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Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over

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By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked herself what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked herself what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When she took a closer look at her wants, she noticed something that seemed very familiar -- with the addition of exclamation points, her list could easily be transformed into the cover lines on every women's magazine: Find the love you deserve! Paint to the rescue! Eggs-actly perfect meals! So Cathy gave over her life to the glossies for the next twelve months, resolving to follow their advice without question. By the end of her subscriptions, she would get rid of upper-arm jiggle, crawl out of debt, host the perfect dinner party, run a mile without puking, engage in better bathtub booty, ask for a raise, and rehaul her apartment. Well, at least that was the premise of her social experiment. What actually happened was much less about cosmetic change and much more about internal transformation. Singular in its voice and yet completely universal, Up for Renewal will appeal to all who have ever wondered if they could actually make their life over.


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By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked herself what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked herself what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When she took a closer look at her wants, she noticed something that seemed very familiar -- with the addition of exclamation points, her list could easily be transformed into the cover lines on every women's magazine: Find the love you deserve! Paint to the rescue! Eggs-actly perfect meals! So Cathy gave over her life to the glossies for the next twelve months, resolving to follow their advice without question. By the end of her subscriptions, she would get rid of upper-arm jiggle, crawl out of debt, host the perfect dinner party, run a mile without puking, engage in better bathtub booty, ask for a raise, and rehaul her apartment. Well, at least that was the premise of her social experiment. What actually happened was much less about cosmetic change and much more about internal transformation. Singular in its voice and yet completely universal, Up for Renewal will appeal to all who have ever wondered if they could actually make their life over.

30 review for Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over

  1. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    When I read the blurb about this book, I was excited and very interested in seeing what the author found out. By about the 2nd chapter, I was bored and tired of her and her views. The book's premise is that a woman who is recently divorce takes out 14 different subscriptions to popular magazines and follow the advice to change her life. I think that sounds like a great experiment. She starts out talking about her divorce and how she is having an affair with a co-worker that she hates in her offi When I read the blurb about this book, I was excited and very interested in seeing what the author found out. By about the 2nd chapter, I was bored and tired of her and her views. The book's premise is that a woman who is recently divorce takes out 14 different subscriptions to popular magazines and follow the advice to change her life. I think that sounds like a great experiment. She starts out talking about her divorce and how she is having an affair with a co-worker that she hates in her office...really in her office. The author talks about how her co-worker comes into her cubicle, exposes himself and they have sex on the desk. However, she doesn't relate that to anything in the book. I thought she would talk about how she change by reading in the magazines and now learned how to break that off or change it into a real relationship. She doesn't. It was just a story to either annoy or shock the reader. About halfway through the book, the author doesn't listen to the magazines anymore at all. At least in the first part of the book, she picked and chose what she listened to. Then she kinda quits. I just found this book to be like a series of magazine articles thrown together about her life. I didn't want a book about her life. I wanted to know about the experiment and did it work. Did it help? Or was it just totally stupid to pay attention to the magazines? Yes, I kinda already knew the answer but I chose this book because I wanted some kind of hard facts. I was just disappointed that I didn't get what the book promised. If I wouldn't have gotten this book for free from Amazon Vine then I never would have read it or finished it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lexi

