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It Chooses You

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  14,641 Ratings  ·  471 Reviews
In the summer of 2009, Miranda July was struggling to finish writing the screenplay for her much-anticipated second film. During her increasingly long lunch breaks, she began to obsessively read the PennySaver, the iconic classifieds booklet that reached everywhere and seemed to come from nowhere. Who was the person selling the “Large leather Jacket, $10”? It seemed import ...more
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published November 15th 2011 by McSweeney's Publishing (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Nov 28, 2011 christa rated it it was amazing
At first I didn’t like Miranda July. She seemed too precious. Her first book of short stories, contrived quirkiness. Like watching Zooey Deschanel shop for leg warmers at Goodwill. But I didn’t like Miranda July in that way that meant I’d be peeking out from behind the curtains to watch her walk down the street. I didn’t like her in a way I understood to mean that I didn’t like her right now, but that wasn’t necessarily my final verdict.

Then I loved Miranda July. It was her movie “Me You and Ev
Now I like to forage
In some people's storage
As much as the next guy

As a way to avoid working on her screenplay, Miranda July spent hours perusing the weekly Pennysaver. Her curiosity piqued, she set out to meet the sellers of items ranging from a hairdryer to a sixty-seven piece art set. The result is a collection of interviews and photos; people gladly telling the stories of their lives, sharing their dreams and losses, and explaining how they came to the decision to part with their particular
Jan 08, 2012 veronica rated it liked it
Like a lot of Miranda July's projects I had a lot of conflicting feelings about this book -- giving the book a 3 star rating really doesn't reflect how I felt about it, it's more like the average of my reaction to the book, some of which I loved, loved and some I hated. The good: it's poignant, funny, the PennySaver people are a fascinating bunch and the photography is great. The bad: the nagging feeling that this was all freak show exploitation. The ugly: July's non-stop solipsistic whining ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Bert rated it really liked it
This is a brilliant kind of conceptual art/memoir that is mostly sad, and gives me that existential funny-tummy feeling that i try really hard to avoid because it is maybe too real. It is also life-affirming. So this book is concerned with authenticity, and what happens when you spend too much time in your own head, or that empty feeling of being tied to the internet or of just being alive right now, that sense that you are not living an authentic life. What i love about Miranda July is she ...more
Jan 09, 2012 Margaret rated it did not like it
I eagerly anticipated this book's arrival to my local library for weeks--because the concept is intriguing. I was disappointed, however, with the execution of this concept. The author seemed far more interested in how each encounter could be used to tell the audience something about herself, rather than telling each individual's story. Many times it seemed like the author enjoyed portraying these characters negatively....for example, the woman holding the small feline, photographed with her ...more
Feb 17, 2012 Zach rated it it was amazing
While the project behind this book, interviewing people with items listed in the Penny Saver, is interesting, what makes the book worth reading is Miranda July's unique perspective on...well, everything. Sure, lots of the stories she finds speak for themselves, but as anyone who's familiar with her performance art knows, what she really excels at is locating the relevance (some people might use the word meaning, but that would imply an authorial imposition and I don't think she does that) of ...more
Elena Tomorowitz
Jun 17, 2012 Elena Tomorowitz rated it really liked it
There's a part of me that wants to raise my fist for Miranda July and say, "Yeah, she GETS our generation!" But then there's the cynical part of me that wants to shake her and ask her what her deal is. It's so hard to separate Miranda July from "It Chooses You" just as much as it would be difficult to envision not-Miranda July as the main character in either of her films. It's kind of like everything she touches turns into a gummy bear or some other quirky snack that she probably eats for ...more
Feb 13, 2012 Chloe rated it it was amazing
Miranda July is my hero. In "It Chooses You," she does everything I wish I could do. She senses the overwhelming pressure of computers and online life, and fights against it. In doing this, she experiences the world of strangers living in her own neighborhood (albeit the very large neighborhood of Los Angeles), and really explores the sad state of the internet-driven social constrictions that surround modern life. Instead of reading a stranger's blog, she experiences a person's real-life "blog" ...more
Dec 16, 2011 Shannon rated it liked it
I was a fan of Miranda July's book of short stories and found this book while ordering quirky reads for the library's collection. I was immediately drawn to the idea of answering PennySaver ads and I'm a huge fan of reading about the lives of ordinary people. And in that sense, this collection of essays nails it. July meets a small collection of heartfelt and quirky Americans. But that's the thing, I wanted more of the people and less of July. I found myself skimming over the parts about her ...more
Nov 21, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this odd little book (in which Miranda July, looking for inspiration to finish her screenplay, decides to interview people that she finds in the PennySaver ads). The interviews are funny, charming, and display an unvarnished array of Los Angeles citizens. Some of the dialogue, and her own commentary, is oddly touching. The subplot--about her personal life and the struggles of getting a movie finished--is quite interesting as well. The photos are pure Americana and wonderful.
Marcy Dermansky
Feb 11, 2012 Marcy Dermansky rated it it was amazing
This book pleased me very much.

