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The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars
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The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  108 reviews

From “one of the most emotionally exacting, mercilessly candid, deeply funny, and intellectually rigorous writers of our time” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild) comes a seminal new book that reaches surprising truths about feminism, the Trump era, and the Resistance movement. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Gallery Books
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  555 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book, much like "Coddling of the American Mind" or Katie Herzog's twitter feed (where I first heard of the book) is the sort of thing that I need to read under the cover, when no one is looking. Reading it is a bit like watching pornography, in that I feel like I'm enjoying the comfort of my baser urges, rather than trying to expand my mind or improving myself as a person. It is the sort of book that I am hesitant to read, out of fear that it it will encourage me to give into those baser ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, essays, one-star
I'm a few years younger than Meghan Daum. Not many; I'm still Generation X. I want my generational credentials known, so that my objections to this book cannot be characterized as millennial snowflake gripes. If you were to ask me, I'd have my own issues with some of the areas she raises. I've read Daum's essays before and enjoyed them; she continues to have a good, conversational style, and I don't mind the personal navel gazing portions of her essays.

I knew I was in for a treat when right in
Lee Klein
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm about a year younger than the author, attended an equivalent (possibly even more PC) liberal arts college, also used to drive a 20+-year-old Volvo, and my first concert was Laurie Anderson (the song "Excellent Birds" with Peter Gabriel is mentioned a few times) at the Beacon Theater with my mom, who raved about this and bought it for me for Xmas. I really appreciated, first of all, how well Daum writes, how the sentences fly across and down the pages, how she's intelligent and amusing ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book of essays by Meghan Daum that I've read, and I liked it even more than The Unspeakable. Its subject is the post-Trump strain of feminism to which American women these days are expected to subscribe and which since late 2016 has lauded at various points silly things like pussy hats (when I first heard of these, my reaction was, "Really?") and not-so-silly things (Daum relates the story of a male graduate student who was reported for sexual misconduct due to an incident he ...more
Octavia (ReadsWithDogs)
Wtf is this bullshit?!

"Feminism has achieved many of it's goals"

Oh really?

I don't really understand why this book needed to be written, but it's just her babbling her opinions that flip flop and how she's so cool for having these unpopular opinions.

This book should have been a Twitter rant that the author hates so much.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I keep re-writing this review. I think that shows just how fraught these topics are and how scary it is to imagine being misunderstood on these topics. I keep imagining people reading this review and thinking that I hold regressive or anti-feminist views. I want to hedge hedge hedge, as if any of that will matter. It's probably my longest book review on Goodreads. At times, I feel inclined to overshare extremely personal stories about my own traumas to show that I know that "being tough" is not ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I’ll be honest: I loved Daum when I was younger. Lately, she’s had some takes that I don’t love. But I wanted to read this....I skimmed much of it because after the first few chapters, I just couldn’t stomach the tone of this anymore. I guess I should have expected it, given the title of the book - but the condescension and derision were just too much.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5* doesn't mean this is perfect, nor the best essays ever, nor that it didn't read like solipsism on occasion. But much more often it made me want to jump off my couch, scream Yasss!, and pump-fist like an Oscar recipient decrying some slight to deafening applause. Meghan Daum's achievement isn't that she found new insights--I think, or hope, that many more see things similarly without letting on--but that she put them in, well, near perfect prose. It's about time.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-nonfiction
Meghan Daum's The Problem with Everything is a mess, but at least it knows it. The book opens with back-to-back apologetic messages, one a letter from Gallery Books's Aimée Bell and the other the introduction by Daum, that serve to strap you in for the ride. Daum's intention was to write a pure critique of modern feminism, with the election of Hillary Clinton as the jumping-off point, but Donald Trump's surprise win, along with a few surprise developments in Daum's personal life, threw the ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meanderings of a middle-aged cynic or the musings of a voice of reason? My vote goes to the latter, though I'm sure the millennials and Gen Ys that inspired this book already have a fatwa on Meghan Daum's life...or maybe they simply consider her and her viewpoints completely irrelevant, unworthy of outrage, a relevant question that she ponders near the end of the book.

So, at the risk of sounding stodgy myself, I'm fucking SICK TO DEATH of what amounts to blanket condemnation of entire groups of
Lori Rees
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I agree with the author and think our level of outrage, “cancel culture”, and how the patriarchy is blamed for a number of problems, when it’s difficult to make a logical connection, is perplexing.

Daum talks about how women are reverting to victimhood when it's unnecessary and unwise to do so. If certain men so bad, but don't have the power to diminish us, why are feminists punching down instead of up?

I recently listened to a LARB Radio Hour podcast— September 6, 2019 episode— and a question
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Daum is a powerful thinker and writer - this memoir / cultural commentary comes squarely from her experience as a Generation Xer. Daum writes in the foreword that the book took a long time to finalize, and I almost feel that way writing this review! While I didn't always agree with her thoughts, I'm an Oregon Trail generation person (in between X and Millennials) so it made a lot of sense. And I definitely agreed that there is a problem with everything, and we must tease it apart in order to ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I love a good essay or two about virtue signalling. Like most books of essays I read (which isn't many), I felt this could have been condensed.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
I understand and respect the attempt to introduce nuance into our thoroughly degraded politics but alas, Daum isn’t up to the task despite believing stridently in her own intellectual rigor. She conflates “the left” and liberalism, decries generational dissonance in an alarmingly ahistorical way, makes wild (and incorrect) claims that some people -like Ben Shapiro!- contribute real value to our discourse, takes shots at those who adored Coates’ popular book while ignoring his far more essential ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I know the woke will hate it but I liked it a lot. I think it helps that I am Daum’s age and lived through the same times.
Kayla Mckinney
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for allowing me to read this ARC!

