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What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

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Kristin Newman spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends' weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer, Kristin instead traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. In addition to falling madly in love with the planet, Kristin fell for many attractive locals, men who could provide the emotional connection she wanted without costing her the freedom she desperately needed.
Kristin introduces readers to the Israeli bartenders, Finnish poker players, sexy Bedouins, and Argentinean priests who helped her transform into "Kristin-Adjacent" on the road–a slower, softer, and, yes, sluttier version of herself at home.

291 pages, Paperback

First published May 20, 2014

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About the author

Kristin Newman

1 book391 followers
This is a "25 Things About Me" exercise I did for Facebook about five years ago that Facebook recently regave me. I provide it to you now:

1.) I am doing this exercise solely to procrastinate. Other activities done for this purpose today: plucking eyebrows, walking to Pinkberry rather than driving, making a To Do List when I really only have like 3 things to do, which doesn't require a list to remember.

2.) I've spent most of my life careening between having the highest self-esteem in the world, and the lowest.

3.) I have been more peaceful for the last two months than ever before in my life.

4.) When I decided to become a comedy writer, my uncle said, "Huh. I never thought of you as funny."

5.) This week I had a fantasy about Barack and Michelle doing it. In the fantasy, I was not there. That's how attractive they are.

6.) I have never had braces or glasses. I would be a very expensive racehorse to breed with.

7.) I have injured my right foot the last two New Year's in a row. Which makes me less attractive as breeding stock.

8.) I moved by myself to Argentina to study spanish and tango. The happiest moment of my life was alone on top of a mountain there.

9.) My mom says my problem is I've received too much love, so I don't appreciate it enough when it presents itself to me.

10.) I was an only child until I was 18, and now I am one of seven.

11.) Getting on a plane fixes anything for me.

12.) I love traveling alone because of all of the people you meet, with girlfriends because of all of the men you meet, and with boyfriends so you always have someone to shag when you find yourself in a romantic, secluded spot that makes you hate your girlfriends and yourself when you find yourself there in the other situations.

13.) I can fake a perfect accent in any language, even if I only know 2 words, well enough to make locals start speaking a million miles an hour to me in that language.

14.) My personality is literally wearing out my vocal chords.

15.) I grew up going to musical theater camp. The first time I went to third base (over the boxers) was with a guy wearing eyeliner.

16.) I crush easily, and love rarely.

17.) I decided to go paragliding with the flu, and threw up mid-air on myself and my paragliding instructor, Swiss Dave.

18.) Until I was 18, I thought politics and hiking were super boring. Now I like both.

19.) I have a Chinese cat who lived in my apartment before I did. He let me stay, so I brought him to my house. I think he is someone who was madly in love with me in a past life reincarnated as a fucking loud animal.

20.) I have no phobias, and kind of think they are ridiculous and fake. Just get over it!

21.) I always felt the same way about allergies. Then I found out that I am apparently highly allergic to all of California (which is not helping out my worn-out vocal chords.) I do not know what to do with this information and my theory.

22.) I am super social and need to be around people. But I am an only child, so I only like to be around people until I need to immediately be alone.

23.) I can make bitchy girls who are tense about their men like me.

24.) I was a ski bum in Colorado for a year, which was where I waited enough tables and tuned enough skis to learn that location and love are not all that matter in life. That's when I started to work.

25.) I still have things to achieve, but I have no major regrets. If I died tomorrow, I'd feel like I did it right.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,913 reviews
Profile Image for Kristin Newman.
Author 1 book391 followers
Want to read
March 27, 2014
It makes me smile to imagine this book being read by nervous solo travelers, pretty girls on a plane by themselves for the first time, unscrewing their tiny bottles of wine and curling up to read about some of the many kinds of fun they might be about to have. I imagine it read by mommies, at home, after their kids go to sleep, where they can imagine in a “Sliding Doors” sort of way what their lives might have looked like if they had chosen my kind of adventure instead of their own family-making kind. And I enjoy picturing the moment when their husbands pick up their wives’ book, and remember that women can get as horny and restless as they can.

I hope you enjoy! (By the way, if you are expecting Eat/Pray/Love, you will NOT enjoy. I'm a comedy writer, and I wrote this to entertain, not to educate. I did not want to publish my diary. Because, let's be honest, I'm not important enough to do that. I promise if you come to this book expecting some sort of philosophical breakthrough or guide to living, you will be disappointed. If you come to laugh, you will be happy. Other people who will not like this book: people who are not neurotic, people who learn lessons quickly the first time, people who feel being married is the true sign of emotional maturity, people who value emotional maturity, people who have their wedding kiss as their goodreads photo.)
Profile Image for Angie.
264 reviews6 followers
March 8, 2014
Received a free advance copy from publisher.

I'm a sucker for a witty title.

I wanted this book to be more than what it was. Instead of a book of female empowerment or taking your own path, it was a long list of exotic locales and sex partners spread out across the globe. No "slut shaming" here but listing off the number of dudes you bedded in different countries just doesn't do anything for me. The book is well-written and has its moments of humor, don't get me wrong. I guess I was looking for more self-reflection maybe?

