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Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,105 ratings  ·  465 reviews
An entirely original portrait of a young writer shutting out the din in order to find her own voice

On April 11, 1931, Virginia Woolf ended her entry in A Writer’s Diary with the words “too much and not the mood.” She was describing how tired she was of correcting her own writing, of the “cramming in and the cutting out” to please other readers, wondering if she had anythin
Paperback, 221 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by FSG Originals
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
On April 11, 1931, Virginia Woolf ended her entry in A Writer’s Diary with the words “too much and not the mood.” She was describing how tired she was of correcting her own writing, of the “cramming in and the cutting out” to please other readers, wondering if she had anything at all that was truly worth saying.

The character of that sentiment, the attitude of it, inspired Durga Chew-Bose to write and collect her own work. The result is a lyrical and piercingly insightful collection of essays and
there are some books that make you feel like you're going through a slump, and some that make you want to take your time and savour it. Too Much and Not the Mood was the latter. it took me a long time to read it, but every few sentences i wanted to pause and reconsider my life. truly a gem.

full review to come!!
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
My experience reading this (particularly Heart Museum, the first and longest essay) was a little like listening to a new album for the first time: I would either snag on a sentence and read it on repeat or I'd plow ahead and let the writing wash over me, see what feelings it inspired while intending to go back and revisit particular sections. The rest of the essays I read in one weekend and found easier to grasp. I also had read some of them when they were published in Buzzfeed (etc.) originally ...more
Alok Vaid-Menon
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Exemplary, moving, and deeply resonant -- in content and composition. I find myself returning to bask and stretch in this exquisite prose time and time again.
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Too much nonsense and I wasn't in the mood. This florid, contrived style of writing really didn't work for me. I bet that many intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals will go bananas for this, but I am neither. I'm just a crab who likes books, and I did not like this one. ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south-asia
durga chew-bose made me cry, forty-five minutes into a flight from marseille to new york. i was leaving one home for another, leaving my french host family depuis quatre mois (or, my french grandparents as i began referring to them, who had just the night before read my farewell card out loud at the dinner table with such unexpected sincerity and warmth) for my real family. y'all, the way she writes about family...

these essays ended up unraveling the knot that had been building right below my t
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, essays
Among the best personal essays I've ever read. I took photos of at least fifteen pages to send to friends in the first chapter before realizing I'd just have to buy them copies instead. ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, 2017
some devastatingly profound and beautiful writing, but some navel-gazing too pretentious and self-absorbed to bear (nook people???!?!?!?)
3.75/5. A mixed bag for me. Some essays I adored (I underlined so many passages in Part of a Greater Pattern, D As In, Since Living Alone and Tan Lines and I do think this collection is worth reading for those ones alone), some essays I thought were a little jumbled (the first one, Heart Museum, in particular, which I actually read last because I couldn't get into it the first time) and some very short ones I feel like I just didn't fully understand (Idea of Marriage, for example). ...more
Michael Livingston
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Personal essays, filled with digressions and tangents - the first (and longest) essay set me back on my heels a bit, but I eventually got into the rhythm of the language and let all the twists and turns was over me.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a wonderful writer and a rare talent. I found a lot to love about these essays, but they didn’t quite connect with me emotionally the way other collections have done. More to come once I’ve considered my thoughts more carefully.
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mostly self-absorbed and rambling with a few gems of insight.
chantel nouseforaname
I can't even explain this writer's writing style. It's otherworldly.

