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Poser: A Memoir in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  5,315 Ratings  ·  967 Reviews
Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out trying to breastfeed her rapidly growing baby daughter. Reluctantly following the advice of everyone in her smug Seattle neighbourhood, she joined her first yoga class and embarked on an eye-opening adventure. Over the next decade, Dederer tackled Triangle, Lotus, Downward Dog and the dreaded Crow, becoming firm friends with s ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 2010 by Bloomsbury
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Jessica
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book - until I hated it. As a matter of fact, I'll willingly admit that this book brought tears to my eyes at one point, from the shock of simple recognition. We share a parenting philosophy, Claire and I - the "I'll be the most hawk-eyed, careful parent ever and God will reward me by making sure my children are healthy" approach. And the kicker is that I didn't even know it was a parenting style, much less one held by me, until I found a passage about it in this book and had to rem ...more
Julie Ehlers
This book affected me so much that I feel like kind of a dork for even talking about it. I certainly wasn’t expecting it.

When it comes to vaguely spiritual, get-your-shit-together memoirs, there seem to be two types: there’s the full-on self-help memoir, which is usually a stunt memoir (e.g., The Happiness Project, or Rachel Bertsche’s books), and then there’s the real memoir that just happens to be about getting your shit together (I would put Eat, Pray, Love in this category). The self-help me
...more
Tiffani
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Am i the only person who didn't like this book? I was so excited to read it, as I live in Seattle and enjoy yoga and know the instructors she talks about. After reading the first 3 chapters I became disappointed. This is the first book that I actually skipped through entire passages out of boredom. Usually the eloquence of a writer will keep me reading, even if I find the subject boring, but with this book I couldn't stay connected.

I really enjoyed the parts about yoga, but then the author
...more
David
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
eventful life story - her parents were Pacific Northwest hippies who remained married through an extremely long separation while the Mom lived with much younger boyfriend; author herself has an up-and-down marriage to fellow freelance writer with whom she has a couple kids, one of whom was born after serious complications.

The other plus is that she's intermittently funny in describing day to day events. Not "funny enough to make most writers swoon with envy" as claimed by one of the blurb-ers, b
...more
Becky
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Now that I've had a couple glasses of wine and a few days to stew over this book, I'm ready to rant. This was not a good book. This is a memoir of an (upper) middle class white woman complaining about her amazing life. For the first third, you may find yourself enjoying her entertaining wit, but then, all of a sudden, you've had enough. You just can't take the self-indulgent, over anxious, my life is just slightly less than perfect bullshit.

Maybe I shouldn't have had those couple glasses of win
...more
Kate Woods Walker
Claire Dederer, with her supple mommy memoir Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, has delivered an accessible, fresh look at feminism, liberalism, family life and literary coupledom, lightly sprinkled with enough yogic information to warrant its title and give the book some structure.

Dederer transcends whatever mean-spiritedness she might have entertained toward imperfect but well-meaning parents, dodges every cliché she might have used to describe her leftist Seattle environs, and arrives
...more
Ciara
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
guys. oh my god. i LOVE this book. this is the best book i have read in YEARS. i would give it fifteen stars if i could. i have never written fan mail to an author before, but i want to write fan mail to this author. i want to buy fifty copies & just dispense them to people in my life like candy (but i sadly am not made of money). i most certainly intend to buy my own copy (i got this one from the library) so i can re-read it over & over & loan it to friends.

it's kind of weird that i
...more
Susie
Feb 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this book. As soon as I finished (five minutes ago), I teared up and felt a big well in my chest--then I promptly looked up some reviews online to see how others had found it. I liked this book. I think I would like Claire Dederer. The parts about yoga are fantastic and funny and resonant. She might make you crack up out loud. And the landscapes she describes are ones I have visited and liked.

But somewhere in the middle I kept going "huh?" and "wha?" She tackles so much--spoiler! Spoiler al
...more
Jessie
Jun 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldnotfinish
I couldn't finish this one. Although the writing was lovely and I did identify with a lot of what the author discusses at the beginning (the grandparents' raw need to be near the baby, yoga as a way to ease perfectionism) I ultimately had the same problem with this memoir as I did with Eat, Pray, Love: it's really hard to listen to someone so privileged complain so much.