Now I want to watch Miranda July's films which for reasons not quite clear to me -- envy perhaps -- I have avoided.
It Chooses You is a recounting of how one artist (Miranda July) dealt with writer's block: she read the local Pennysaver, a print-version Craig's List type resource often found in supermarket. She contacted several people advertising in the paper and interviewed them. The interviews are more interesting for her connection to the subjects than for their content. I found July, a performance artist, writer, and filmmaker to be a touching and fascinating presence. I looked forward to my reading of t ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
After owning this book for months and not picking it up (because I wasn't sure what to make of it), I loved it so much I read it cover to cover in one afternoon. It Chooses You tackles so many things at once - fear of being a terrible/fake/undeserving artist, fear of running out of ideas, fear of falling in love because that could mean someday losing that love, and fear of being alone. These themes are tackled from a couple different, and equally interesting angles. Miranda writes about her own ...more
Jun 27, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This is one of those books that could cause a lively debate/discussion among readers (particularly nonfiction readers). I saw this happen in real time.

Admittedly, when I first tackled this memoir, I was lured in by the beginning, when the narrator talks about the writing apartment she kept even after getting married, her relationship, her screen writing writer's block, and the internet dabbling. It is a book about a struggling screenwriter who can't find a sponsor or the ending to her movie, so
Alice Urchin
Oct 12, 2012 Alice Urchin rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I was feeling nostalgic and rereading No One Belongs Here More Than You when I was stricken with this need to buy all of Miranda July's books off of Amazon. This one arrived today, and I read it in one sitting. For the most part, it satisfied the craving that I was having, but at the end of it, I just felt really weird and sad...which is sort of a tone of a lot of the book. I didn't know this when I started reading it, but in it, she had taken a break from writing The Future because she's sort ...more
Jul 16, 2013 Gosia rated it it was amazing
This kind of book you want to keep reading but you don't want to finish. Amazing. I remember watching 'Me and you and everyone else we know' after it came out and I was maybe sill too young for it but I remember it left me with some indescribable feeling. I had this feeling all along reading this book.
Especially as I just had a baby and this is one of the topics Miranda wonders about.
Especially as I spend way too much time online and I feel I don't live the real life.
Especially as I'm procrasti
Jan 03, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it
Miranda July is a difficult writer for me to like. Something about her just embodies the whole essence of all that is twee and precious and utterly indigestible with a certain branch of post-modern literature. Even contemplating the phrase "post-modern literature" kind of makes me shiver, as if I had little spiders with bi-level haircuts crawling up my neck. I tried watching her film "The Future", and while I think there was a lot about it that was competent - it looked nice, the characters ...more
Apr 02, 2012 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: ladyish, 2012
The premise is that Miranda July is writing a screenplay (now a motion picture "THE FUTURE") but she's having some issues with her writing/revising, and as a distraction, she starts responding to ads in the Pennysaver, interviewing each subject, ostensibly trying to get to the bottom of what they are selling, why they're selling it, and who they are. But, you know, it's Miranda July, so really it's about love, failure/success, art, and the broken ways we humans get through the world. Brigitte ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
well, this was just great. It's also really honest, funny, odd and a little sad (I may have cried at the end). If you've seen July's films this is going to make more sense to you, but if you haven't seen them you'll want to after reading this.

It's a book about writing, Miranda July is trying to finish writing her screenplay (which becomes the film 'The Future'...)
"This story takes place in 2009, right after our wedding. I was writing a screenplay in the little house. I wrote it at the kitchen t
Frederic  Germay
Jan 09, 2013 Frederic Germay rated it liked it
After seeing 'Me, You, & Everyone We Know' and 'The Future,' I was astonished by how bravely artistic the writer/director, Miranda July, was. Being immaturely impatient, the idea of simply waiting until her next movie came out sounded awfully unpleasant. And so I came across this book.