    Dreadful self-absorbed nonsense. Good idea- Alter decided to take one year, and follow the advice in magazines to see if her life would improve. It did- and maybe dumbing the jerky boyfriend and learning to cook etc helped with that. What was annoying about it was that she never said how she could afford to spend Beauty Month trying all sorts of new makeups and spas, she never talked about how Clothing Month would devastate a normal person's budget, she never talked about how she could afford al Dreadful self-absorbed nonsense. Good idea- Alter decided to take one year, and follow the advice in magazines to see if her life would improve. It did- and maybe dumbing the jerky boyfriend and learning to cook etc helped with that. What was annoying about it was that she never said how she could afford to spend Beauty Month trying all sorts of new makeups and spas, she never talked about how Clothing Month would devastate a normal person's budget, she never talked about how she could afford all the new pots and pans that went into Cooking Month. Apparently, freelance writers make a lot more money than one could have guessed. I just kind of wanted to slap her silly, which isn't a great way to enjoy a book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    As those of you who breathlessly follow my Goodreads affairs (hello, imaginary friend Gavin) may be aware, I had put this in the "quit" pile, on the grounds that it was a gross misapplication of the One-Year Memoir genre and also that the author/heroine was intolerable. However, my husband, who declines to read things I recommend LIKE IT'S HIS JOB decided that this book, about a woman who tries to improve herself for a year using advice from Cosmo, Glamour, O, etc., was the one he'd like to spen As those of you who breathlessly follow my Goodreads affairs (hello, imaginary friend Gavin) may be aware, I had put this in the "quit" pile, on the grounds that it was a gross misapplication of the One-Year Memoir genre and also that the author/heroine was intolerable. However, my husband, who declines to read things I recommend LIKE IT'S HIS JOB decided that this book, about a woman who tries to improve herself for a year using advice from Cosmo, Glamour, O, etc., was the one he'd like to spend time with in the restroom and then discuss with me. So I read it from middle to end and then beginning to middle and here are some tips to take home: 1) Maybe it's not a dealbreaker if your much-younger boyfriend is slaveringly into motorcycles, like if he's really nice to you, but I think it probably is. 2) I don't know if being self-deprecating about being self-absorbed really works. Many have tried. 3) I find it slightly creepy when adults call their mothers Mommy. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 4) One-Year Memoirs are only funny if you go kind of overboard with your self-assigned task; Alter just goes overboard with being obnoxo. 5) This is the last time I will be sneakily reverse-psychologized into de-quitting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    This book gets two stars just for its premise and the author's willingness to follow through on the experiment and a half star for being occasionally amusing. But I'm rounding down on the half star because I found the writing, and writer, so irritating. This might have been an excellent 6,000-to-10,000-word magazine feature, though I know few mags would have been willing to publish something so likely to focus on their inherent flaws. What I perceived as the writer's flaws made reading the story This book gets two stars just for its premise and the author's willingness to follow through on the experiment and a half star for being occasionally amusing. But I'm rounding down on the half star because I found the writing, and writer, so irritating. This might have been an excellent 6,000-to-10,000-word magazine feature, though I know few mags would have been willing to publish something so likely to focus on their inherent flaws. What I perceived as the writer's flaws made reading the story difficult. Maybe if you know her you'll like her. But interspersed with her frequent crying, self-doubt, poor decision-making and general neuroses were references to her work as a reporter and writer -- and I didn't see that resume in this book. To be fair, I think she needed a better editor. The experiment -- turning one's life over to women's magazines for a year -- is a great idea, and her willingness to focus on and share her weaknesses is admirable. She also did have some light, amusing moments. But overall I wasn't impressed. And it's e-mail -- with a hyphen; the e stands for something.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    While the author was cute and likeable, the book just didn't work. I'm biased against women's magazines to start with, so I was interested in reading a somewhat objective account of following their guidance. Unfortunately, this book was more an homage to love than having anything to do with women's magazines, and it wasn't even that good of an homage. Great, I'm happy for you, but the book was a piece of fluff that was even more trivial and superficial than was to be expected (and let's face it, While the author was cute and likeable, the book just didn't work. I'm biased against women's magazines to start with, so I was interested in reading a somewhat objective account of following their guidance. Unfortunately, this book was more an homage to love than having anything to do with women's magazines, and it wasn't even that good of an homage. Great, I'm happy for you, but the book was a piece of fluff that was even more trivial and superficial than was to be expected (and let's face it, I was expecting an awful lot of superficiality!!!)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Early on the author chides women who, in the 1970s, wore mini-dresses not for themselves, but to attract men. Then, the rest of the book is how the author re-made herself from head to toe, both inside and out, to attract men. I don’t get it. I’d suggest “be yourself” and “be happy you’re healthy”.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jane Turner