As a mom who has just gone back to full-time work and is pumping milk all day long while missing my child, I just couldn't get
...more
Stefania

Credo che un parto gemellare sia meno faticoso di concludere questo libro.
L'autrice prende spunto dalle lezioni di yoga per parlarci della sua vita (e sti cazzi?per usare un francesismo...io odio leggere la vita di perfetti sconosciuti) e di come lo yoga gliel'abbia cambiata.
La realtà è invece un'altra: prende spunto da una posizione di yoga e si mette a sproloquiare su quanto sia una madre fantastica, anche se ha appena fatto 30 anni e quindi è vecchia decrepita pronta alla pensione (sentito Go
...more
Holly
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
I had skipped this when it came out in 2011 and never felt the lack. But reviews of her just-published memoir have piqued my interest, so I'll read this while I wait for a copy of Love and Trouble.... Upon finishing: Okay, that was all right. I need a Claire Dederer break, though. It's one of those memoirs that tries to enlists readers who share the worldview and have the same worries and life trajectories as the author (read: being an affluent wife and mother, worried about being "good" in all ...more
Margaret
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yoga
I enjoyed this book, so I can't give it one star, but honestly it is not okay. Shanti and I listened to this on a mammoth relocation from the West Coast to the midwest, and it gave us plenty of snorts and snickers, some on purpose, as we greeted and dismissed interminable states like Montana and South Dakota.

Fiction was invented so that people who can't stand their loved ones don't have to wait for them to die to tell the truth about them. Perhaps that will be Dederer's metier. The omissions, in
...more
Tina Hamilton
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I saw the title of this book, it turned me off, to be honest. Those of you who know me, know that I practice yoga. So, let's just say I had my doubts. However, the book was a good read. The nonfiction narrative takes place over many years while she is working, raising a family, bucking up a sometimes depressed husband, and so on. They are both writers. She started yoga after injuring her back while breastfeeding/carrying around her first child. From that first yoga class, she started a yoga ...more
Elizabeth
Nov 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a hard book to categorize. There actually is not much about yoga here and so I was disappointed. It is mostly about her life :: childhood, marriage, and motherhood. The writing is stellar. And I mean that. Claire Dederer can write.

Living in PDX helped me understand and relate to many of her observations about parenthood PLUS the lofty goal of being the perfect mom. I loved her descriptions of the Dansko wearing moms. And yes, I wore- ahem, *wear* Danskos.

Abeer Hoque
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses" by Claire Dederer in 2 days. It's fast and clever and beautiful.

"Beginning is hard. But it's also lucky."

Ms. Dederer uses yoga poses to divvy and dissect her life and realizations - a conceit that will probably weary non-yoga-enthusiasts, and annoyed me from time to time (and I adore yoga and credit it for much that is calm and stable in my life) (the structure also gets a bit forced as the book goes along).

"Time was a continent we walked across… I remem
...more
Jen
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dederer writes, "I had a sudden thought: What if the opposite of good wasn't bad? What if the opposite of good was real?"

I almost didn't read this book. By the time my turn came on the library waiting list, I was already bogged down with other reads and thought about cancelling my hold. The description sounded intriguing, but yoga books usually annoyed me. Actually, a lot of westernized yoga culture bothers me. Especially little rhinestone tank tops emblazoned with decapitalized slogans like "br
...more
Laura
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really tough book to slog through. The concept is unique and makes sense (relating events from her life through yoga poses). And the author is a good writer - if I saw her byline in a newspaper or magazine I'd head straight for the article. But this book took way too long to read - I found myself just not caring about the author (though she is likeable). Part of this is that I felt she created some of her own stress - I also live in a pretty liberal area, but she could have opted out ...more
Kris
Mar 14, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
Like Eat, Pray, Love, but worse. I thought the title was a cute play on the subject of yoga poses, but it's actually about her living the life she thought she was supposed to. Reading about someone doing all the things you love for all the wrong reasons was really awful. It might get better later, but I'll never know because the beginning sucked so bad.
christa
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It’s been so long since I discovered a writer I did on a personal level -- a woman I didn’t know about who is living, sharing planet space, making sentences, raising kids and perfecting yoga poses. Claire Dederer, essayist, is enough like me to make me want to read EVERYTHING and enough not like me to leave room for me to nod along with or frown and think, “Hmm.” I adore her.
It started with “Love and Trouble,” a collection of self-reflection she approaches with the curiosity of a detective. She
...more
Mahala Helf
May 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sketchy oversimplifications of people, places and things exacerbated by the superficially clever format. At first I loved the conceit of self-contained explorations of life linked to a pose, but the connections weren't there, and the historical/social/emotional interpretations were unconvincing.
Even with the short attention span magazine piece length, it seemed repetitious & belabored. in part because no character besides the author was well-developed or seemed believable/fleshed out. Iron
...more
K.M.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I wasn't drawn to the cover at all, but I was drawn to the topic she was writing about did draw me (yoga, as well as the subtitle: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga poses), so I jumped in with both feet. An endorsement from Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t hurt either. What kept me reading though was the writing. I love the way Claire writes, the way she morphs words into something new; the way she uses language. . . her, um, languaging. Some examples: effortful, forking, efforting, jollity, constellated…
Als
...more
J.P.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read a good review of this book and recommended it to a new-mom friend of mine in Seattle, who promptly bought it, read the first ten pages and then gifted it to me.

