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Today Will Be Different

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  62,335 ratings  ·  7,672 reviews
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 dr
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
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Kristina Don't buy it. Borrow it. I loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette and while there are some similarities, I hated this book with a passion. The characters ar…moreDon't buy it. Borrow it. I loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette and while there are some similarities, I hated this book with a passion. The characters are more a collection of quirky personality traits, not a whole lot happens and the ending is contrived and artificial. This book has completely turned me off from reading Maria Semple again.(less)
Adriana Arbogast There is not one sympathetic, true character in this book. I wanted to choke Eleanor. Her flighty, overwhelmed persona was not cute, it was ridiculous…moreThere is not one sympathetic, true character in this book. I wanted to choke Eleanor. Her flighty, overwhelmed persona was not cute, it was ridiculous. I hit my 100 page threshold and quit. (less)

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Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
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 sha
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, ...more
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
"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 .
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 ca
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 ‘B
Jessica Jeffers
Oct 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
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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/hat
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 Seatt
Jun 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
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 a ...more
Elyse  Walters
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ol
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 f
Emily B
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.)
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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 ti
Julie Christine
Feb 23, 2017 marked it as dnf
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. ...more
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
Aaron Hartzler
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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,
Cindy Burnett
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it

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 s
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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. I ...more
Megan Johnson
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 re
Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Oct 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Retired Reader
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! ...more
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 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 Mari
Stef Rozitis
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 ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
“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. Toda ...more
Christine Zibas
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 edit
Caro the Helmet Lady
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 m ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
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:
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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 Ange

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“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. My God, I’m making it sound so glamorous and personal! What the world is, more than anything? It’s indifferent.”
“Say amen to that,” Spencer said.
“But you have a vision. You put a frame around it. You sign your name anyway. That’s the risk. That’s the leap. That’s the madness: thinking anyone’s going to care.”
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