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Here for It; Or, How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays

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From the creator of Elle 's "Eric Reads the News," a poignant and hilarious memoir-in-essays about growing up seeing the world differently, finding his joy, and every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way. R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went—whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high From the creator of Elle 's "Eric Reads the News," a poignant and hilarious memoir-in-essays about growing up seeing the world differently, finding his joy, and every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way. R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went—whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city—he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an "other" through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents' house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, about the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election as well as the seismic change that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to the ever more relevant question: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what "normal" means, and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story. For fans of Samantha Irby, Michael Arceneaux, and David Sedaris, Here for It will resonate deeply and joyfully with everyone who has ever felt pushed to the margins, struggled with self-acceptance, or wished to shine more brightly in a dark world. Stay here for it—the future may surprise you.


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From the creator of Elle 's "Eric Reads the News," a poignant and hilarious memoir-in-essays about growing up seeing the world differently, finding his joy, and every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way. R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went—whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high From the creator of Elle 's "Eric Reads the News," a poignant and hilarious memoir-in-essays about growing up seeing the world differently, finding his joy, and every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way. R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went—whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city—he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an "other" through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents' house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, about the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election as well as the seismic change that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to the ever more relevant question: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what "normal" means, and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story. For fans of Samantha Irby, Michael Arceneaux, and David Sedaris, Here for It will resonate deeply and joyfully with everyone who has ever felt pushed to the margins, struggled with self-acceptance, or wished to shine more brightly in a dark world. Stay here for it—the future may surprise you.

30 review for Here for It; Or, How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays

  1. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Schwab

    Absolutely delightful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    3.5 stars. Before I do my review review, let me just state for the record that I am a long time fan of R. Eric, he is an absolute delight, a true treasure, and he must be protected at all costs. He is one of the wittiest, funniest people writing today and I am always happy to hear from him. So reading this was pretty much a no brainer. As for my review review, this is an essay collection so I feel like you can almost insert the obligatory essay collection review: the good ones are really good, no 3.5 stars. Before I do my review review, let me just state for the record that I am a long time fan of R. Eric, he is an absolute delight, a true treasure, and he must be protected at all costs. He is one of the wittiest, funniest people writing today and I am always happy to hear from him. So reading this was pretty much a no brainer. As for my review review, this is an essay collection so I feel like you can almost insert the obligatory essay collection review: the good ones are really good, not all of them totally work. The thing in a collection like this is that the really good ones only make the not as good ones feel worse, it's a real tricky situation. (I felt very similarly about Jia Tolentino's essay collection.) Thomas knows that he is at his best as a storyteller, and you can tell this is true when you get to one of his essays that is mostly a story, the motion and propulsion of it, the perfect pauses, the hilarious side comments, he has such a rhythm to them. The not-as-good essays are not bad, it's just that you get so hooked on Thomas when he is throwing quips and laughs at you that you are kind of poised and ready for it. All that said, it's a real joy to read. It was always nice to come back to it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura Tremaine

