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My Own Devices

True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love
By: Dessa
Narrated by: Dessa
Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Summary

"Dessa writes beautifully about a wide range of topics, including science, music, and the pain that comes with being in love; it's a surprising and generous memoir by a singular voice." (NPR, best books of 2018)

Dessa defies category - she is an intellectual with an international rap career and an inhaler in her backpack; a creative writer fascinated by philosophy and behavioral science; and a funny, charismatic performer dogged by blue moods and heartache. She's ferocious on stage and endearingly neurotic in the tour van. Her stunning literary debut memoir stitches together poignant insights on love, science, and language - a demonstration of just how far the mind can travel while the body is on a six-hour ride to the next gig. 

In "The Fool That Bets Against Me", Dessa writes to Geico to request a commercial insurance policy for the broken heart that's helped her write so many sad songs. "A Ringing in the Ears" tells the story of her father building a wooden airplane in their backyard garage. In "'Congratulations'", she describes the challenge of recording a song for The Hamilton Mixtape in a Minneapolis basement, straining for a high note and hoping for a break. "Call off Your Ghost" chronicles the fascinating project she undertook with a team of neuroscientists to try to clinically excise romantic feelings for an old flame. 

Her writing is infused with scientific research, dry wit, a philosophical perspective, and an abiding tenderness for the people she tours with and the people she leaves behind to be on the road.

My Own Devices is an uncompromising and candid account of a life in motion, in music, and in love. Dessa is as compelling in this memoir as she is onstage, making My Own Devices the debut of a unique and deft literary voice. 

©2018 Dessa (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“[Dessa is] a natural at the written word. There's not an essay in My Own Devices that's less than fascinating.... [My Own Devices] is funny, heartbreaking and brilliantly written, and very possibly the best memoir by a musician since Patti Smith's Just Kids.” (Star Tribune)

“Dessa has captured the punishing beauty of untenable love and touring, states of being that both require a stubborn, romantic heart.” (Tegan and Sara) 

“Dessa’s words are an articulation of the universal.” (MN Daily)

What members say

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Poinient and beautiful

Not just one of the best memoirs I've ever read, but one of the best book. The writing is lyrical and through provoking. I'd read Dessa's shopping list her writing is that good.

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  • mr
  • 03-08-19

A beautiful real story about trying to lose love

It's a very good job this is an audiobook as I couldn't read it through the tears.

Dessa's road stories are interesting and wonderfully written. Her relationship are warm and fully understandable. Her pursuit of knowledge is relatable.

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Simply amazing. Could not stop listening to it.

So glad Dessa narrated it, such a treat for any fan or just a fellow dreamy, intelligent, creative soul.

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One of the best memoirs I’ve ever read

I listened to the audio of My Own Devices by Dessa after it was recommended by a friend. I didn’t know Dessa at all but this memoir is one of the most fascinating, thought-provoking and stimulating memoirs I have ever read. Dessa is a rapper and has a gorgeous voice - which made listening to her narrating the audiobook a real pleasure. I loved everything she wrote about chasing your dreams, being an artist, making ends meet and pursuing your passions. I’m now going to listen to all her music and follow her writing. The book isn’t just about her life and also explores philosophical questions and scientific experiments. This is really one of a kind and I couldn’t recommend it more.

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Compulsive listening

This is so different to any book that I’ve read in a long time. Really interesting and Dessa’s reading and voice is amazing. Hugely recommend this book and her music - so refreshing and talented.

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Completely elevates my love for Dessa

Absolutely fantastic book, not only is it written incredibly well but Dessa’s reading of it is natural and unforced.

I have enjoyed Dessa’s music for many years, her blending of rap and singing is unique and she easily has one of the best voices for it, up there with Charlie Tuna, Kate Tempest and Aesop Rock for me. Ive since moved onto Doomtree more recently throughly enjoying the albums I’ve listened to. I have to say this book as completely elevated my enjoyment of her music, I had no prior knowledge of her relationship with P.O.S and moments of this book really help to connect the dots and give deeper meaning to the lyrics I already love.

