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How to Save Your Own Life

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3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  1,302 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Erica Jong--like Isadora Wing, her fictional doppelganger--was rich and famous, brainy and beautiful, and soaring high with erotica and marijuana in 1977, the year this book was first published. Erica/Isadora are the perfect literary and libidinous guides for those readers who want to learn about-or just be reminded of-the sheer hedonistic innocence of the time. How to Sav ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 6th 2006 by TarcherPerigee (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rachel
Jul 07, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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
Sep 05, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2008 Laurel-Rain rated it it was amazing
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
Joe
Aug 22, 2010 Joe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Torie
Apr 30, 2007 Torie rated it did not like it
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
Barbara Rice
Apr 26, 2009 Barbara Rice rated it it was ok
Her own life, she means. Jong still whining about men and then running to them.
Lyddie
Nov 13, 2014 Lyddie rated it it was ok
If the words “cunt,” “clit,” or “cock” make you uncomfortable, you will be utterly desensitized by the end of Erica Jong’s How to Save Your Own Life. I considered counting the number of times “cunt” appeared (perhaps a dozen times per chapter) but I eventually gave up.

About seven years ago, I read Jong’s first novel, Fear of Flying, featuring the feminist and lustful Isadora Wing. It’s a wonderful novel about the sexual lives of women in the sixties, hard-hitting commentary on the politics of m
...more
Hannah
Aug 12, 2016 Hannah rated it liked it
Hm. Got this at a library book sale and was intrigued by the dust jacket: "Erica Jong was rich and famous, brainy and beautiful, and soaring high with erotica and marijuana in 1977, the year this book was first published." It's sort of a female Bildungsroman that takes place at age 33, which is inspiring to me as someone who has not yet "come of age" at 29. (At one point, Isadora decides that it's better to be 25 at 33 then never to be 25 at all.) A story of sex, experimentation, pain, marriage, ...more
Kim
May 21, 2009 Kim rated it liked it
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
Laura
Sep 03, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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
Mar 23, 2007 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
April
May 16, 2012 April rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baby boomers; Man-haters
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vicki ~ no time to read
Feb 08, 2012 Vicki ~ no time to read rated it liked it
Recommended to Vicki ~ no time to read by: Debora
Shelves: realistic, adult
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
Jana
Oct 15, 2009 Jana rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 25, 2008 Lesley rated it it was ok
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
Melissa
Jan 16, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
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
Feb 18, 2008 Kristen rated it it was ok
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
Mar 15, 2010 Heather rated it it was amazing
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.
Jennifer
Dec 16, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
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
Sharyl
Jul 12, 2015 Sharyl rated it it was amazing
I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel--I wasn't expecting it to be so timeless and relevant. Sure, it is dated, but not in ways that are important. Jong uses some wonderful quotes and provides plenty of insight and food for thought.

This is a novel about how she finally gets out of a hideous relationship, and about her other friendships and romances, as well. She writes a lot about the various forms of jealousy which had been so much on her mind.

"Jealousy is all the f
...more
Andrew
Apr 14, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
“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
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Sep 11, 2008 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
Kimberly Cameron
Mar 17, 2016 Kimberly Cameron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I found this book in my parent's basement when I was just starting high school. I read it my freshman year and it had such a profound effect on me. I never even knew this was a sequel to another book until I ran across Fear of Flying in a Goodwill store while I was on vacation.

I still come back to this book despite it's missing spine and worn pages. Every time my life gets difficult I settle down to read this because I know it will make me feel better. Isadora Wing was such an inspiration to me
...more
Anna J.
Feb 12, 2017 Anna J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home
Amazing. #280916
Christine Callahan
Dec 17, 2016 Christine Callahan rated it liked it
Slow start, then it becomes more interesting as you read on. Very erotic and a good read for the beach.
Elle
Dec 18, 2015 Elle rated it really liked it
Okay, if you know me, you may know that the first book in this series, "Fear of Flying," is one of my three favorite books of all time. "How to Save Your Own Life" is not as brilliant as its predecessor, but it is still well worth reading. My love for Isadora would not let me stop without following through with the whole of her life in print (and I plan to read the later books, as well). Every time I started to get bored or discontent with this book, there would come a sudden moment of briliance ...more
Angela
Nov 19, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it
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
Meryl
Feb 25, 2014 Meryl rated it really liked it
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
Jessica
Jul 15, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
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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
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“Someday every woman will have orgasms- like every family has color TV- and we can all get on with the business of life. ” 174 likes
“The worst thing about jealousy is how low it makes you reach.” 16 likes
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