There are great takeaways to be had - living in the moment and not being afraid of that, doing the thing you're supposed to do in the place you're supposed to do it - but it's hard to feel a connection to the author when she doesn't acknowledge the crazy amount of privilege in her life. Most readers are not going to be able to connect with someone who jets off to the other side of the world at a moment's notice or spends each New Year's in a different country with other overly rich, privileged, pretty people. That old saying about how the other half lives ran circles in my head the entire time I read.

I liked the book, don't get me wrong. I just wanted more. More. There was a lot of "this is just what happens in " when the truth is more "this is just what happens when you have lots of money and friends with lots of money." Not saying Newman hasn't earned her ducats but most people aren't in her situation.
Profile Image for Becca.
567 reviews45 followers
July 23, 2016
I received this book free for an honest review.

The thing is, I really expected to like this. I'm unmarried (though not single), have no children, and I love to travel. I thought it would be funny and that it would be more about being independent, that the author would at least be an interesting person.

She's pretty much not any of those things or at least she doesn't come across that way in her book. Instead it's just a long account of self indulgence and sex with lots of men in other countries while she complains about being single at home. I don't actually care how many men she had sex with, that isn't my beef with this book. That alone doesn't make someone interesting enough for me to want to read about them. And the biggest thing for me is that it wasn't funny, which for a comedy writer is kind of a let down. Made for a fairly boring read.

The saddest thing is that I'm sure there are plenty of women out there who could have done a book like this justice. Just not her, I guess.

Edited to add: and what the hell is with the need to disparage people who made different life choices by using the word "breeding" in the title rather than "having children"?
Profile Image for Melissa Yuan-Innes.
Author 99 books57 followers
November 28, 2019
Ruined by racism

Some other reviewers complained that they couldn't relate to how she'd travel on a whim, or that it was too high a hookup:travel ratio. Not me. It's not a travel book if you can't afford to travel, and I like that she's not afraid to have sex (and uses a condom).

But in chapter 7, while on Ambien, she messages an Asian guy to tell him she's not attracted to Asians and swears she's not racist because she dates every other race.

Every other race? How many does she think there are?

It made me view the entire book through a new lens. She'd already dismissed her China and Tibet trip "where the men are too small and hairless," which made me pause in Chapter 3, but once she basically admitted she was racist AF, I remembered her casually mentioned subletting a room from "two racist brothers who talked a lot about their Scottish ancestry." Her obsession with "Vikings" and mentioning her "Northern European" ancestry as a chesty blonde became disturbing, and I noticed that she focused a lot on trips to Europe, New Zealand, and Argentina. She did mention one black guy because his skin made a nice contrast with her white shower wall. Wow, so open minded.

So basically, this is a book about screwing blond and caramel guys, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, while perpetuating stereotypes about Asian men. Not a light, funny read for me.

"Think of the racist Archie Bunker, who you nonetheless loved like your own father." (Chapter 8.) No, thanks. I never watched Archie Bunker, but I definitely won't be tuning in on your recommendation.
Profile Image for Dawn.
543 reviews54 followers
April 4, 2014
I had such high hopes - what a great title. It's a title that I might have used for my own memoir. But I can only give it 2 stars. "It was OK."

And perhaps that was my problem with this book. I've lived my own version of a single-woman-traveling-and-having-adventures-of-all-sorts life, so this wasn't exactly a titillating story. Just a long accounting/brag about her travels and her relationship mistakes. It had some high points and held my interest for about the first 100 pages, and then it was just more and more of the same. Until, naturally, it reached the logical conclusion that yes - of course - all of this was naturally leading to a husband and two kids. Because where else could it possibly be leading??

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this ARC from Random House.
Profile Image for Brandice.
857 reviews
December 13, 2019
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding had been on my TBR list for more than 3 years. Perhaps due to the length of time that elapsed between adding it and reading it, but I expected a much different book. From the title alone, I envisioned an exciting journey detailing thriving career progression and some fun in several places around the world. Well, it sounded like Kristin Newman had fun, though this book is a reminder that fulfillment and fun are indeed, subjective ideas — Happily Ever After looks different to everyone.

Kristin chronicles her worldwide travel adventures — sometimes with friends, other times solo. I did not find her nearly as funny as I suspect she views herself, based on the stories included. Some were amusing but others, at the risk of sounding harsh, truly bored me or I found myself rolling my eyes. There was far more focus on Kristin’s romantic escapades than the travel experience itself. The last chapter was my favorite, and in my opinion, the strongest. It seemed to show an honest, authentic side of Kristin, not a trying-hard-to-be-cool routine traveler.