    Cathy Alter worships the thing I love most in the world: Lady Mags. After a year-long odyssey, she goes from cubicle sex to self-respect and marriage to a Chew (half Chinese, half Jew) with the help of Cosmo, Self and Friends. "The fact of the matter was," she writes, "I did need to be better. And that's why I had found these magazines so surprisingly liberating." Her book acknowledges her debt to magazines, and renews the favor. Cathy Alter worships the thing I love most in the world: Lady Mags. After a year-long odyssey, she goes from cubicle sex to self-respect and marriage to a Chew (half Chinese, half Jew) with the help of Cosmo, Self and Friends. "The fact of the matter was," she writes, "I did need to be better. And that's why I had found these magazines so surprisingly liberating." Her book acknowledges her debt to magazines, and renews the favor.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    Up for Renewal was a charming book. Light-hearted and a quick-read. I would recommend it to any woman who grew up reading Cosmo, Glamour, etc. I think the part that was most amusing was any section that dealt with her mother-in-law who is Chinese. The dramatics of the mother struck close to home. :)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tayla

    This is a great summer read. Kind of alarmed that I subscribe to most of the magazines that the author chooses to help her makeover her life (or maybe that's a good thing...?). Love that it's an honest look at women's magazines and doesn't come down on them too heavily one way or another. This is a great summer read. Kind of alarmed that I subscribe to most of the magazines that the author chooses to help her makeover her life (or maybe that's a good thing...?). Love that it's an honest look at women's magazines and doesn't come down on them too heavily one way or another.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Sulik

    I loved this premise--living by magazine advice and seeing what happened--but the writer was a little annoying to me. She elevated her boyfriend/now husband so much, had no gratitude or respect for her day job and was rude about all her coworkers, and was very focused on how fabulous her friends were and how much they could spend. Also, I don't think referring to herself as Round Eye while in Hong Kong was okay nor was saying something about tiny people in Asia. I don't think that was acceptable I loved this premise--living by magazine advice and seeing what happened--but the writer was a little annoying to me. She elevated her boyfriend/now husband so much, had no gratitude or respect for her day job and was rude about all her coworkers, and was very focused on how fabulous her friends were and how much they could spend. Also, I don't think referring to herself as Round Eye while in Hong Kong was okay nor was saying something about tiny people in Asia. I don't think that was acceptable when this book was written, either, it's not a changing times issue. I could have done without hearing over and over how she is a size six without exercising or dieting but then called in a favor when she didn't tone up from two weeks of Pilates. Lastly, to be nearly 40 and have never chopped a garlic clove is baffling to me but maybe that is judgmental. Overall, a cool/interesting project kind of reminiscent of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, but poorly executed in my mind

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna Marsh

    I enjoyed the author’s humor and her journey in becoming more self confident.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    My Review of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over by Cathy Alter Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over is the delightful and intelligent account of the real life journey by Cathy Alter to see if in her late 30s she could change her life for the better. In a unique, witty approach, she examines the problems she faces and decides to try and conquer them by studying and following the directions found in the popular women’s My Review of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over by Cathy Alter Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over is the delightful and intelligent account of the real life journey by Cathy Alter to see if in her late 30s she could change her life for the better. In a unique, witty approach, she examines the problems she faces and decides to try and conquer them by studying and following the directions found in the popular women’s magazines that she and so many women subscribe to and revere. She committed to taking one year to follow the advice from magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour. She imagined that at the end of the year her physical, social, financial, work, home, and romantic aspects in her life would all come together to make her a new and happier woman. With what could be a light chick-lit type book, Alter instead adds characters from her real life that add just enough authenticity to the story to realize you aren’t reading a light “beach read”, but rather a woman’s journey into discovering herself and rebuilding her life. Alter’s reality includes her perfectionist mother and the intricate relationship they share, as well as a very close friend who is battling a serious illness. Of course, a serious younger man love interest, Karl, is included along with his domineering Chinese mother as well as her not too helpful psychiatrist. As Cathy Alter takes this year long journey, she discovers many things about herself. Gradually, Alter and the reader will begin to see that the magazines aren’t really what Cathy needed to make herself happy. An astute reader will also learn for themselves the same thing that the author did. She finds that anything in your life can be changed if you have made the decision to do it. Recognizing that you DO need to make changes in your life is half the battle and once that decision is made, half the battle is won. I found this book to be an enjoyable read and one that was entertaining as well as informative. I found myself nodding in agreement so many times as the discoveries, as well as the mistakes, Alter encountered. They were the same kind of things any of us can face and change with a positive attitude. Submitted by Karen Haney, August, 2008

