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Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  1,321 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
From the acclaimed author and columnist: a laugh-out-loud journey into the world of real estate—the true story of one woman’s “imperfect life lived among imperfect houses” and her quest for the four perfect walls to call home.

After an itinerant suburban childhood and countless moves as a grown-up—from New York City to Lincoln, Nebraska; from the Midwest to the West Coast a
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published May 19th 2010 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published 2010)
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I picked up this book for the most prosaic and obvious of reasons. I too am a person who would like to own real estate (and have not been able to). I indulge in HGTV shows far more frequently than is probably productive (House Hunters International- can you turn away from someone buying a farm in France??? I cannot!). So I assumed that this would be something that I could identify and commiserate with.

And for some portion of the book, it was. She loved HGTV too and watched it even more than I di
Jan 30, 2011 Melody rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
I recently read an article that questioned the current trend of everyone penning a memoir. This book, to me, exemplified said trend. A memoir about real estate? I picked it up for the clever title, which now strikes me as the best thing about the book. It would have made a delightful magazine article. There were amusing passages, to be sure, and Daum is a competent writer but there's not enough here, or too much.

The author's endless fascination with her own reactions to parquet and hexagonal ti
Susan Albert
Jul 19, 2010 Susan Albert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House is the funniest, wittiest book I have read in a very long time. Briskly entertaining and nearly pitch-perfect, Meghan Daum's memoir is the story of her decades-long obsession with unaffordable apartments in New York, unmanageable farms in Nebraska, and houses (suitable and un-) in the suburbs of Los Angeles. It is also the story of too many of us, people whose lives are defined by media-spun dreams of high-class, high-priced, high-maintenance houses ...more
May 12, 2010 Lauren rated it really liked it
"When I think back on the places I've lived, I now wonder this: I wonder if the real measure of 'home' is the degree to which you can leave it alone. Maybe appreciating a house means knowing when to stop decorating. Maybe you've never really lived there until you've thrown its broken pieces in the garbage. Maybe learning how to be out in the big world isn't the epic journey everyone thinks it is. Maybe that's actually the easy part. The hard part is what's right in front of you. The hard part is ...more
The first half, about the author's childhood and life in NYC, I found interesting. Her days in Nebraska and Los Angeles, not as much, although the points about L.A. neighborhoods were worthwhile.

The point where I started seriously losing interest hit when the author mentioned how she paid off her nearly 100K debt, and still had lots left over, from the advance on her novel. Perhaps I don't understand, but unless the book is a really hot property, after tax advances aren't that much; moreover, th
Kristen Northrup
May 19, 2010 Kristen Northrup rated it really liked it
I can't give entirely objective reviews of Meghan Daum's books. We have too much in common. She published her essays on funding a proper post-college big city life with too many credit cards at the same time I was facing the consequences of doing the same. Those debts helped send both of us to Midwestern farmville towns, which she then wrote a novel about. We even apparently both dine on salami and red wine when the spouse isn't home and I once lived in a neighborhood where my dates could never ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Nicholas rated it it was amazing
I suspect that I liked this perfectly fluffy book so much because I probably want to be Meghan Daum's friend. It's very funny and very clever. It is the rare piece of fiction, or in this case, memoir, that can entertain me without being heavy on dialogue, which this one isn't. Instead, it's a long series of Daum's musings about her own (and by extension, our culture's) obsession with real estate and what we think it can do for us and say about us. And it is, at every turn, incredibly lucid about ...more
May 09, 2012 Dee rated it it was ok
Originally published

I have a confession to make: Meghan and I grew up together. We graduated high school together, and were on the newspaper and yearbook together. For a great number of years she had the writing career I had coveted.

While I am not world famous, or a best seller, or what not, I realized that there was a lot more to my life than hers.

