How to Save Your Own Life: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

How to Save Your Own Life: A Novel

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  984 ratings  ·  71 reviews
How to Save Your Own Life, by Jong
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published February 1st 1977 by Henry Holt & Co (first published 1977)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,710)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Rachel
This book charts the daily life of Erica Jong's alter ego, Isadora Wing, as she navigates her way through a maze of work, fans, friends, lovers, and an emotional vacuum of a husband. This is NYC in the 70's, and apparently everyone has a shrink, an avocado plant, and an affair. Isadora is no exception. Jong's writing is witty, candid and fast-paced. She lets you peek into her (I assume it's hers) world of hedonism, confusion and boredom. It's alternately hilarious (I actually laughed out loud 3...more
Kelly
May 23, 2007 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: erica jong fans
This book is incredibly positive, and I really liked the direction in which Erica Jong took her character. The development seemed logical, and necessary. I usually have arguments with the "why" of passionate romances. I did in Fear of Flying. This one, I didn't. In some ways, Isadora seemed less mature than in the first novel, but I think that was a reflection of the love that was introduced here.

Just again, very positive and happy. You'll whip through it in less than three days. I took 24 hour...more
Amanda
Was this the whole of the 70s? I know, I know, not everyone had the financial wherewithal to flounce about the city avoiding their cold husbands and drinking champagne. Still a strangely disturbing portrait of an era when "women's lib" was still a newish concept and a 32 year old woman with a career entirely her own could imagine herself trapped in a bitter-yet-tumultuous marriage.

I get the impression that the whole thing was a big, well executed dig at her second husband, by portraying him as...more
Laurel-Rain
In Erica Jong's follow-up to her iconic "Fear of Flying," we once again meet Isadora Wing, her "fictional doppelganger," who is representative of the times in which she lives. It is the 1970s, that time of quest: searching for lust set against a backdrop of hedonistic innocence. In some ways, Isadora is a metaphor of the times: she is on a sexual journey, but also trying to find her freedom from a stultifying marriage to Bennett, a cold, detached, dominating psychiatrist. Second-wave feminism is...more
Kim
This book pretty much picks up where Fear of Flying ended. A continuation of Isadora's story. I enjoyed it but definitely suggest you read FoF first if you haven't already. My edition of the book had a nice little afterword from Jong about her reactions to re-reading this story, some 30 years after writing it. It may be my favorite part of the book, actually.

some excerpts:

"The fact is - you can't really write about somebody you don't love. Even if the portrait is vitriolic, even if the pen is sh...more
Torie
I really wanted to like this book after being so disgusted by the stories of the passive women in Sara Davidson's "Loose Change." I mentioned in my review of that book how the most valuable idea I took from it was that the women of that generation learned lessons the hard way so those of mine wouldn't have to. I kind of feel the same way about Erica Jong's book, which is the story of the time she spent psyching herself up to leave her husband. While Isadora, the Jong character, isn't exactly pas...more
Vicki ~ no time to read
Aug 19, 2012 Vicki ~ no time to read rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vicki ~ no time to read by: Debora
Shelves: adult, realistic
During: I don't really know what to think about this book [as I'm reading it]. It's vivd, and kind of morbid. The woman is trying to 'save her own life' starting with leaving her husband, which she thoroughly retells, event for event. Some parts are depressing, others are funny. Definitely adult content all around.

After: Okay, this book was like one half porno, one half self help book... Sometimes it just felt really demoralizing, other times it was really interesting. When the main character st...more
Melissa
I've been wanting to read Erica Jong for a long time. I've read a few of her short stories, mostly in anthologies of erotic literature. I found this book on sale for $2.99 at McNally and couldn't pass it up.

Her writing feels so honest. It felt more like reading a friend's diary than a novel. I know that she fictionalized a lot even though much of it was based on her own life. It's a 32 year old woman's story of how she eventually came to leave her husband of 9 years.

