True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World
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True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  767 ratings  ·  135 reviews
From Lisa Birnbach, the author of The Official Preppy Handbook, comes True Prep, which looks at how the old guard of natural-fiber-loving, dog-worshipping, G&T-soaked preppies adapts to the new order of the Internet, cell phones, rehab, political correctness, reality TV, and . . . polar fleece.
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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Dearest Lisa,

Did the trust fund run out? Did Mummy and Daddy cut you off? Why else would you follow up "The Preppy Handbook" with this poseur of a book called "True Prep?"

Your brilliance shone in your clever, tongue-in-cheek satire of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) world that you wrote about in 1980. Your Jewish perspective gave you a special vantage point to view "preppies" in their element when you attended Brown. You came, you saw, you wrote famously about their nicknames, picking t...more
At some point, probably at a garage sale in the mid-1980's, I stumbled across a copy of Lisa Birnbach's original send up of WASP culture The Preppy Handbook. And being in my early teens and having no concept of satire, I took it completely and totally seriously. I aspired to have a lobster trap for a coffee table, begged my parents to let me go to Exeter, wanted to wear nothing but ribbon belts and headbands.

Years rolled by, my life wandered betwixt the preppy and the less preppy. Nevertheless...more
The Official Preppy Handbook came out in 1980 and changed my life. Everything that I think I know about appearing calm, cool and collected I learned from that book. That book explained away the apparent contradictions between possessing wealth and consuming Triscuits, and persuaded me not to throw out my grandfather's hand-me-down cashmere topcoat even when it got a little worn at the sleeves.

This book, Lisa Birnbach's reboot of the original insanely lucrative and mind-bogglingly influential fra...more
Lisa Birnbach's "Official Preppy Handbook" (1980) was a national best-seller, despite being a repository of in-jokes for East Coast old-money country club members. Since it's out of print and reaps a fortune on eBay, the publisher roped Birnbach into writing a 2011 version; "True Prep" revives the lists, maps, charts and goofy photo shoots of the original.

Too bad it's unfunny and insular to yacht clubs. How odd that a book about contemporary preppy culture could utterly ignore the wild populari...more
First book I read on my new Kindle (thank you, too kind in-laws) because I knew it would have some diagrams and I wanted to see what images looked like on the gray screen (they look great, by the way). Very funny book, and I learned something about myself: my husband and I are preppies. We both have educational backgrounds/careers in fields that have nothing to do with money or the greater economy around us, and are both tied to higher education. As Birnbach says, "Any job that has a vaguely hel...more
This book is more than disappointing. It's an embarrassing attempt to be inclusive and updated. Ironically, of course, a real "true prep" would never update! This sad sequel suffers from an utter lack of clarity and cohesiveness, shrouded in product-placement overload (enough with the Tory Burch, Lis). The original is a classic for a reason. Stick with that. True Prep is pretty pathetic.
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Loaded with photographs, phone numbers, and other such colorful and classy decorations (good job, illustrator), I was initially very excited by “True Prep.” But like being force-fed banana cream pie, this book started delicious and ended up making me ill, confused, and pukey. I realized by the end of this guide that I, an impoverished Californian with an immigrant father, was Not Prep. In fact, everyone I knew in my life is Not Prep. In fact, I had never met anyone who was not (?) Not Prep. As s...more
Quarter 3 Review

In todays culture, style is about everything. Some people even breath, sleep, live fashion. In particular, the preppy style, it is classic, clean, and especially fashionable. In the book True Prep: It’s A Whole New Old World, written by “Lisa Birnbach” is about of a coming of age story about the modern day life of preppies, and how they have changed from the past thirty years. True Prep brings you into the world of fashion, etiquette, and your family’s old money. It let’s you d...more
If I could give this book 10 stars, I would, if only because the Classy Closet, my consignment shop only a block away from my house in Evanston, is one of the two shops listed as *the* place to go for thrifted vintage prep gear in Illinois. No wonder Emmanuel, the owner of the Classy Closet, has True Prep displayed in his store. As a side note, I have run into Emmanuel at the Rich People Salvation Army twice now when I pop in there on my way home from work. He still gives me grief over me findin...more
I cherished my paperback copy of "The Preppy Handbook", reading and re-reading it over and over in the early 80s...sharing it with friends and even adopting one of the required nicknames. Hey, I was a tween, what can I say. So I had to take a look at this title and ouch, what a disappointment. Cluttered, boring and lacking in the magic of the original, this book seems to be slapdashed together in an effort to make a deadline. The text is way too small. One positive standout in the book is the "p...more
This wasn't a Must Read book, except that when your life seems to be a blend between the Preppy Handbook and the JAP Handbook, well, this really was a Must Read.

The version I read was an ARC, and I really hope that the layout was not final because each page was crowded with text and photos, while the first Handbook had more white space. There were some typos (it's just Emma Willard School, no "the") and omissions (Vera Wang attended Professional Children's School, as did Yo-Yo Ma. George Hamilto...more
What a waste of reading time! I thought the first book was hysterical, and the Wall St Journal gave this a good review, so I gave it a shot. The book takes itself waaaayyyy too seriously, doesn't have the catchy diagrams (or as many pictures) as the first book, and now that the prep universe is more inclusive, a lot of the elitism is gone (not that I look for elitism in a book, but come on - it's the Preppy Handbook). Anyway, now that the club is pretty much open to anyone, it's a lot less inter...more
Madeline Benoit
The original Official Preppy Handbook puts this one to shame.

Not funny, not catchy, takes itself too seriously and actually isn't a representation of "preps" at all.

