The Urban Hermit: A Memoir

The Urban Hermit: A Memoir

Sam Macdonald / Jun 19, 2019

The Urban Hermit A Memoir Faced with the truth that his debts and his waistline had both ballooned out of control Sam MacDonald devised a plan to change his life When Sam graduated from Yale in he watched a classmate ma

  • Title: The Urban Hermit: A Memoir
  • Author: Sam Macdonald
  • ISBN: 9780312376994
  • Page: 402
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Faced with the truth that his debts and his waistline had both ballooned out of control, Sam MacDonald devised a plan to change his life.When Sam graduated from Yale in 1995, he watched a classmate make inroads as a head office guy in professional baseball, another become a day trading millionaire, and another develop connections at the Playboy Mansion Struggling to makeFaced with the truth that his debts and his waistline had both ballooned out of control, Sam MacDonald devised a plan to change his life.When Sam graduated from Yale in 1995, he watched a classmate make inroads as a head office guy in professional baseball, another become a day trading millionaire, and another develop connections at the Playboy Mansion Struggling to make ends meet, he shrugged his shoulders at their success and raised a tall one to them.It wasn t until April 2000 that Sam got his wake up call He weighed 340 lbs He was flat broke And the IRS had caught up with him.In a desperate attempt to save himself, Sam decided to limit himself to a budget of 8 a week and 800 calories a day He called it The Urban Hermit Plan He thought he would do it for a month Instead, he embarked on a bizarre year long journey He lost 160 pounds in the process, befriended rent dodging trailer park denizens, flew to Bosnia on assignment, traveled to a peace festival in a hippie van, had a run in with Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard, and met the woman who would later become his wife.The Urban Hermit is a wildly hilarious story about backwoods living, as told by a man who should have known better.

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    133 Comments

    1. I shouldn't have liked this story of an overweight slacker wannabe journalist who puts himself on a starvation diet for a year in order to save money. MacDonald's narrative voice is so relentlessly colloquial, I kept thinking, "Couldn't this guy who teaches CREATIVE NONFICTION COLLEGE CLASSES have been a bit more interesting in his word choice?" But despite the studied lack of sophistication in his writing (which I know was completely on purpose since excerpts of his professional political writi [...]


    2. This is the story of a, to this reader's mind, somewhat screwed up man-boy in the body of a 300+ pound self-named "fat bastard" who took extreme measures to straighten up and fly right. MacDonald, though somehow a Yale graduate, seemingly lived to do the bare minimum by day (as in fly-by-night dead end jobs) and to party by nightinly drinking and specifically in a Baltimore bar called Kisling's.MacDonald's love of Kisling's and the drinking culture pervades the story and, weirdly, he writes with [...]


    3. A very charming book about living within your means and realizing what is important in life. I highly recommend this one.


    4. Fat, broke and sunk to borrowing money from his parents to make student loan payments, journalist Sam MacDonald dreams up the Urban Hermit plan. He will spend $8 a day and limit his food intake to 800 calories a day, with meals consisting of lentils and tuna fish. Who knew deprivation and poverty could be so funny? MacDonald’s journey from the Fat Bastard to the Urban Hermit was supposed to last a month. Instead it starts with his debt during the dot-com boom and his over-stressed size 44 pant [...]


    5. Okay, Sam MacDonald is probably a little bit crazy. But I get where he was (fat, broke, desperate) and while I've not exactly been there myself, I've been able to see there. I'm not sure I could've done what he did to get out of debt and to lose weight, but it was inspiring. Sticking to my budget is a lot easier when I'm thinking, I could just be living on tuna fish and lentils. Thankfully it's nonfiction, or else the part where Sam's life starts to fall into place just as he finally starts to t [...]


    6. Ugh. There's nothing wrong with not going on a journey of personal discovery or learning much about anything when you make a change in your life but it makes for a pretty boring book. MacDonald skims the surface of a change in lifestyle, never really ruminating on the cause and effect of his journey into Urban Hermit-hood (which wasn't particularly hermit-like or urban). Also, he's a little whiny, treating minor set-backs as major downfalls and generally unaware of the fact that what he set out [...]


    7. funny book about a hugely overweight guy living in Baltimore, a few years after graduating from Yale, sharing an apartment with his cousin, drifting in and out of jobs, drinking a lot, and going broke. He tries a two-fold solution to the weight and money problems by living on 800 calories a day (mostly lentils and tuna sandwiches), avoiding the bar where he was a regular, and more or less doing nothing but going on long walks by himself.By the end of a year he's lost approximately a whole adult [...]


