderful, and the episode in "More Alarms At Night" where his dad "threatened to get Buck" is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I love the characters, as well. Thurber's grandfather, a Civil War veteran, steals the book, and the Get-Ready Man is one of my favorites.I don't know what else to say about this book, except that I love it.

  • Jill
    2019-03-02 21:10

    probably the funniest (in a wryly funny, self-depricating, midwestern sort of way) thing ever written in the english language, and the cartoon illustrations are even better.

  • Nandakishore Varma
    2019-03-22 03:04

    A humourous book, but only mildly so. I expected much more from the author of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. However, these quirky reminiscences are enjoyable, if only for Thurber's inimitable style.Aristotle said: "The world is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think." Seeing the past through the wrong side of the telescope, Thurber is is able to invest apparently distressing events with the patina of humour which brings out his delightfully eccentric family (including himself) into focus. Read it, and remember similar "hard times" from your childhood...

  • Matt
    2019-03-09 00:23

    I find the disparaging comments from twenty-somethings about Thurber's "My Life and Hard Times" amusing. So would Thurber, because he could always use another philistine foil for his smart protagonist. If you find this material to be too dated you should get off Facebook long enough to have real interactions with real people, then you'd appreciate Thurber's wickedly understated and subtle wit. If you don't get it, it's not because the material isn't funny. It's because you don't get it. Get it?

  • Sarah
    2019-03-18 20:09

    My Life and Hard Times. James Thurber. 1933. Perennial Classics. 106 pages. ISBN 0060933089.Okay, okay, so I know James Thurber is a celebrated author and artist who spent the majority of his career writing for The New Yorker, but that was over 50 years ago. I really need to start washing my hands of classics such as these because they're just too old. I can appreciate his talent, but from an enjoyment standpoint I just need to stick to later, humorous biographies written by people that are still alive and dwelling in current times. Even reading Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days is pushing it.My Life and Hard Times is a very short, little book telling funny little stories from James Thurber's childhood, teenage, and college years. I have heard these types of "when I was young we walked 20 miles up the hill to school in snow" stories BILLIONS of times, so although this book may have been original at some point in time, it definitely isn't for me. My Life and Hard Times is not terrible or poorly written, but is however fairly boring and made me sleepy.My favorite chapter is "University Days". Thurber tells of his frustration in science class trying to get the microscope to work without any luck. His rant about seeing dust particles or seeing his own eyeball is hilarious because I can totally relate! Although the book is only 106 pages long, I would definitely recommend picking up a more modern humorous biography if you're just looking for light and funny entertainment. David Sedaris is quite prolific in the humorous memoir world, and many successful comedians such as Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes have their own books as well. Read more book reviews by DreamSE22 at!

  • Garrett Faylor
    2019-02-28 22:56

    Do not read this book if you share a bed with someone and they are asleep.