Heart Museum makes me want to give this book 5 stars. It was the best piece of writing, almost stream of consciousness, kind of like ethereal, super in your head. I couldn't get enough of it. She makes the simple, extraordinary, and the extraordinary, out of this universe. Her passions, need for solitude, need for connection, her regrets, description of spaces, like a porch, sisterhood, her description of women and our ability
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
It took me three years to finally read this book, and I'm glad I gave it time and actually finished it. While some essays were more polished than others, I couldn't stop thinking about Durga's writing. Perhaps because of the insane amount of talent and potential she has. I look foward to reading more from her. ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved the first (longer) essay - really lovely writing and really interesting ideas and links. The other essays, while still really good, weren't as stand out. Am super interested in reading more by Durga and would recommend this to people. ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
durga........ how do you know me so well
Apr 24, 2019 added it
this book spoke to my heart
Caiti S
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A meandering, profound, and poetic journey through Chew-Bose's feelings on family, identity, home, and art. Her style of writing *will not* be for everyone, but I was pretty entranced (although it took forever to read because, possibly intentionally, it took me on many mental tangents and nostalgia trips of my own). It made me want to write my heart out, but also, not write ever again--because why bother when this exists? ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
one word review: overhyped
the author definitely has a way with words, though i'm unsure if this book epitomizes the creative process as much as it seems to demonstrate her ability to live seemingly free from the constraints most people live with, dare i say quite amazingly privileged... call me unconvinced of her skills, yet... she does plenty of hipster-doofus namedropping and listing off, in varying degrees of "look how cool i am!" the movies, artwork, music, and books she has "experienced"...
Stephanie Josine
May 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book reads like a stream of consciousness - random, flitting, unfiltered, and often unintelligible. I didn't find the comforting relatability in it promised by the rave reviews, just an abundance of confidence on the part of the author to write and publish all the random contents of her head with little regard for form, readability, or storytelling. I had to skip through Heart Museum because it was so supremely irritating and self-indulgent. Other pieces in the collection were not as aliena ...more
Liina Bachmann
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Definitely a book for the girls who want to be like "it girls" - cool but not trying. Modern, a bit dreamy, maybe a bit privileged and very very self-centred. She can write but I would be more interested in what she has to say if she has been kicked around by life a bit more. I did underline, there are some sentences and metaphors that were truly original and fresh. But it felt somehow raw. If you do plan to read it don't be intimidated by the first essay - I read half of it and then skipped it ...more
Rivka Yeker
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Durga Chew-Bose is hyper perceptive and writes about life through the intersection of intellectual prose and poetry. Through the lens of a first generation daughter of immigrants, every thing she encounters is an additional hypothesis to theorize on, each moment of experience provides context her nuanced, complicated and beautiful life. This book left me astounded and inspired, and reignited my passion for discovering meaning in every crevice this life has to offer.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know something so messy could be so devastatingly perfect and absurdly beautiful. ...more
Cole McCarthy
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I tried to like this book, and for the most part did. However, did I enjoy reading it? No, not particularly. Did I love it? Absolutely not. I was expecting (and that's my mistake) this book to be 'life changing,' or at the very least moving, but it was neither. At times, the content is very relatable and / or beautifully stated but for the most part it was scattered. For every sentence I thought 'STUNNING,' were 7+ I thought 'WHAT (and I can't stress this enough) THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?!?' I unde ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've followed Durga Chew-Bose's work (& instagram) for a while now, so before reading this I had a sense of what to expect. But whilst reading the first essay, there were multiple times where I reread a certain line or paragraph, shocked by how tenderly and specifically she was able to convey a certain feeling. The first essay - over 100 pages, I think, and seemingly all new writing - was beautiful. I think that essay alone is worth the rest of the book.

The rest of the essays were good, too. Som
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent read and has ALL my love. Thanks for the rec, Yash!
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
this book was special. the grasp of language to express what is ultimately incommunicable and make it resonate so fully.... astonishing. the tenderness, the amount of heart on each page, astounding. i read this and had that moment that is so rare: “when i grow up, i want to write like this.”
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: america, india, canada
Exactly what stream of consciousness should NOT be.
Not every feeling needs to be a metaphor, Durga.

For example -

"Watching this woman mechanically tie her hair was softly enormous"

"There's an understanding that my grandfather would have liked me. Loved me, sure. But liking is altogether different. It's gentle. Almost chewy. Liking someone is taffy."

"[On growing up with sisters] Not learning how to join. You were already part of something. You could be a crowd. You
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up

A beautifully written collection of personal essays. The first one was super long and tangential - it began with Durga's thoughts on the love hotel emoji - but once I got into the swing of things I found this book hard to put down. I think my enjoyment came from reading this at the right time, as I was in the mood (ha) for some well written essays, and I think this is worth picking up for the writing alone. One to watch for sure!
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I took such a long break but this was fantastic cover to cover. ...more
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Durga Chew-Bose is a Montreal-born writer. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Hazlitt, Filmmaker, The New Inquiry, and The Guardian, among other publications. She is the author of Too Much and Not the Mood.

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