I travel often and enjoy it. I appreciate the experiences it offers, including the value in solo travel. Unfortunately, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding did not resonate with me like I hoped it would. Maybe with a different mindset going in, and knowing where the content is focused, my thoughts on the book would be more positive.
Profile Image for Whitney.
108 reviews12 followers
August 4, 2016
This book easily skyrocketed to one of my favorite reads; it's irreverent, laugh-out-out-funny, hopeful, desperate, and most of all, deeply courageous. Kristin Newman shares the details of her life that most of us would be too shameful to ever confess while simultaneously capturing the feeling of sacrifice in order to "have it all." I found Newman's insight that we all end up envying the life we decided not to live wondering it all would have been life if we chose the alternate path. So few women have written memoirs that not only tell of choosing the alternate path (i.e. no marriage, no children) and Newman's ability to capture her experiences that are at times reckless and explicit without guilt over not doing what is expected is perfection. Her comedy writing chops here make it all come together and pull you into each new vacation around the globe. If only more of us were able to live the life we want and take chances on the unexpected, we may come closer to truly having it all. As a twenty-something woman with aspirations and a sense of adventure much like Newman's, these stories are a model (as messed up as that may sound if you read this book) for how I want to live my life. I hope to live with as much passion and ability to love, let-go, and let's go! as possible.
Profile Image for Kalu Davies.
33 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2014
This book was complete and utter rubbish, very disappointing with few redeeming features. Kristin frames her journey of self discovery and sex under the guise of 'flaunting the norm' and is proud of not subscribing to entrenched ideals of female morality. Yet she describes herself as a "slut" only when away from America-when at home, she behaves like a "lady" should and before she's even started the book she spoils the ending in the dedication-in case you were under any illusions that she really was "flaunting the norm". Her travel tales lack any in depth description beyond the booze and the bonking and she is a self-confessed seeker of cliches and stereotypes so that you aren't even left with the smallest fragment of an illusion that you may have accompanied her on her journey.
Profile Image for Shannon.
69 reviews
May 30, 2014
How disappointing this one was. I was expecting and hoping for a book that told a different story - a story of how some women choose paths other then marriage and motherhood because they want to and how that is also a valid option. Instead, this read like the story of someone who desperately wanted those things but was just a bit too emotionally immature to hold on to them - until one day she finally did. To top it off, the writing was not even that clever. Someone compared her writing to David Sedaris. I am sad to say that Newman is no David Sedaris.
Profile Image for Sarah.
351 reviews96 followers
February 16, 2022
Book-Song Pairing: Boys (Lizzo)

Do you know what I love about travel?

It's the sort of kismet I experienced my first night in Sitges:

My overseas SIM wasn't activated, so I couldn't call the landlord to get into my flat, the sun was going down, and I faced a night on the street with my luggage and a leftover bag of airplane peanuts.

The only free WiFi was at a cherry-red lit gay bar blasting Cher's greatest hits and offering penis-shaped donuts on a two-for-one special. I got a table, started tapping at my phone, and within five minutes a dashing British expat (inexplicably straight) bought me a drink, called my landlord, and committed to being my Sherpa for the evening.

An absolute white-knight miracle; grace waiting in the wings.

Or like tonight:
Exhausted (because I work on California time, which runs nine hours earlier than Barcelona time), I rushed to the only pharmacy open past 4:30p on a Sunday because... damn it! I needed something to put me to sleep after two nights of staring at the ceiling.

I arrived, wild eyed, just before closing, walked up to the impossibly chic, obviously bored Barcelonian clerk and told her I needed a "pastilla para dormir."

The clerk nodded, then launched a barrage of Spanish-language questions at me I could not understand.

I blurted a broken, "lo siento - solo hablo - un poco de español."

Then I blushed, because the kindness that clerk showed in response to my impossibly bad Spanish was lavish and undeserved and absolutely beautiful. We talked, we laughed, we somehow met in the middle.

A small adventure.
Travel days are humbling, and tender, and... heart-thuddingly novel.
And I think Kristan Newman gets this. I really do.

But her version of this story would involve me leaping over the pharmacy counter and doing the horizontal tango with the clerk, then walking home with the expat and banging him first in the lobby, then the elevator, then on the ever-lovin' kitchen floor.
And, great. The author is beautiful and sexually liberated. More power to her. But after the sixth, seventh, eighth graphic account of doing the nasty with people you barely know, I get bored... and queasy... and ready to be done with your book.

Be free. Be sexually curious. Be whatever you like... but please don't drag me through a story where a Brazilian dude goes down on you so hard he literally splits you in two. Don't tell me about the blood on his face after the impromptu episiotomy. And don't follow this story up with ANOTHER sexual encounter with a totally new stranger a few paragraphs later.
I mean, sure, I rented porn at one point in my life. I started the video with high hopes, experienced mild-to-medium arousal... then felt my stomach twist at the complete and utter lack of substance in all that meat pounding.

I wasn't here for that sort of thing. It was all just way... too... much.

Newman is really, truly funny, and she's brave, and I'm glad she made memories for herself (and some serious money for condom-makers around the globe).

I just don't want to go along for this ride.

Profile Image for Adira.
432 reviews241 followers
May 16, 2018
I gave this 2.5 stars.

Similar to Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, this book is packaged as a travel memoir about a woman who's gone off the beaten path for "self-discovery," but instead ends up really just being 200+ pages of one woman's persistent pursuit of an orgasm. Now, I love a good romance/ "take charge of your love life (née sex life)" book just as much as the next girl. However, when I pick up a travel memoir, I want to hear about the places the author has been and things she/he has seen and done, NOT so much about the who he/she has done in such rapid succession as I'm reading.

I low key believe that Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert spoiled this genre for me in a way. No other author has been able to strike that same delicate balance between writing about travel and love or relationships while traveling for me. Mind you, I'm totally aware of the "privilege" aspect of traveling writing that comes about in this genre, but Strayed and Newman's aforementioned books really laid it on thick.