  • Laura Verret
    2019-02-26 19:54

    When I was in ninth grade, I read a book called Themes of Literature as my literature program for the year. (Of course, I read gobs of other books, too.) There were many stories in that book that I’ve already forgotten – that I forgot within weeks of reading them. But then there were others that stuck with me…I’ve mentioned the chapter from Call It Courage which I found in that book and which made me long to read the rest of the story. And I’ve mentioned reading A. A. Milne’s play The Ugly Duckling in it. There were only two other pieces which stuck with me – a short story about a soldier’s homecoming and The Night the Bed Fell which happens to have come from this collection of short stories by James Thurber.Seriously, everyone needs to read The Night the Bed Fell at least three times. It’s just that good. It follows a path of escalating incidents in which everyone concerned is convinced that either they or someone else is dying, and arrives at a hilarious denoument. Now, having read the entire book, I know that his The Dog That Bit People and More Alarms at Night follow similarly and equally hilarious lines.James Thurber’s stories are based upon his own experiences and so reflect not merely the funny, but also the sad and regrettable. His stories have comedic elements to them, but they are not comedy. They are wholly humorous, but humor is not their goal. They are primarily satire – gentle satire, certainly, but satire none the less. They poke fun at everything and everyone and with good reason. His childhood was filled with numerous eccentric and unforgettable characters, such as his grandfather who was convinced that the Civil War was still being fought, his aunt (who believed that her home had been burglarized every night for forty years), and the hordes of housemaids which circulated throughout his home (especially the one who shot, not only the gas lamps over the fireplace, but also a man).I’ll give you an example of the writing style just by including a few of the story openers for you. :)“I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father. It makes a better recitation (unless, as some friends of mine have said, one has heard it five or six times) than it does a piece of writing, for it is almost necessary to throw furniture around, shake doors, and bark like a dog, to lend the proper atmosphere and verisimilitude to what is admittedly a somewhat incredible tale. Still, it did take place.” [pg. 3]Even without the throwing of furniture, the story is wizard. :D“The ghost that got into our house on the night of November 17, 1915, raised such a hullabloo of misunderstanding that I am sorry I didn’t just let it keep on walking, and go to bed. Its adventure caused my mother to throw a shoe through a window of the house next door and ended up with my grandfather shooting a patrolman. I am sorry, therefore, as I have said, that I ever paid any attention to the footsteps." [pg. 32]After James notices the ‘ghost’, his mother decides to call the police.“Since the phone was downstairs, I didn’t see how we were going to call the police – nor did I want the police – but mother made one of her quick, incomparable decisions. She flung up a window of her bedroom which faced the bedroom windows of the house of a neighbor, picked up a shoe, and whammed it through a pane of glass across the narrow space that separated the two houses. Glass tinkled into the bedroom occupied by a retired engraver named Bodwell and his wife. Bodwell had been for some years in rather a bad way and was subject to mild “attacks.” Most everybody we knew or lived near had some kind of attacks. It was now about two o’clock of a moonless night; clouds hung black and low. Bodwell was at the window in a minute, shouting, frothing a little, shaking his fist. “We’ll sell the house and go back to Peoria,” we could hear Mrs. Bodwell saying. It was some time before mother “got through” to Bodwell. “Burglars!” she shouted. “Burglars in the house!” Herman and I hadn’t dared to tell her that it was not burglars but ghosts, for she was even more afraid of ghosts than of burglars. Bodwell at first thought that she meant there were burglars in his house, but finally he quieted down and called the police for us over an extension phone by his bed. After he had disappeared from the window, mother suddenly made as if to throw another shoe, not because there was further need of it but, as she later explained, because the thrill of heaving a shoe through a window glass had enormously taken her fancy. I prevented her.” [pg. 35]:) :) :)I honestly felt that I would have enjoyed the stories more had they not been decorated with the author’s own illustrations. The stories themselves had an incisive wit about them, but the lumpy-looking drawings really took away from their sharpness.It is said that one of the maids was in love with a young chauffeur, but that she was also desired by her stepfather. In the end it is proved that the girl had made the stepfather part up in order for her life to sound more exciting. An illustration on page 28 seems to be of a naked woman – the story has nothing to do with this subject and the drawing itself is undetailed (except to communicate a definite idea of the state of undress).Conclusion. James Thurber was a wildly talented and wildly unknown author from the twentieth century. Keep an eye out for his stuff.Visit The Blithering Bookster to read more reviews!