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nataliia Kucher

    This is the great book with unpredictable moments but very actual problems. I love happy endings and I am really satisfied that I managed to proceed with it after the hard start and doubts about the sense of it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kasia

    I feel that it's easy to relate to Cathy in this novel, a woman who reads a lot of magazines to somehow learn all the mystical workings of the female world - how to look good, feel good and attract a good mate with some cooking and exercise tips involved. We all read magazines for various reasons, I enjoy the makeup and fashion the most alongside health magazines and subscribe to almost all the mags that Cathy has been reading herself but sometimes they lay around for months before I get to them I feel that it's easy to relate to Cathy in this novel, a woman who reads a lot of magazines to somehow learn all the mystical workings of the female world - how to look good, feel good and attract a good mate with some cooking and exercise tips involved. We all read magazines for various reasons, I enjoy the makeup and fashion the most alongside health magazines and subscribe to almost all the mags that Cathy has been reading herself but sometimes they lay around for months before I get to them but unlike the main heroine I do not treat them as my pillar of salvation. The book was light and fun, enjoyable with some really good moments that had me bursting out laughing, especially when the Cooking month was involved, at the end of the book, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the authors wit and humor, she's very skilled at suave jokes but also great at making the reader laugh with obvious things. Judging form the video on Amazons page this book was pretty autobiographical, the author clearly has written about experiences she had to deal with as she was ready for all kinds of change. I consider myself very blessed and lucky with all aspects of my life, but books such as this one give some hope to those who need a nudge or help with changing things for the better. The book was easy to read and a lot fun; I was always trying to find some time in my days to read it and will definitely read more of the authors work, she totally clicked with my idea of a relaxing time out reading until daily life required all of my attention back. - Kasia S.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kasia

