Mara
Author of Narrative Nonfiction
Humor & Comedy
Travels from: San Diego, CA

“An honest, often hilarious look at women’s bodies, how we think of them, our practices, questions, embarrassments. It’s all on display, and Mara Altman is not shy about any of it.” – NPR’s All Things Considered

Mara Altman writes about issues that embarrass her (i.e. chin hair), because she has found that putting shame on the page diffuses the stigma, leaving her with a sense of empowerment and freedom. Her favorite thing is when a reader writes to her and says something like, “I have chin hair, too!” or “Hemorrhoids!”

Mara has published eight best-selling Kindle Singles. Thanks for Coming, her first book, follows her on an adventure to find her orgasm, and has been translated into three languages – German, Spanish and Portuguese. The book was also optioned by HBO.

Gross Anatomy: Dispatches From the Front (and Back), her newest book, was released by Putnam in August 2018. With a combination of personal anecdotes and fascinating research, Gross Anatomy holds up a magnifying glass to our beliefs, practices, biases, and body parts and shows us the naked truth: that there is greatness in our grossness.

Her latest Audible Original, A Short Drink of Water, was released in December, 2021.

Mara has written for publications such as The New York Times, Salon, New York Magazine and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Before going freelance, she worked as a staff writer for the Village Voice and daily newspapers in India and Thailand. Mara has a masters from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and lives in San Diego with a few other hairy beings.

A Short Drink of Water (Audiobook)

Brilliance Audio |
Memoir

The word pops up anywhere exaggerations are sold. Telling a tall tale. Placing a tall order. Tall, dark, and handsome. And, of course, let’s not forget the proverbial “tall drink of water”. This bothers Mara Altman, and not only because she’s five-foot-zero, but also because her experience as a journalist, humorist, and essayist has led her to challenge assumptions about human existence. Altman’s most recent book, Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back), was a 2019 finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and wittily dissected long-held assumptions about our bodies for the deeper truth. Her conclusion: There is greatness in our grossness.

In her Audible Original A Short Drink of Water, Altman challenges the assumption that taller is better. Her journey to empower those at the short end of the stick (and why is it always the short end?) delivers a hilarious and heartfelt look at the differences between tall and short and how people seek to narrow them both physically and psychologically. You’ll meet people of every size and opinion in this deeply reported and richly comical ride through a world where every inch counts.

Gross Anatomy

GP Putnam’s Sons |
Narrative Nonfiction

An honest, funny, neurotic, and totally gross love child of Mindy Kaling and Mary Roach.

Mara Altman’s volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn’t have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn’t it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it’s like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.

Divided into two sections, “The Top Half” and “The Bottom Half,” with cartoons scattered throughout, Altman’s book takes the reader on a wild and relatable journey from head to toe–as she attempts to strike up a peace accord with our grody bits.

With a combination of personal anecdotes and fascinating research, Gross Anatomy holds up a magnifying glass to our beliefs, practices, biases, and body parts and shows us the naked truth: that there is greatness in our grossness.

Bag of Meat on Ball of Dirt (Audiobook)

Brilliance Audio |
Memoir

Every day hundreds of human beings board long-haul flights to India on extended breaks from their everyday lives, in search of something seemingly easy to find: themselves. That quixotic quest for understanding has drawn much of the world’s population eastward ever since Buddha first assumed the lotus position, and writer Mara Altman needed to know why. So she flew around the world in search of an answer not only to that mystery but also to the deeper questions that plague all who yearn to define the meaning of life.

What Altman found in her wild, comic 18-day reporting trek across India – a journey that took her on a laborious 37-hour cross-country train trip, onto a mystical flat rock by the ocean in Pondicherry, and eventually into the emergency room of a cut-rate Bangalore hospital – will make you laugh, learn, and ponder. By the end of her epic odyssey, it will also take you unexpectedly and thrillingly close to the pulsing heart of human existence.

After graduating from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Mara Altman worked as a staff writer for The Village Voice.

In 2009 HarperCollins published Altman’s first book, Thanks for Coming: A Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm, which was optioned as a comedy series by HBO. She has published seven best-selling Kindle Singles, including the number-one best seller Bearded Lady, and has written for New York Magazine and The New York Times.

Baby Steps (Audiobook)

Audible Studios |
Memoir

Mara Altman, author of the number-one Kindle Singles best seller Bearded Lady, turns to the topic of motherhood with touching and uproarious results.

At 32 years old, the recently married author found herself suddenly surrounded by babies, and the expectation of family and friends that she would soon have one herself. Altman’s ambivalence prompted a search for the meaning of motherhood – one that led her to wear a fake pregnancy belly, attend pre-natal yoga classes, debate experts, and even tend to her very own crying plastic baby. Her reporting led to a surprising and uplifting lesson about life, love and the choices we make.

Baby Steps is what to expect when you’re not expecting – a heartfelt and hilarious guide to making the most important decision of your life.

After graduating from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Mara Altman worked as a staff writer for The Village Voice. In 2009, HarperCollins published Altman’s first book, Thanks for Coming: A Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm, which was optioned as a comedy series by HBO. She has published three best-selling Kindle Singles, and has also written for New York magazine and The New York Times.

Bearded Lady (Audiobook)

Brilliance Audio |
Memoir

Mara Altman, author of the bestselling Kindle Single Sparkle, returns to top comic form to address the problem every woman faces but no woman wants to acknowledge: facial and body hair. Her brave, witty memoir gives listeners a rare, honest glimpse into the hidden world of lasers and razors. It begins in childhood, when Altman discovers that hair sometimes grows in unexpected places – and that it’s best to remove it immediately, or risk ridicule from 8th-grade girls. It continues into early adulthood, when romantically inclined men make offhand remarks about her fine coating of fur. From there it’s a hilarious, heartfelt journey from Barcelona to Bangkok in search of a cure, an explanation, and the perfect pair of tweezers.

Sparkle (Audiobook)

Audible Studios |
Memoir

Last fall, newly-engaged author Mara Altman rejected the showy sparkle of a multi-carat diamond ring, and chose instead a simple, three-figure bauble. But why? There began her reportorial journey to find the true connection of diamonds to marriage – and to love.

Thanks for Coming: One Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm

Harper Perennial |
Narrative Nonfiction

By turns uproarious and touching, the memoir of a young woman’s search for an orgasm—and for the elusive connections between sex and love

Twenty-six-year-old Mara Altman wanted to know what all the screaming was about. She’d lost her virginity at seventeen; grown up in southern California with sexually free parents; had lovers in India, Burma, and Peru; and spent a year in Bangkok observing all manner of depravity. And yet she was an attractive, successful, single woman in New York who’d never had an orgasm.

And so she embarked on a wildly funny, emotionally resonant odyssey—a journey both inside and outside herself—only to discover that, for Mara, orgasm was connected to a part of her that no vibrator could reach. Thanks for Coming is one woman’s look at our obsession with and anxiety over the female orgasm. Her quest to get her own yields poignant results that will surprise even the sexually awakened among us. From sex shows to sex conventions, from a therapist’s couch to her own couch, from the bedroom to the bar, Mara Altman proves to be a guide as hilarious as she is investigative.

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Coming Soon!

Mara Altman – GROSS ANATOMY – book trailer (The Brunch)

Mara Altman – GROSS ANATOMY – book trailer

The Bike Ride

Mara’s Upcoming Events

Book Trailers and Other Writing

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Mara has written for publications such as The New York Times, Salon, New York Magazine and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Before going freelance, she worked as a staff writer for the Village Voice and daily newspapers in India and Thailand. Mara has a masters from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Media Kit

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