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What If . . .: A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  255 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
From Academy Award–winning actress and bestselling author Shirley MacLaine, a collection of imaginative ruminations: “Fun and thoughtful by turns and told in MacLaine’s feisty, funny voice, this should appeal to fans and doubters alike” (Booklist).

Beloved actress and bestselling author Shirley MacLaine contemplates everything from the everyday to the esoteric in this colle
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 1988)
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What If...A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure - Shirley MacLaine

I know most people often wonder of the "What If's." What they should have said, or thought. Would it have resulted in a different action or thought than what was said. In the Novel the author Shirley MacLaine ask all the What If's pertaining to her life as an Actress and also as a person of Spiritual means. She asks those What If questions and comes up with her own answers to m
JoAnne Pulcino

Shirley MacLaine

I love, love, love Shirley MacLaine!!! We all know what a wonderful dancer and actress she is, but this is the personal Shirley MacLaine.

She is an open vessel constantly seeking and searching for awareness and knowledge. Her journey in this lifetime has taken her to faraway places, intimate exchanges with great philosophers, shaman, religious leaders and the man on the street.

Sep 05, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I would give this an almost four. I have always liked Shirley MacLaine myself. I have read several of her books. This "what if " book is comprised of those speculations that she has written about. some are only a sentence or two. Others run from two pages on up.Shirley M. had never been shy about sharing her beliefs. she has been open about her beliefs on reincarnation, the extraterrestrials, and Karma. she shares many thoughts on this subject. some may be upsetting to the readers.she also had s ...more
Nancy Narma
Jan 13, 2014 Nancy Narma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Waiting For What’s Next”

I have not had the privilege of reading any of Ms. MacLaine’s previous works—but I certainly did enjoy this volume. Quirky, provocative, spiritual, Actress (presently portraying Martha Levinson on “Downton Abbey”) and Kennedy Center Honoree Shirley has given me pause with her thought-provoking ”What Ifs”. She has included some personal reflections and revelations, political taunts and humorous accounts, but, moreover, just Shirley MacLaine being her outspoken, insightful
Dec 14, 2015 Meredith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I listened to this on audiobook, which is always great to hear an actor read her own words. As usual, Ms. Maclaine discusses her somewhat 'out there' beliefs. She describes extra-terrestrials in detail (I believe she lists 4 types and where they are from) and how much they do or do not involve themselves in our lives here on Earth and why. She also discusses her religious beliefs with interpretations of Bible verses that are deeply thought out. On the lighter side, Maclaine tells a fabulous stor ...more
Mar 05, 2015 Lyn *GLITTER VIKING* rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: word-vomit, pass

"What if most Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before, when they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity, soldiers with Hannibal, or those who stormed across the Near East with Alexander? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee."

"Did [Stephen Hawking] “create” the disease that has crippled him in order to learn to be dependent on caregivers and the kindness
This was a totally engaging and unique book format. I enjoyed her random bits of intelligent trivia, while learning a lot about a lot of different subjects. Shirley is still cool after all these years...I just loved this book!
Feb 14, 2015 Agnieszka rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
what if someone writes a whole bunch of crap, and no one is there to read it?

Did 9/11 not happen either? the comments about the holocaust are unforgivable.

what a complete nut.
Beside being a beloved and multi-talented stage and screen actress, Shirley MacLaine is well known for her eccentric beliefs, including spirituality, extraterrestrials and metaphysics. Much of her newest book, What If… A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure encompasses many of these topics and expands on her beliefs.

While I didn’t always necessarily agree with her perspective, I appreciated its uniqueness. Her honest and thought-provoking insi
Jan 15, 2014 Marilyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What If we were all more open-minded?

Then more of us would appreciate this book. As it is, it's an easily readable mishmash of questions in her search for spiritual self, packed with some nostalgia about the fun & simple times of her Rat Pack days; her thoughts on ETs and reincarnation, plus personal stories (too much detail about her Lifetime Achievement Award); her interesting take on TSA airport "security," the profitability of war, and a funny list of 140 definitions of love. She loses m
Jan 22, 2015 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shirley is my ultimate guide to the wonders of our universe and makes me ponder all the mysteries of our past, current and future lives. I find such comfort in her acceptance of aging and the wisdom and acceptance she finds. I met her years ago at her publisher's book party when she had just written and published Out on a Limb and I continue to listen to her audio performances of each new book. Without a doubt I believe in her WHAT IF? theories about human origins, interpretations and messages i ...more
Michael Thorner
May 01, 2014 Michael Thorner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was impressed by the form MacLaine chose to take to express her ideas, experience, and worldview. The format in What If... allows her to touch on a myriad of subjects, light and weighty. This provides her the opportunity to keep things brief, or get expansive when the topic warrants delving deeper. And most of us are aware of how cosmically wide a thinker Shirley can be. A fun read, and by it's construction alone, a real page-turner; especially suited for those who have been altered by the int ...more
Maura Badji
Jan 20, 2014 Maura Badji rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Who cares? As a teenager and young woman interested in acting and theater I avidly read Shirley MacLaine's first three memoirs. My interest in her adventures in self-exploration waned as I grew older and her direction seemed to turn down Self-Involved Wackadoo Lane. As I had not read anything if hers in years I thought I'd give it a try and see if perhaps she'd moved on. Nope, still roosting at the same address.
Shirley's been around for a while and has been known for her new age beliefs. I picked this up to read to see if what new information she's been able to bring to light in the past 25 years.