  • Realini
    2019-03-20 20:16

    Thurber and the Wide Sargasso SeaAs I try to write about Thurber, with his My Life and Hard Times and The Wide Sargasso sea by Jean Rhys, I think that I should change my reading strategy.At this stage, I try to read all that the great books on the top 100-150 lists of books given by The Modern Library, TIME, The Guardian, Friendswood and eventually Le Monde. Le Monde has a different perspective, with its list of best books- „Starting from a preliminary list of 200 titles created by bookshops and journalists, 17,000 French voted by responding to the question, "Which books have stayed in your memory?" (« Quels livres sont restés dans votre mémoire ? »).[“ found the Le Monde list only recently, appreciate it as very interesting – some of the very first books on it: L’etranger, A la recherche du Temps Perdu, Voyage au bout de la Nuit, The Grapes of Wrath are at the very top on my own list. To make me even happier, I have read them and am ready to read again (and again), after I go through the other lists. Or maybe I will not? I should read more humor? Some of the books that I set myself to read (from the above mentioned resources) have been a joy, others a mixed blessing and in a few cases a total fiasco-for me, I am not a fool (I hope) so I do not pass judgement-indeed, I continue to believe in the advise of experts, critics who recommend those books- I am mentioning in my notes what I liked, what sent my imagination flying, but elsewhere, not along with the plot of the book. This is just my experience, my emotional rescue ...„I come to your emotional rescue”, The Rolling StonesThis is a question mark: why not read those books that give the Maximum pleasure, like Thurber’s My life and Hard Times...There is, after all the Guardian list of 1,000 books to read, with a special section for Comedy books-why not look for more pleasure there? Instead of finding likeable passages in the Wide Sargasso Sea, perhaps I should stick to the literature which causes the Biggest bang?The Wide Sargasso Sea is a book I enjoyed, but if I put it in the balance with My Life and Hard Times, the latter wins hands down. I would take the Thurber on the famous desrted island, if the question ever arises.I did have empathy for the characters of Jean Rhys, speaking of island, the action takes place on carribean islands, in the Wide Sargasso Sea, as opposed to Thurber, where chaos descends on a plain house, the attic where „The „Night The Bed Fell on My Father”-that’s the name of a chapter in Thurber’s book.In the Wide Sargasso Sea there is violence,a parrot suffers in the book and I hated that, as the owner of a stupendous Blue and Gold Macaw, near me now...There is the stupidity and cruelty of native people of the islands, but they could very well have been chimpanzees, for the IQ they prove in their actions.There is misycism, Voo Doo and belief in all kinds of ghosts, who show up and demons.It all ends tragically, at least that’s my perception. Gone should be for me the preconceived idea of peacefull islands, pure images of terrestrial Paradise. The Blue Calm Sea of the Carribeans should make way, after reading this book, to an image of reality (?) which shocks- with poverty, ignorance, violence and exotique beliefs...There is much to read about in the Wide Sargasso Sea, it is for good reason that critics appreciate it, here the question for me is to estimate which way my reading plans should look forward.In the background there is another pressure to reconsider what I (and others?) should read. There is a lonng line of „Celebrity Thinkers”who parade their Wisdom, on romanian Tv, speaking most of them in favor of the suspended president. If studying Hegel, Kant, Heiddeger brings one to the level of inteligence where on accepts a rude, abusive „Chef d’etat” then it might be all in vain and one could do as well, or better, with Evelyn Waugh, included otherwise in the lists of the Great and Famous, and his Scoop.How can this be? I get the argument of Gavril the Clever, about the USL mistakes, abuses, misdemenours, outrageous interference and much more...but to support a fucked up idol, who forced down the throught of his party and country the illeterate daughter- sent to represent us in the European Parliament ...this is beyond good, common sense, it gives the feeling that ivory tower high reading gets you „High”with the same effect „weed”would have...On the other hand, I am reading Philip Roth – Portnoy’s Complaint, an established, recognized award winning author. I was amazed by the first part: fabulous, funny to the Max, outrageous, sexy...But too much sex is already getting on my nerves, i am no Augustine, so it might be that his kinky stuff is simply not my kind of erotic paraphernalia...I remember one of the mobsters in Good Fellas or The Casino I guess, who was against mixing stuff you do with your wife (more „decent”) and things you can do with the mistress (wilder).Maybe it’s about the same thing: too many erotique posititions, pervetions are mixed up with the mother, the lover the would-be wife.I am only half way through and I’ll get back to you on this one...