I'm not sure why I thought I would enjoy this book. I am not a mother. Also, I am one of those people who WANTS to like yoga, but always drags myself to the studio reluctantly. I want to be a yogi. But truth be told, it bores me to tears.

All this is to say that this review comes with the caveat that I am not her target audience.

He
...more
Noreen O'Connor
Dederer is a good writer, and in this work tries to accomplish a number of ambitious things--compare the lives of her mother with her own life and think about the changes wrought by second wave feminists for women today, discuss the anxieties of motherhood among a set of highly educated, privileged-yet-progressive Seattle women, examine her own childhood among hippies and other loving but rather alternative and self involved adults, describe her process of coming to terms with some of her own pe ...more
Diane Kistner
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am fifteen years older than Claire Dederer, the author of this book, so women in my cohort and our mothers' cohort had a different experience of marriage and family and place than the author and her mother did. That said, my own mother was ahead of her time (divorcing in the fifties) and we were both caught up in the seventies (when I was just out of high school and on my own) with the self-exploratory fads and experimentations that Claire's mother (and, in her own way, Claire herself) was. I ...more
Ula
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember the last time I vacillated between love and intense annoyance so much in a book. I was initially weary to read a book about yoga by a white north Seattle uber-yuppie mother but in the first few chapters I was won over. The author was funny, self-deprecating and discussed so many issues in approaching yoga (like, is this real yoga, just a workout, white people finding faux-spiritualism through eastern cultures, stinky hippies who think they're better than everyone?) that at least ...more
Kim
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! This is due in large part because it was about yoga, which I do, in North Seattle, where I live. In this book Claire Dederer tells the story of her adult life in Seattle in the mid to late 90s. She's ten years older than me, and thus was into yoga 10 years before me. She had her children in North Seattle at the same time I was going to college while living in North Seattle and nannying in Issaquah (a suburb 17 miles east of Seattle filled with Microsoft money). The families I ...more
Onthecusp2
Sep 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yuck yuck whine whine
Diane Webber-thrush
I really loved this memoir (it's not about yoga, really, except when it is), and I wished I had read it when my kids were younger. Claire Dederer and I are about the same age and had kids at about the same time -- and were dumbfounded in similar ways about the ridiculously high standards of motherhood that swamped our generation. I've given it my copy to a colleague with an infant, in the hopes that she will let herself off the hook more than the author or I did.
Emily
I am officially moving this to my unfinished shelf. Since I don't ever feel compelled to listen to it it is time for it to go.

Listening to this from my Audible downloads. Not loving this book, in fact I am really not even liking it much. I listen to a little here and there but am not going out of my way to try to listen to this. Currently in Chapter 10.

I was initially really interested in the layout, 23 postures broken out chapter by chapter. But, that interest waned pretty quickly after I star
...more
Alex Templeton
Apr 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As all over the place as this memoir often was, and as much as I think the yoga-organizing structure didn't always consistently work, I ended up being a fan of this memoir. Coincidentally, I started reading it the week I began taking care of some friends' five month old baby during the week, which brought up all kinds of thoughts about that scary future day when I will have a child I won't be giving back at 4:30 PM. A lot of what Dederer thinks about in this book is the relationship between pare ...more
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Memoirs/biographies with a yoga theme 2 30 Nov 25, 2012 05:30AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Listing my ARC--please help 6 53 Aug 28, 2011 03:21PM  
  • Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude
  • Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to  Enlightenment
  • Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga
  • Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice
  • Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life
  • The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman's Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras
  • Yoga School Dropout
  • Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
  • Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness
  • The Yoga Teacher
  • Downward Dog, Upward Fog
  • The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice
  • Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life
  • The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga
  • Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition
  • Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga
  • Warrior Pose: How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life
  • Teaching Yoga: Exploring the Teacher-Student Relationship
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Claire’s first book, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in January, 2011. It will be published simultaneously in the UK by Bloomsbury.

Claire is a longtime contributor to The New York Times. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Real Simple, The Nation, New York, Yoga Journal, on Slate and Salon, and in newspapers across the country. Her writing
...more
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“I had discovered something; there was a pleasure in becoming something new. You could will yourself into a fresh shape. Now all I had to do was figure out how to do it out there, in my life.” 18 likes
“I carefully lifted out of the pose and spoke up: "Uh, Fran? When I'm doing the pose (camel), I have this feeling in my chest, kind of a scary, tight feeling."

Fran was adjusting someone across the room. She had a way of looking like a thoughtful seamstress when she made adjustments: an inch let out here, a seam straightened there, and everything would be just right. She might as well have had pins tucked between her lips and a tape measure around her neck. Without missing a beat or looking up she said, "Oh, that's fear. Try the pose again."

Fear. I hadn't even known it was there.”
10 likes
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