"In a free society, everyone, regardless of gender, or any other identification, is free to be a manipulative, narcissistic, emotionally destructive asshole." That doesn't sound like good news, but it turns out to be a refreshing call for fair treatment across gender lines.

Meghan Daum's "The Problem with Everything" was one of the strangest and most enlightening reading experiences I've had all year. The book begins in
Abby Morton
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. I agree with her on so many levels, and it feels subversive.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this four stars primarily for Daum's courage in writing this book, not as much for the outcome/execution. She will surely get enough nasty mail without me piling on. She does something in public I am probably not alone in pondering in private -- question some of the touchy cultural issues surrounding the #MeToo movement and beyond.
I don't always agree with her take. (Xx: I like pussy hats - they add a much-needed element of humor/sarcasm/irreverence and diversity to the women's
Jenny Muller
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given an advance copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read everything Meghan Daum writes, and have been a fan of her writing for more than 20 years. She often displays insights into the human condition that I'm so glad to be exposed to. So I was eager to read her tract on the oversimplified, overdichotomized social and political landscape of today, I agree wholeheartedly with her criticism that there is a lack of nuance in the beliefs that we liberals feel
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I struggled with this. I like Daum’s honesty and penchant for self-reflection. The problem with, if not everything, then long chunks of this book is that wit and self-deprecation aren’t nearly enough to make me sense she’s truly considered the arguments of the other side. As a fellow Gen Xer and a lesbian, I also don’t remember the ‘70s to be as liberating for girls as she makes them out to be. Sure, Jody Foster and Kristy McNichol were on our TV screens, but let’s look at who they were allowed ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I absolutely adore Meghan Daum. I devoured her columns in the LA Times for years, and I always felt rewarded by her evenhanded yet no less liberal take on a number of issues. And this book is doubly rewarding for the same reason: it's a book-length treat to her way of thinking on what I'm going to call the zeitgeist of the 21st century liberal movement. Various thinkers on the left, though not thinkers in the mainstream so far as I can tell, call for the same sort of self-policing that she does. ...more
This book has drawn some heat, so in order to properly review it, it might be wise to pop on some boxing gloves. That would make it pretty hard to type, though, so I’ll forge ahead without.

I picked up this book because I fear the progressive left has become a bastion of intolerance. I see entire generations of people screaming into an echo chamber and proudly thinking they’re effecting some kind of meaningful change in the world. I hear insults hurled at anyone who doesn’t subscribe entirely and
Renee Reynolds
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I've never been more afraid of writing a book. I've never been more certain I had to." With that proclamation, Ms. Daum opens this critique of modern culture's most alarming problems: social-media induced attaboys and echo chambers, cancel culture that cancels free speech, fourth-wave feminism that engages in inequitable one-sided gender bashing ("What about all the stereotypically female behaviors that can be equally toxic?," asks Daum?). You can see why she was afraid to write this book.

Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book in one sitting. It was compelling because it reminded me so strongly of conversations I’ve had with friends. Though many of those conversations have been with Gen Xers, I’m 19, which makes the central premise thin for me. Is it really a generational difference when two teenagers can sit down and have the same rant together? Much of this book was almost like comfort food to me: I appreciate Daum’s ongoing insistence on nuance and her refusal to join the ranks of those who don’t ...more
Laura Jordan
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While there are certainly things I find myself cringing over (Jordan Peterson, really? The South Park guys? C'mon, Meghan...), I find myself in solid agreement with her assertion that the problem we're all facing isn't necessarily that people aren't thinking the right way, but that we're not really thinking at all. Are all so in love with the idea of moral clarity (and lost to any kind of nuance) that all we want to do is bellow at other people for not seeing things exactly as we do?

"I am
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I needed this book. Daum questions our current culture of outrage and the lack of nuance and complexity in our discourse. She's a Gen Xer, like me, which makes it more fun, admittedly. She reflects on the Gen X value for toughness (not, in fact, indifference) and the Millennial value for fairness. She warns us not to assign "The Patriarchy" more power than it really has. She gallops through all sorts of topics and asks questions which are truly refreshing to hear someone ask.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am a big Meghan Daum fan -- I've loved everything she's written until this, which I found a bit half-baked. I agree with Daum about some things, especially her observation that people are perpetually performing their wokeness. But isn't that better than people not being woke at all? And aren't people just generally performing EVERYTHING, especially on social media?

It just didn't feel to me like this book needed to be written. Like Daum I'm a Gen-Xer, though younger than her by a few years.
John Back
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A refreshingly self-aware analysis of contemporary liberal feminist thought. I have a good friend who hated it, though.
Elizabeth Jackson
Jan 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
I have always really liked Megan Daum but this book is nonsense.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
Intellectually confused and the writing of another pseudo-"liberal" listening to the right and be objective. Annoying in terms of writing and generally uses strawmen to make her arguments. Sometimes a kernel of truth to them, but usually wildly off point. If I could give it less than one star, I would.
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Meghan Daum is the author of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a personal chronicle of real estate addiction and obsessive fascination with houses, as well as the novel The Quality of Life Report and the essay collection My Misspent Youth. Since 2005 she has written a weekly column for The Los Angeles Times, which appears on the op-ed page every Thursday. She has contributed to ...more
“If you called for nuance, you were part of the problem.” 0 likes
“If there's anything I've learned in twenty-five years, it's that the more honest you are about what you think, the more you sit in solitude with your own thoughts.” 0 likes
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