This reading group guide for I Hate Everyone, Except You includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.Introduction
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From the bestselling author, beloved television host, and “arbiter of style and good taste in all areas” (People
) comes a hilariously candid, deliciously snarky collection of essays about his journey from awkward kid to slightly less awkward adult.
Clinton Kelly is probably best known for teaching women how to make their butts look smaller. But in I Hate Everyone, Except You
, he reveals some heretofore-unknown secrets about himself, like that he’s a finicky connoisseur of 1980s pornography, a disillusioned critic of New Jersey’s premier water parks, and perhaps the world’s least enthused high school commencement speaker.
Whether he’s throwing his baby sister in the air to jumpstart her cheerleading career or heroically rescuing his best friend from death by mud bath, Clinton leaps life’s social hurdles with aplomb. With his signature wit and relatable voice, he shares his unique ability to navigate the stickiest of situations, like finding true love in a crowded gay bar or deciding whether it’s acceptable to eat chicken wings with a fork on live television (spoiler: it’s not). Clinton delves into all these outrageous topics—and many more—in this thoroughly and unabashedly frank, uproarious collection.Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What do you think of the title and cover? After reading, do you feel like they capture the spirit of the collection?
2. Clinton’s “tough-talking, bearded hairstylist” stepdad Mike finally takes him to Action Park, though the experience doesn’t turn out quite like he expected. When has a disastrous experience brought you closer to someone?
3. When Clinton meets his friend Jen for the second time, she makes a joke and he says, “I knew we’d be friends forever” (p. 19). Have you ever had that experience with a friend?
4. When Jen and Clinton reminisce about the earnestness and optimism of their twenties, she asks, “Do you really think we were ridiculous?” (p. 32). How do you feel about yourself looking back ten or twenty years—were you ridiculous?
5. Clinton had a frank conversation with the Universe, promising to follow where it led, and two weeks later he got called to audition for What Not to Wear.
Have you ever had a similar experience? Do you believe in fate or destiny?
6. Were you a fan of What Not to Wear
? If so, were you surprised that Clinton has mixed feelings about both the show and his cohost, Stacy London?
7. What did you think of Clinton’s screenplay? Whom would you cast?
8. Clinton describes the second time he met his husband Damon as a “switch” moment—“one of those moments when someone, or perhaps something, bigger, in the cosmic sense, pulls a little lever and—click—
the track you’ve been traveling on is no longer your track” (p. 103). Have you ever experienced a moment like that?
9. Clinton addresses several political topics during his stoned conversation with his friend Renée—do you think it was easier for the author to address these types of topics in this format? Or do you think it was used simply to add a layer of comedy?
10. What do you think it would be like to have a stranger tell you they love you? Do you think it would make the Twitter trolls worth it?
11. “My penis is technically perfect,” is a hilarious opening line to a chapter (p. 143). But seriously, is there anything about yourself physically that you consider “perfect”? What did you wonder about your body when you were younger, and where did you look for answers?
12. Clinton’s reasoning for a mandatory draft for waiting tables is: “If we’re all concerned that tomorrow we may be the one treated like the lowly pissant, smiling like a lunatic for a 15 percent tip, we will all behave more civilly today” (p. 179). What was your worst job ever, and what did you learn from it?
13. Clinton tells two stories about his friend Lisa—one in high school, watching porn together, and another as adults, both married, Lisa with two kids, doing a couples mud bath. What do these experiences reveal about their friendship at different points in their lives? Did their relationship remind you of any friend of yours?
14. Do you think Clinton gave good advice at his sister Courtney’s high school graduation? Which of his four secrets do you need to work on most?
15. If you had to pull out three major themes in I Hate Everyone, Except You
, what would they would be and why?Enhance Your Book Club
1. Knowing what you know now about how Clinton felt about the show, go back and watch an early episode of What Not to Wear.
Does he seem shyer than you remember? Nervous? Excited? Jaded? Do you enjoy the show more or less now that you know more about Clinton?
2. Get inspired by Clinton—write an essay about your own life! Or screenplay! Or piece of short fiction! Pick the format that inspires you most, grab a Moleskine, and get going.
3. Reconnect with an old friend and reminisce about the things you talked and dreamed about “back in the day.” Would that version of you be happy with your life now? Which dreams from back then do you still think about?
4. Read one of Clinton Kelly’s previous books, like Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else
, and compare the two.