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True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,254 ratings  ·  159 reviews
“Wake up, Muffy. We’re back.”

From Lisa Birnbach, the author of The Official Preppy Handbook—and designer Chip Kidd—comes a whole new take on the prep world that Birnbach turned into an international best-selling phenomenon thirty years ago.

True Prep
is a contemporary look at how the old guard of natural-fiber-loving, dog-worshipping, G&T-soaked preppies adapt to the new or
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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 ·  1,254 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Dearest Lisa,

Did the trust fund run out? Did Mummy and Daddy cut you off? Why else would you follow up "The Preppy Handbook" with this poseur of a book called "True Prep?"

Your brilliance shone in your clever, tongue-in-cheek satire of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) world that you wrote about in 1980. Your Jewish perspective gave you a special vantage point to view "preppies" in their element when you attended Brown. You came, you saw, you wrote famously about their nicknames, picking t
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
If I could give this book 10 stars, I would, if only because the Classy Closet, my consignment shop only a block away from my house in Evanston, is one of the two shops listed as *the* place to go for thrifted vintage prep gear in Illinois. No wonder Emmanuel, the owner of the Classy Closet, has True Prep displayed in his store. As a side note, I have run into Emmanuel at the Rich People Salvation Army twice now when I pop in there on my way home from work. He still gives me grief over me findin ...more
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
First book I read on my new Kindle (thank you, too kind in-laws) because I knew it would have some diagrams and I wanted to see what images looked like on the gray screen (they look great, by the way). Very funny book, and I learned something about myself: my husband and I are preppies. We both have educational backgrounds/careers in fields that have nothing to do with money or the greater economy around us, and are both tied to higher education. As Birnbach says, "Any job that has a vaguely hel ...more
The Official Preppy Handbook came out in 1980 and changed my life. Everything that I think I know about appearing calm, cool and collected I learned from that book. That book explained away the apparent contradictions between possessing wealth and consuming Triscuits, and persuaded me not to throw out my grandfather's hand-me-down cashmere topcoat even when it got a little worn at the sleeves.

This book, Lisa Birnbach's reboot of the original insanely lucrative and mind-bogglingly influential fra
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
At some point, probably at a garage sale in the mid-1980's, I stumbled across a copy of Lisa Birnbach's original send up of WASP culture The Preppy Handbook. And being in my early teens and having no concept of satire, I took it completely and totally seriously. I aspired to have a lobster trap for a coffee table, begged my parents to let me go to Exeter, wanted to wear nothing but ribbon belts and headbands.

Years rolled by, my life wandered betwixt the preppy and the less preppy. Nevertheless
Nov 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book is more than disappointing. It's an embarrassing attempt to be inclusive and updated. Ironically, of course, a real "true prep" would never update! This sad sequel suffers from an utter lack of clarity and cohesiveness, shrouded in product-placement overload (enough with the Tory Burch, Lis). The original is a classic for a reason. Stick with that. True Prep is pretty pathetic. ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Lisa Birnbach's "Official Preppy Handbook" (1980) was a national best-seller, despite being a repository of in-jokes for East Coast old-money country club members. Since it's out of print and reaps a fortune on eBay, the publisher roped Birnbach into writing a 2011 version; "True Prep" revives the lists, maps, charts and goofy photo shoots of the original.

Too bad it's unfunny and insular to yacht clubs. How odd that a book about contemporary preppy culture could utterly ignore the wild populari
Jan 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
I cherished my paperback copy of "The Preppy Handbook", reading and re-reading it over and over in the early 80s...sharing it with friends and even adopting one of the required nicknames. Hey, I was a tween, what can I say. So I had to take a look at this title and ouch, what a disappointment. Cluttered, boring and lacking in the magic of the original, this book seems to be slapdashed together in an effort to make a deadline. The text is way too small. One positive standout in the book is the "p ...more
Feb 16, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Remembering the original from my salad days, I got this one for Christmas. Cracked it open last night and was immediately disappointed. Initial impression was that it is smug, has too much attitude, and obnoxiously politically correct. Uncleverly tilting at the Prep windmills in this day and age. Selective reading of the rest did not improve this impression. I would hate to be at a dinner party with the authors, and I have heard at least one anecdote that would confirm this. I remember enjoying ...more
May 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
The original Official Preppy Handbook puts this one to shame.

