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What If This Were Enough?

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  863 ratings  ·  121 reviews
By the author of the New York Times Love and Relationships bestseller How to Be a Person in the World, an impassioned and inspiring collection about the expectations of modern life and the sweet imperfections of the everyday.

Heather Havrilesky's writing has been called "whip-smart and profanely funny" (Entertainment Weekly) and "required reading for all humans" (Celeste N
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Doubleday Books
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  863 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Kristy K
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2018, essays, netgalley
3.5 Stars

Havrilesky’s aptly named book of essays examines and critiques materialism, consumption, and our obsession with consumerism and the pursuit of happiness. Pulling largely from pop culture and current trends and fads, she delves into the world of foodies, 50 Shades, Disneyland, The Sopranos, romance, and so much more. Each essay is strong in their own right and collectively they make a small tome that packs a punch and causes one to examine their own lust for such things.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Heather Havrilesky is an advice columnist and also known for her previous memoir, How to be a Person in the World.

The essays are a mixture of advice for living and pop culture, sometimes in strange combinations. (One compares Selin in The Idiot by Elif Batuman to Mozart, which I didn't really think worked all that well, and I've read a lot about Mozart and loved The Idiot.) As per usual with this kind of book, some of it didn't interest me at all (often pop culture type essays of things I haven
David Yoon
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I've been a fan of Heather Havrilesky since the prehistoric days of the internet when she was writing for An ancient past when my pre-work routine would consist of reading long form stories called blogs, back when paragraphs weren't so intimidating. Thankfully our modern era, sensitive to our time constraints, has since concentrated my mornings to scrolling memes, instagram pics and 140 character tweets.

Heather is smart and acerbic and I love her voice - she writes like I imagine I on
DNF after a few chapters. I was willing to give this a chance after her weird library Twitter kerfuffle--I do generally like Ask Polly--but the first few essays were soo very "remember what it was like before we all used our PHONES so much?" that I felt free to just nope on out of this and return it to the library from whence it came.

the last essay I read before I quit was about how she used to be very grumpy about the concept of Disneyland because it's so fake, but then she took their kids the
Oct 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was so excited for this but in the end I couldn't even finish it. I felt like I got permission after the author's bizarre anti library comments on twitter. I get that wasn't the point she was trying to make, but much like this book, it came across convoluted, entitled, and annoying. I didn't even finish the last quarter, I couldn't do it.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
3.5 rounded up

An overall incredibly solid collection of essays, focusing mainly on pop culture (celebrity, tv, books and movies) and the author's life (mostly revolving around her family).

The pop culture essays remind me - at times - of the better essays in They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us. Havrilesky covers topics as wide ranging as The Sopranos, Elif Batuman's The Idiot, Girls, Entourage and Marie Kondo. While the essays were a little overly didactic at times I found myself enjoying and g
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Last night, after watching the first episode of Babylon Berlin, I fell asleep to the police scanner.

A spurned ex, also a sex offender, had abducted and blown a bullet through the brain of a University of Utah student and dumped her body in a parking lot.

I work at the University of Utah.

My brother goes to the University, and texted me the alerts from New Orleans.

Heather Havrilesky understands this cultural moment — the way that, at its worst, we can pipe in our worst nightmares directly to our fr
Angela Pineda
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars that I’ll round up because it takes A LOT for me to give a book one star.

Reading this I wondered if essay books aren’t for me since this is the second one this year I’ve immensely disliked.. but then I remembered how much I loved “Not That Bad” by Roxanne Gay and I realized that this book is just bad.

The author sounds entitled and elitist. She was also really annoying.

I read this book because it was my book club’s November pick. My library didn’t have it so I paid $16 on Amazon. This
James (JD) Dittes
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books of 2018 by a brilliant American woman.

I found so much to like in this book. I even ended up re-reading three or four chapters out loud to my wife, who was similarly impressed. There is much that is quotable, and even more that is insightful.

