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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  16,551 ratings  ·  2,575 reviews
In this irresistible memoir, the #1 New York Times bestselling author writes about her life and the lives of women today, looking back and ahead - and celebrating it all - as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all that stuff in our closets, and more.

It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I w
Hardcover, 182 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Random House
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  16,551 ratings  ·  2,575 reviews

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Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anna Quindlen once worked as a columnist for the New York Times and has authored many novels including bestseller Black and Blue. In Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Quindlen offers her readers a roadmap for growing older while still enjoying life. An informative and thought provoking while at times humorous memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake invites us into Quindlen's life and allows us to feel comfortable there.

Born in 1953 during the baby boom, Anna Quindlen is the oldest of five childr
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-group
I was a big fan of Quindlen's in the 1980s. Her NYT columns were among the first to chronicle, in real time, what is was like for working mothers struggling to balance it all, especially in male-dominated fields. She struck innumerable chords, and made our individual struggles, whether we had children yet or not, seem, if not noble, than at least normal. She was like a great travel writer, telling me about country I would someday visit.
Fast-forward 30 years, however, and Quindlen's work, while s
Jeanette (Again)
At age 60, Anna Quindlen has already had plenty of candles and birthday cake, but she wants more. A lot more. Her own mother died in her early 40s, when Anna was just nineteen. That early loss has made her grateful for every additional year she gets that her mother was denied.

Anna's gratitude is the common ingredient that ties together these ruminations of an aging feminist baby boomer. She seems amazed, even somewhat astonished, at how fortunate she has been. She has reached an age where she c
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again.
Reading the memoir of a 60+ woman who lived an average high middle income, comfortable, American life, without more significance than becoming a well-known author, but with no big role to play in politics or world history, is like sitting with an old friend digging around in treasures in the attics of our minds.
The year I w
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Every once in a while we meet our long ago selves across a dining table or a desk, when younger women come to ask for advice or to interview for a job. They're so eager and so smart, with their dresses and their shiny hair, and we know exactly what they want because we once wanted it, too. They want a formula, a plan,a set of directions, an assembly kit. Connect A to B, C to D, and in the end, there it is, the life you crave. The job, the salary, the companion, the home.
It's so hard to
Karen Ng
What is it like to be a Mother, a woman, a working woman, a feminist, a baby boomer...or someone who's aging, who is at the end of their life with little options? What is faith, motherhood, marriage, work, being a woman, friendship, love, life, or God forbid, death? What in our life are absolutely not necessary or important?

I used to read Anna Quindlen's column religiously, not because we have a similar life as other readers claimed (her kids are older, her career is more successful, she's happ
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, non-fiction
For some reason, in my head I constantly confuse Anne Tyler and Anna Quindlen- no idea why. While I was reading this novel, I kept thinking I was reading about Anne Tyler's life. This book is more like vignettes into Anna Quindlen's life. I was immediately taken with the writing- every sentence, paragraph, and page was filled to the brim with words that brought her story to life for me. She starts out the book strong and projecting equal opportunity for those taking the road less traveled. I fou ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I like Anna Quindlen a lot. I think she's a very good writer who writes about important subject.
However, it turns out that she is a better read for articles. An entire book is too much to read all at once.
The difficulty lies in getting to know her too well. She is actually younger than I, and espouses a heightened consciousness about working women. But the privilege is very hard to take in large doses, and her feminism is just too tinged with lack of discernment about class and race issues. I'm
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
You will love this book from the very first paragraph. It is about every woman's concerns from Day One of their worrying years. You will laugh and say to yourself...."oh my, how true." Or...."wow...that happened to me."

Each chapter had a topic that was very poignant and one that will make you reflect as you read through the incidents and facts. The chapter titled Generations and the chapter titled To Be Continued definitely brought tears to my eyes. Another chapter titled Older will make you lau
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads, 2014
I listened to the audio of this book and was brought into the world of Anna Quindlen, told in her own voice. I have not read her nonfiction before, but have devoured her fiction work. This was a wonderful look at the woman behind the stories I have loved.