Well, the title is based off the acting Constantin Stanislavski method. "What if" my character was a drunk, "what if" my character has a gastrointestinal problem which exacerbates every time he visits with his estranged daughter, because he gets real nervous and eats a lot of onions, beans, and tomatoes before
May 04, 2015 Michelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-hoot, hitlerrific
Wow. Ole Shirl should just ask herself one question, "What if my head weren't so firmly planted up my ass?" I can handle outside the box thinking but this one is just plain stupid. The constant name-dropping, the rationalizations, and the utterly insulting. Her comments nearly justifying Holocaust suffering are staggering. I've heard this shit before by people I almost respect. Almost. I thought there would be some wisdom by an older actress who has been in the business for awhile. There wasn't. ...more
Beth Newman
What if Shirley Maclaine is an absolute kook?

What if she's not?

So what.

I'm a fan of her work on film ('The Apartment' is definitely on my list of favorite movies), and I've enjoyed her other books. I find her ideas thought-provoking, enlightening, and often-times entertaining, particularly when she recalls 'Old Hollywood'.

This is a quick read, even though some passages are a little redundant and confusing. Some portions are way out there, even for me, and I usually enjoy a trip 'way out there'.
I always read Shirley Maclaine's books because they always make me think. But this time what I think is that it was time for her to put out another book. There wasn't really anything new or even more interesting in this one. If you're new to investigating the possibilities of spirituality outside of organized religion, then there's probably plenty for you in this book. But if you've regularly digested previous books, then this is almost a simplified recap.
Kathleen Hagen
What If: a Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few things I Know for Sure, by Shirley MacLaine, Narrated by the author, Produced by Simon and Schuster, Downloaded from

A wonderful book full of musings by the author, each one beginning with “What if” and going on from there with her speculations. Included are vignettes of her own life as usual. A funny book well written and well narrated.
Jun 16, 2015 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m open minded about most ideas and do like to stretch my mind. Shirley’s book was VERY thought provoking. I listened to it twice I liked it that much. Of course the stories about her early Hollywood days are always my favorite.

Life explained through a showbiz slant was interesting and enjoyable. And why not? Show “business” is needed to SELL everything, news, products, and mostly politics.
Stephanie Kreiner
What can I say? I LOVE Shirley; she's one of my heroes. She delves into many topics in her beloved style--outspoken, intelligent, intuitive and creative. She makes me want to sit down in a beautiful garden and talk to her for hours and hours. And what a gift it would be to be her friend!
Apr 28, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of lifelong insights and a blend of new age philosophy. Some of it was a little too far fetched for my taste. But Shirley acknowledges some of the ideas are not for everyone. She definitely asked questions that can inspire further exploration if you can keep an open mind.
Feb 24, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun book that only took a couple hours to read. An amalgam of thoughts and reflections by Shirley MacLaine that leaves you smiling and wishing that you were lucky enough to be among her circle of friends and have her share her thoughts and stories with you on a regular basis.
Aug 11, 2015 Lauren rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I wouldn’t say I’m totally against New Age books, but this was in a class of its own. The whole text was a series of ramblings by a washed-up celebrity that read like she was on some drug-fueled hallucinogenic trip. I couldn't finish.
Kat D Tachera
Apr 13, 2014 Kat D Tachera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

if you like Shirley you'll like what she has to say at this stage in her life now. many questions which will give you pause and perhaps a new way to think about things in your own life
Kelsey Jones
Jan 08, 2015 Kelsey Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Great questions, with a little bit of background in her personal and hollywood life and career. Makes me want to read the rest of her books. If you are deeply religious and aren't open to questioning, I wouldn't recommend this book.
Feb 22, 2014 jagle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book. I've never read any of her books before, but I knew of her general worldview. Many of her 'what if...' statements are fascinating, and I spent a long time thinking through some of her ideas, whereas others I glossed over. This was a good read, easy to dip in and out of.
Apr 25, 2014 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting theories that I'm probably 85% on board with, but love Shirley MacLaine and love reading new ideas.
Jazmin Wilkins
This would have been a 4-star review, if not for the author's comments about the Holocaust (pp. 240-241)
Dale Stonehouse
Jan 10, 2014 Dale Stonehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars for effort and for being Shirley MacLaine, which cannot be the easiest path to have tried at this time. This is much of the same material as in previous books, with a bit of a different approach. Fans will love this, and who else would even try it? All else aside, any friend of Dennis Kucinich's is a great human being!
Aug 23, 2014 Roya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whimsical, light, funny... Yet, there's a 'knowing.' I just picked up 'out on a limb' because I liked this one so much.
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Shirley MacLaine is an Academy Award-winning American film and theatre actress, well-known not only for her acting, but for her devotion to her belief in reincarnation. She is also the writer of a large number of autobiographical works, many dealing with her new age beliefs, such as solipsism, as well as her Hollywood career. She is the older sister of Warren Beatty.

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