Not funny, not catchy, takes itself too seriously and actually isn't a representation of "preps" at all.

Luckily my sister and I each have our own copy of the Official (before it was worth a fortune on Amazon). Thank God, and thank you mummy for being truly preppy before it was cool.

Sorry guys, Obama is not the new prep...
EZRead eBookstore
Jan 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: jenifer-reviews
Loaded with photographs, phone numbers, and other such colorful and classy decorations (good job, illustrator), I was initially very excited by “True Prep.” But like being force-fed banana cream pie, this book started delicious and ended up making me ill, confused, and pukey. I realized by the end of this guide that I, an impoverished Californian with an immigrant father, was Not Prep. In fact, everyone I knew in my life is Not Prep. In fact, I had never met anyone who was not (?) Not Prep. As s ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Quarter 3 Review

In todays culture, style is about everything. Some people even breath, sleep, live fashion. In particular, the preppy style, it is classic, clean, and especially fashionable. In the book True Prep: It’s A Whole New Old World, written by “Lisa Birnbach” is about of a coming of age story about the modern day life of preppies, and how they have changed from the past thirty years. True Prep brings you into the world of fashion, etiquette, and your family’s old money. It let’s you d
Kate H
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I give this book three stars because I really liked the original Preppy Handbook and I think Lisa Birnbach can be funny at times. I am afraid, preppies, that your days (of visibility at least) are numbered. There's plenty of money around, a lot of it new, but that's not what you're about.

In 1980, at the dawn of the Reagan era, preppies kind of came out of the closet. Before then, they did their thing, quietly, wherever they happened to be--at their summer place, in their blueblood workplace, in
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
This wasn't a Must Read book, except that when your life seems to be a blend between the Preppy Handbook and the JAP Handbook, well, this really was a Must Read.

The version I read was an ARC, and I really hope that the layout was not final because each page was crowded with text and photos, while the first Handbook had more white space. There were some typos (it's just Emma Willard School, no "the") and omissions (Vera Wang attended Professional Children's School, as did Yo-Yo Ma. George Hamilto
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
What child of the 70's did not know about THE OFFICIAL PREPPY HANDBOOK? It was my bible to be in the know about this sub-culture. I lived in Izod shirts and Sperry topsider shoes for years. Now Lisa Birnbach, doyen of the prep world, has an updated edition for the 2010's. Now that 30 years have passed since the preppy craze, this topic is not as fresh, nor as fashionable, which is a big obstacle for the reader. These character types seem not politically correct anymore (or funny) and I felt asha ...more
Nov 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
What a waste of reading time! I thought the first book was hysterical, and the Wall St Journal gave this a good review, so I gave it a shot. The book takes itself waaaayyyy too seriously, doesn't have the catchy diagrams (or as many pictures) as the first book, and now that the prep universe is more inclusive, a lot of the elitism is gone (not that I look for elitism in a book, but come on - it's the Preppy Handbook). Anyway, now that the club is pretty much open to anyone, it's a lot less inter ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I quite enjoyed it. A fun read with interesting anecdotes and enough substance for it to qualify as a book, but enough pictures to keep it interesting. Very clever.
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture
Somehow a little too politically correct to be as lighthearted as the first.
Una Rose
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
As a teen I was amused and delighted when I first read The Preppy Handbook. I thought this would be more of the same- older, more fashion conscious, more alcohol focused (if thats possible) but the same old preppy culture.