Highly recommend, especially if you have enjoyed any of Dessa or Doomtree’s music before

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incredible

A genuinely great book. Dessa really blasts the doors off her life and invites the listener to witness her. Felt like meeting the world's most interesting stranger at a dive bar and not wanting to leave. Witty, funny and smooth. Loved it.

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moving, sharp and funny

there is no one else like Dessa. In light of this, I am so glad that she is prolific, stubborn and here. This book is beautiful.

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  • Joe
  • 22-09-18

so sad and wonderful all at once

as a Doomtree fan I was going to read this book regardless, but wow was happy to read it. Dessa's ability to form a story and envelope the reader is excellent. And the emotion conveyed through her narration only added to the story. Definitely worth the listen if you love hip-hop, science, have ever been in love, or just enjoy real well done story telling.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 20-09-18

Intellectual and Entertaining

I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter. I was drawn-in by the interesting workings of her brilliant mind, and her entertaining story-telling style. Dessa’s is a class act. It was wonderful to be able to hear the book in her voice. I imagine that my 16 and 18 year-old daughters would enjoy the book as much as this 52 year-old fan of music of all types.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Elsa S
  • 25-09-18

Prose for the soul

Absolutely stunning and vulnerable story everyone who has ever loved and lost and kept trying can find healing in. A must listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hillary Corwin
  • 23-09-18

ineffably powerful and poignant

I loved Dessa's wit and style in her music and poetry (lyrics and spoken word included) as well as her ability to wordsmith while freestyling, but this book is a quantum leap in consciousness, coalescing her syncopated rhythms, blossoming metaphors, and uncannily creative similess that weave her story into a Bayou Tapestry (pun intended... I loved the New Orleans chapter). I heard about her interviewed about this book on Marketplace the day before cancer surgery and listened to it voraciously after surgery, and I can attest to its ability to soothe pain and accelerate healing, just as she manages to do with her own brain training. After reading this book, I am forever changed...in the best possible way. Thank you, Dessa for being a beacon of humanity during these dark times. I will be recommending this Audible book to everyone I come into contact with. I couldn't have read it nearly so well myself. Flawless!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Vanessa
  • 21-09-18

Magical mémoire

Dessa may not be fluent in French, but she is fully articulate in the storytelling of her history and creating a place where the reader can join along in the touring of her noisy mind.
I have admired the artist Dessa for awhile, her writing and raps, her singing, her speeches, her interviews.
I preordered her book and decided I couldn’t wait for the actual delivery. Some books are better listened to and this is definitely one of them. Dessa telling her stories is like securing the front of the line at one of her shows. You notice the inflection and the pause and the spit. Do not miss this book. Do not miss her telling it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-10-19

Amazing

I absolutely loved this book!

Dessa’s voice holds so much weight with this book, obviously because it was written by her!

So many feels happened throughout hearing this audiobook. It got me thinking about my own life, and struggles, and it helped me feel better about what I am going through!

So great!! Love every single word of this!

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  • Cameron L
  • 01-09-19

love her written work just as much as her music

these essays and thoughts of dances are very entertaining and insightful a very pleasant read and a very pleasant listen I can't wait to sample her other works !

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  • Lisa
  • 13-08-19

I just love everything Dessa does. She knows words

Seriously though. She has a way with metaphors like no-one else. I knew she was smart but dang....she's brilliant. I am super curious about who "ex" is.... but she would have told us if she wanted us to know. #Dessaforpresident

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  • Carrie Ohnstad
  • 28-05-19

Worth a listen!

Beautiful memoir narrated by the author herself. Thought provoking content, I enjoyed the bits of her music thrown in as well.

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  • Jill Baird
  • 24-05-19

A fun narration

I enjoyed the narration but had a hard time following the story line. Very believable character development.