Note: I'm still working on Kinky Gazpacho by Lori L. Tharps so there may still be hope?
March 25, 2014
I received an ARC of this book and oh I wanted to like it so badly. The title is so good and I love a good travel memoir. But it wasn't to be. The problem I guess for me was that the I just couldn't get past the fact that this is a long winded brag about all of the men Newman bedded in foreign countries. That's great for her and I'm all about empowering women to take what ever it is that they want, but I'm not sure there's a lesson or message here other than feel free to get busy when you're abroad. Could it be to travel more? Is it that we as women shouldn't feel like we have to tick off the societies benchmarks to feel accomplished? Well if that's the point, Newman certainly didn't make it. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have the money and timing freedom she has to explore the world and I think, at times, she makes interesting points about how to travel but this was like eating a Jolly Rancher when I really needed a wholesome, whole grainy lunch: all sugary sex scenes and no substance.
Profile Image for Amanda.
146 reviews6 followers
July 21, 2014
I feel like the title was a little misleading. I was expecting some great stories about being a proud single girl, living a life that her married friends might be jealous of.

Instead it was a book about sleeping with men around the world. And the whining. I thought there was a lot of whining.

I actually skimmed most of this book because I didn't need to hear about getting drunk and sleeping with one more guy. Or her hang up withs Father Jaun.

To me this book was a waste of time and money. I didn't find any comedic value in it. I didn't feel inspired. I actually just felt sorry for the author.
Profile Image for Sandy Hall.
195 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2014
I received this as an early review via NetGalley. I found this to be well written, but boring. While the author may have found that analyzing her seemingly never-ending sexual encounters to be equal to meaningful insights, I did not. In the end, she did not so much gain wisdom as simply gaining a modicum of maturity.
Profile Image for Diana Band.
220 reviews6 followers
November 3, 2014
Wow, wow, wow. Kristin Newman’s memoir is funny, poignant, and very relatable – even for those of us who fall more squarely into the “breeder” category.

I’ll admit – I was hesitant to pick this one up at first on the title alone. I’m 27, recently married, and while I don’t have any kids yet, there’s a strong possibility for some in the future. I tend to get all bristly and defensive when someone – especially other women – try to invoke a high and mighty attitude over one life path or another. But, that’s a diatribe for another time. I’m glad I put my prejudice aside and picked this up. This memoir is far from judgmental, less of course you are Kristin Newman yourself.

This is a delightful, breezy read that feels a lot like your wild best friend telling you of her escapades over drinks, while also not being afraid to admit that these adventures are fun and amazing but can be lonely at times. And when not reading about her “vacationships” and other related adventures, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her professional life as a sitcom writer.

“What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” is what I imagine to be the antithesis of memoirs in the “Eat, Pray, Love” category, which no, I don’t ever plan on reading. This memoir isn’t preachy or self-indulgent. It’s real, it’s sexy, and it’s inspiring, but don’t go in expecting Kristin to bestow upon you some grand advice on how you can find yourself and fix your life. This is about how she fixed aspects of hers, but that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of wisdom here.

Though I’m not of the solo female traveler variety, I am certainly inspired to try, and I enjoyed every vicarious minute of Kristin’s story. Borrowed this from the NYPL, but plan to purchase my own copy for repeat readings.
Profile Image for Leftbanker.
804 reviews306 followers
August 7, 2021
What I Was doing While You Were Breeding, an attractive title for any unmarried person but it would seem to me a bit combative and accusatory for those who are hitched up while fumbling with a car seat and a puking toddler. Basically the author tells about her adventures in travel as a single woman. I’m sure the author doesn’t mind that men read her book but it’s meant for women, kind of like Sex and the City which women love but I hated, but I didn’t hate this book. What I can say is that I wish that I had met a few more women like her in my travels.

I’ve been out of the USA for quite a while so forgive me if I don’t know what “slut shaming” is. Slut seems like a completely arcane term that needs to be forgotten as no similar term is used in the masculine.

Unless you’re a much more successful heterosexual male than I have managed to be in this life, it isn’t easy for a single guy to have sex while on vacation, at least going to places other than spring break ghettos. I couldn’t imagine that I could hook up in Tierra del Fuego if I lived there the rest of my life, let alone during a week’s stay. Women who understand this power can have a hell of a lot more fun than most of us. With that said, it sounded like most of the sex she had wasn’t too memorable. Side note: I’m no expert, but with regards to the affair she had with the Brazilian surfer, if someone draws blood during what is supposed to be oral sex. I’m pretty sure they’re doing it wrong. Wait, I think I am an expert on this subject. Nope, I've never drawn blood.

I can understand the tortured relationship she must have had with her parents who on the one hand gave her priceless advice on life, and on the other fought like two hillbilly clans after their breakup. Her father’s words that she simply wait and see could possibly be the wisest bit of counsel ever offered to a child. Her mother telling her to either suffer a bit of terror or regret her lack of courage forever is another diamond.

Not to discount her skill as a writer, but I think what a lot of women like about this book falls into the category of lifestyle porn. This means looking at someone else’s life and drooling about it. A Hollywood writer making lots of cash with lots of free time to travel is certainly appealing but if you’re waiting for this eventuality to fall into your lap before you decide to do anything interesting you could be in for a long siege of watching videos and happy hours spent at theme restaurants.

