The book I didn’t know I needed to read.

Remember when I pledged to read outside my go-to genres, which typically include investigation, intrigue and a body count? I accomplished it with my first favorite read of 2020: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, which was gifted to me on my birthday.



I know, I know. With a title like that, it’s surely a cheat. And it kind of is. After all, the book is authored by the amazing duo who brings the world My Favorite Murder. But the book is less an extension of the popular true crime podcast and more a memoir/manual on how to survive—and thrive—no matter what life throws our way.

My Favorite Murder is the podcast for everyone who loves true crime and comedy—two nouns that seem at odds. (Kind of like “airline food.” Or “good morning” uttered before coffee.) It’s hosted by former stand-up comedian/sitcom writer Karen Kilgariff and Food Network host Georgia Hardstark. At my very first listen I knew: I was a Murderino and I’d found my people. In every episode, they share their imperfections, struggles, and love of Del Taco, right along with the cases that capture their imagination.

The same is true with the book. Except without the true crime part. SSDGM (the Murderino acronym for Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered) explores the formative moments in the authors’ lives (which include everything from struggles with addiction to eating lemonade powder from the can to [perhaps] narrowly escaping murder), lessons they’ve learned (kindness isn’t the same as politeness, how to prioritize your own needs, stay out of the forest), and general hilarity (being a latchkey kid, how not to drink the Kool-Aid and working for the weekend–and free snacks).

The book is a mashup of self-advocacy, feminism, empowerment, victims’ rights, freedom from other people’s choices, and oh-so-much more. It’s funny, touching, poignant, insightful, relatable, voice-y, profanity-laden (a caution for those who don’t like that kind of thing), and filled with the kind of candid, funny, almost painfully honest perspectives I had no idea I needed. Right. This. Very. Minute.

Patton Oswalt called it “An empathetic, slangy dose of acidic humor, weary compassion and nervous hope.” He said it better than I ever could. And it’s already helped me in my 2020 quest for bravery and the courage to fail harder. It also contains my new favorite rallying cry, “Bigger dummies than you (fill in the blank),” which Georgia’s grandmother said as a means of encouragement that at its heart means, “Other people have enjoyed happiness and success. You can, too.” Amen.

Friends, have you ever found yourself reading the perfect book for one of life’s seasons?

Author: Kathleen Valenti

Author of the Maggie O'Malley Mystery Series, including Agatha- and Lefty-nominated PROTOCOL.

23 thoughts on “The book I didn’t know I needed to read.”

  1. Great post, Kathy! I have the MFM podcast downloaded (my first podcast, LOL), but haven’t listened to it yet. That changes today! I do remember reading the Scarsdale diet book, and faithfully following the plan, when the doctor-author was murdered by his whacko prep-school-head-mistress lover. I can never see a grapefruit without thinking about it.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I think these authors were at Mystery Lovers – I missed them. Seems like I might have to go back and get the book.

    I read BORN A CRIME, Trevor Noah’s autobiography which, yes, was about growing up in South Africa during apartheid – but so much more. About his mother, his bad choices as a young man, and how he got himself straightened out and on the path to success. As a mother of a 17-year-old boy, it gave me a lot of hope.

    Liked by 3 people

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