    Definitely one of my favorites of the year. Laugh out loud funny, touching, and relatable. I loved this one, was the perfect mix of humor and hope in summer 2020.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Thank you for the gifted book, Random House. This is the perfect set of essays for your nightstand. I found the essays funny, smart, and full of heart. R. Eric Thomas is a gifted writer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    Once I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down. Thoughtful, funny, very compelling. Once I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down. Thoughtful, funny, very compelling.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    What do we have here? It's the last book I finished before we abruptly locked down in March! Although I myself read it before things in the U.S. went completely batshit, it's still one of two books I would recommend for this particular moment in history (the other is The Book of Delights). Here for It doesn't turn a blind eye to the many (many, many) things wrong with this world, but its humorous and ultimately hopeful tone is a balm for the soul. What do we have here? It's the last book I finished before we abruptly locked down in March! Although I myself read it before things in the U.S. went completely batshit, it's still one of two books I would recommend for this particular moment in history (the other is The Book of Delights). Here for It doesn't turn a blind eye to the many (many, many) things wrong with this world, but its humorous and ultimately hopeful tone is a balm for the soul.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This book of memoir-essays seemed like a better use of my time than doom scrolling, from the writer of Eric Reads the News - most topics are light takes but enjoyable - family, gay pride, growing a voice. He might be regretting the conclusion of "The Past Smelled Terrible," about how we will never actually have to live through an apocalypse but here's why we crave it - and he goes on to describe our actual living situation for the last 7 months! Ha. Whoops. Here's the last quote though, still tr This book of memoir-essays seemed like a better use of my time than doom scrolling, from the writer of Eric Reads the News - most topics are light takes but enjoyable - family, gay pride, growing a voice. He might be regretting the conclusion of "The Past Smelled Terrible," about how we will never actually have to live through an apocalypse but here's why we crave it - and he goes on to describe our actual living situation for the last 7 months! Ha. Whoops. Here's the last quote though, still true:"How are we supposed to live without a meteor bearing down on us? How are we supposed to find the best parts of humanity without a brutal regime at the door? How are we supposed to tell the people we love that we love them if we're not five minutes from being destroyed? That's the challenge of being alive."I also wish to return to our "midtopian life."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    This was the perfect balm for my soul during this wretched pandemic. I laughed so hard in multiple places that my laughter woke my husband, made him let me read to him the passage that made me laugh so hard, and then got him laughing so hard that he couldn't go right back to sleep. Other parts were so sweet or heartfelt or deeply moving that I teared up. I needed this. I would feel this way even if the world were not in crisis, but it felt especially great in this moment. R. Eric Thomas is a nat This was the perfect balm for my soul during this wretched pandemic. I laughed so hard in multiple places that my laughter woke my husband, made him let me read to him the passage that made me laugh so hard, and then got him laughing so hard that he couldn't go right back to sleep. Other parts were so sweet or heartfelt or deeply moving that I teared up. I needed this. I would feel this way even if the world were not in crisis, but it felt especially great in this moment. R. Eric Thomas is a national treasure.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Noel

    Joyful, deeply felt, and intensely funny, this is a book for everyone who has ever struggled with marginalization, self-acceptance, or just the nagging sense of being at odds with the world. Eric's writing is alternatingly laugh-out-loud funny and deeply introspective. Loved every word and highly recommend. Joyful, deeply felt, and intensely funny, this is a book for everyone who has ever struggled with marginalization, self-acceptance, or just the nagging sense of being at odds with the world. Eric's writing is alternatingly laugh-out-loud funny and deeply introspective. Loved every word and highly recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Traci Thomas

    I liked this book and thought it was a solid collection. I liked the author and tone. Overall the book is good but some essays are excellent and some are just ok. The balance/consistency wasn’t there for me. I will for sure read more from R. Eric Thomas.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Basic B's Guide