I think it’s disturbing how so few people of means have anything remotely resembling an interesting existence. On the other end almost everyone I know has managed to do a lot of cool shit on very modest incomes. I have said that the more money you have to travel the less interesting it becomes. I’d choose three weeks of backpacking in Mexico hitchhiking, taking crappy trains, and (mostly decent) buses over a resort vacation any time. In fact, I’d never go to a resort, and I did the Mexico hitching thing.

I admire the author for how personal she is in her writing. I could never do that, even if it were fiction. I think this is another talent of women.

P.S. I discovered this book because it was mentioned in an article in Time magazine. I know, hardly suitable reading material for a pseudo-intellectual dipshit like me, but I haven’t read Time since I was 12. I was trying to find something easy to read for a Spanish friend learning English. The woman who wrote the Time article talked about women traveling solo. She made herself out to be Magellan for going to a yoga retreat in Mexico. Oh well, it’s a start for her.
Profile Image for Deborah Ideiosepius.
1,622 reviews128 followers
January 2, 2019
This book was such fun!

Tagged as 'a memoir' this is a first person description by the author of how she spent her 20's - 40's(?) escaping from her job as a sitcom writer by traveling the world, often alone.

All Kirsten's friends were settling down, getting married and breeding/ having kids. While Kirsten was interested in those things, it was always 'one day' and in the meantime she jetted around the world, having adventures with effervescent enthusiasm and sex in exotic locations with all the joy and pain a holiday romance can provide.

I was absolutely charmed to find another person on earth with my basic premise: It is better to travel alone (when no appropriate travelling companion presents themselves) than not to travel at all - far FAR better! Initially I also felt a sense of camaraderie since Kirsten was a commitment-phobe who did not appear to want to get married. In time she recovers from this, (which I so far have not), however the recovery seems to have made her happy, so, go sister!

The writing is a lot of fun, as you would expect from a sitcom writer, the author has a keen sense for the ridiculous and the ability to distill this humour into sentences and turns of phrase that make laughter unexpectedly erupt out of the reader. The funny can be at times be self depreciating but there is also a level of self awareness and analysis, a clear headed recognition of how life forms one's choices and, of course, travel plans. Because as well as amazing and funny travel stories, the book is a bit of a personal journey (2000 to 2011 more or less), the motivations for the travel blending in with the author's life, jobs and dating. The fact that I found the author so likable and relatable helped me love this book. If you do not bond with the author, or if you are offended by sex, WARNING - you will not like this book.

But on to the travel; despite the title, which made me laugh, I would probably not have read this book if it had not been about a single, adult, female traveler. We are a bit of a rare species actually, a few people do this as young 'just out of university' types, but by the time you are thirty most of your friends of both genders tend to be married with kids, jobs, or 'won't travel without partner' attitudes. And for a lot of girls I know, that was pretty much the end of their adventurous travels.

The book is organised by chapters of travel, hence chapter two is 'Russia 2002' and chapter ten is 'Iceland 2009'. Now, because the author is a gregarious person with a fondness for holiday romances, chapter two is also titled 'If I don't sleep with this Russian bartender the Terrorists win'. In order to understand this fascinatingly convoluted drunken logic you do need to read the book - which I thoroughly recommend. While a lot of the travel stories are funny, with the calamities that travel can provide you with, the author also gives plenty of time to the good things. Those special experiences where you bathe in a clear awe; the breathless minutes of pure delight that travel can give you and which make it so completely addictive to those of us who have experienced them.

As well as being immense fun, this book also restored my faith in my ability to enjoy nonchalant humour. After a few books that were meant to be 'funny', lauded by everyone, their cat and the cat's mother totally leaving me cold, I was starting to suspect I had lost my sense of humour. No, I just have a somewhat offbeat one.
2 reviews
April 18, 2020
For a woman who is supposedly self-aware, Kristen Newman really doesn't seem aware of how racist and elitist she really is, even as she speaks about knowing she's a Hollywood elite. As an American who has lived in Rio de Janeiro and visited Buenos Aires, I found her to be insufferable and unfunny. As she frequently talked about "exotic" locations and used rape jokes and stereotypes for cheap laughs, I found myself remembering every American and European classmate I'd ever met abroad, who made no effort to speak the local language or to truly understand the cultures they pretended to be immersing themselves in. I hated those people in college, and I hate this book.

Do not read this book if you don't want to hear shit like "to blend in on the beach in Rio, just hike your thong up your ass" or "blood transfusions in the Dominican Republic?? Not with the HIV breeding ground called Haiti across the island." The blatant lack of common sense and decency are mind-blowing. In the end, Kristin Newman is just another white woman trying to prove she's "cultured" because she's got the frequent flyer miles to prove it, but she doesn't know shit.

I understand that some people may say, "the book is meant to be funny, stop being so defensive about the rape jokes, slut-shaming, anti-asian sentiment, exoticizing and Othering of Latin America & non-western countries, etc etc etc. It's no big deal." To that I say, BULLSHIT.

I'm tired of people using the comedy excuse. If Kristin Newman was half as good at being a writer as she thinks she is, she would've written a wonderful, ACTUALLY FUNNY book without all of the unfunny, Family Guy-level humor.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,048 followers
June 22, 2014
Disclaimer: I got a review copy of this from the publisher, but I was actively looking for a copy after reading about it somewhere online. Hooray!