Her honesty and willingness...more
Kristen
The sequel to Fear of Flying, this is a barely fictionalized telling of the author's decision to leave her husband of eight years in the sex-happy '70s. In it she demonizes him and rationalizes herself and visits her friends to complain and have sex and generally comes off as immature and hypocritical. The writing is first-drafty and unremarkable; she mostly seems like a talkative type who types. Still, it's entertaining in the way reading through someone's diary could be, the scenes are lively,...more
Heather
I can't get enough of Erica Jong. It surprises me sometimes that this was written in the 70's and yet I feel she touches something inside of me several decades later. I particularly appreciated this book more than fear of flying, because as she says so herself, she takes a much more optimistic approach at love, an idea she might have turned me onto.
Meryl
After reading Fear of Flying about a year ago, I was excited to catch up on Isadora Wing's later adventures. While Fear of Flying was deeply emotional and poetic, the sequel was a lighter romp filled with interesting new characters and exhilarating encounters . What impresses me the most about Jong's books is how relevant they still feel. The questions of gender in art and romantic relationships still loom. As a New Yorker who recently moved to LA, I was shocked to see how the love-hate relation...more
Barbara Rice
Her own life, she means. Jong still whining about men and then running to them.
Jennifer
For those that said "Fear of Flying" was taboo or saturated with sex didn't end up reading "How to save your own life" once that was published.

"How to save..." is inundated with flight, sex, self-pity, guilt, bemoaning one's husband, sex, whining, sex, guilty & angry sex, more whining, some traveling, girl-on-girl sex to REALLY spite the selfish & also adulterous husband, traveling, sex AND love, refusal of an orgy for a night alone with your lover (emphasis on the love), separation, pa...more
Andrew
“The words carry their own momentum. A confession in motion tends to stay in motion. Newton's first law of jealousy.”

"So many marriages, so many deaths. People getting up in the morning and going to work, coming home at night, fucking, feeling dead. No wonder they left, ran off with their secretaries, smoked dope at forty-five, discovered sex as if they were Adam and Eve in the garden, and paid and paid and paid for it. Lawyers' bills, alimony, houses sold for half what you paid for them, child...more
April
Jul 10, 2012 April rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Baby boomers; Man-haters
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Because of MacKay Used bookstore I was able to get this book for free. The cover didn't look attractive. The author, Erica Jong, has an attractive personlity. I left Paulo Coelho aside and I went after this book and was charmed by her sense of humor, her real-ness, genuineness and eloquence. This book is meant to penetrate right to our hearts. Erica Jong is preaching the Gospel of Womanhood. Is woman entitled to be a being of her own without being totally lost in her identity in her husband's or...more
Joe
What a sad and demoralizing sequel. Fear of Flying took the stance that women can desire, experience, enjoy, and pursue sex in the same manner as men. It was a groundbreaking stance that spoke to a generation of women who were taught to believe that only women of loose morals could enjoy sex, not a lady. Isadora Wing's guilty yet liberating sex fueled romp across Europe was endearing, relatable, and the voice of an entire generation of women.

So what happened with How to Save Your Own Life? Isado...more
Laura
Before I met with Book Club the other week, I'd have given this one star. But talking it over and realizing that Jong and this novel are, without question, a product of their political context made me realize that it has merit as a piece of history if not as a successful piece of fiction (or of writing in general).

Why did I find it unsuccessful, you ask? Because the narrator is a whining, pretentious, and wholly unlikable specimen of a human being and of a woman. I am, even after talking to the...more
John
I recently bought this book in paperback with fancy color cover after a decade of borrowing from my writing mentor the hardback with a black and white dust jacket.

The book is a straight forward tale about a woman who finally decides to recognize that her marriage has failed, that her husband is a bad fuck and a lousy person, and that only she can decide what she wants to do, or as LouEllen aka Eddie, paraphrases and says to me, "Get off the razor blade and stop cutting your pretty cunt."