  • The Book Maven
    2019-03-09 22:04

    When I was in my teens, my father decided I needed a little more culture in my life. So he bought me a subscription to The New Yorker.If I didn't dislike the old man so much, I’d feel bad about wasting his money. Because me and The New Yorker…we didn't get each other. I tried, I really tried to read and understand the articles. (Even then, I knew ENJOYING them would be beyond my meager abilities.) But it was a hopeless case. My idea of culture was the next Christian Slater movie, or the newest Babysitter’s Club book.So all these years later, it shouldn't be a surprise that I didn't enjoy Thurber’s little autobiography. While my culture quotient has gone up, and I can appreciate a smart joke, I simply fail to see what was amusing about the various anecdotes about Thurber’s childhood. Most of the stories revolved around some misunderstanding or comedy of errors, and while the situations themselves may have been amusing, his recounting of them was not. Plus, he makes everyone in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio—and by association, Midwesterners in general—seem like a bunch of foolish yokels. To me, that’s pretty close to an unforgivable sin, and not something I enjoy in a book. I get that he was a writer and artist for The New Yorker, which probably explains why I didn't dig it. I’m certain most of my dislike for this book is simply a matter of my own taste (or lack thereof), so read and enjoy. And if you don’t like it, don’t worry too much. It’s a fast read. I think it took me longer to write the book review than it did for me to read the book!

  • Emily
    2019-02-25 03:12

    Sadly, this wonderful book is hardly ever referred to. While the world knows that Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and the Bronte sisters wrote Literature, hardly anyone who hasn't read Thurber recognizes the name. And he's got to be very near the best humor writer out there. I can drive my family crazy by giggling out loud while I'm reading him. They complain, and ask me to stop, but I just can't. I am incapable of reading this collection (his best, in my opinion) out loud, because I burst out laughing at inopportune moments. Bill Bryson has nothing on James Thurber. P. G. Wodehouse has nothing on Thurber. And this collection in particular, containing, as it does, such classics as "The Night the Bed Fell" and "The Day the Dam Broke," is just spectacular. It's clear, concise writing at its best, and is responsible for haunting me with the story of his grandfather, horse-breaker extraordinaire, trying to break the car to his will, and escaping with it to the park one day, where they came across him, driving it in tight circles and trying to bend it to his will.

  • Ellen
    2019-03-21 22:16

    What a fun and fast read this one is! Of course, it's really dated, but if you don't mind that Thurber's sense of humor just keeps you moving on through these very funny stories of his family life. You can just see the characters in action - the father having the bed fall on him, the little brother acting up, the mother being a crazy woman, and more. Very funny!I'd recommend this one to anyone who likes humor, and who enjoys James Thurber. I'm moving on to the next one of his books that I found at a wonderful used book store in Galena, Illinois. This one is about Thurber's time on the staff of the New York, with the editor being the main focus of attention.

  • Lauren
    2019-02-28 20:18

    Here's Muggs, a choleric airedale that lived with the Thurbers:His expression captures well how I feel about the other reviews on here, people raving about Thurber's golden comedic genius, amazing humor. These vignettes drew some chuckles out of me here and there. That's it.The prologue, preface, afterword, "about the author", and everything else under the sun that sandwich this light 80+pp autobiography (covering the author's first 24 year) does present an endearing personality.I googled some of Thurber's New Yorker cartoons, love 'em.

  • Ross
    2019-02-27 00:12

    Is this book funnier than Steven Colbert? Yes, it is. Is it funnier than your mom? Yes, it is. Is it funnier than Samuel Beckett? Believe it or not, YES IT IS! Is it funnier than Spiro Agnew? Trick question! Spiro Agnew is not funny. This is actually the funniest book ever. You won't believe that it was first published in 1933. 1933 was not generally considered a funny year, but this book is absolutely hilarious. It's a must read! Check it out!

  • Carole
    2019-03-27 03:13

    Yes, yes, yes! This book was great! Everyone needs to read it right now. I laughed like crazy.This is James Thurber's memoir - it's a collection of 10 stories from his childhood/youth. It's only about a hundred pages long, so I was hoping I'd be able to read the whole thing whil waiting in line at the bookstore where I was doing my Christmas shopping. But the lines were actually moving pretty fast, so I had to buy it.This is a book that would be fun to read aloud.

