From the host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking—called “a gift” by The New York Times—a raw and humorous essay collection in the spirit of Jenny Lawson and Samantha Irby.
Nora McInerny does not dance like no one is watching. In fact, she dances like everyone is watching, which is to say, she does not dance at all. A bestselling author and host of the beloved podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, she has captured the hearts of millions with her disarming and earnest approach to discussing grief and loss. Now, with Bad Vibes Only, she turns her eye on our aggressively, oppressively optimistic culture, our obsession with self-improvement, and what it really means to live authentically in the online age.
In essays that revisit her cringey past and anticipate her rapidly approaching, early middle-aged future, McInerny lays bare her own chaos, inviting us to drop the façade of perfection and embrace the truth: that we are all—at best—slightly unhinged. Socrates claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Bad Vibes Only is for people who have taken that dictum a bit too far—the overthinkers, the analyzers, the recovering Girl Bosses, and the burned-out personal brand—reminding us that a life worth living is about more than just “good vibes.”
McInerny (No Happy Endings), host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, presents a humorous look at her life with essays aimed at "people who cannot help but put a little sprinkle of sadness on their happiest memories." Self-described as anxious ("I was a child who lay in bed crying about pain I hadn't yet experienced"), McInerny charts her search for authenticity, while meditating on everything from aging to mental health and parenthood. "Siri, Am I Losing My Mind?" reflects on memory loss and selfhood as McInerny contends with her aunt's dementia, while "Privacy Settings" reckons with another loss—that of McInerny's husband, who died from brain cancer at 35—and how social media gave the author an unexpected space to grieve and share the growth of their son: "Along with dopamine and validation, Instagram stepped into the role of witness for Ralph's and my life." There are welcome dashes of levity, too: "Strongest Girl in the World" recalls the joys of McInerny's free-range childhood in the 1980s, and "Reunion" offers a raucous reflection on aging via a weed edible trip gone hilariously wrong. Occasionally, McInerny's meditations can seem unfocused—"Unravel with Me," a story about a past elementary school teacher, lives up to its name—but her wit, vulnerability, and self-deprecation make her an enjoyable companion. Despite the title, this is nothing but a good time.