LouElle...more
Lena
Overall, this was a really fun book. It was hilarious and raunchy at times, and thoughtful at others. Isadora was easy to relate to. I do wish she hadn't repeated herself as often as she did, though. It would have been much more enjoyable if some of the unnecessary, tedious bits (about how jealous she was, about how much she missed Josh, etc) had been edited out. Also, I disliked the epilogue, despite the fact that it was incredibly arousing.
I don't know if I will read this again in the future,...more
Jessica
Jul 28, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who feel they'll never meet someone else other than who they are or have been trapped with.
Recommended to Jessica by: goodreads.com
I bought this book because I had just had my heart broken by an ex who decided to admit he had had a 2 year affair with a woman who he felt a great connection with. In pain, I thought a book like this would make me feel better, like talking with a friend who really gets it because she too has experienced the same. At first I found a lot of the books many revelations to be kind of silly, forced, not believable. But by the time I was rounding the last corner of the story I really began to feel sad...more
Angela
May 01, 2009 Angela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Angela by: Kelly
Shelves: decent-reads
How to Save Your Own Life isn't so much a book as it a perspective, an anecdote of life in another time. Tear apart all your relationships and lay them on on the table for everyone to see and you might have something close to the equivalent.

"Where do you feel love? In the chest, as the straining of the heart against the rib cage? In the fingers, as if the blood were reaching out beyond the skin? For me love had always been a battle-a battle with myself-or with a male adversary. A battle not to...more
Jana
In French, when you want to address an elder you will use 'vous', which grammatically is the same as when you are addressing second-person plural. In English, YOU, is plural and singular, and in Croatian is the same as in French. We use 'vi' as a respect and as second person plural, and 'ti' for second person singular.

What am I trying to say? I am addressing Erica Jong with 'vous' because I don’t want to be disrespectful. We don’t really have common topics but there is a certain understanding b...more
Lesley
Loved the title--obviously. Great 70's feminist awakening type stuff.. and I tend to enjoy and agree with Jong's blogging on Huffington Post... but after about 160 pages, frankly, I was done. She's already had two ongoing affairs with guys named Jeffrey, experimented with a lesbian affair (didn't really like being on top, but was DETERMINED to make her lover come--how goal oriented and male), turned down the opportunity for a three-way in a hot tub in LA, and is now happily in love and "winging...more
Nicole Peaslee
Isadora makes a lot of poor choices when it comes to men but you realize it's for her own good. We wouldn't learn everything if we could predict the future, we especially wouldn't learn anything about love if we didn't get our heart broken.
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eliana
Beautifully gifted artist writer with a wry yet good humored, worldview and a penchant for adventure!
Sheila
Jan 05, 2008 Sheila rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in a disappointing marriage
I love Erica Jong's frank style and it comes across as honest from her heart, not just there for shock value. Isadora's character is mainly working up the nerve to leave her husband, and you can't help but cheer her on. Her reaction to her husband's hidden adultry is priceless after all her escapades in Fear of Flying. I also love her reflections on money and fame. They are witty and to the point without the whine so many modern day celebrities have when they talk about the pressures of success....more
Kevin Summers
Fear of Flying is a better novel, but I still liked this one. The poems at the end of How to Save Your Own Life are nothing to write home about.

Sample quote: "We live in a society where everyone habitually lies about their feelings--so there is an immense gratitude toward anyone who even tries to tell the truth. I suppose that this is why certain authors are worshipped as cult figures."
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 56 57 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Groves of Academe
  • The Mandelbaum Gate
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • Dubin's Lives
  • How Far Can You Go?
  • Simple Passion
  • The Fox in the Attic (The Human Predicament, #1)
  • Cocksure
  • The Coup
  • The History Man
  • Lean In: For Graduates
  • Riders in the Chariot
  • Room at the Top
  • Secrets of Mary Magdalene: The Untold Story of History's Most Misunderstood Woman
  • Bomber
  • The Unlimited Dream Company
  • Lavoura Arcaica
  • No Highway
6085
Erica Jong—novelist, poet, and essayist—has consistently used her craft to help provide women with a powerful and rational voice in forging a feminist consciousness. She has published 21 books, including eight novels, six volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times, the Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, and the New Yor...more
More about Erica Jong...
Fear of Flying Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones Sappho's Leap Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life Parachutes & Kisses

Share This Book

“Someday every woman will have orgasms- like every family has color TV- and we can all get on with the business of life. ” 147 likes
“The worst thing about jealousy is how low it makes you reach.” 12 likes
More quotes…