For one thing, I met my true love pretty darn early in my life. He's been sweeping me off my feet since 199
Mar 08, 2011 Glenn rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Very boring. At one point the author talks about booting a male roommate named Brad out of a New York City apartment, partly because he "recounted his college days in excrutiating--and mind-numbing--detail." That sums up how I felt while plodding through this memoir. Like the author stating that "Brad grew both more irritated and more irritating by the day.", I grew more irritated page by page. It was almost like reading 30+ years of selected mundane Facebook postings. e.g. She bought a futon an ...more
Jan 17, 2011 Cathy rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, even though I found the author's attitudes sometimes appalling, sometimes a little too close to home. Meghan Daum, a columnist for the LA Times and a commentator on NPR, writes in exhaustive detail about her many moves and her real estate obsession. I heard her interviewed around the time the book came out, so I knew the gist of the story. As a fellow Gen Xer and cross-country mover, I can relate to the idea that for this generation, where you live says a lot about who you a ...more
Jun 17, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: cities-suburbs
Meghan Daum wrote the exact book I wanted/needed to read right now! Though I'm not shopping for real estate, I am about to leave a city (the only city besides Carbondale, Illinois, that in the book she disparages) for another city (my fourth in less than ten adult years, not counting college) for no better reason than that, from a distance, this one 'seems more me' and is allegedly somewhere 'I could see myself staying for a while.' I envision the perfect rental bungalow there, though I don’t kn ...more
Feb 27, 2011 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it it was ok
I can't believe I finished this self-indulgent book. I guess I kept waiting for it to live up to its press and get better. Finally, about halfway through, I started skimming. In my opinion, it was much ado about nothing. Daum seems to have had an idea for a magazine article and somehow boringly expanded it into a book.

There was too much "inner thinking" and stream-of-consciousness writing ---- and so much of it was repetitive. I just did not care about her house yearnings and grew impatient wit
Jul 10, 2010 Djrmel rated it it was ok
Daum writes about her escapades as a home shopper and home buyer and why that hardly ever leads to her being a home owner. The premise is interesting - why do so many of us think that if we lived in the right abode, the rest of our life would fall into place? How do the influences of where our parents chose to live (and not live), along with all those perfect happy families from TVLand shape what where we think we will thrive? Unfortunately, Daum never goes much deeper than "I discovered I was I ...more
May 14, 2010 Lain rated it it was ok
Well-written, but boring. I'd like to read something by her that was a little deeper. I felt like she was going through the motions, writing this self-examination of houses lived in and desired. But I don't think she learned anything.
May 23, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
In "Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House," Meghan Daum recounts her search for a living space that would allow her to feel at home. In part, she declares, that quest has to do with houses, "ones I've lived in and ones I haven't, ones I've lusted for, ones I've reviled, ones I've left too soon, and ones where I've found myself stuck, chained to my own radiator by the tethers of my own stupid decisions." Yet as she moves in and out of temporary residences, never quite coming across the o ...more
Scott Fishwick
Feb 10, 2017 Scott Fishwick rated it it was ok
Blah. Meh.
Jun 13, 2010 christa rated it really liked it
In the early 2000s, Meghan Daum did something totally unprecedented. She busted past a bunch of dead male authors with flapper fetishes and Margaret Atwood to land a spot in my Top 5 Favorite Books of All Time list with her collection of contemporary essays: "My Misspent Youth."

It's not a Pulitzer Prize-winning mix; There is a good chance you've never heard of it. But is a real gem, with pieces on the financial woes of residual college tuition and renting in New York City on a freelance writer'
Apr 30, 2015 Edith rated it really liked it
Meghan Daum, a regular columnist for the LA Times, categorizes herself as an essayist. That seems to be her strong suit and she proves it in this book about her relentless pursuit of that sublime living space, that place where everything is finally perfect and her restless soul finally finds its home. This title pulled me in also because I come from a family that is all about ‘houses’....buying them, building them, decorating them, continuously going to home shows for more ‘ideas’, and talking a ...more
Amy M
Jul 18, 2010 Amy M rated it liked it
I loved the title of this book! I too, have moved a lot....although I lived in the same house the first 18 years of my life, in my five years of college I lived in two dormrooms and six apartments, with a total of more than 15 roommates. In my mid-twenties I had five more roommates, two apartments and two townhomes. I moved to Chicago in my late 20's, and in my two years there I lived in an apartment, and then bought a house (all with the same person). Then it was off for a two-year stint in Dal ...more
Angie Fehl
I was thinking this would be right up my alley since in our house we watch a ton of House Hunters and we love to drive through pretty neighborhoods "just looking" and dreaming out loud. Not sure what happened here. I found the prologue humorous and appealing but every other chapter of this book felt like a whole lotta nothing going on. I was anticipating this book to be a humorous and maybe sometimes touching look at her real estate obsession, her experiences, maybe some commentary on what seems ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Teresa rated it really liked it
The title of this witty, funny, insightful memoir popped right out at me in the bookstore. Hasn't everyone fantasized about how a new, better house would open the door to a happier life that seems just out of reach? Daum captures that but explores how those dreams took over her life. She engagingly delves into the "house as metaphor" theme, deceptively eschewing psychological examination: "Like growing up or honestly falling in and out of love, the journey from sane to not entirely sane traverse ...more
Oct 19, 2010 Anne rated it really liked it
I might actually give this book three and a half stars; but I tipped over to the extra whole star (not only because Goodreads makes me round my stars) but because this was the right book at the right time for me, as I spend 99% of my time mindf*&(ing my real estate situation.

