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Today Will Be Different

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A brilliant novel and instant New York Times bestseller from the author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, about a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, forced to abandon her small ambitions and awake to a strange, new future.

Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action, life happens.

Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office -- but not Eleanor -- that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

Today Will Be Different is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

259 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2016

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About the author

Maria Semple

9 books4,485 followers
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen.

Semple was born in Santa Monica, California. Her family moved to Spain soon after she was born. There her father, the screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., wrote the pilot for the television series Batman. The family moved to Los Angeles and then to Aspen, Colorado. Semple attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary Hall, then received a BA in English from Barnard College in 1986.

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5 stars
6,120 (9%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,194 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
181 reviews143 followers
January 26, 2020
DEJA VU, so much deja vu...This is a (sort of) sequel to Where'd You Go Bernadette, and there are several similarities between the two.

The protagonist, Bernadette Eleanor, is a wildly talented middle-aged architect illustrator who seems to have lost her creative mojo after moving from New York to boring suburban Seattle. She lives with her precocious only child Bee Timby*, who attends Galer Street School (now located in a sprawling mansion on a hill...), her loyal but dopey hound Ice Cream Yo-Yo, and her loving but distracted husband Elgin Joe. She’s tormented by annoying Galer Street parents and tech yuppies working for Microsoft Amazon. Sound familiar?

OK to be fair, that’s where the similarities end. The plot follows Eleanor over the course of one day trying to navigate, well, life. Timby has been sent home from Galer Street after faking a tummy bug and she discovers that Joe has told his colleagues he’ll be taking a week off from work even though he’s told her he’d be at work. Hilarity ensues.

My main disappointment with this book wasn’t how similar it was to WDYGB; after all, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It had the same fast pace and dry wit, the problem was that it felt hurried and slapdash. There were a few plot points that remained unresolved and I thought some of the characters weren’t given time to breathe properly. If I had to describe it in a word it would be flimsy.

It’s definitely not a terrible book and would make a nice beach read, but I sense that a few WDYGB fans might be disappointed.

*”When I was pregnant, we learned it was going to be a boy. Joe and I ecstatically volleyed names back and forth. One day I texted TIMOTHY which autocorrected to TIMBY. How could we not?” [Ed: Erm...quite easily?]

(With thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an ARC in return for an honest review)
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,654 followers
October 24, 2016
I had been enjoying the first part of this novel, and then about halfway through I abruptly hit a wall where the quirkiness and mania and frenzied story jumping got so aggravating that I abandoned the book in frustration.

This is the second Maria Semple book I was unable to finish — I also couldn't get into her novel "Where'd You Go, Bernadette." And since she's a popular author, I must conclude I'm just not the right reader for her books. So, you may enjoy these novels more than I did.

I will share what I had liked about "Today Will Be Different" before I got frustrated. I liked that Semple was writing about the anxiety of modern life, and also the pressure some of us feel to constantly work on improving ourselves. Her opening paragraph is especially sharp:

Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. Today I'll play a board game with Timby. I'll initiate sex with Joe. Today I will take pride in my appearance. I'll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend. Today I won't swear. I won't talk about money. Today there will be an ease about me. My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile. Today I will radiate calm. Kindness and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I'm capable of being. Today will be different.

After that good beginning, we meet our messy heroine, Eleanor Flood, on what turns into a very hectic day. While out running errands, Eleanor discovers that her husband has been taking a vacation from work and not telling her. After learning this, Eleanor becomes more anxious. She's an illustrator who is behind on her work, and at lunch she meets a former colleague who is now wildly successful, which makes her even more self-critical and frantic. Eleanor's behavior became so manic that I just couldn't take it and had to quit reading. Maybe you will finish the story and love it.

Good Quotes
"Every book has to invent itself."

"I don't mean to ruin the ending for you, sweet child, but life is one long headwind. To make any kind of impact requires self-will bordering on madness. The world will be hostile, it will be suspicious of your intent, it will misinterpret you, it will inject you with doubt, it will flatter you into self-sabotage ... But you have a vision. You put a frame around it. You sign your name anyway. That's the risk. That's the leap."
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,606 reviews2,578 followers
July 26, 2016
Bernadette fans, prepare for disappointment. There’s nothing that bad about the story of middle-aged animator Eleanor Flood, her hand-surgeon-to-the-stars husband Joe, and their precocious kid Timby, but nor is there anything very interesting about it. The novel is one of those rare ones that take place all in one day, a setup that enticed me, but all Eleanor manages to fit into her day – despite the title resolution – is an encounter with a pet poet who listens to her reciting memorized verse, another with a disgruntled former employee, some pondering of her husband’s strange behavior, and plenty of being downright mean to her son (as if his name wasn’t punishment enough).

“In the past, I’d often been called crazy. But it was endearing-crazy, kooky-crazy, we’re-all-a-little-crazy-crazy,” Eleanor insists. I didn’t think so. I didn’t like being stuck in her head. She’s eight years late in delivering her graphic memoir, The Flood Girls (which would have been a better title), which tells the story of the sad, neglected childhood she and her sister Ivy shared. My preferred sections were the panels from this book-within-the-book and the third-person flashbacks, especially one recounting Ivy’s wedding to an aristocratic control freak from New Orleans named Bucky.

In general, it seems like a bad sign if you’re eager to get away from a book’s narrator and her scatty behavior. This passes quickly enough – it nicely filled time on a long car journey – but is pretty unmemorable. Compared to Semple’s previous novel, it feels like quirkiness for quirkiness’ sake, with a sudden and contrived ending. Not one I can recommend.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,795 reviews2,342 followers
November 5, 2016
"Joe," I said. "Do you think I'm a mean person?"

"You're not a mean person," he immediately answered, and paused. "You're a mean nice person. Big difference."

Since I'm one of the three people on earth who has not read the author's previous work - Where'd You Go, Bernadette, I may be the ideal audience for this book. I can't compare the two, and express my disappointment that this is more of, or not enough of, the same. So, judging this one strictly on its own merits, I gotta say . . .

I liked it . . .

though I expect many, many will not.

Your enjoyment of this book will depend solely on whether or not you like the main character Eleanor and her family. I did. Immensely.