    I may be on a bit of a memoir binge and I’m not mad about it. I have to admit that the cover of this book is what initially drew me in. Cover snob alert! Who doesn’t love a pink cover with confetti?! I’m happy to say that I was quite pleased what lay beneath the pretty cover. I went in completely blind to what it was about but ready to dive into something that was being called funny and thoughtful. Indeed, I laughed and cried reading about R. Eric Thomas’s life growing up. I love his approach to I may be on a bit of a memoir binge and I’m not mad about it. I have to admit that the cover of this book is what initially drew me in. Cover snob alert! Who doesn’t love a pink cover with confetti?! I’m happy to say that I was quite pleased what lay beneath the pretty cover. I went in completely blind to what it was about but ready to dive into something that was being called funny and thoughtful. Indeed, I laughed and cried reading about R. Eric Thomas’s life growing up. I love his approach to life through laughter and sarcasm. I was grateful that he shared a peek inside a complicated life that is unfamiliar to me. I’m absolutely here for more stories like this and grateful that I had the opportunity to read and learn from Thomas.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    I'm not always this format's biggest fan. Funny online personality turns in a collection of essays for a debut novel, the publisher hoping for some of that online recognition turning into book sales. Exhibit A: a columnist for Elle.com who's day job originated with a presidential thirst tweet citing a photo of Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto as “Tom Ford presents The Avengers." Still, Here For It and subscribed to the newsletter. Seriously, R. Eric Thomas has a newsletter I've I'm not always this format's biggest fan. Funny online personality turns in a collection of essays for a debut novel, the publisher hoping for some of that online recognition turning into book sales. Exhibit A: a columnist for Elle.com who's day job originated with a presidential thirst tweet citing a photo of Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto as “Tom Ford presents The Avengers." Still, Here For It and subscribed to the newsletter. Seriously, R. Eric Thomas has a newsletter I've been getting for months now. That means I can see through his suburban lies and know despite all his neighbourhood foreboding laid out in one of his essays, citing a distrust of living anywhere with a lawn, he and his husband David recently bought their first home. Fine, showing my hand here and revealing how I'm part of that online fandom and in the pocket of black, gay columnists, but hear me out. Eric brings his A game here. A Moth veteran he knows how to build a story. He's a playwright who understands a good narrative arc. Eric's story on his high school crush Electra is as perfect and touching a story as you could want. And wrestling with his own deep Christian faith as a gay man that would go on to marry a Presbyterian pastor isn't all Whitney Houston in The Preacher's Wife and is fraught and thoughtful. I liked this collection more than I thought I would. Filtered through some queer ebonics sure - qween and gurl are proper pronouns here - still a fun respite. Worth it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rennie

    Objectively, is this a five-star book? Probably not. Did I love it five stars, was it “amazing” as per the Goodreads rating system? Definitely. I didn’t actually know R. Eric Thomas before reading this and now I feel like not only do I know him, but I want to be the kind of friends with him that are able to discuss our disdain for time travel solely based on how bad the past smells. What a joy to find someone who shares this disgust with me, I can’t even tell you. This was such a delight and a b Objectively, is this a five-star book? Probably not. Did I love it five stars, was it “amazing” as per the Goodreads rating system? Definitely. I didn’t actually know R. Eric Thomas before reading this and now I feel like not only do I know him, but I want to be the kind of friends with him that are able to discuss our disdain for time travel solely based on how bad the past smells. What a joy to find someone who shares this disgust with me, I can’t even tell you. This was such a delight and a bright spot in the muck that is the world right now.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Krista Regester

    I think R. Eric Thomas is hilarious, although I strongly relate to his satanic ex boyfriend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Keating

    This book is hilarious (I laughed out loud!). It’s poignant (I cried!). Really just an overall delight. I read this during the COVID pandemic and it felt like a balm to my weary heart. Plus, it has a pink cover with confetti. Gosh I love this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jan Agaton

    highly recommend the audiobook! i love this guy's sense of humor so much. it touches upon a lot of topics involving being Black, gay, and religious in america. it brought me to tears a couple times & made me laugh out loud uncontrollably many more times all throughout the memoir. this was my first 5 star read in MONTHS, and I'm so happy I decided to pick it up. highly recommend the audiobook! i love this guy's sense of humor so much. it touches upon a lot of topics involving being Black, gay, and religious in america. it brought me to tears a couple times & made me laugh out loud uncontrollably many more times all throughout the memoir. this was my first 5 star read in MONTHS, and I'm so happy I decided to pick it up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    (free review copy)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    A thoughtful, though at times disjointed, collection of essays following the trajectory of his own life, "Here For It" is R. Eric Thomas' take on life in the United States as a black, gay, Christian man. This memoir tells the life story of its author through snippets of thoughtful engagement with history, politics, and pop culture. From stories about growing up black in Baltimore, gay in New York, and black and gay in Philly, each essay is a little bite of a broader conversation about the ways in A thoughtful, though at times disjointed, collection of essays following the trajectory of his own life, "Here For It" is R. Eric Thomas' take on life in the United States as a black, gay, Christian man. This memoir tells the life story of its author through snippets of thoughtful engagement with history, politics, and pop culture. From stories about growing up black in Baltimore, gay in New York, and black and gay in Philly, each essay is a little bite of a broader conversation about the ways in which these intersecting identities participate and contribute to life in the US. Thomas, himself, is an astute writer who thoughtfully engages with topics like dystopia and Trump, and does it in a way that isn't easy. And when he starts handling religion, he clearly enters his comfort zone, discussing topics with depth and clarity that is truly moving. Unfortunately, though, rather than have his collection of essays center around one of these topics - politics or pop culture or religion - that he clearly can engage with thoughtfully, this collection acts as just another memoir in an unending deluge of memoirs that seem to be publishing these days; memoirs that don't seem to have a point beyond telling an iteration of a story that, though interesting and important in parts, is ultimately too broad to make it cohesively important.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kaylee Gwyn (literarypengwyns)