It Chooses You is short, sweet, and vividly colorful. In it, Ms. July details a social experiment of hers, where she scoured the pennysaver ads and visited the individuals who were selling these little trivial
Nov 27, 2011 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Loved the movie The Future. And loved this book. We were lucky enough to catch a Q&A with Miranda July following a screening of The Future at the ArcLight, and I'd read some articles about the making of the movie, so I knew the back story with the character of Joe (the old man who advertises the hairdryer in the Penny Saver). But even if I hadn't known what was coming, I probably still would've bawled throughout the last chapter of this book.

"I thought about his sixty-two years of sweet, fil
Ginny Pennekamp
Dec 09, 2012 Ginny Pennekamp rated it it was ok
Full disclosure: ME, YOU & EVERYONE WE KNOW is a great movie. Perhaps my favorite Sundance screening ever. I have seen BEGINNERS 3 times and the directors commentary twice. I own & have read Miranda July's book of short stories and love it. I have seen THE FUTURE. It was eh.

This book is only 1 part experiment, and 3 parts director's commentary on THE FUTURE. The really interesting thing is, it explains in part why the movie failed, and why she knew it was going to. And it has one really
Sep 04, 2011 Stephen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
Maybe you don't like Miranda July, I can understand that, it's hard to believe her sincerity when everything seems to have the same weight for her, and she can be a bit too cute or neurotic (or worse, "quirky"), but there are parts of this book that are really affecting: mostly those parts when July lets her interviewees speak for themselves. Those parts make the book worthwhile, even if there are only a handful of them and they get quickly lost in the haze of July's preoccupations.

On the level
Nov 13, 2011 Abbey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
File this under: read in one sitting, crying in public, the best sort of book about the human condition.
I haven't seen any of Miranda July's movies or other creations, but I saw this book on some friends' Goodreads and became intrigued. As she struggled to finish her screenplay for the film The Future, Miranda procrastinated by interviewing people who'd placed ads selling things in the Los Angeles PennySaver circular, and the book includes these transcripts (and well-placed photographs by Brigitte Sire that often have comedic or poignant timing), as well as some biographical interludes about Miran ...more
Lenny Wick
Feb 23, 2015 Lenny Wick rated it it was ok
I don't know much about Miranda July. I know she's an indie filmmaker and writer. I've passed by Me and You and Everyone We Know on cable. After this, I expect to at least DVR it.

For such a breeze to read, It Chooses You is rather frustrating. The concept is quietly wonderful, yet the book is really very much about something entirely different. Or there's a lack of undestanding between me, the reader, and July, the writer, about why it is important.

Going through the Pennysaver and interviewing t
Jul 22, 2014 tina added it
I would never have bought this. In fact, I saw it in the bookstore and despite the fact that I loved Miranda July's first book, I didn't buy it. I'm so happy my friend gave me her copy to test read for her. I loved this. July is a writer who makes me feel like my own existence need not be called into question ever.
Example 1: "In my paranoid world every storekeeper thinks I'm stealing, every man thinks I'm a prostitute or a lesbian, every woman thinks I'm a lesbian or arrogant, and every child a
Mar 30, 2016 Belinda rated it liked it
Recently married Miranda July gets stuck while working on the screenplay of her second feature film, The Future. While deliberately not working on her computer, with its endless distractions, she flicks through a free magazine distributed to LA residents called the PennySaver, in which people advertise items for sale (note: it is in the PennySaver that Juno finds the adoptive parents for her baby in the movie Juno). In a somewhat epic act of procrastination, Miranda decides to investigate the ...more
Aug 03, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
Recommended to Sara by: The Millions
This is a book about writer’s block. The kind of writer’s block particularly inspired by the internet, where you surf the web and google your own name, or the name of an ex-boyfriend instead of finishing up whatever project it is that you are supposed to be finishing on the same machine.

July’s answer to this sort of writer’s block is to begin answering ads in the paper edition of the Pennysaver, ads selling goods for under ten dollars. And she makes forays into these computerless people’s homes
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Miranda July (born February 15, 1974) is a performance artist, musician, writer, actress and film director. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, after having lived for many years in Portland, Oregon. Born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger, she works under the surname of "July," which can be traced to a character from a "girlzine" Miranda created with a high school friend called "Snarla."

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“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life—where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” 1854 likes
“It was an act of devotion. A little like writing or loving someone — it doesn’t always feel worthwhile, but not giving up somehow creates unexpected meaning over time.” 54 likes
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