Blink Book Review #7: “Swimming with the Blowfish: Hootie, Healing, and One Hell of a Ride” by Jim Sonefeld

Memoirs can often fall into two categories – hugely self-aggrandizing or humbly honest. Jim Sonefeld’s recently released book, “Swimming with the Blowfish: Hootie, Healing and One Hell of a Ride,” falls squarely in the humbly honest category. As a gifted songwriter and the Hootie and the Blowfish drummer, Jim had seemingly found it all very young with the band’s ascension from a local frat attraction to hyper-international fame.

However, “Swimming with the Blowfish” is more than just a first-person account of the band’s partying life on the road (although those stories are fun to read). It’s also a deeply personal account of Jim’s journey from childhood with four siblings and soccer aspirations to early band days and his personal reckoning with addiction.

Jim writes with humor, self-awareness, and raw honesty about his faith, his recovery community, and most importantly, his family. He lays bare the jagged edges behind the addictions that followed him alongside the band’s fame while also sharing inspiration and gratitude around his recovery journey. 

However, that’s not to say there aren’t also fun and funny stories about life on the road and celebrity interactions. There are lots of those, too. 

I got a good laugh from the story about crossing paths with Bob Dylan in a venue bathroom. Another of my favorites is Jim’s recollection of meeting the somewhat ailing Eddie and Alex Van Halen backstage before a show. Not only does this story illustrate how the drummer for one of the most famous bands in the world could still feel a little starstruck around music legends, but it also gives a bit of foreshadowing into Jim’s future challenges.

Jim’s songwriting skills translate into a conversational writing and storytelling style that I found engaging and approachable. His reading voice feels authentic and with just the right amount of enthusiasm to keep my attention without any of the annoying self-importance some memoir writers impose when reading their own story aloud.

This is the second audiobook memoir in my summer book review series. And like the first one, where I felt like I’d driven eight hours to Mississippi chatting with Katie Couric, this one left me feeling like the author had ridden around town with me for a few days comfortably seated in my car telling his story. “Swimming with the Blowfish: Hootie, Healing and One Hell of a Ride” definitely falls high on the “must read” scale among my summer reading challenge selections.

My summer challenge is to get off the screens and back to books. My accountability is to write a dozen-ish short Blink Book Reviews of 300-ish words. Join my summer Blink Book Review FB group to get the reviews and book suggestions from others.

Published by Reba Campbell

Reba Hull Campbell established the Medway Group in 2020, bringing more than 35 years of professional success in politics, government relations, organizational leadership, fundraising and communications to her clients and her teaching.

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