I read two memoirs by Kristi Coulter in October – Nothing Good Can Come From This, about her experience with alcoholism and sobriety, and Exit Interview, about her decade working at Amazon. This is the first time I’ve ever combined two reviews into one post, but these books are basically about the same thing: Coulter coming to the realization that after many years of doing something ultimately detrimental to her health – drinking and working at Amazon – she can choose a healthier, more sustainable way of life. She can get sober, and she can leave the company that claimed ten exhilarating, stressful, demoralizing, illuminating years. Some of the same inherent feelings propelled her in both books – to stay, to drink – and they overlap quite a bit.
Why I picked them up: Exit Interview fits into the workplace memoir microgenre, which I love, and Nothing Good Can Come From This, which I picked up after Exit Interview, satisfies the essay category of the 2023 EDIWTB Reading Challenge. I liked Coulter’s voice in Exit, and decided to grab Nothing. They were both due back to the library at the same time, which is why I ended up reading them in succession.
Nothing Good Can Come From This is an essay collection about the way Coulter used alcohol as a crutch to deal with stress, boredom, anxiety and even joy. She drank particularly to deal with a difficult work environment, and while she was able to function pretty highly, she knew that her level of drinking was unhealthy and detrimental. Once she decided to quit, she turned to other activities like running to channel her energy, but she always felt the void left by alcohol, particularly in a society in which drinking is prevalent. Coulter’s writing is sharp, funny, self-deprecating and relatable, and these essays cover a lot of ground, including the challenges and contradictions that come with being a woman in corporate America.
Exit Interview is a more traditional memoir about Coulter’s ten years working at Amazon. She details the organizational chaos, the bumping around from job to job, the microaggressions she experienced as a woman and the grueling, thankless pace. For people who like workplace memoirs about tech companies, this one will definitely fit the bill. I am fascinated by Amazon (but I don’t buy my books there!) and loved getting the inside scoop about what it’s like to work there. It was particularly frustrating to hear about Coulter being passed for promotions time and again despite her success and hard work, while her male counterparts moved up, She doesn’t hold back at all in this memoir, which I loved. The alcoholism plays a role in Exit Interview, as she stopped drinking during her Amazon tenure, and some of the same themes pop up in this book too.
I listened to Nothing Good Can Come From This on audio, and did a read/listen combo for Exit Interivew. Coulter narrates both books, and I highly recommend the audio versions, as I think you get a good sense of who she is. Plus, she’s pretty funny.
Nothing Good Can Come From This was the 49h book of 2023 and satisfies the essay category of the 2023 EDITWB Reading Challenge.
Exit Interview was the 50th book of 2023.