Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House
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Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  849 ratings  ·  211 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...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published 2010)
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Melody
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...more
Susan Albert
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
John
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...more
Nick
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
Lauren
"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
Katie
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
JoAnn/QuAppelle
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...more
Lain
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.
Amy M
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
Glenn
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
Chris
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
Dee
Originally published http://mommydomchronicles.blogspot.co...

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...more
christa
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'...more
Kristen Northrup
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
Cathy
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
Teresa
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
Anne
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...more
Djrmel
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
Jennifer
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....
Kate
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.
Kela
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.
Kimberly Simpson
funny and insightful memoir about how we search for things that can never really be found.. in this case the perfect home. loved it.

My favorite quote.... "But a house is an inherently limited entity. It can't do everything or even most things. It cannot give you a personality. It cannot bring you love. It cannot cure loneliness. It can provide comfort, safety, a sense of pride-- that much I know. But after forty years of thinking that my ideal self was waiting for me on the other side of a door...more
Rachel
As a chronic furniture rearrange-er and person who loves living spaces, this was a memoir suited perfectly to me. When I was younger (like elementary school younger) I used to pore over blueprint catalogs like some girls pored over fashion magazines. All it took was a cleverly/practically designed house to make me think "home"...and start the process of moving in my imaginary furniture. (Remember, I was like 10. I "owned" several keepsake necklaces and a teddy bear named Teddy.)

This collection w...more
Kate
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kerry
Oct 02, 2013 Kerry rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
You know the kind of book you buy for its title, knowing nothing about it but that it speaks to you? That is what Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House is to me. I pre-ordered it last summer, while I was avidly apartment-hunting, job-hunting, and wedding-planning, and found myself in that position of total life upset where I just wanted that one perfect thing to cling to as my source of stability.

But that's just a long, rambling way of saying that Meghan Daum's title spoke to me.

Life Wo...more
Evelyn
If you're interested in real estate and/or home decorating porn, you'll likely find this book amusing. The author, who grew up with parents who believed that moving was the best way to change your life if you were unhappy, also learned from her parents that the most reliable way to obscure your lower middle class origins and to become, somehow, magically transformed into a sophisticate, was to decorate your home in a way that transmitted who you wished you were rather than what you actually were...more
Janis Mills
Rather good read. Not a great read. I think I only gave it 3 stars because as with the Live, Pray book I read about a person who has the money to make careless, thoughtless decisions that affect others. Maybe I am envious because I have to be careful and live with the decisions I make. I did identify with the title because I lived in a small town in Massachusetts that was filled with houses far beyond my means. I walked by dog by those houses and thought "oh, life would be so good". In one house...more
Laurel-Rain
Meghan Daum’s memoir "Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House" leads the reader on a journey toward finding the perfect dwelling. From apartments in NY brownstones to farmhouses in Nebraska, and westward to cottages in LA, the author describes her obsessive quest for the house that’s just out of reach.

Some people have hobbies like collecting, but Ms. Daum admits that searching for just the right neighborhood, redecorating each home so that she is finally authentically herself, became an u...more
Jaclyn Day
I was wary of trying to read a 245 page book entirely about someone’s obsession with real estate and finding the perfect home. (How can you sustain my interest over 245 pages with JUST THAT PREMISE?) But Daum is smart, funny and a good writer and the pages flew by.

I think this was an important book for me to read. It came along at a time that I often feel like I’m floating in the wake of a large boat, aimlessly spinning around, watching the boat sail off into the distance. My concept of what “ho...more
Monica
Not sure how I wound up reading two books about house buying obsession in L.A. this month (this and This is Where We Live by Janelle Brown), since I'm not particularly interested in the topic myself. However, the request function at the library works in mysterious ways, and these both came up one after the other. I picked up Daum's book because I'd enjoyed her earlier series of essays (My Misspent Youth) and wanted to see what happened to her after she left New York. However, I have to say that...more
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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
More about Meghan Daum...
My Misspent Youth: Essays The Quality of Life Report The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion Daum Untitled Nonfiction Anthology: Fifteen Writers Reflect on the Choice to Remain Childless Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York

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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.” 3 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.” 3 likes
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