Women who were growing up in the 60's and 70's will relate so well to this book. I am not sure the younger generation will but they could learn quite a lot if they were so inclined. She talks of changes in the role of women, balancing careers
(4.5) A splendid memoir-in-essays that dwells on aging, parenting and female friendship. Some of its specific themes are marriage, solitude, the randomness of life, the process of growing into your own identity, and the special challenges her generation (roughly my mother’s) faced in seeking a work–life balance. Her words are witty and reassuring, and cut right to the heart of the matter in every case. I can’t think why I hadn’t read anything by Quindlen until now, but I can highly recommend her ...more
da AL
Honest, intelligent, big-hearted -- & inspiring. Quindlen ponders her slice of experience growing up in U.S., and muses on how the experiences of women in America. She does a wonderful job of narrating her audiobook. ...more
Kay Wright
Jul 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
We used to have so much in common, Anna. But one of us went astray and clearly it was me. I didn't marry Gerry, have three perfect kids, a perfect job, two perfect homes and fame. Anna, I loved your stories of crying in the bathroom at the Times and Quin and Chris licking their orange fingers and saying "I like these"' after their first run-in with Cheetos.

The subtitle of this memoir is Read it and weep ladies for I have created the perfect life. In spite of being the first woman who ever had to
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Yeah, I'm so excited. I won an Anna Quindlen book in a First Reads giveaway. I can't believe it. I'll be watching the mail for it and let you know how great it is. She is a wonderful writer. I used an essay by her as an example of good writing when I taught Freshman comp back in the late 80's.

My book arrived and I read the first three short pieces and now am going to get busy and read more.

Reading this book was delayed by bronchitis, but I have finished it and can recommend it to women in the 5
Jul 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: hate-the-author
Someone on here once criticized Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" as being too self-centered. This person wrote that another title for her book could have been "ME ME ME ME ME ME ME." I, on the other hand, am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and a HUGE fan of "Eat, Pray, Love," and I vehemently disagree with that review.

THIS book is the memoir that could have been titled "ME ME ME ME ME ME ME." This writer is so self-absorbed, it's ridiculous. Each passage is basically a mini "all about ME" an
Apr 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Although the book is a "memoir" it seems much more a compilation of musings and essays about life and aging. Quindlen addresses many issues that I have often contemplated. Her life perspective is interesting, she puts a positive spin on aging. One can't think too much about the book because what's next? Many of the passages in the book are worthy of discussion.
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's a rare day when I give a book five stars. In this case, I picked up a personal, poignant reflection on womanhood at just the right moment in my life. Anna Quindlen, who writes reliably excellent books, shares her thoughts on materialism, kids, girlfriends, work, body image, religion, growing old and so much more.

I very much appreciate Quindlen's down-to-earth style. Her experiences are highly relatable, told with stories that both made me laugh and rang sometimes all too true.

A couple of m
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: wackynonfiction
Although I only read half of this book - because after the first half it got reallllllly boring to me - I'll still give it 3 starts. I *do* like Anna Quindlen. Perhaps if I were 10-15 years older, I would have read and treasured this compliation of "life lessons" from the spunky and witty authoress. But her middle-age monologue about life as an upper-middle class or lower-upper class woman just wore on me a bit too much. Yes, I would love a summer house in New England and write for three months, ...more
Debbie Petersen Wolven
I want to preface this review with the statement that I love Anna Quindlen's fiction and I am a fan of hers on Goodreads. One True Thing stands as one of my all time favorites, and I gave it 5 stars, which I only bestow upon a select few. With that being said...onto this review.