    IGTV REVIEW Have you ever had A DAY and then needed a friend to come along, cry with you, hug you, make you feel inspired but not fill you with false ideas, and then dance off into the sunset with you? Well...consider this book and @oureric THAT. FRIEND. Here For It is Eric’s memoir and a bind up of essays, but also so much more than that! It’s a piece of soul that we all can relate to. It’s the idea of what we and our country can be. It’s all of our hopes and fears and struggles and then hopes a IGTV REVIEW Have you ever had A DAY and then needed a friend to come along, cry with you, hug you, make you feel inspired but not fill you with false ideas, and then dance off into the sunset with you? Well...consider this book and @oureric THAT. FRIEND. Here For It is Eric’s memoir and a bind up of essays, but also so much more than that! It’s a piece of soul that we all can relate to. It’s the idea of what we and our country can be. It’s all of our hopes and fears and struggles and then hopes again, combined. Eric takes us through his life, from childhood until now, and gives us little moments of growth. Do you know what a compliment sandwich is? Well this is a lot like that, but more of a humor sandwich. Eric tells us something hilarious, sobers us up with the root of what he was actually getting to (GROWTH) and then makes us laugh one more time... thus allowing us to not feel hopeless. From the time he was babysitting in a white suburban neighborhood (SERIOUSLY THOUGH ERIC, DID THEY HAVE A DOG???), to leaving Columbia University, to living with his first boyfriend (BUT WAS HE TRYING TO DRAG YOU TO HELL VIA THE ELF ON THE SHELF???), to finding the balance of being gay and Christian, to finding the love of his life (A PASTOR! *CUE THE PREACHER’S WIFE SOUNDTRACK*), Eric takes us on a journey through his life, but we get moments that really hit home in ours. This book really made me want to force my friendship onto Eric (except, now that I know him, I also recognize that he wouldn’t take well to this so I MUST REFRAIN) and then to overwhelm him in thanks for UNDERSTANDING me. Even though I am a cis hetero woman (and SPOILER ALERT... as Eric is a spoiler kween....) and Eric is not, there was so much in these stories that were parallels in our lives. Finding that common ground and inspiration in his essays and life is what makes this a memoir that isn’t just a one time good read, but instead one I want to reference and come back to again and again (rare for me with memoirs). I highly recommend this book and I dare you to not find growth and joy within these pages. Eric has created a open door to his soul and we are blessed to get to see into it. Which memoir have you read that really stuck with you?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Hager

    I am thrilled to announce “Here For It” by R. Eric Thomas as our second Read With Jenna pick for the month of August! This summer has been a historic time involving race relations in America and books are one of the best ways to inspire important conversations. I choose this book in collaboration with Noelle Santos, founder and owner of the Lit Bar, the only independent bookstore in The Bronx, New York. Thomas’ memoir of essays is hilarious and heartbreaking. It discusses his life, identity an I am thrilled to announce “Here For It” by R. Eric Thomas as our second Read With Jenna pick for the month of August! This summer has been a historic time involving race relations in America and books are one of the best ways to inspire important conversations. I choose this book in collaboration with Noelle Santos, founder and owner of the Lit Bar, the only independent bookstore in The Bronx, New York. Thomas’ memoir of essays is hilarious and heartbreaking. It discusses his life, identity and journey to self-acceptance while he was growing up as a Black and queer man in the U.S. From stories about reconciling his Christian identity with his sexuality to falling in love, the author raises questions about how we show up in the world even when we feel marginalized. I hope this book will inspire conversation and create dialogue for change amongst our readers. As Thomas writes, stories are an “invitation to empathy.” I hope that together, we can open our hearts and minds as we dive into “Here For It.” Click here to get your copy and read with me today!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Pawlak

