Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches

John Hodgman, an actor who became known for his role as the "PC" in Apple's popular "Get a Mac" commercials in the mid-2000s, is also the author of three oddball almanacs filled with jokey trivia. With Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches, however, he delivers a whip-smart and often deeply touching collection of personal essays that cover a range of topics, including family life, celebrityhood and, as the title suggests, the art of vacationing.

Hodgman's departure from goofy list-making stems, in part, from the realization he's mortal: "I was sitting in... a used-book store... where I had written a lot of my first two books, and I was now trying to start another. But I was having trouble because I had just realized that I was not going to live forever." That realization becomes a theme that snakes through each essay, giving rise to both hilarious anecdotes (such as overcoming a fear to swim in a local creek) and affecting insights into his psyche (like his need to hang on to his parents' old house to feel close to his late mother).

He writes about his famous friends and two vacation homes, but instead of wholly celebrating his wealth and advantages, he explores its reach, often questioning in earnest how much of his success is owed to being from a well-to-do family and being a straight, white man.

Funny, poignant and clever, Vacationland is the work of a writer who knows that a key to being funny is being honest. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

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