Considering the intellectual firepower she's working with, Havrilesky is remarkably down-to-earth here, relating embarrassing anecdotes from her marriage and past, along with many references to pop culture. I have been reading Ha
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, essays
Over the past few days, I've been reading the new collection of Heather Havrilesky's essays, What If This Were Enough?

It's a subject I've talked about before here, the tension between sufficiency and lack. With the rise of Marie Kondo's tidying-up empire, it seems like everything is about asking whether the things in your life spark joy, and to unload them if they don't. Not a bad thing entirely, in our consumption-driven world. After all, if you've read as much 19th century literature as I have
Lisa Carr
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nothing is beyond scrutiny in this book. Some of it I was ready to let go of -Disneyland chaos, 50 Shades of Grey twistedness. But Havrilesky also challenges our infatuations with Marie Kondo, Mad Men, the Pioneer Woman, and foodie culture. Uh oh. And yet, I hear her. I need her perspective, her honest truths. And I find myself proud of some of my choices after reading “Bravado” in which she challenges our insatiable appetite for instagram likes with the more satisfying faith in oneself, faith i ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help, philosophy
This book is truly delightful. It is a series of stand-alone essays. At first, they seem a bit repetitive, but over the course of the book they branch out a bit. The overarching theme is that our society is organized into a superficially sunny facade, which is also built on the message that rather than enjoying what is, we always need to be reaching for what could be.

This is required by the capitalist economy, because if we believed that what we have is enough, then it would be hard to sell us
Jessie Hausmann
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
While I really enjoyed Heather Havrilesky's last book of essays, this one left me scratching my head as to what the point of these essays was supposed to be. The book's jacket informs us that many of the essays have been expanded, so that might be the first major problem, as many of these essays go on too long and often deviate from the main topic.

The title of this book led me to believe the essays would be focusing on being more appreciative of the things we have, yet most of it is made up of
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this collection of essays to be well written. This would be great for fans of the authors column.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
Lexi Wright
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I was two-thirds done with my library copy, when I found a sizable crumb in the gutter as if it were some potent marginalia. I thought, "Thank god someone else has read this."

Reading this felt like holding a mirror up to my face and finally feeling at peace with the muddle looking back.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I “discovered” Heather Havrilesky through her “Ask Polly” column in The Cut. Her new book of essays, What If This Were Enough?, displays the same smart, thoughtful perspective that makes “Ask Polly” so compelling.

As a unifying thread, Havrilesky explores the cultural messages that regularly infiltrate our lives. These include some—say, for example, the sub-movements related to food—that may seem to be in our best interests, but that have other, less salutary, implications. She tackles topics fro
"Havrilesky takes on those cultural forces that shape us" but she has no idea libraries are under siege?

This is why Trump won, Heather.

Don't worry, I won't get your book at the library. Because I'm not buying it, period.
Christopher Farnsworth
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading this collection of Heather Havrilesky's essays, I had the same feeling as when I read Carolyn See's MAKING HISTORY or when I first heard Patton Oswalt. I saw someone saying what I thought and felt, but expressing it better than I ever had, or could.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
everything cheerful seems to have an ominous shadow looming behind it now. the smallest images and bits of news can feel so invasive, so frightening. they erode our belief in what the world can and should be.
heather havrilesky's what if this were enough? collects 19 essays, mingling culture criticism and personal anecdote. with incisive insight and compassionate consideration, havrilesky confronts the insidiousness of our 21st century milieu. decrying the excesses of capitalism, materialism, a
Timothy Haggerty
Well worth the read.