    There were a few laugh out loud moments, but as I was reading I kept thinking, what am I supposed to get out of this? There were really no aha moments, rather just felt like I was reading his inner ramblings. I did like the essay about him bringing his boyfriends home to meet his family. But I had to skim through the religious centered essays...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Alternatively sobering and laugh out loud hilarious, I LOVED THIS BOOK! Read it!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)

    SERIOUSLY. So much fun. I feel guilty saying how fun this was for me to read when in all honestly it had some pretty serious heartbreaking moments and revelations. But R. Eric Thomas had me in stitches so much of the narration that I just enjoyed it so much! I didn't even know who he was prior to this book. He's such a gifted and talented story teller that literally has you peeing your pants with laughter one minute, then in tears as he relays some heavy and challenging times in his childhood, and SERIOUSLY. So much fun. I feel guilty saying how fun this was for me to read when in all honestly it had some pretty serious heartbreaking moments and revelations. But R. Eric Thomas had me in stitches so much of the narration that I just enjoyed it so much! I didn't even know who he was prior to this book. He's such a gifted and talented story teller that literally has you peeing your pants with laughter one minute, then in tears as he relays some heavy and challenging times in his childhood, and then the next minute you're wrapped up in the warm fuzzies of hope and optimism. This is the PERFECT book to read right now. It's snarky and relatable, heartwarming and conversational. And his Grover voice (on audio) is reason enough to take a listen. Just SO funny.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    So good!! I listened to the audiobook. Thomas is a wonderful narrator. While I'm confident that "Here for It" is also a great book to read with one's eyes, Thomas brings so much life, feeling, and humor to his reading, making me glad I listened to the audiobook. Thomas's storytelling and reflections charming, funny, and poignant. The last chapter transported me to a time when love and community were abundant, and it was like a balm for my soul. (Nine months into COVID and counting!) If you haven't So good!! I listened to the audiobook. Thomas is a wonderful narrator. While I'm confident that "Here for It" is also a great book to read with one's eyes, Thomas brings so much life, feeling, and humor to his reading, making me glad I listened to the audiobook. Thomas's storytelling and reflections charming, funny, and poignant. The last chapter transported me to a time when love and community were abundant, and it was like a balm for my soul. (Nine months into COVID and counting!) If you haven't already, download the free ebook sample and read the introduction. I can't imagine reading the introduction and not wanting to read the book 😊 I'm eager to read more books from Thomas in the future, starting with his biography of Representative Maxine Waters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Kho

    A treasure, the kind of book I’ll recommend to everyone but lend to no one because I’ll be rereading it for years to come. An uproariously funny, tender, and hopeful look at how, despite internal and external resistance, we can create a more positive, intersectional future for ourselves and the people we love.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    I’ve been on the nonfiction/memoir kick and loving it! Here For It was so good, and it was just the perfect read I needed in this challenging year. Perfect to read right now, and it definitely brought the humor. I really loved the way that author Thomas handled life, and gave it a laugh right back. *thank you Ballantine + Netgalley for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own

  27. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    2.5 rounded up! R. Eric Thomas is giving me male Samantha Irby. It was good, she does it better! Here for it was funny at times, cringe at times, sus at times. Enjoyable tho!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    This book is everything.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

    I listened to this memoir in essays and being in R. Eric Thomas' company was a complete joy. Heartfelt, funny, and utterly charming, I can't recommend this one enough. Plus, he's a fellow Baltimorean, which only added to my enjoyment! I listened to this memoir in essays and being in R. Eric Thomas' company was a complete joy. Heartfelt, funny, and utterly charming, I can't recommend this one enough. Plus, he's a fellow Baltimorean, which only added to my enjoyment!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joan Geiger-dow

    The first of Jenna’s book club that I didn’t love. I found it a bit boring and had to push myself to finish it.

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