If you're not a fan of novels about very white people experiencing first world problems, you'd best move on. BUT . . . then again, Eleanor's problems are some of the concerns we all share - marriage, child rearing, relationships with parents and siblings, that nagging feeling you may have accidentally offended your poetry tutor. (Okay - that last one is probably not one we've all encountered.)

This is essentially one day in the life (plus copious flashbacks), of an occasionally acerbic, frequently amusing, clever, and intelligent woman. As I said, you may not like her. I found her fascinating, and the book unpredictable. This one was most definitely for me. I honestly don't know if it will be for you.
Profile Image for Kristina.
1,214 reviews477 followers
October 30, 2016
There’s nothing like the disappointment of an anticipated good book turning out to be crappy. I’m not sure who wrote the funny, wonderful Where’d You Go, Bernadette but it wasn’t this Maria Semple. This Maria Semple wrote a book that starts out funny, but gradually descends into awfulness before your horrified eyes. There’s very little I enjoyed about Today Will Be Different.

Eleanor Flood has decided that today will be different. She will play with her child, initiate sex with her husband, be calm, kind and self-controlled. Spoiler alert: that’s not how the day progresses. It’s a madcap adventure day, one crazy thing leading to the other until it’s the end of the day and a thoroughly repugnant, contrived and convenient ending finishes the book. This book also finished me as a reader of Maria Semple.

I think it was smart of Semple to have her narrator, Eleanor, call out the book as being about white people problems: “You’re trying to figure out, why the agita surrounding one normal day of white-people problems?” (7) I would add: wealthy white people problems, although she sort of hints at that later when she refers to them as “boutique” problems. It helps, that on some level Eleanor knows all the problems she complains about are complete bullshit. It helps, but not a lot. This whole book is one big whine of rich white woman, too-much-time-on-my-hands bullshit. Seriously. I don’t envy her or feel bad for her. Mostly I think she’s an unlikeable, unsympathetic, unkind, uninteresting, scatterbrained dopey woman. This book is basically the story of this completely unsympathetic character, this character I don’t give two shits about, running around like a jackass, son and dog in tow. That’s a problem for this book, because nothing (despite the assurance of the publisher and many starred reviews) happens. Mostly, I’m irritated. Until the last ten pages or so when I’m completely pissed off. This book is a wreck, and not in a fun way.

Novels are usually either plot-driven or character-driven. If the author is really talented, she can combine both of those approaches into a well-written, enjoyable book. Semple’s book is character-driven. That’s too bad because she didn’t create real people for this book—they’re all, including Timby, the badly named child, a collection of wacky and quirky personality traits with names attached to them. Eleanor is impulsive and forgetful and sometimes rude and fast-talking. Throughout the book, she does a lot of dippy things—it’s one crazy action after another. I find it difficult to believe that one person could be this much of a dipshit. But as Eleanor doesn’t seem like a real person to me, I didn’t try too hard to believe anything that happens in the book. Nothing is real in the book. All the characters are flat. Semple tried to give them depth by loading them up with quirks and quippy banter, but none of them leave an impression. Not Eleanor, not Ivy, not Bucky, not Alonzo, not Spencer. Certainly not Joe, the perfect husband, who is absent for 90% of the novel. He turns up at the end with his eye-rolling, are-you-fucking-kidding-me revelation. I almost threw the book across the room. Almost. But I’m gonna try to sell it back to Amazon, so I don’t want to dent it. Timby, the child with the fucking ridiculous name, had me entertained for a while. But then his perfectly timed, perfectly witty one-liners started to annoy me because what the fuck, he’s a third grader. I know kids say the darnedest things, but there’s only so much wit I can handle from an eight-year old.

Other than the fact that I feel as if I just read a book about the whitest, most unreal people ever, two things really pissed me off. Yo-Yo the dog. The second thing I hated about this book was the end:

This book left a rotten taste in my mouth. I feel cheated and tricked. Not just because none of the characters come across as real people with real problems or because the whole story is as unsatisfying as diet brownies, but because I feel as if the author is proselytizing. She’s using the book as a pulpit and the last few pages were her sermon. That’s unacceptable. If Joe’s “revelation” had been worked in more carefully into the novel and the novel itself dealt more seriously with how his change of heart would affect his family, it would have been believable. As written, the ending seems tacked on and artificial. If the author herself has recently had a “revelation” similar to Joe’s, that’s fine. But I resent being manipulated into reading about it. I seriously doubt I will ever read Maria Semple again.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,563 followers
November 10, 2019
After you find out where Bernadette actually went, you will inevitably begin to crave another deep into the wacky world of American Northwest mothers: they're a species less romantic than the Sex and the City Gals, albeit more human. Not less refined, nor less entertaining, but yeah: waaay more human.

Semple's sophomore novel is arguably one of the best comedic novels of all time. A tremendous classic. And now, with that bonafide masterpiece under her belt, "Today Will Be Different" promises ONLY that--that it will be different. The filial love from "Where'd You Go" is transformed here into other similar types of love: mainly, the matrimonial kind. Semple writes love stories that are devoid of syrupy sentimentality or any other known conventions. At the point in which the character realizes, wait a minute, "I love Josh" (Clueless 1995)... this is when the character's transformation/plot's apex transpires. Like I said, the humanity in these women is what must be highlighted, applauded. Exalted. & definitely read.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,028 reviews58.9k followers
March 22, 2017
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple is a 2016 Little, Brown and Company publication.

I may be the only person on earth who has not read ‘Where did you go, Bernadette?’ the much acclaimed novel by Maria Semple that preceded this one.

But, when this one started getting lots of promotional coverage a while back, I placed a hold on it at the library, thinking I’d have plenty of time to read ‘Bernadette’ first, because the wait time was unreal. Well, I forgot about the hold, and never did read ‘Bernadette’. But, after seeing a few reviews, I thought maybe that was a good thing, and might give me a slight advantage, an opportunity to read this book without high expectations.

Sadly, I didn’t find this book any more appealing than many of my Goodreads peers. I don’t know what I was expecting, really, but I did get the idea the book was supposed to be humorous, which it wasn’t. The child, Timby, is the most charming thing about the story, but the rest of it was rather depressing, in my opinion, and didn’t feel like all the issues were resolved, or at least not a enough of a resolution to satisfy me.