I saw the title and I was sure I had to read it. I had been thinking about the same thing for a few days. I always wonder what it's all about. There are some very good insights and criticism at social media, TV and direction of our culture that rang true to this reader.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
A book about never being happy, satisfied, or willing to believe you are enough. For the author, Disney is depressing - but she goes to Disneyland. Romantic love is an illusion - but she’s married. This book is exhausting and full of grievances and I only survived three chapters. I’m reminded of Dennis Leary who said, “Nobody is happy. Happiness comes in small doses like a cigarette butt or a chocolate chip cookie or a five second orgasm.” Except here you can’t smoke, the cookie is stale, and th ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heather Havrilesky's collection of essays explores millennial culture in a way that did not make me roll my eyes. A lot of these essay topics I've seen before, particularly "Delusion at the Gastropub," about foodie culture (such a good title right?) but Havrilesky's take on them was refreshing and insightful. There was a fair amount of criticism and advice, but in a way that was much less condescending than Mark Greif's essay collection Against Everything. Greif's collection kept coming to mind ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Some of these essays are 4-5 stars and some I skipped completely (mostly because I don't watch TV, which features prominently in some).

This book of essays is worth dipping into and skipping around in. Wow, Havrilesky makes some powerful points about the speed at which we move and what our culture values. One of my favorites is towards the end when she has a searing condemnation of a bestselling self-help guru. She rips into him for promoting people being their best selves in a totally
Joe Hill
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I tried to slog thru another essay. You’d think I could easily sift thru one a day, but I am just not feeling it. Heather wrote this fantastic response in her Ask Polly column to someone asking if they should quit their day job to write a book. It was joyful and enthusiastic and there was some appropriate swearing. It was that positive even though her answer was ‘No.’

This collection of essays has this morose and cynical feel to it that makes me feel a little less hopeful. From the title, “What I
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Havrilesky is a brilliant critic & essayist. Reading this, I get the feeling that she's been through a lot of pressure, which gave shape to her opinions in this book. Her insistence that this moment is enough, in an age constantly demanding more of us (whether through personal social media branding or the endless quest for self-betterment) feels refreshing: it's nice to hear from a critic that we all need to take a damn breather and chill the fuck out. I especially appreciated her discussion ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
So, a few things, this lady is very smart and erudite and can make beautiful connections in America's moral decline linked to everything from Mad Men to self help gurus to exercise moms BUT she does say some insensitive things that make NO sense. Like "Having kids is like being in the first world living in the third world." Yes, ma'am, I am sure it sucks having great pre and post natal care, excellent doctors and facilities in which to birth your spawn but hey, who am I to say anything. I am jus ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The author's book of essays about pop culture and today's society and how we need to get some perspective on what is truly important.

As with most books of essays, there were some I liked and some I didn't. The things I took out of it could be summed up as: We don't need so much stuff. We don't need to buy so much stuff, or spend our lives trying to make the money to get so much stuff. Digital clutter focuses on stuff, and showing you things that make you think your life is pretty pathetic compar
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this because of the title and because I occasionally read Ask Polly columns. I think the theme of this collection of essays is really interesting and worthwhile, but I'm not sure if the individual essays really struck that chord with me. There were a lot of passages I highlighted that really captured how I feel about life and the world, but there were also a lot of references to TV shows that I felt took me out of the pieces. Maybe it's because I haven't seen all the shows, or may ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 19, 2018 marked it as dnf
I can’t afford to buy this book, so I had to DNF it.
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HEATHER HAVRILESKY is the author of How to Be a Person in the World and the memoir Disaster Preparedness. She is a columnist for New York magazine, and has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and NPR's All Things Considered, among others. She was Salon's TV critic for seven years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a loud assortment of dependents, most ...more
“Many of us learn to construct a clear and precise vision of what we want, but we’re never taught how to enjoy what we actually have. There will always be more victories to strive for, more strangers to charm, more images to collect and pin to our vision boards. It’s hard to want what we have; it’s far easier to want everything in the world.” 4 likes
“More than anything else, we have to imagine a different kind of life, a different way of living. We have to reject the shiny, shallow future that will never come, and locate ourselves in the current, flawed moment. Despite what we've been taught, we are neither eternally blessed nor eternally damned. We are blessed and damned and everything in between. Instead of toggling between victory and defeat, we have to learnt to live in the middle, in the gray area, where a real life can unfold in its own time. We have to breathe in reality instead of distracting ourselves around the clock. We have to open our eyes and our hearts to each other. We have to connect with what already is, who we already are, what we already have.” 1 likes
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