Kristin Newman is best known as a sitcom writer - That 70's Show, How I Met Your Mother, and the Neighbors, and also branching out into shows like Chuck, which was funny but no laugh track. Of that list of shows, I loved The Neighbors, a show I was apparently the only person watching, since it has now been cancelled.

Television writers have very intense writing seasons with relatively high salaries, so while Newman's friends were busy getting married and having children, she interspersed a chain of monogamist relationships with amazing vacations. Each chapter in the book is about a different journey.

Her talent for comedy writing does come through in how she writes about her own life - there is a lot of sex, a lot of interesting experiences in different locations, and a fearlessness that I wish more people had. She was often drawn to travel in emotional times in her life - relationships ending or shows being cancelled or falling through - and this helped her throw herself into the new experiences. She talks about how one experience at 7 years old gave her that outlook - "One scary moment became something I was always willing to have after that in exchange for the possible payoff."

This book is full of payoff, from unbelievable gatherings of comedy writers around the world, instigated by someone known as Ferris Bueller to frequent plane ticket extensions because of adventures she couldn't bring to a close. She refers to her traveling self as Kristin-Adjacent, a character she settles into easily.

I wish I could say more about the book, but the BlueFire Reader app keeps crashing when I try to refer to my notes. I enjoyed it. Not for prudes.
282 reviews
May 6, 2017
Laugh out loud stupid, if you can even get through the whole thing. Starts with the arrogant insecurity of the title and goes straight downhill from there.

I might have thought this was a fun, exotic read when I was about 13, but as a grown up this book is just ludicrously one dimensional.

Profile Image for Kathryn.
47 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2020
I am wondering if either in the last 6-7 years intersectional discourse has advanced in such a way that this book and its depiction of people who are not American, white, and thin was considered okay? She literally used the phrase "a busload of Chinese" in this book. Like, really? Was that acceptable 6 years ago? I mean I guess maybe it's still acceptable. But -- jesus christ. This book made me think again about the experiences I've had as a white American abroad, how I've held a position of power in nearly every interaction I've had, and wonder if I am as big of an asshole and as clueless as this lady is.
Profile Image for Linda.
37 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2015
This was a fast read: funny, and ultimately somewhat disappointing. Newman's travel stories focus on self-deprecating and bodily humor while occasionally touching on issues of self-esteem, commitment, and the narrowing availability of choices we face as we age. I wasn't looking for a political tract or a self-help novel, and this is my first foray into the modern travel memoir -- I've happily managed to avoid Eat, Pray, Love so far -- but I was surprised by how shallow I found this to be.

The near-complete silence in this book regarding money was also striking. I know that finances are personal, but so is sex, and there was lot of that in here. My best guess is that sex can easily be funny, whereas money is rarely made the subject of a joke by anyone who suspects they have more than the people they're talking to. (I should disclaim that like the author, I'm coming from a WASP-y American perspective; comfort levels with that humor could vary across cultures.) Perhaps Newman saw no value in including such an seemingly unfunny subject in what is meant to be, and is, a funny book.

Still, I know I'm not the only person who reads about trips and says -- okay, but how did they afford it? How did money affect them, if at all? As far as having "hobbies" or "experiences" go, travel is expensive. I don't want to see a W2, but a certain acknowledgement of finance would have been honest and reflective of the overall tone of the memoir.

Profile Image for Lisa Shoro.
2 reviews
August 8, 2014
I bought this book in an airport bookstore, seems apt. I was breeding while this woman was touring the bedrooms and hotel rooms of the world and I thought it would be fun to live vicariously through her adventures. About a dozen lovers in, I lost interest and just can't bring myself to finish. I'll never really know if there was a point to this book or not.
Profile Image for Eloise Hampson.
103 reviews1,608 followers
May 17, 2023
I wish I got more about her change in perspective of the world, seeing different cultures etc. rather than just her romance life. It was a good reminder that there are plenty of fish in the sea, not everyone is "the one," and sometimes they are just a fun person and experience to look back on. But the romance stories got repetitive and i guess I just expected more experience, less testosterone. I'm going abroad soon so I wanted a book to put me in the mood, which this did so I guess it did its job!
Profile Image for Ana.
51 reviews5 followers
January 5, 2015
I received What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding for free at my desk one day. (The beauty of working in publishing, right?) And I immediately got a good chuckle at the title. Oh, Ms. Newman--you clearly get me. I am a twentysomething woman with no foreseeable plans for reproduction. A quick flip between the front and back cover's reviews also sold me: "David Sedaris, but with more joy." "If Eat, Pray, Love were written by your funniest friend." And Kristin Newman, sitcom-writer, would seem to be the perfect storyteller for the comedic hijinks of her own scandalous life.

The prologue, too, delivered on its promises:

"I am not a slut in the United States of America. ... I don't kiss married men or guys I work with, I don't text people pictures of my genitalia, I don't go home with boys I meet in bars before they have at least purchased me a couple of meals ... I do not sleep with more than one person at a time, and sometimes, no more than one per year. In America.

But I really love to travel."