It is certainly a unique story, very quirky, but easy to read. In fact, I read it in one afternoon. But, I was left scratching my head wondering what exactly I was supposed to have taken from the story. So, I’m going to confess, I didn’t get the point or the big picture, but I’m intrigued by the author’s style of writing, despite the disjointed plot in this book, and one day I will get around to reading ‘Bernadette’, a book I’m sure I enjoy much more than I did this one.

2 stars
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews48 followers
November 20, 2016
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"Today I will be my best self, the person I'm capable of being. Today will be different..." –Eleanor Flood

Do you ever scroll through your friends' Instagram pictures, their Facebook family vacation albums to exotic locales, or just spend all night eating a pint (okay maybe 2) of rum raisin ice cream and scrolling through Pinterest only to feel like utter crap because your life seems so minuscule and unorganized compared to everyone else? That happens to me...a lot! It's why I have a love/hate relationship with social media, because while it can be helpful, you can spend a lot of time focusing on what you don't have instead of what you do have. It's the counter effect of contentment, which is what leads to real joy. Just stuff I'm realizing as I get older. No person has everything as together as they'd like things to appear, and that's where Eleanor Flood comes into play because I can relate to her desire to wake up and change everything about herself.

She isn't the most caring, nurturing character I've come into contact with in my reading adventures, but her self-deprecating attitude doesn't belie the immense love and loyalty she has for those closest to her. I love and admire people like this, even if they are bristly and abrasive to begin with. I haven't read Where'd You Go, Bernadette, and I understand a lot of her fans were disappointed that it took a completely different turn, but think of where The Rolling Stones would be if they never changed things up a bit, or A Tribe Called Quest, for that matter, making a comeback after what seemed like eons. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. I laughed A LOT, and it was mostly due to Semple's sarcastic wit and the narrator of the audio book, who had a slew of accents, even that of Eleanor's son, which I found the most hilarious. Great, fun read! I managed to not screw up these chocolate chip cookies while listening. Eleanor bolstered me up. We aren't as wretched as we sometimes think we are.
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,020 reviews1,963 followers
October 14, 2016
I think I'm the only person in the world who thought Let It Go was kind of a bland song. (stick with me for a second, there's a point here)

There was a moment in time when everyone, and not just tweens, was obsessed with that song but I always described it as a poor-man's Defying Gravity. It's Idina Menzel singing the same basic "I can stand up for myself" theme, but the performance is nowhere near as powerful and the actual lyrics pale in comparison. It was trying to do the same thing, but fell short of replicating the magic of original version.

And that's kind of the same way that I feel about Maria Semple's latest, Today Will Be Different: it's a poor-man's Where'd You Go Bernadette?

I don't know if Semple was consciously trying to write a book that mimicked Bernadette in any way, but it's definitely hard to avoid comparing the two. They're both about women feeling out of place in their environment, to the point where they reach a breaking point.

Today Will Be Different follows a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, an animator who lives in Seattle with her hand-surgeon-to-the-stars husband Joe and their precocious eight-year-old son Timby. On this day, Eleanor has to go fetch Timby from school because he's faking ill to avoid a bully, she realizes her husband has told his office he's out of town but he hasn't told her that he's not going to work, she visits with her poetry tutor, and perhaps most significantly, she has a jarring encounter with a former employee that forces her to come to grips with some deeply buried personal shit.

It all feels so very familiar. The difference, though, was that Bernadette had heart. It was feel-good without being overly schmaltzy. It was easy to understand why Bernadette started to crack and it was easy to root for her. Eleanor's psychology feels a little crammed in (it's awkwardly built-in, via flashback) and she's significantly less likable. She's often a jerk just for the sake of being a jerk, and that makes it really hard to care about her. Today utilizes some of the epistolary tools that worked so well last time, but it's really just a couple pieces that seemed like an afterthought - passages from Eleanor's long-delayed graphic memoir, flashbacks that switch to third-person narration, etc. The final result, to me, felt very much phoned-in. Today Will be Different is fine, but ultimately forgettable.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 2 books3,300 followers
April 23, 2017
How are there so many low ratings for this book? How did so many people get it so totally wrong? This book is incredible. Maria Semple is such a strange and wonderful writer, this book is an uproarious and quirky and relatable gut-punch of sorrowful joy.

Here we have the story of Eleanor Flood, a spacey but brilliant, caustic but kind, middle-aged lady. She is an illustrator in the second act of her life after having co-created a wildly successful animated show for tweens; now she lives in Seattle with her husband, who is a down-to-earth and competent and sweet hand surgeon, and their eight-year-old son Timby, who is unintentionally hilarious and weirdly perceptive (and listen, I hate reading about "precocious" children; this is not that). Eleanor is just trying to get through the fucking day without forgetting the right words for things or having to suffer through a lunch with an insufferable friend or leaving the dog somewhere or making her kid or her husband hate her, which is hard sometimes! Especially when your head is a constant whirl of too many thoughts and too much baggage and family secrets and thwarted ambitions and self-loathing and wry observatory brilliance.

I don't feel like this summary is going well; the book sounds normal and boring when actually it's kooky and pell-mell and sharp and so funny. Like, here is a moment where Eleanor is cataloging her "grab bag of flaws":

1. Once I ate a bagel on the toilet.
3. I floss in bed.
5. I take the first bite of popcorn at the movies by touching my tongue to the top of the popcorn and eating what sticks. But Joe always says he doesn't want popcorn because it's too salty, so it's mine and can't I eat it the way I want?
6. I toss Milk Duds into the popcorn.
7. Actually, I bite the Milk Duds into four pieces and spit them back into the popcorn so they're smaller, giving me a better popcorn-to-Milk-Dud ratio. Yes, they're covered in saliva, but it's my saliva. Though I can see how, to someone reaching into the popcorn they said they weren't going to eat, it could be an issue.