    8. If you have ever gotten sick of your own shit then you will love this book. It is honest and self-deprecating with just a touch of intelligence to make Macdonald likable. The events of his life progress beyond mere thoughts rolling around someone's head into lessons of overindulgence and how hard the straight and narrow road can be.As a random pick using gift card riches I was very pleased with this book.


    9. Inspiring story of a guy who eats lentils to get out of debt. Though I'm not sure how that makes him a hermit. Is it a diet book? A memoir about getting his life together? A silly travelogue? It's strange and humorous so I'd recommend this book. But not the lentils.


    10. I picked this book up hooked by the title 'the Urban Hermit.' I'm urban (kind of). I'm a hermit. However, in more ways than one I could never be an urban hermit. I am a pretty willful person and usually when I set out to do something I'm able to accomplish it. However, this willpower completely abandons me when it comes to food. I was amazed when he was able to turn away FREE chocolate cake. It's free and it's cake. Nothing wrong with that. Can't say no to that. I'm also not even 200 pounds so t [...]


    11. i initially picked up this book because it has the same title as one of my fave zines of all time (okay, so technically it's "the urban hermitt", two T's, whatever). i checked it out of the library because i enjoy books about living frugally. but, oh my god, this guy is SUCH an idiot! he goes on and on about how much lentils suck and how much his life sucks because he's "forced" to eat them. (i put "forced" in quote marks because, unlike people who live in non-voluntary poverty, he had many chan [...]


    12. This book was nothing like what I expected and in a good way. You can’t judge a book by its cover and apparently not by its synopsis either. I was anticipating a serious (and possibly boring) discussion on how Sam embarked on a diet program while at the same time learning to manage his money. Not quite! It was a fun read but also mesmerizing in the same way we are tempted to stop and stare at a train wreck even though we know we should keep moving.Weight loss was not Sam’s goal; getting out [...]


    13. When I read the premise of this book, I was a little put off - it has publicity stunt written all over it. Sam, a Yale grad who is failing at life is obese and broke. He concocts the "urban hermit" plan where he'll live on lentils and tuna during the week, saving enough money to pay off some debts and allowing him to continue his party-hardy ways on the weekend. As he's eating about 800 calories a day, he ends up losing weight. It turns into a bit of an OCD thing with him, though not owning a sc [...]


    14. Big fan. Devoured this in 1.5 days. This is a bit like The Year of Living Biblically, minus the Bible and AJ Jacobs. Sam Macdonald finds himself overweight and in debt. What does he do? Decide to live on lentils and canned tuna and spend as little money as humanly possible.You'd think this would make for dry reading and a depressed reader. Au contraire, my gourmet friends: it's great fun. Structurally loose on occasion--yes. Probably written without much editing--that too. But good fun. After th [...]


    15. When I first read about this, it seemed right up my alley. Frugality, strange diets, revealing tidbits in the form of a memoir. PEOPLE magazine even reviewed it. "The Urban Hermit", I'm sorry to say, is a very odd book. It feels like something that MacDonald, a journalist, pitched to his editor because it sounded like a good book idea only to discover too late that it really would exhaust its topic after 80 pages. How else to explain the desultory chapters involving MacDonald's journeys on the r [...]


    16. This is a charming, lighthearted story of a young man beginning to find his way in the world. Typical of young men only a few years out of college, MacDonald was a bit of a partier. He was employed as a bouncer, bartender, and other jobs without much future. He was also grossly overweight, in debt, and struggling to meet his rent payment each month. So, he decided to limit his food intake and swear off alcohol to an extent, in an attempt to limit spending money on groceries, and lose weight at t [...]


    17. Sam Macdonald was a fat, broke failure. His social life consisted of sitting on a bar-stool all night. His apartment, he noted, was the "brownest" place he had ever lived. Mustering the reserves of a truly desperate man, he decided to go on a starvation diet to loose weight and save money. Breakfast - 2 hard-boiled eggs, lunch - cooked lentils and salt, dinner, - lentils and a white-bread and tuna sandwich. It was horrible, but Macdonald stuck it out. While he clearly warns that no one should ev [...]


    18. Sam Macdonald weighed more than he should and owed more money than he should so he decided to implement a simple plan: eat only 800 calories a day (mmmm lentils) until he had saved up money and lost weight. It might not be the most healthy approach, but it worked, and this book tells the tale. The writing is very chatty and self-deprecating, and the story is a pretty good one. This book isnt going to change your life in any way, but it is a fun read.[Disclaimer: I'm not sure if I have ever met S [...]


    19. As a disclaimer, I read this while on a beach in Mexico, so I might have enjoyed this a bit more than if I had read it on the Subway, for example.Loved this book though. Definitely my favorite thing this year, if not more. Easy to read, honest, and truly funny. It's autobiographical non-fiction about the author’s early 20’s, during which he graduated from an Ivy League school and proceeded to fuck around for a few years & rack up so much debt in the process that he had to concoct a crazy [...]