Delightful! Fun! Clever! I was on board--and quickly--to a number of exotic places where Newman would recall her splendid affairs with some of the most beautiful men around the world, even though sometimes the connection just wasn't there ["Aleg leaned over and screamed at me (it was very loud), 'I speak small of English!'" (38)].

Because for Kristin Newman, the key to love and travel is this: Doing the thing you're supposed to do in the place you're supposed to do it. She mentions this a few times, like a mantra, while also detailing other rules of traveling: the qualities you should seek in a traveling companion, how long to carry on an affair after the trip is over, how many men to juggle is too many.

But somewhere in the midst of it all, I got tired. I put the bookmark in between pages 132 and 133 and stuck the book in various places--my gym bag, my work shelf, my desk drawer--all the while planning to definitely pick it up and finish it. It was a quick read, right?

So, last night, in an attempt to start cleaning up my half-finished books of 2014, I decided to dive back in. In doing so, I quickly remembered why I struggled the first time around.

The entire memoir feels like one giant digression. Which, I guess, is sometimes a product of conversational tone. But within four pages, the following paragraph transitions occur:

"Anyway, our trip to Brazil happened before Marco came along..." (132)
"But back to Salvador." (133)
"So back to Cristiano." (135)

And then, blatantly, on the next page:

"A brief digression into the notion of 'bases.'" (136).

Oh my god. No more digressions, please! Are we in Argentina? Brazil? Who is Cristiano? Is Salvador a city or a man? When I was reading this book straight through, I couldn't figure out exactly what was causing the story to drag, but when I tried to pick back up in the middle, it became painfully obvious.

This book was full of too many escapades, too many characters I didn't care about. And, no offense to Ms. Newman intended, but I don't even watch any of the sitcoms she's written for, so I found it difficult to muster up any sort of curiosity about her life.

OVERALL RATING (within genre): 2/5 Stars
TL;DR: Although a memoir about independence, promiscuity, and travel has a certain allure (especially to someone of the female, childfree, twentysomething crowd), Newman's style and aimless narrative causes the book to feel like one giant digression, and before long, it becomes impossible to keep track of which man she bedded in which place--and it leaves you wondering why you should care.

This and more reviews at http://anagiovinazzo.com.
Profile Image for Любен Спасов.
247 reviews43 followers
May 27, 2023
Реших да си взема книгата най-вече заради заглавието. Очаквах да получа един забавен пътепис, в който авторката да се съсредоточи върху всички неща, които човек може да прави докато все още е необвързан и е без деца. За времето, когато може да бъдеш във Франция, Аржентина, Нова Зеландия и единственото, което да трябва да направиш, е да напълниш един куфар с нужните неща и да купиш самолетен билет. Очаквах история, която да покаже, че дори да си на 28 и още да нямаш деца, има други хиляди неща, които може да направиш и животът ти също да има смисъл.

Колко силно съм се лъгал обаче.

Вместо всичко описано горе, всеки от вас, който реши да се докосне до книгата на Кристин Нюман ще получи нейния личен дневник с подробни разкази за това къде и с кого е правила секс в рамките на 15 години. Да, тя обикаля много държави, но не разказва какво е видяла там, какво е правила, какво ни препоръчва да направим ние, ако отидем на същото място. Не ни разказва и нещо любопитно свързано с дадената локация. Вместо това тя ни разказва как и защо си избира да спи с някого в дадения град и през цялото време ни занимава с вътрешните си терзания дали трябва да се омъжи скоро или да се лиши от тази си свобода – сиреч да спре да е „разюздана“ в чужбина.

Подчертавам в чужбина, защото по принцип авторката е сценарист на ситкоми в Америка и описва себе си като много сдържан човек, когато е в САЩ. Но качи ли се на самолета тръгва на приключения, най-вече сексуални.

В книгата тя вижда Амстердам като място, на което да се надруса, Бразилия като място с хубави дупета и тела, а Русия като локация за изневяра.

И не ме разбирайте погрешно - всеки може да си живее живота както пожелае. Просто тази жена е взела едно много хубаво заглавие, което носи много приятна идея със себе си, и го е направила на пух и прах с тази постоянна тема за секса и как ежесекундно се чуди как и кога да си легне с някого.

Разбира се, имаше вменяване на клишето „Ама, ако бях мъж, нямаше да ме съдите“. Добър опит, но много плосък, след като 300 страници ти не захващаш една свястна, сериозна тема или дори не се опитваш да направиш тази книга като пътепис. Проблемът ми на мен не е в това, че някой е решил да прави секс из целия свят. Проблемът ми е, че пишеш книга, която продаваш като приключенска, а всъщност за мен е „книга-трофей“. На никой не му пука с кого си спала и определено с това заглавие, книгата можеше да отиде в много по-приятна посока. И мнението ми щеше да е такова, дори и авторът да беше мъж.