Or! Here is Eleanor in a moment of self-recrimination while driving around with Timby, who is suddenly very nice to her in an eight-year-old way, and then:

I unbuckled my seatbelt and turned around.
"What are you doing?" Timby asked, his voice edged with alarm.
I was all butt as I attempted to clamber into the backseat.
"Don't," Timby said, a sitting duck in his car seat.
"I need to hold you," I grunted, struggling to pull my foot free from between the seats.
"Please. Stop."
"I want to be worthy of you," I said, panting like childbirth.
I became stuck between the console and the roof in an unsightly gargoyle crouch.
"Oh, God, look at me."
"I don't want to," Timby said.
"I don't know what I'm doing!"
"Neither do I," he said. "Go back."

Was that funny out of context? I laughed so hard typing it that I had to stop and wipe my eyes.

Look, in addition to just being wonderful, this book is very cleverly written in a bunch of chopped parts, where different people narrate (Eleanor in first-person; Eleanor in third-person; Joe in third-person), and there's also a graphic novel–y insert. Plus there's a whole secret plot with other family members that I will not spoil at all, and another about the agony and ecstacy of the life of a poet-for-hire who is also a guy who gives out samples at Costco, and a totally explainable incident where Eleanor steals one of Timby's classmate's parents' keys, and a Grievance List, and a thwarted book deal or two, and hand surgery in Africa, and haughty drunken hijinks in New Orleans, and a harrowing funeral in Aspen, and on and on.

I guess I have to admit there's a kind of dodgy plot twist toward the end that I wasn't 100% onboard for, but the rest of the zany, marvelous journey was well worth it. Diggity-damn I ♥ Maria Semple.
Profile Image for Linden.
1,472 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2016
I enjoyed the author's Where'd You Go Bernadette? I was hoping for another entertaining read, but was disappointed. The main character, Eleanor, was self-centered and obnoxious, a doctor's wife taking poetry lessons, pretending to be friends with someone she criticized behind their back, and begrudging time spent with her young son. The plot was all over the place, between learning about her estranged sister, her dysfunctional childhood, her husband's mysterious secret, and her life in Seattle as a former animator. My impression of this novel was that it tried too hard to be funny, but wasn't.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews34.1k followers
November 3, 2016
Everything starts out promising.....on the FIRST PAGE.....then it's a little roller coaster ride -- the dips -- and the highs.
Our narrator tells us "Today will be different".... she will look people in the eye, play with her son, initiate sex, ( with her husband I'm presuming), won't swear, improve her hygiene habits, radiate calm, smile, and be the best person she can be.
The very next page says "THE TRICK" hm? TRICK? Already I'm not sure where we are going.
The next 9 pages we learn how her old ways weren't working....things she felt irritable about, and lots of bitching about a woman named Sydney Madsen--a friend she hasn't been able to shake for ten years. We also learn her husband is named Joe. They moved from New York to Seattle 10 years ago. Her husband is a hand surgeon, and they have a son name Timby. ( very cute the way he gets his name: a standout

Moving right along... I'm still wondering if the narrator has a NAME. Well??? A reader wonders.
We meet new characters-( THEY HAVE NAMES) ... then comes "Shunk Hour", a poem? I was't 100% sure as it was marked over with corrections.
Silly me --I was supposed to know through osmosis-what everything was.

We learned that the narrator's father was an alcoholic. She says,
"One thing that happens when you have an alcoholic for a parent is you grow up the child of an alcoholic". She goes on for quite a while to let us know that no matter what accomplishments a child makes, the single most determining factor of the child's personality, is that their parent was an alcoholic.

I wasn't yet half way into this book-- but about 50 pages into it --WHILE HOME NURSING A SORE THROAT- THROBBING HEAD ACHE .. and overall yucky-sickies--- I realized I'm not laughing very much. ( a book I picked for happy healing) ha!
A few chuckles--
"Seahawks. Seahawks, Seahawks, Pope, Pope, Pope. A lady was setting out food for crows and her neighbors were pissed. Any of these could have driven Joe to despair. Or none."
"What a royal frustration!"
Yep......"Royal Frustration"...was how I was feeling so far.
HOPE...is on its way... the BOOK CAN ONLY IMPROVE!
Followed by ........ ta-da: our narrator has a name! FINALLY!!! "Eleanor Flood" ---
We not only get more background information about Eleanor, but we get colored pictures. Photos of her with teddy bears, and dogs, and the family doing dishes. For a special treat we get a map of her neighborhood.
I must be honest..... I did start laughing during this part, ( during photo show and tell), but remember I'm sick, and I'm hoping to laugh.
I'm afraid I'm laughing 'at' this book more than authentically 'with' it....at this point.

In this section my heart opened more. We learn Eleanor has a sister....
many mixed emotions about their discord. It's sad.... tender with guilty feelings -it's all very complicated.

The storytelling continues to feel more genuine. Things are making sense - of her life as an animator of the cartoon "Looper Wash", of her chaotic personality, her vulnerability, her hostility, her usage of sarcasm, her shame, and her desire to
"Be different".

I started to feel really sad --- yet felt a shift coming


Very moving......I felt the sensation of teary-ness. .....and feelings of love ----
regardless of what got solved and what didn't.

3.5. It would have been easy to give up on this book after about the first 25% ....
but then.. we begin to see insights -- so --- I didn't like it all -- but by the end...I was actually feeling a range of emotions. I 'grew' into this story and liked the parts I liked.

Profile Image for Emily B.
426 reviews421 followers
July 13, 2021
I think I enjoyed this book more so because it was the next book I read after reading a very long bleak novel. As a result, although there were some flaws in the plot I hugely appreciated the main characters quirky personality

(I also enjoyed this novel more than Where'd You Go, Bernadette.)
Profile Image for Jill.
1,168 reviews1,642 followers
July 18, 2016
Forget about Where’d You Go, Bernadette. On second thought, don’t forget about it. There are certain similarities: the Seattle setting, the razor-sharp wisecracks, the punchy humor, the precocious child and the mother who is barely holding onto her sanity, the poignancy of the message, even old documents as a devise to uncover a troubled past.

Yes, Maria Semple has gone back to the well in her new novel. Yet the book is so darn enjoyable that it’s hard not to fall in love with it. From the very first page, I was hooked – and remained so every step of the way.