I always liked Daum as a columnist, but haven't loved her previous books. This one, though, resonated with me. I appreciated that although it is a memoir, she more than occasionally admits that she can't remember exactly
Oct 01, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
An enjoyable outing from Megham Daum! I liked her style and I liked being inside her head, though a bit more connection between her tale and broader social problems (i.e., the mass real estate hysteria and why that was) would have been good.

Megham Daum spoke at Salem College earlier this week, and now her memoir is the first library book I've checked out via Kindle! Time to get reading....
Malena Watrous
Aug 20, 2011 Malena Watrous rated it really liked it
I love how clear, precise, and relentlessly introspective Daum is. She is wonderfully willing to see and call herself on her weaknesses. Her clarity about the erroneous thinking that led her to make certain decisions is always hilarious. I haven't had quite her same bug (or means) to buy real estate, but I have certainly projected fantasies of myself in different iterations onto imagined cities, towns, apartments and lives.
Jun 01, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
A hilarious look at the desire and purchase of a home. The author recounts her obsession with houses and her final purchase - and the desire to immediately move. Anyone who loves driving around, looking at homes and thinking "maybe" about them should read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jul 25, 2012 Kela rated it liked it
Daum can get a bit annoying with her grass is always greener in the other house obsessions, but overall the book is humorous and should prove interesting to anyone who enjoys the hunt for a house more than the actual purchase.
Ellen Tveit
Dec 03, 2014 Ellen Tveit rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Daum's sentences and paragraphs are a pleasure to read, and I even chuckled out loud a few times. But the story bored me and I skimmed pages to get to the end.
I thought this would be more funny and lighthearted and less gripey. Definitely not feeling it.
Jul 06, 2010 Deidre rated it really liked it
So insightful. Vassar girl knows how to write the human experience/ love affair of "finding home".
Nov 22, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
This isn't a book about houses. It's a book about Meghan Daum growing up, viewed through the lens of houses.
Meghan Daum writes, first and foremost, about Meghan Daum. This is true of basically all of her writing, and I'm not saying it as a complaint. I actually think she writes about herself better than 99% of authors, you just have to understand what you're getting yourself into.
Regardless, this book is not her usual collection of essays - it's her memoir. The jacket flap will mislead you, clai
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Meghan Daum is the author of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a personal chronicle of real estate addiction and obsessive fascination with houses, as well as the novel The Quality of Life Report and the essay collection My Misspent Youth. Since 2005 she has written a weekly column for The Los Angeles Times, which appears on the op-ed page every Thursday. She has contributed to publi ...more
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“Maybe learning how to be out in the big world isn't the epic journey everyone thinks it is. Maybe that's actually the easy part. The hard part is what's right in front of you. The hard part is learning how to hold the title to your very existence, to own not only property, but also your life.” 6 likes
“Also, I was coming up on my five year anniversary of owning the house, and if there's anything I've learned in five years, it's this: if a piece of your house falls off and you don't know what to do with it, throwing it in the trash and forgetting about it is a perfectly viable option.” 4 likes
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