Worth the Read? – Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002

Welcome to “Worth the Read?”, where I give you my honest opinion on whether you should spend your precious time reading a super-hyped New York Times Bestseller.

Today’s book is: Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002, by David Sedaris
On bestsellers list for 7 weeks
Ranked at #15 on Adult Hardback Non-Fiction

The Hype:

Honestly, I think there might be three people on the planet who don’t delight in David Sedaris’ dry, hilarious prose. He is beloved by his readers and has experienced great success in the writing world. His past titles have enjoyed places on the New York Times bestseller list, including a few at number one, like with Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim in 2004 and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls in 2013.

Since most of Sedaris’ writing is based on his life, getting to read his diary is like peeking behind the curtains of his wickedly funny mind. It’s no surprise that his fans are eager to buy the book.

Plot Summary:

As the title indicates, Theft by Finding is David Sedaris’ diary. However, it is not the deeply internal, emotion-ridden kind of writing one might expect from a someone’s personal writings.

Sedaris explains that, “I was never one to write about my feelings, in part because they weren’t that interesting (even to me) but mainly because they were so likely to change.” Instead of feelings he prefers recording “…remarkable events I have observed (fistfights, accidents, a shopper arriving with a full cart of groceries in the express lane), bits of overheard conversation, and startling things people have told me.”

And that’s exactly what Theft by Finding is: a motley collection of observations and musings on the weird, the entertaining, and the inanities of the mundane. From lewd jokes and soap opera recaps to laments about bills and eavesdropped conversations at IHOP, you’ll find it all in Theft by Finding.


From the moment I started listening to Theft by Finding (Sedaris narrates the audio version and I strongly recommend reading it as an audiobook), I was literally laughing out loud. 

And while Sedaris’ comic delivery is spot on, there’s more to his diaries than the laughs. Sedaris’ unpretentious writing style, combined with his perceptive life observations makes for a refreshing and thought-provoking read. He shows how, if you just pay attention, the world can be an unending fount of interesting stories and experiences.

The diaries also give readers a front-row seat to Sedaris’ growth as a writer. We see his writing develop through the entries themselves, but also in his descriptions of writing for magazines like Esquire and The New Yorker. We then witness the publication of his books and his slow but sure ascent to success in the publishing world.

If you already love Sedaris’ stories and books, then you will absolutely eat Theft by Finding up. It’s especially fun to come across a diary entry that is the source material for Sedaris’ published writings (keep an eye out for his time as an elf at Macy’s 🙂 ).

If you’re new to Sedaris, I would recommend you start with one of his story collections instead of jumping right into Theft by Finding (I’d say either Me Talk Pretty One Day or Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy). However, once you have familiarized yourself with his work, I’m sure you’ll want to pick up his diaries.


100% if you’re already a Sedaris fan; 75% if you’re new to Sedaris

Have you read Theft by Finding? What were your thoughts? Share in the comments below!


*Rating Key

80% – 100% – the book lives up to the hype. Go read it now!

60% – 79% – the book is good, but there’s no rush to read it

40% – 59% – the book has some degree of merit, but has flaws and probably isn’t worth your time

0% – 39% – the book stinks and isn’t worth the read

4 responses to “Worth the Read? – Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002”

  1. Allison Avatar

    I haven’t read this one yet but I’m a huge Sedaris fan. He is the only author that I make a point of listening to rather than reading the physical book–his delivery makes the story. Thank goodness for his occasional spots on NPR or I never would have realized this! I may have a little binge of some of his previous works before diving into this one–it sounds like remembering his other stories will help with enjoying this book. Thanks for the review!

    1. Kristen Avatar

      A Sedaris audio binge always sounds like a good idea to me. I listen to The Santa Land Diaries every year, and it never gets old!

  2. Gayathri Avatar

    I didn’t fall in love with Sedaris *crickets*

    I have read his Me talking pretty one day. I get why it might be funny to people but it somehow didn’t work for me. I know. I am shocked too. But I am gonna try this book as well, give him another chance since everyone I know is going gaga over him. Thanks for th rec.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

    1. Kristen Avatar

      Don’t be down on yourself for not loving Sedaris! My husband isn’t into him either. If you are willing to give him another try, though, I’d definitely go for the audiobook version.

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