Eleanor Flood is the renowned animator of a popular cartoon called Looper Wash – a New York transplant in Seattle, where she lives with her husband (a hand surgeon for the Seahawks) and her wise-beyond-his-years third-grade son Timby (his name might have been Timothy, but the iPhone autocorrected it). She is also the survivor of a chaotic childhood (actress mother who died early and alcoholic father) and a sometime-student of poetry.

She is also an adherent of this philosophy: “The world will be hostile, it will be suspicious of your intent, it will flatter you into self-sabotage…What the world is, more than anything? It’s indifferent.” Yet Eleanor, despite herself, fights against this indifference. And often, she holds a mirror up to our own wishes and hypocrisies.

Who among us hasn’t had at least one friend in our lifetime that we don’t like but haven’t been able to shake? Who hasn’t come face to face with a cringe-worthy who is stunted in his moral growth and distances others every time he opens his mouth? Who hasn’t come up against the PC police (Timby’s friend – a girl! -- eviscerates him for his H&M clothing that comes from a third-world sweatshop) or worried that our brains are turning to mush? And who hasn’t used “tricks” to conceal our insecurities and attain more admiration and love?

The thing is, Maria Semple gets it – this thing called life. With the one exception of a secondary plot about husband Joe’s long-held secret (rather over the top), this is a book that masters the impossible trick of being witty and achingly sincere at the same time. As an added bonus, there several pages of cartoons from Eleanor’s graphic novel, The Flood Girls (transporting us into her world so we can attest to her talent). It’s a book for any reader who is striven to become one’s best self despite the odds. In short, it’s a book for everyone. Thank you, Little Brown, for sending an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,544 followers
October 31, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

Eleanor has decided that today will be different. Basically that amounts to she will try hard not to suck so much at life. But life is a real PITA so things go every way except for as planned. Instead of behaving like a well-rounded, functioning adult today Eleanor will have to deal with a missing husband (who has told the office he’s on vacation), a “sick” kid who has used the bellyache excuse to get out of school numerous times in the past couple of weeks, a book deal that maybe isn’t a reality any longer, and if that’s not reminder enough that she’s sort of a big fail, she’ll also dredge up some memories from the past when she’s “triggered” by a keychain bearing the name Delphine. Today will be different for sure . . . . .

I’m not sure exactly who will love this book. I’ll be the first to admit it was no Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, but luckily it wasn’t a This One Is Mine either. Maria Semple most definitely has a unique sense of humor, and if you don’t share it you probably won’t like this one much. However, if you appreciated Semple’s writing style when she worked on a certain little show with a huge cult following . . . .

And don’t mind a story that is 100% over the top that doesn’t slow down for even a second in order to catch its breath, this might be for you.

Today Will Be Different was the equivalent of a “beachy read” to me. It was pure, zany, nonsensical fun. Maria Semple writes me characters I can totally get on board with. Like Eleanor who lives in a world surrounded by these kinds of moms . . . .

But doesn’t swallow the B.S. they attempt to force down everyone’s throats . . . .

“You should be suspicious of someone so eager to make friends, because it probably means she doesn’t have any.”

Preach, girl. Be it little league parents or GR members, if someone is trying too hard I want absolutely ZERO to do with them.

Her approach to parenting was done with an all-too-true spin as well . . .

“You don’t have to be wild about me too. Just try to like me a little more than you do now.”

And speaking of being a parent, Semple did something that hardly any author has been able to do – she wrote a little kid that I didn’t want to punch in the face . . . .

“Daddy’s been going somewhere without telling Mommy so she got the keys to his car.” Alonzo looked back and forth between Timby and me.

“Since she hit her head, she’s been making bad choices.”

I mean, I haven’t enjoyed hearing what a child had to say so much since this kid appeared in my life . . . .

Bottom line is, today might not be different . . . . but there’s always tomorrow . . . .

Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,766 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 24, 2017
It took one glass of wine and 12 pages for me to realize I couldn't go the distance here. I adored Where Did You Go, Bernadette, but this feels like snark, not satire. I'm not in the mood.
Profile Image for Rincey.
786 reviews4,587 followers
October 1, 2016
This book is kind of clunky and with all of the flashbacks, I felt like I was constantly having to get my bearings in this book. But it is a quick read, still has that Maria Semple wit, and has a lot more heart than I was expecting.
Profile Image for Aaron Hartzler.
Author 5 books422 followers
September 15, 2016
I read this book twice in a row: the first time weeping with laughter and slack-jawed in wonder; the second time so I could try to figure out Maria Semple does it.

I didn't. I think she was just born with a gift.

For fans of Bernadette: get ready for your new favorite book.

For fans of blazing wit, bottomless empathy, and the kind of side-blinding observations about art and life with which true literary fiction can smack one upside the head: read all three Semple books.

(Especially the first one, which received no buzz, but is one of my favorite L.A. stories of all time.)
Profile Image for Cindy Burnett (Thoughts from a Page).
565 reviews979 followers
November 29, 2016

Today Will Be Different is an interesting read. Semple’s last book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, was laugh-out-loud funny and very entertaining. I was hoping that Today Will Be Different would be the same. While it is entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny it is not. There are certainly some funny parts, such as her child being named Timby because her iPhone corrected Timothy to Timby and it stuck (my iPhone is constantly correcting things I meant to type to random, bizarre words that make no sense so I could certainly relate to that). I also love the concussion app that Timby found when he was worried his mother Eleanor had a concussion – every five minutes it randomly asks a new question meant to check a person’s alertness. These questions were interjected at odd and usually comical times.

I found the book fairly sad and wished that some of Eleanor’s issues had been resolved more, particularly one she has with a family member. I was glad I read today Will Be Different, but Where’d You Go, Bernadette remains my favorite by far.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books550 followers
August 28, 2017
Where'd You Go Bernadette was one of my favorites last year, so my expectations for Today Will Be Different were admittedly quite high, which may be the reason I felt more disappointed than I would have had this been written by another author. The story revolves around Eleanor who is married to Joe, a surgeon, and the mother of Timby. They live in Seattle, which Eleanor doesn't seem to like all that much - in fact, she doesn't seem to like anything much. That is where the problem arose for me. In a way, the style of this book, even the plot is not very different from Where'd You Go Bernadette, but in the latter, I cared about the characters, and their moodiness felt understandable. I could sympathize with the sad points as well as laugh at the funny ones. In this book, however, the main character is just plain unlikeable. That would be okay, not five stars probably, but I can get something out of even such a book. Unfortunately, I found the plot very slow and uneventful, and the revelation that could have rounded out Eleanor's character came much too late for me to care a whole lot.
That being said, Semple's writing and observations are clever and well-done. I am definitely not giving up on this author, I was just a little underwhelmed. Then again, I wonder whether I would have felt the same had I read this book before Bernadette (or would I not have felt compelled to read Bernadette at all then?)
Anyway . . . not a bad book, but sadly not what I was hoping for either.