    20. This book reminded me of the movie "Little Miss Sunshine" - quirky characters and hilarious situations all involving a VW van. I laughed till I cried reading much of this book.even from such simple dialogue as "Dude." "Dude, Seriously." (you have to read it in context, hilarious) Bad language and definately not a guy I would go out with (I mean beans and tuna? ew) But his conversational style writing is my style and I really loved how he wrote. He would make an awesome drinking partner, which I' [...]


    21. Based upon the short description on the cover, I thought that this book would be better. I don't recommend it. Although the life of the urban hermit sounds intriguing at first, I found Macdonald's approach to losing weight and paying off his debt to be highly disturbing. The fact that he says he finds himself forgetting to eat for 2-3 days at a time, that he passed out several times throughout the book, and that he never sought medical attention did not seem like a good way to live life. I kept [...]


    22. The memoir of a goofball who goes on a suicide diet of lentils, generic tuna, and hard-boiled eggs in order to crawl out of a bottomless pit of debt. The writing contains a wry humor that evokes a portrait of Macdonald as an affable, but clueless, average blockhead who just happened to have graduated from Yale. The book reminded me of punk columnists George Tabb and Ben Weasel, as the writing is very simple but packed full of self-deprecation and crass witticisms. The story draws you in and keep [...]


    23. A memoir about Sam macdonald who is very fat fresh out of college, and a journalist. Sam is broke and decides to go on a jurney only allowing him to eat a certain amount of calories per day and spending 8$ a day too. He travels the world trying to lose weight, save money, and focus on his writing.I thing The Urban Hermit is a very funny book I laughed a lot. I like how Sam wrote it as it is and did not "blurr the picture". He told the truth about his drinking problem, collage party's, and how tr [...]


    24. MacDonald graduated from Yale, drank a lot, ate a lot, and slacked. As a result of that lifestyle, he was also in big-time debt and flat broke. He gets a crazy idea to live on $8.00 a week and consume only 800 calories a day (mainly on lentils and tuna) for a month to begin to reduce his variety of debts and his waistline. And the adventure begins!On the surface, I wouldn't have thought I would have liked this book, having begun on the premise of an immature, irresponsible, uber-excessive drinki [...]


    25. It's 2000 & Sam is a 27-year-old Yale grad & self-proclaimed "fat bastard" who cares for nothing but drinking & drugs. Then, he is overwhelmed with debt & decides to stop eating & drinking to save money. His diet consists of lentils, eggs, cheese slices, white bread & boiled cabbage. To keep his mind off his hunger pangs he works longer hours & takes long walks. This is a very entertaining account with adventures in Bosnia & at a hippie reunion in Montana thrown i [...]


    26. (One of those times I'm wishing gave 1/2 stars as I would have added one to this review.)I always appreciate a book that is fresh and new and that describes the Urban Hermit. This fun, easy-to-read memoir is about a writer who led an out of control life style with booze and food, and who not surprisingly found him self well over 300 lbs one day and totally broke. The 30 day lentil and tuna diet he put himself on, was only for economical purposes (he couldn't afford to drink and eat and still pa [...]


    27. I really liked the author's voice in this, even if I didn't like the author that much (or maybe I just found too little about him to which I could be sympathetic) as presented. Also, I didn't find it to be as funny as purported to be by the reviewers.I would have liked to have known (view spoiler)[whether the author's passing out was due to health issues or just lack of food, and whether his health did suffer in other ways (kidney function, blood pressure, vitamin deficiency, and so on)<\spoi [...]


    28. Wandering through the library, the cover intrigued me and the blurb interested me enough to take it home. I was in from word 1 of this totally fascinating memoir. I loved how the writer took complete responsibility for his actions and situation and when he decided to do something about it, he stuck with it. Thankfully he's a good writer and tells his story in a very humorous way. I highly recommend this book!


    29. I found this book for one dollar at Dollar General. I have never bought a book there beacuse I assumed that if they had it there, it didn't sell anywhere else, but I was facinated by the cover, so I bought it. It was excellent! I read the whole thing in three sittings, I couldn't put it down! Its funny, interesting, and brought back lots of memories from the summer of 2000. I highly recommend it!


    30. Unfortunately, the writer's journey has little to do with hermits and a whole lot to do with consuming lots of lentils and endless cans of tuna. Some cute anecdotes here and there but ultimately, it has little to no weight. A man with less debt than most of the people I know eats 800 calories a day for a while in an effort to get control of his life and meets a nice girl in the process. End scene.


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