Luckily my sister and I each have our own copy of the Official (before it was worth a fortune on Amazon). Thank God, and thank you mummy for being truly preppy before it was cool.

Sorry guys, Obama is not the new prep...
Kate H
I give this book three stars because I really liked the original Preppy Handbook and I think Lisa Birnbach can be funny at times. I am afraid, preppies, that your days (of visibility at least) are numbered. There's plenty of money around, a lot of it new, but that's not what you're about.

In 1980, at the dawn of the Reagan era, preppies kind of came out of the closet. Before then, they did their thing, quietly, wherever they happened to be--at their summer place, in their blueblood workplace, in...more
Gabbi Oppenheimer
I quite enjoyed it. A fun read with interesting anecdotes and enough substance for it to qualify as a book, but enough pictures to keep it interesting. Very clever.
Kasey Cook
A truely charming rendition of the 1980's Preppy Handbook. Expetionally entertaining and throughout reading the book, I kept going are people really like this, and then my summer on Nantucket would come haunting back to me.I am not quite nearly as much of a preppy dresser as I once was, as I no longer wear two popped polo shirts at once with a matching ribbon belt. After reading this book I do not think I am preppy in the least bit besides some vv here and there because I honestly don't think I...more
The introduction epigraph is, "Wake up, Muffy, we're back." Birnbach's older and forty years later (forty?!) is updating The Official Preppy Handbook. This one, like the other, is mildly satirical and a mildly amusing glimpse at prep culture. it's updated in that it now isn't just about straight WASPs, but includes just about everybody, including Jews and gays. Lots of name-dropping and cataloging and tongue-in-cheek (mostly) illustrations.

Not a book to read straight through, but glancing is fun...more
Not as useful as the original Preppy Handbook in terms of being filled with catalog suggestions and fashion guidelines (and thus not likely to cost me quite so much money, this is nonetheless a lovely, gently satirical, affectionate, charming update. Thirty years on, the Prep world in America is adapting itself to the new century while holding on to key values. Birnbach's "True Prep" is a re-assuring book about What Really Matters. (Contrast it with Peter York's nightmarish updating of the Sloan...more
Okay. I'm preppy. I grew up on the East Coast and went to a private liberal arts college in Maine. I get it. And, I clearly like it, or I wouldn't have bought this book. I had LL Bean and J. Crew everything. I've been to the Hamptons. I have preppy cred, as it were.

However, this book is a manual on how to be elitist and ridiculous. It pokes a little, tiny bit of fun at the "prep" lifestyle, while ultimately defining it as wealthy WASP-ism that is smugly superior.

I will keep reading a few pages h...more
I read some reader reviews of this book and a lot of people seemed disappointed. I thought it was just as funny as the original and thoroughly enjoyed it. Totally LOL'ed at this passage on etiquette: "It is not entirely your fault if you've grown up in an etiquette wasteland. These days when you offer a sincere 'thank you,' you are apt to hear 'no prob' or 'sure' or worse, 'no worries.' Who was worried? Waiters or--here it is--waitpersons like to ask you if 'you're still working on that' salad/m...more
Having not read Lisa's previous "Prep" book, this was a serious disappointment. Some moderately sarcastic/poignant moments, but overall a snoozefest.
Remembering the original from my salad days, I got this one for Christmas. Cracked it open last night and was immediately disappointed. Initial impression was that it is smug, has too much attitude, and obnoxiously politically correct. Uncleverly tilting at the Prep windmills in this day and age. Selective reading of the rest did not improve this impression. I would hate to be at a dinner party with the authors, and I have heard at least one anecdote that would confirm this. I remember enjoying...more
I read _The Official Preppy Handbook_ when I was about 12 and thought It was hilarious. It was irreverent and politically incorrect and full of fun. This sequel, in short, is not. It tries to touch on all the changes in the world over the last 30 years, and it is, frankly, a buzzkill. The funniest part about the original is that it was a little snippet of that late 70s world of privilege-- as seen by this one woman, in relation to the wider world. This one just isn't funny. Or maybe I'm just too...more
Sadly lacking in the charm of the original.
A far, far cry from its hallowed predecessor.
Oct 05, 2012 Vanessa marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
True Prep is an updated version by the same author (Lisa Birnbach) whom brought us The Official Preppy Handbook in the eighties. While the first edition is now out of print, curious minds will find themselves delighted to learn more about how the other side on the greener side of the fence lives. And also the definition of a "preppy" is revealed throughout the book.

Take a sense of humor with you when you read this... and perhaps a glass of sangria may help too!
Having grown up in the prepdom that is Great Neck, NY, and having attended an Ivy league university, I was particularly invested in this satirical books perspective on a lot of things I just never understood, but felt compelled to emulate growing up.(The ever-present Vineyard Vines whale haunts me to this day.) I found the book charming and a fun read, but I wouldn't think so hard about the content; after all, that would be trés unprep.
I loved the original Preppy Handbook, so I was anxious to read this. And while I enjoyed it, it just wasn't as fun.

The main point was that it's been 30 years since the original, and the book was meant to reflect the changes since then. Frankly, some of them made be a bit depressed - has society declined so much? Apparently so.

This book won't be the classic the original was, as the too-frequent trendy pop references will date it.
As a proud owner of The Official Prep Handbook after finding it in a used book shop, I was gifted True Prep from my 'bestie' from college. More reflective and ironic than the original, True Prep summarizes the realities of the Prep lifestyle and how ultimately every American has a bit of Prep in them. Definitely a good read on Americana pop culture and a good book to leave around for guests to keep them entertained. Prep generosity for sure.
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