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Megan Hoffman.
174 reviews279 followers
February 4, 2018
Bernadette, how I long for thee. You were so good and I didn't appreciate you enough. I wanted this book by the same author to compare and here I am disappointed. Not because it's necessarily a bad book - not at all - but because I held my hopes entirely too high.

Today Will Be Different starts out well. It's funny, endearing, totally real, and charming in a quirky way - everything good in a saturday morning read. But as the pages flipped on, I found myself more and more lost, wondering "what really is the point here?" Which, as I write that I'm thinking...maybe THAT'S the point. So, you see, it's convoluted.

I didn't dislike this story. It's about a woman who's life has been so caught up in her work, her relationships, her being a mother, that she's lost grasp on other areas of her life. It's understandable and relatable in a way we don't always want to admit - but we've all been there and thus feel a certain kinship to the characters. Where it lost me was the timeline. Holy geez was it all over the place. Sometimes I'd start a chapter only to halfway through realize this wasn't a flashback after all. Time to start over and gain new insight, I guess.

What did I think?: Just because I wasn't a huge fan doesn't mean it's not perfectly enjoyable. It's being adapted for an HBO show after all, so it's packed with charm. It just didn't resonate with me at the time.

Who should read it? Anyone that likes books that are light, quirky, and feel slightly disjointed but together enough to make sense in the end. If you're looking for the next Where'd You Go, Bernadette....eh, I'd still probably say give this a chance. It's just cute enough to maybe be what you're looking for.

Profile Image for AdiTurbo.
704 reviews79 followers
October 21, 2016
DNF. Really wanted to like this book, but it's a mess. The premise is brilliant - all Western women, I bet, start their days with the resolution to do everything right this time, and to have a perfect day, which is a sure fail, of course. But Semple didn't really know what to do with her great idea. She mixes in irrelevant characters, uninteresting and even bizarre plotlines, and her protagonist is not a real woman, not to mention her very strange son. The only interesting and human character in this book is the husband, but unfortunately we don't get enough of him or of what is actually going on with him. The writing is simply bad, and in a weird style which made it hard to follow. Semple is talented and super-intelligent, but I'll be saving my time for her next novel.
Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews319 followers
November 14, 2016
So far I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or overindulgent. I'm very happy about this. But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed. And from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help.--My Morning Mantra

Eleanor, the heroine of this little tale, starts out her day on a similar note vowing that today will be different and while it is, it definitely doesn’t go the way she planned. It’s a madcap adventure of a day that often results in screwball comedy, yet the phrase that keeps rolling around as I try to sum up my thoughts is, I lost the plot. It’s an oft used British phrase describing when one has lost the ability to understand or cope with what is happening, except in this case, it is both literal AND metaphorical.

There is a framework of a plot, but in structure and voice, elements seemed incompatible and the feeling of disjointedness made for a somewhat bewildering read. The narrative voice of our heroine is snarky, the best part for me, also slightly neurotic, which I can also relate to, but rather uncongenial as well, which is much harder to endure. But the thorny part is that the voice jumps from first person to third person narration for the main event and then back again which lends to this feeling of confusion.

My favorite parts involved Timby, Eleanor’s wise beyond his years child and sidekick throughout this wacky day. He is both clever and innocent dolling out commentary and coping mechanisms like a school age guru. There is a running joke with a concussion app that made me laugh out loud. And while the third person narration of the events that led to a family fissure was disconcerting, the story telling in this section was still absorbing.

All in all, when this book is good, it’s quite good. When it’s not, it leaves you pining for what made the previous parts so endearing. I can’t recommend or dissuade on this one, for fans of Bernadette (like me), it’s worth it for the moments of comedic brilliance and the hope that maybe tomorrow will be different and Maria Semple will find a way to give us more of the good parts.
Profile Image for Retired Reader.
124 reviews47 followers
September 26, 2017
A rather strange book...I'd call it "stream of consciousness" writing. It had some funny moments, especially the scenes involving her son, Timby. I got a little confused at times but got back on track pretty quickly. Overall, not bad. The narrator was great!
Profile Image for Stef Rozitis.
1,458 reviews70 followers
October 13, 2016
I don't believe it. Today won't be different. No day will be different for the selfishly privileged people trapped in the individualism and consumerist blindness within the pages of this book. That's harsh considering I was given the book for free from giveaways (for which I am grateful-ish and which made me give it one more star than I feel like). Because of this, and because m own writing was recently criticised harshly I had planned to be positive but the book didn't give me much to work with there.

Firstly a couple of things that are probably not the author's fault. Firstly, it is not a suitable book to be marketed away from home. It is very closetted in a narrow world-view that belongs in Seattle and is not relatable anywhere else as far as I know (definitely not in Australia). I would overlook this given I was mailed the book free (a kindness on one level) except that I went to a bookshop this week and this book was being heavily pushed there. So given the target-market this is something the editor or author probably should have addressed (as authors from here get asked to modify things for your market). Because of this I am not sure if things in the book are factually wrong (people who are "nearly fifty" having been abused by nuns in a catholic school...what did Vatican II happen a generation later in America or is this an anachronism?)

The second thing is the way this "Bernadette" book is promoted on the cover (both sides) it appears the author had a tremendous success with a previous book and this book is attempting to coast in on the wake of that success. I can't blame her then for the superior tone of "everything I write will automatically be gold" because I think success gets us all that way and authors are only human. But this is something the editor/s should have picked up on. The self-satisfied tone is one thing, but the sloppiness is another. At first I thought it was deliberate, the voice of a dysfunctional person but there were nonsensical POV shifts (POV shifts are not bad in themselves but need to be managed better and make sense in the context of the book) and the main narrators border-line hysteria and untrustworthiness made it a difficult ride.