Не знам защо се получи така с тази книга. Дали, защото аз очаквах друго или съм станал много тесногръд? Започва да се замислям дали наистина не проявявам сексизъм към авторката в момента, но тази книга определено е най-лошото нещо, което съм чел от доста време насам.
Profile Image for Dana.
1,766 reviews17 followers
October 12, 2014
What I Was Doing While You Were Breading reminded me of Sex and the City and Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea. Told through shirt stories, the book gave me the confidence to travel alone. The writing had the same biting humor that Chelsea Handler's book had, but the author's pride for her life decisions made her come across as overconfident, and not in a good way. I expected the story to be more of a travel diary enhanced with her romances with men all over the world. Instead, this book was the opposite. I enjoyed the few travel discussions but they were overshadowed by the author's sexual escapades. For having traveled to such fantastic destinations, I was disappointed these amazing locales were hardly mentioned. Although I think she visited some major tourist spots, she never really described them. Still, the book was entertaining, and I couldn't believe the things that happened to her and her friends. I guess the reason this was a two star for me, was that I wanted something more than just a replay of the sex and a list of every man she ever met. I wanted to he armoire about the places she visited.

I won this on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for irem.
113 reviews
March 17, 2020
The author was such a racist bitch.

Here are some highkey problematic quotes (back when i still planned on writing along ass rant review).
- „i‘m just not attracted to asians. [...] i swear i‘m not racist, i date every other race, just sadlyy not asian.“
- „to china and tibet [...] where the men were too small and hairless“
- „i was literally making love [...] love that would save our planet. And that‘s how i used 9/11 to rationalize cheating“
- „my beautiful friend [...] saved from a life as just another angry-looking, prematurely aging russian“
- „the american girls [referring to herself] would decide whether the men were actually dangerous, or just dangerous looking like most russians.“
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,573 reviews177 followers
November 27, 2017
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017: Read a travel memoir. 3.5 stars. This book inspired mixed feelings for me. It's certainly a travelogue, but it's also a relationship memoir: Kristin travels not just because her friends are settling down and she isn't (as implied by the title), but because I struggled to root for her until she reached some self-awareness:

"...I was normal. Years later, Lena Dunham’s character on Girls would have a similar moment when she broke down and wept to a nice, handsome doctor with a beautiful house, “Please don’t tell anyone this, but I want to be happy … I want all the things everyone wants.” I was embarrassed to be a thirty-five-year-old woman who was looking for true love, and a family. It was so freaking typical."

Her travel philosophy (which I like) of "do the thing you're supposed to do in the the place you're supposed to do it" includes sex partners (which I don't identify with at all). I'm glad this approach worked for her, but I did find myself thinking it was pretty unsafe, and there was no mention that she was aware of the cachet of being American -- i.e., the possibility that guys hooked up with her not for a "vacationship" but in hopes of marrying into better life opportunities. Maybe they were always on the same page for a short-term fling, but I wondered, especially about her Spanish teacher whose confession of love she shrugged off.

I identified a lot with her takedown of "moo cows" (her name for when you discover something in common with someone that seems so unlikely that IT MUST BE A SIGN, and you cling to it in spite of obvious other signs that you aren't compatible), and her realization that finding love is really all about timing.

I really liked these parts and have been thinking a lot about them:

"Life is almost never about choosing between one thing you really want and another thing you don't want at all. If you're lucky, and healthy, and live in a country where you have enough to eat and no fear that you're going to get shot when you walk out your door, life is an endless series of choosing between two things you want almost equally. And you have to evaluate and determine which awesome thing you want infinitesimally more, and then give up that other awesome thing you want almost exactly as much. You have to trade awesome for awesome. Everyone I knew, no matter what they chose, was at least a little in mourning for that other thing.”

“I always say that I need to travel to keep from dying of boredom from my own internal monologue. I think that, generally, most of us have a total of about twenty thoughts. And we just scroll through those thoughts, over and over again, in varying order, all day every day.”

“She told me that since they date exclusively [in Judaism] with the intent to marry, the conversation is very direct right from the start. You’re not sitting quietly next to each other at a movie wondering if you can get over his awful shirt. You’re interviewing. And from your first date, you’re focusing, apparently, on only three questions: Do we want the same things out of life? Do we bring out the best in each other? Do we find each other attractive? That’s it. In that order.”
Profile Image for Margaret.
31 reviews
August 11, 2014
If this book was a movie, it would NOT pass the Bechdel Test.

Part of me absolutely LOVED it, to the point where it's almost as though this book was written specifically for me. Her philosophy on doing ALL THE THINGS is exactly what I have been saying for years, after all! I also believe in the healing powers of seeing as much of the world as possible, and her list of what makes a perfect travel companion was like I wrote it myself. I'm also impressed that she did so much traveling alone, and the way she writes made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, which is tough to do as a writer.

With that said though, I really can't rate this book higher than 3 stars -- because though we were on the same page about many things, most of her vacations were not centered around being a strong, independent, culturally curious world traveler. Instead, they were centered around men. On all her trips, she was either A) complaining about being single or B) hooking up with the nearest hot guy in order to not feel so sad about being single. I get it, and there's nothing wrong with vacation romances (Father Juan!) but I just wish they hadn't been so centric to her travels. It's a classic Bechdel Test failure -- the idea that a woman can't be happy without a man, and can't talk or think about anything else ever. And that always, ALWAYS, really bothers me.

It all comes down to this in the end: the title of this book led me to believe that, like me, the author felt that there were more exciting things to do with her life than settle down early. But in actuality, it's only what she wanted us to think. I was expecting empowerment, and only found desperation.

I'd still recommend this book though. It's an entertaining summer read and will make you want to bust out your passport immediately. Just know what you're getting into before you start!
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