I read this book in a day and was reminded how mind numbing an in depth look at the preppy world can be. I blame the author for that. Its written in a humorous tone but its still quite a vortex. I'm sure most people would need a lobotomy to really enjoy the life and style LB d
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Seriously disappointing. Supposedly an 'update' of her first work, The Original Preppy Handbook (5 stars, satire, hilarious and witty), the author broke her own rule of 'prep doesn't need updating.' This one is forcedly PC and takes itself way too seriously. The layout is poor, the trend is largely toward European fashion (which, don't get my wrong, I quite enjoy in context, but sections on Prada and Hermes, really? It's stretching it to even fit those into Ivy, much less into Prep.) Birnbach is ...more
Not as useful as the original Preppy Handbook in terms of being filled with catalog suggestions and fashion guidelines (and thus not likely to cost me quite so much money, this is nonetheless a lovely, gently satirical, affectionate, charming update. Thirty years on, the Prep world in America is adapting itself to the new century while holding on to key values. Birnbach's "True Prep" is a re-assuring book about What Really Matters. (Contrast it with Peter York's nightmarish updating of the Sloan ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The introduction epigraph is, "Wake up, Muffy, we're back." Birnbach's older and forty years later (forty?!) is updating The Official Preppy Handbook. This one, like the other, is mildly satirical and a mildly amusing glimpse at prep culture. it's updated in that it now isn't just about straight WASPs, but includes just about everybody, including Jews and gays. Lots of name-dropping and cataloging and tongue-in-cheek (mostly) illustrations.

Not a book to read straight through, but glancing is fun
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read some reader reviews of this book and a lot of people seemed disappointed. I thought it was just as funny as the original and thoroughly enjoyed it. Totally LOL'ed at this passage on etiquette: "It is not entirely your fault if you've grown up in an etiquette wasteland. These days when you offer a sincere 'thank you,' you are apt to hear 'no prob' or 'sure' or worse, 'no worries.' Who was worried? Waiters or--here it is--waitpersons like to ask you if 'you're still working on that' salad/m ...more
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Okay. I'm preppy. I grew up on the East Coast and went to a private liberal arts college in Maine. I get it. And, I clearly like it, or I wouldn't have bought this book. I had LL Bean and J. Crew everything. I've been to the Hamptons. I have preppy cred, as it were.

However, this book is a manual on how to be elitist and ridiculous. It pokes a little, tiny bit of fun at the "prep" lifestyle, while ultimately defining it as wealthy WASP-ism that is smugly superior.

I will keep reading a few pages h
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, american
I read _The Official Preppy Handbook_ when I was about 12 and thought It was hilarious. It was irreverent and politically incorrect and full of fun. This sequel, in short, is not. It tries to touch on all the changes in the world over the last 30 years, and it is, frankly, a buzzkill. The funniest part about the original is that it was a little snippet of that late 70s world of privilege-- as seen by this one woman, in relation to the wider world. This one just isn't funny. Or maybe I'm just too ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it
I loved the original Preppy Handbook, so I was anxious to read this. And while I enjoyed it, it just wasn't as fun.

The main point was that it's been 30 years since the original, and the book was meant to reflect the changes since then. Frankly, some of them made be a bit depressed - has society declined so much? Apparently so.

This book won't be the classic the original was, as the too-frequent trendy pop references will date it.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Ugh, my eyes! Did the original have such tiny print? And the typos? Dear me.

Parts of this were a delight, others just wearing. A chapter on funeral etiquette without much humor or irony is really a downer. It went on a bit long, without updating some of my favorite parts of the original - specifically, preppiest bars and universities.

I did appreciate the takedown of faux-preppy Gossip Girl. I mean, I watch it, but still.
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
As a proud owner of The Official Prep Handbook after finding it in a used book shop, I was gifted True Prep from my 'bestie' from college. More reflective and ironic than the original, True Prep summarizes the realities of the Prep lifestyle and how ultimately every American has a bit of Prep in them. Definitely a good read on Americana pop culture and a good book to leave around for guests to keep them entertained. Prep generosity for sure. ...more
David Gray
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed being made fun of... While it is neither as "new" or as surprising as the Preppy Handbook from decades ago, this book has caught up, reminding us what we grew up to be (and worse, what we are likley to be in the future). If you can't laugh at yourself and your social status, then don't read this... unless you are in fact not a preppy in which case you canread this and make fun of us... ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was so nerdy. I guess there was a book like 30 years ago, a tongue and cheek look at preppy-ness and so much has changed since then! This book was just all about what makes people pretty, where do preps live, what they wear, where they go to school, how they talk, etc etc etc. Very tongue and cheek, especially from a west coasters point of view. Swap out prep for emo and you have the westside. A fun, easy read.
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