At first I thought the heteronormative world view (women need husbands and are fulfilled and defined by them) and the "love you no matter what" (control freak Joe who claims he pays "for all this circus" gets portrayed as somehow good and desirable) was one of the "problems" of the narrative, along with the superficiality, lack of relationship and consumer driven capitalist lifestyle of Eleanor and her dysfunctional family. Nope.

Then I figured maybe it was a book about mental illness, post-traumatic stress and even though how wealthy this family was made them essentially unrelatable maybe I ould redeem something from that.

Nope again.

The microaggressions started, making fun of inclusivity and gender-queerness in a way that was almost insightful, but ultimately mocking. The "asshole" classist, racist, misogynist who was nevertheless so well liked...and the uncritical acceptance that all his servants are black and that he employs black musicians who have to play OUTSIDE (oh the symbolic violence) and that is accepted with a shrug of "it takes all kinds"...ironic given the anti-diversity rant later on pp219-220. But you know all of that classist and passively racist stuff is part of consumerism (as is Timby's gender identity) which makes them ok. Because divergence is fine so long as it is about individualism, but not if there is actual politics involved (see pp219-220 again as well as the ending).

The ending is unsatisfactory because something that could be life-changing and "radical" gets the "Radical" label while essentially being yet another individualist lifestyle "choice" for consumers to use as a way of avoiding real self-reflection and depth. What is the life of this family really for? For "meaning" that they can feel within themselves. Early on in the book Eleanor reflects that Joe is decent and respectable and exactly what the Catholic church tried to make him. Maybe different countries have different Catholic churches, but in most of the world the Catholic church (for all it's flaws at the institutional level) is a church of the working-class, of grass-roots activism and dogged commitment to social justice. Comfortable middle-class respectability is the hallmark of many Christian churches but not really something Catholics could claim even if they wanted to.

Joe's rational hatred of religion is over the top and the "feel good" stuff about religion in the book equally misses the point. In this way religion is (uncritically, in fact approvingly) reduced again to what Marx called "the opium of the masses". Despite being wealthier than most of the world I think Eleanor, Joe and Timby are "the masses" they seem to exist only to consume and to "feel good".

I am honestly sorry I couldn't like better than this a book about an adult survivor of a parent's alcoholism. It is interesting to me that Eleanor's mourning in the book is for lost relationships with her mother and sister and yet she does not relate to any female character (Joe "my man" p253, Timby, Alonzo, Spencer). There is Sydney of course but Eleanor hates and scorns her (perhaps with reason). There are the chorus of mothers and feminised father/s that she also fails to relate to. I find this hard to believe. Surely she would gravitate toward relationships with women?

But no, because she "bought" a man, a good man. p268 and he "pays" for her and the entire circus. We have entered here a hell of white picket fences and individualised conformity. And I just wish any part of the book seemed even a little bit aware of how fucked up that is! But the snideness like "the trick" is turned outward, a way of manufacturing our consent to the mind-prison by recruiting us to help gild the bars.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,743 reviews2,268 followers
April 6, 2017
A number of things typically factor in on how much we like / love or dislike / intensely dislike a book; if we’re brokenhearted about a personal event, losing someone dear to us, or if we’re busy and easily distracted, worrying about outside factors, if it’s too hot or too cold or we don’t feel well. And then sometimes we read a book by an author we’ve read before and our expectations are high based on our affections for a former book we enjoyed.

It’s been a while since I received a copy of Maria Semple’s “Today Will Be Different”, a gift from my brother who sends me books every year now. He’d also sent me her previous novel “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” which I’d enjoyed immensely a few years ago. It wasn’t an
ohmygosh had to tell all my friends about it, but rather a surprise. A testament to the fact that the right kind of book at the right time can be surprisingly good. I did not have the same experience with the story of Eleanor Flood, her husband Joe and their son Timby. Timby, so named when the autocorrect on her phone changed Timothy, the decided upon name, to Timby. She couldn’t resist this hand of “fate” and so they named their son Timby.

Husband Joe is a world-famous hand surgeon, called upon frequently as the best in the business to operate on hands holding on tightly to their rich and famous lifestyles. Eleanor is an animator, one who is supposed to be working on a book for which she has received an advance eight years ago, but she hasn’t worked on it in ages, if ever. Timby is a precocious kid who should be in school, but seems to prefer hanging out with his mom and driving her to the point of distraction (the job of most kids) where she hands him her purse and flees, leaving him with a man she barely knows.

The tone of the narration, in general, is a bit on the sarcastically snappish, the story wanders back and forth through time, missing her sister who is no longer in her life, a dictate, more or less, from the brother-in-law who wants them out of the picture, then back to her husband Joe, or Timby or something else, someone else. Following Eleanor’s somewhat neurotic thoughts through one day was exhausting, and I began wondering if somewhere I missed where the plot went off course, or if I’d somehow skipped some essential pieces.

”Because the other way wasn’t working. The waking up just to get the day over with until it was time for bed. The grinding it out was a disgrace, an affront to the honor and long shot of being alive at all. The ghost-walking, the short-tempered distraction, the hurried fog. (All of this I’m just assuming, because I have no idea how I come across, my consciousness is that underground, like a toad in winter.) The leaving the world a worse place just by being in it. The blindness to the destruction in my wake.”

What I enjoyed: Timby. He’s charming and funny in the way that only a child can be, still innocent and trusting, but also precociously clever. There’s a scene with a concussion app where Timby asks her the questions every five minutes to make sure she answers each correctly or else she’ll need to go to the hospital – it’s sweetly amusing.

”That was happiness. Not the framed greatest hits, but the moments between.”

This one day, where she reminisces back over years, projects about future years and tries to remain present with her son tagging along while she tries to figure out where her husband has gone, and maybe with whom, has faults, but isn’t without some appeal.

”If underneath anger was fear, then underneath fear was love. Everything came down to the terror of losing what you love.”