  • Leah
    2019-03-18 01:05

    I actually have the fifth printing of the 1961 Bantam Classic edition, but I don't know how to get that information into the system if it's not already there.James Thurber has a gift with words. He always knows when to add a particular detail and when to add a comment on the events he's narrating. This collection of stories leads me to believe that the author grew up in a uproariously crazy household; in fact, he could have lived a commonplace life, but his telling of it is exquisite.

  • Katra
    2019-03-17 01:01

    I'd forgotten how much I love James Thurber. He's an ideal antidote for stress. As a testament to that:This morning during a break in some crown work, the dentist returned to find me reading and laughing so hard that I snorted. How often does that happen at the dentists - without gas?

  • ❂ Jennifer
    2019-03-22 01:15

    4.5 stars - Deducted 1/2 star for being too short. Otherwise an excellent example of midcentury, midwestern humor excellently written.Slightly wordier review:

  • Allison
    2019-03-27 03:58

    Brillance comes in small packages. James Thurber packs a lot of funny and absurdity in a tiny book that you should definitely read.

  • Trin
    2019-02-24 02:56

    Not that funny and kind of racist.

  • Ward Van Laatum
    2019-03-01 01:07

    Loved it!

  • Matt
    2019-03-03 23:15

    Good, easy-to-read book. I don't really care for the illustrations but the anecdotes included throughout the book are endearing. The narrative style is quaint and successful in being funny.The chapter about the day the dam broke was especially inspired. So was the chapter on his memories of Ohio State University:"I was mediocre at drill, certainly-- that is, until my senior year. By that time I had drilled longer than anybody else in the Western Conference, having failed at military at the end of each preceding year so that I had to do it all over again. I was the only senior still in uniform. The uniform which, when new, had made me look like an interurban railway conductor, now that it had become faded and too tight made me look like Bert Williams in his bellboy act. This had a definitely bad effect on my morale. Even so, I had become by sheer practice little short of wonderful at squad manoeuvres. ..."

  • Katie
    2019-03-20 00:15

    My dad read this book aloud to us several times over as I grew up. Even now when I read it myself I hear his voice narrating in my head. It's a wonderfully humorous book. The compilation of stories from James Thurber's life is hysterical, and highlights the quirks of individual families that all of us can relate to in some way. Hands down the best story is "The Night the Bed Fell on Father." I think it's his universal appeal showing that sometimes the best stories come from our own families, if we simply take the time to write them down. I think I'm going to start doing that for my own family so we have a collection of the moments all of us tell again and again when we're all together. Could be fun!

  • Laura
    2019-03-11 20:55

    I have always enjoyed James Thurber and had a particular soft spot for his work. My grandparents took the New Yorker when I was growing up and I would read it when I came over. I loved the Thurber cartoons. As a teenager, I read a book of Thurber's letters to his friends and family which made me like him even more. I find his humor delightful. This was another book which I picked up on sale at the Strand in NY, where I just visited. The Strand is on Broadway and 12th near Union Sq, and all bibliophiles should treat themselves to a visit if in New York.

  • CatherineMustread
    2019-03-10 00:54

    Listened to # 5 of the nine stories in this book, titled "More Alarms at Night" on Selected Shorts, for which the link can be found here: Then read the text version online at this link: Amboy plays a part in the middle of the night humor.

  • Ted
    2019-03-13 04:23

    Hilarious! Are the stories really true? Quite possibly. Could they happen in present-day america? Probably not. Thurber tells stories about his family, characters plagued by phobias but nonetheless ready to make a daring go at misunderstanding what is going on.

  • Charles
    2019-03-21 01:08

    I'd rate it between 3 and 4. I'm not a big fan of stories that are primarily humor. This one was well written and funny in places. I don't know if it quit deserves it's reputation.

  • Louise
    2019-03-15 03:24

    This is really a short book of sketches, and it seems doubtful that there is much here that is autobiographical. I generally enjoy old-fashioned sketches, particularly those of Stephen Leacock, who was masterful at writing short but very funny stories. Unfortunately I didn't really enjoy this book by James Thurber. It was a bit of a chore to get through.