There were parts of the book that were 4 or 5 star worthy. Unfortunately this was marred by the author seeming to forget that she is speaking from a place in life that most women her age have never experienced, and most l
Lisa Montanaro
Fantastic memoir by Anna Quindlen about marriage, parenthood, career, being a women today versus years ago, religion, aging, the writer's life, and more. I really enjoy her stories, experiences and her voice. I particularly loved hearing about her career as a reporter and writer. It gave you the inside scoop behind the woman who wrote for so many of us. If you were a fan of her column when she wrote for the New York Times years ago, then this will feel like a reunion with an old friend.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Okay, this seems harsh, because it isn't a bad book - for those it's actually meant for - but hear me out:
This was the sort of book that you read in order to find yourself in its pages. As someone really far away from her targeted demographic I did not identify with much. I found that the author wasn't particularly interested in explaining her opinions – only stating them for others who could relate. I had hoped that I would gain some deeper understanding of the perspectives from those of her ge
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've read all of Quindlen's novels, but have avoided every one of her non-fiction books because that's usually what I do with non-fiction, avoid it. I listened to this so I could have the author herself speak to me, and it was very enjoyable if you don't mind the New York accent, and I don't. She mainly writes about motherhood, so this memoir is no different. But if that was all she wrote about, she wouldn't be my favorite author of the.moment. She discusses how times have changed from when she ...more
Richa Bhattarai
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s difficult for me to express in words how much I liked and ‘NEEDED’ this collection of essays. Everything I think about every single day - aging, health, beauty standards, career, parents, children, relationships, sisterhood, marriage, death - Quindlen writes about so beautifully, with such gratitude and kindness. It’s a lovely style that draws you in, interesting anecdotes that make you stay. Sometimes she rambles on and makes you lose your rapt attention, other times she’s philosophical or ...more
Larry Bassett
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
OK, so this is the question: What is a guy doing reading a book that a gal wrote for other gals? Well, one reason is that this is a book about what it is like to be a woman. I want to know about that. When there is an M box and an F box, the answer is easy. Unless you think about it. I mean, gender is probably a continuum, right? Lots of shades of differences and variations for all of us. Many of think of life as (pardon the phrase) black or white. A or B. M or F. But there is a feminine part of ...more
Oct 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I generally enjoy Anna Quindlen's essays, and I can't say I didn't like this one, but over the course of my reading relationship with Anna, I have started to feel a chasm open up between us. Part of it is a feeling that her essays have become (dare I say it?) a little self-congratulatory (Christ, there is even a Q&A with MERYL STREEP (!!) at the end of this book which is a real pat-ourselves-on-the-backs), and the other part is a feeling that Anna does not exactly inhabit the world of real worki ...more
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, skimmed
This was outside my usual reading range. I was looking at it because I'd come across some enthusiastic reviews and I thought it might be a nice gift for a sibling. I can see why Quindlen is a popular writer: she articulates those things about her life (our lives) that are peculiar and noteworthy and sometimes stressful and talks about them with us. It must be a great relief for some folks to discover that here is someone who thinks exactly like them.

However, I may be a bit of an outlier. I have
Barbara Burd
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I really enjoy Anna Quindlen's style and her writing is unsurpassed. This book was enjoyable, but as a working slightly past middle aged woman, I found it difficult to relate to her in many areas. She has lived a privileged lifestyle thaT she assumes is common to everyone. The first essays in this book address the accumulation and comfort she has found in the "stuff" that makes up her life and while in the end she suggests that possessions aren't important, she fondly talks about her homes and a ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I will begin this review by stating that if you are approaching sixty, or have already passed that golden age, this is a must read book. Well, must read if you are a woman. I suppose this will sound sexist, but we all know men don't think and feel the same as we do. I have always loved this author and she does me proud once again. You will cry and laugh, but mostly you will connect with most everything she says. And in its own way her writing can bring you solace and peace.
This is about being a woman, past, present and to some extent future. It's what she learned in her life and what she made peace with over the years. Read this book with a pencil or some book darts on hand, because it is full of wonderful quotes. It's realistic yet uplifting, and it makes you wish you were sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a chance to ask questions and draw out more stories from this brilliant woman. Given the current political climate, I especially loved hear ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is amazing to me that so many child raising, family and attitudes in general are shared by so many. This book had me laughing at loud and thinking to myself "This is so true". Anyone raising children, or those who are already done (if such a thing is possible) will find much to like in this memoir. Very enjoyable read!
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Play Book Tag: Lots Of Candles, Plenty Of Cake, by Anna Quindlen--5 stars 2 16 Oct 18, 2017 07:59AM  
Evergreen Park Re...: The wisdom acquired by living 1 3 Mar 16, 2016 06:39PM  
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Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bests ...more

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