There are plenty of moments in this novel which are charming, sweet, amusing, and there are some that don’t live up to those moments. Leaving me to wonder: Where’d You Go, Maria Semple?
Profile Image for Madeline.
775 reviews47k followers
November 1, 2018
“Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. Today I’ll play a board game with Timby. I’ll initiate sex with Joe. Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend. Today I won’t swear. I won’t talk about money. Today there will be an ease about me. My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile. Today I will radiate calm. Kindness and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I’m capable of being. Today will be different.”

Today Will be Different is, I think, an improvement on Maria Semple’s breakout hit, Where’d You Go, Bernadette. We have to same type of lead character – a Portland housewife with some form of anxiety/manic-depressive/bipolar disorder who is doing the best she can in strange and stressful circumstances. But where Bernadette started to tear at the seams thanks to its unsustainable format of “everything in the book is a letter or email written by one of the characters”, Today Will Be Different has a much more straightforward narration – in this one, we’re simply following the title character through one very strange, very stressful day in her life.

The action starts when Eleanor visits her husband’s office and learns two things: first, her husband has not been to work in over a week; and the office staff thinks that she’s already aware of this. From then on, Eleanor has one mission: find her husband, and find out what he’s been doing while she assumed he was at work. Along the way she gets into what I’ll refer to as sidequests, involving her son, their dog, Eleanor’s poetry teacher, and a former friend.

The action clips along at a quick and engaging pace, and Eleanor’s particular brand of manic, forced cheeriness despite an impending breakdown makes her a delightful and very relatable narrator. (Bonus points to the audiobook reader, who delivers Eleanor’s narration in a cadence that reminded me a lot of Maria Bamford’s standup. Less awesome is the way she voices Eleanor’s son, giving the kid an adnoid-stuffed whine of a voice that made me wonder why Eleanor doesn’t just scream at him to shut up every time he bleats out another petulant MOOOOOOOMMMMMM.)

The only reason this book loses points is, I freely admit, a stupid and petty reason. But I maintain that it’s justified. Semi spoilers (in that they describe what happens at the end of the book but won’t ruin the central mystery of the story) to follow:

Anyway, my point is that the entire ending of the book was completely ruined by what I thought was an accidentally dropped plot point, and it was such a distraction that I can’t really tell you exactly what happens at the end of Today Will Be Different. Four stars for the main story, one star for that terribly-executed conclusion.
Profile Image for Christine Zibas.
382 reviews37 followers
October 19, 2016
While many of the reviewers of Today Will Be Different have compared this book to Semple's earlier work Where'd You Go, Bernadette (often unfavorably, at that), this is the first Semple book I'd experienced. It was pure pleasure for me.

Some have complained that the main character Eleanor was mean, but I found her to be merely snarky, often justifiably so. The author's often painfully insightful reflections on the publishing industry rang true. (While Eleanor was busy ignoring her book, her editor became a cheese saleswoman and her agent a New Age homeopath...yes, recent years have proven some rough times for the book business).

Also cringe-worthy but brutally reflective of real life is Eleanor's encounter with a former coworker, once a real underachiever, now turned famous artist. So many things life seems to dole out, but fairness is rarely one of them. Then there's her poet/instructor who's forced to work at Costco, pushing seafood "steaks" on unwitting customers.

These insights are filled out with the current day's dilemmas -- a child faking illness due to bullying and a missing husband -- as well as with the larger issues of what happened in Eleanor's childhood and in particular, her estrangement from her sister. All of this is accompanied by a wonderfully funny take on life and its mishaps.

This is one of those books that's easy to read and over before you notice, leaving you wanting more of Semple's great writing.

Thanks to Little, Brown and Good Reads for allowing me to read the advanced reader's copy of this book.
Profile Image for Caro the Helmet Lady.
763 reviews344 followers
May 28, 2018
This book = first world problems + rich people problems + quirky-quirkiness + crazy-craziness + 1% o'Jesus. I know it's a very simplified review, but it's in the mood of the book, so don't pout. The most important thing here is HOW, then WHAT, then WTF. If you can stand how, then what only gets better with every page. Or not. I guess I was in the right mood for this book, because I almost absolutely loved it, as much as I loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette and couldn't put it down through all of my weekend. Almost, because the ending, well... let's say it didn't convince me.
Check it out anyway, the good thing about this book is that you may notice if you like it or hate it right after you begin the reading.
Profile Image for Denise.
661 reviews59 followers
February 6, 2017
I love Maria Semple. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, but there are so many passages in her writing that I can relate to. Those moments that make you go, "YES - I'm so glad someone finally put that into words for me!" She seems to do that for me in every one of her books. Here are a few gems from this one:

“There’s a phenomenon I call the Helpless Traveler. If you’re traveling with someone who’s confident, organized, and decisive you become the Helpless Traveler: “Are we there yet?” “My bags are too heavy.” “My feet are getting blisters.” “This isn’t what I ordered.” We’ve all been that person. But if the person you’re traveling with is helpless, then you become the one able to decipher train schedules, spend five hours walking on marble museum floors without complaint, order fearlessly from foreign menus, and haggle with crooked cabdrivers. Every person has it in him to be either the Competent Traveler or the Helpless Traveler. Because Joe is so clearheaded and sharp, I’ve been able to go through life as the Helpless Traveler. Which, now that I think about it, might not be such a good thing.”

“You know how your brain turns to mush? How it starts when you’re pregnant? You laugh, full of wonder and conspiracy, and you chide yourself, Me and my pregnancy brain! Then you give birth and your brain doesn’t return? But you’re breast-feeding, so you laugh, as if you’re a member of an exclusive club? Me and my nursing brain! But then you stop nursing and the terrible truth descends: Your good brain is never coming back. You’ve traded vocabulary, lucidity, and memory for motherhood. You know how you’re in the middle of a sentence and you realize at the end you’re going to need to call up a certain word and you’re worried you won’t be able to, but you’re already committed so you hurtle along and then pause because you’ve arrived at the end but the word hasn’t? And it’s not even a ten-dollar word you’re after, like polemic or shibboleth, but a two-dollar word, like distinctive, so you just end up saying amazing? Which is how you join the gang of nitwits who describe everything as amazing.”

“That was happiness. Not the framed greatest hits, but the moments between.”
― Maria Semple, Today Will Be Different

By the way, that passage on motherhood and brain cells? It was....amazing.
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