    I feel that it's easy to relate to Cathy in this novel, a woman who reads a lot of magazines to somehow learn all the mystical workings of the female world - how to look good, feel good and attract a good mate with some cooking and exercise tips involved. We all read magazines for various reasons, I enjoy the makeup and fashion the most alongside health magazines and subscribe to almost all the mags that Cathy has been reading herself but sometimes they lay around for months before I get to them I feel that it's easy to relate to Cathy in this novel, a woman who reads a lot of magazines to somehow learn all the mystical workings of the female world - how to look good, feel good and attract a good mate with some cooking and exercise tips involved. We all read magazines for various reasons, I enjoy the makeup and fashion the most alongside health magazines and subscribe to almost all the mags that Cathy has been reading herself but sometimes they lay around for months before I get to them but unlike the main heroine I do not treat them as my pillar of salvation. The book was light and fun, enjoyable with some really good moments that had me bursting out laughing, especially when the Cooking month was involved, at the end of the book, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the authors wit and humor, she's very skilled at suave jokes but also great at making the reader laugh with obvious things. Judging form the video on Amazons page this book was pretty autobiographical, the author clearly has written about experiences she had to deal with as she was ready for all kinds of change. I consider myself very blessed and lucky with all aspects of my life, but books such as this one give some hope to those who need a nudge or help with changing things for the better. The book was easy to read and a lot fun; I was always trying to find some time in my days to read it and will definitely read more of the authors work, she totally clicked with my idea of a relaxing time out reading until daily life required all of my attention back. - Kasia S.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    This book is a memoir about the one year in the life of Cathy Alter. In the beginning of the book Cathy is a recently divorced, thirty nine year old who's life is out of control. She parties until all hours of the night, gets her lunch out of the vending machine at work and sleeps with her co-worker in her cubicle with no inhibitions. Standing in front of a magazine display, like the cover, she has an idea. What if, she lived her life for one year following the directions of magazines? Then, she This book is a memoir about the one year in the life of Cathy Alter. In the beginning of the book Cathy is a recently divorced, thirty nine year old who's life is out of control. She parties until all hours of the night, gets her lunch out of the vending machine at work and sleeps with her co-worker in her cubicle with no inhibitions. Standing in front of a magazine display, like the cover, she has an idea. What if, she lived her life for one year following the directions of magazines? Then, she does just that. Each month she has a new thing to work on. Month one, plastic wrap. This book is laugh out loud funny! I was giggling in front of my co-workers the whole time I read this book. When I started reading it, my first thought was, "What and idiot! Who would do this?" but you begin to realize that Cathy had hit rock bottom and if turning to magazines was going to help her out of that slump, great. I am sure that learning how to wrap a sandwich in plastic wrapped perfection might not turn your life around, it was the beginning of something big for Cathy. Cathy is each one of us. She is insecure and her own worst critic. She had made poor decisions in her life and she just might make a few mistakes today. But she is also sexy and funny and perky and willing to take risks. She is relate-able and by the end of the book you feel like you are saying goodbye to your new best friend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Women is on somewhat of a downward spiral and decides she needs to change some things about her life. Magazines are always trying to make you better, they must work if they continue to sell! For a year she puts all her confidence into magazines and abides by them to see what happens. It seems like I am hardly a chapter into this book when she meets her new boyfriend. She is a bit older then her current boy and has been married once before but within like 6 months, she is already hunting for the Women is on somewhat of a downward spiral and decides she needs to change some things about her life. Magazines are always trying to make you better, they must work if they continue to sell! For a year she puts all her confidence into magazines and abides by them to see what happens. It seems like I am hardly a chapter into this book when she meets her new boyfriend. She is a bit older then her current boy and has been married once before but within like 6 months, she is already hunting for the ring. It seemed so unlike the character we met at the very start of the book. She tries to tells us, that she isn't on the look out on getting married anytime soon, but it seems like anytime the boy bends down, she starts to shriek in her head with giddyness on what she thinks is coming. It finally does and the book seems to do a whole change. The magazines are hardly mentioned and it's all wedding all the time. I wanted to like the protag, but I just didn't at all. She was barely out out of one (miserable) marriage and it seemed like she couldn't wait to dive into the next! What I get from magazine covers is GIRL POWER! But I guess this author did not because even though she tried to say she wasn't on the look out for a new man, I got the total opposite impression. Yes, she was trying to find a "better" man then she was used to, but it felt too forced. Meh. I liked the writing, but not the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    *Book received through the Amazon Vine program* How many times have you been reading a magazine and read the various tips that are in there but never actually decide to do them? Well, "Up For Renewal" is a non-fiction book about a woman, Cathy Alter, who decides to read women's magazines (Glamour, Cosmo, Real Simple, etc.) and actually take the advice that these magazines give. At the beginning of the book, Cathy is not happy with how her life is going. She's sleeping with a co-worker at work and *Book received through the Amazon Vine program* How many times have you been reading a magazine and read the various tips that are in there but never actually decide to do them? Well, "Up For Renewal" is a non-fiction book about a woman, Cathy Alter, who decides to read women's magazines (Glamour, Cosmo, Real Simple, etc.) and actually take the advice that these magazines give. At the beginning of the book, Cathy is not happy with how her life is going. She's sleeping with a co-worker at work and is making questionable choices when it comes to her personal life. So she decides that for one year, each month, she will tackle something in her life that needs improving. I found this book to be quite easy to read. It kind of reads like a novel, I kept forgetting that this was not fiction. There was a lot of funny moments that happen in Cathy's quest for self-improvement that had me giggling a little. My favorite parts are whenever Cathy is with Karl, the man that she starts to date towards the beginning of the book. I enjoyed the part when Karl and Cathy went to go Hong Kong to visit his relatives. So I really enjoyed reading Cathy's journey and I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of chick-lit because even though it's not fiction, it was very much like reading a true life chick-lit novel. I also recommend it to readers of women's magazines. Maybe it will inspire someone to take up the same challenge.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester

    Cathy is a writer whose life was out of control. She was in her 40's, with a failed marriage and a slew of poor decisions and inappropriate men behind her. She decided what she really wanted and the list looked like what every women's magazine on the rack promised- "Find the love you deserve", "Perfect meals", "Paint to the rescue"... That's when she decided that for the next year she would follow the advice she could find in these magazines without question. And this is the book about the how, Cathy is a writer whose life was out of control. She was in her 40's, with a failed marriage and a slew of poor decisions and inappropriate men behind her. She decided what she really wanted and the list looked like what every women's magazine on the rack promised- "Find the love you deserve", "Perfect meals", "Paint to the rescue"... That's when she decided that for the next year she would follow the advice she could find in these magazines without question. And this is the book about the how, why and what happened during that year. And it was a hoot! A funny and unbelievable honest look at how Cathy met the challenges of changing her life around. Each month was a different challenge to tackle. Food, Clothing, Sex, Cooking it's all here. While all this change was going on she picked up a boyfriend and his mother to add to the mix and learned to deal with with those challenges as well with the flip of a page. Ultimately Cathy did question the validity of these articles and came to the realization that the magazine articles may be "the vehicle to her change (some months she thought it was an ambulance)" but it was really her that made the positive changes in her life. Pick up this book! You will not be disappointed! And you may get a few pointers to change your own life!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    If you were expecting a book outlining a 'scientific' experiment about whether or not magazines can change your life with a cut and dry ending, this book is for you. That said, I found this book thoroughly delightful as some light 'in-between' reading. Alter's neurosis proved more relatable to me than those outlined in other "Happiness" books, and her interactions with other characters are made more believable simply by how truly awkward they are at times. Alter never paints herself as the alrea If you were expecting a book outlining a 'scientific' experiment about whether or not magazines can change your life with a cut and dry ending, this book is for you. That said, I found this book thoroughly delightful as some light 'in-between' reading. Alter's neurosis proved more relatable to me than those outlined in other "Happiness" books, and her interactions with other characters are made more believable simply by how truly awkward they are at times. Alter never paints herself as the already successful, striving to meet perfection kind of character, but instead portrays herself as a woman who has found herself in a rut of bad decisions perpetuated not by an unfulfilled need for 'gold stars' in her life, but rather by the same slow downward spiral we have all accidentally found ourselves in at one point or another: "eating the contents of a vending machine for lunch", holding on to negative people in your life, etc. Refreshingly honest and at times cringe-worthy, this book does not deliver your typical 'happily ever after, I learned everything I needed to and fixed my life' sort of ending, but is an immensely satisfying read, nonetheless.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Here's how memorable this book is. I just finished it in the last 24 hours. And earlier today, I entered a few books--one of which I read last week--and never even thought, "isn't there something else I read?" I had completely forgotten it. And then once I remembered it, I couldn't recall the title. Or the author. Just, oh that book I finished quite recently and immediately forgot. So there you go. I think that tells you how I feel about this. It was pleasant, but innocuous--about like reading on Here's how memorable this book is. I just finished it in the last 24 hours. And earlier today, I entered a few books--one of which I read last week--and never even thought, "isn't there something else I read?" I had completely forgotten it. And then once I remembered it, I couldn't recall the title. Or the author. Just, oh that book I finished quite recently and immediately forgot. So there you go. I think that tells you how I feel about this. It was pleasant, but innocuous--about like reading one of the women's magazines that are the motivation for this book. Which was executed pretty weakly, I have to say. Supposedly it takes the author through a year in which she goes from being a trainwreck to a pretty successful happy person, all by reading women's magazines and focusing on one topic a month. But she's really going through the motions in that way--it's largely about her her her, and that's fine--there's this thin veneer about the magazines that seems a little forced and artificial.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Cathy Alter realized that her life was not going the way she wanted it to go, but didn't really know how to fix it. She was divorced and tended to date emotionally unavailable men, not to mention that her diet and exercise life were terrible as well. So, she decided to completely make over her life by adhering to the advice in a dozen women's magazines. Each month had a different focus: money, cooking, exercise, dating, sex, etc. As the year progressed so did Cathy, she began to see her life tak Cathy Alter realized that her life was not going the way she wanted it to go, but didn't really know how to fix it. She was divorced and tended to date emotionally unavailable men, not to mention that her diet and exercise life were terrible as well. So, she decided to completely make over her life by adhering to the advice in a dozen women's magazines. Each month had a different focus: money, cooking, exercise, dating, sex, etc. As the year progressed so did Cathy, she began to see her life taking a much better course. Overall, a pretty entertaining book and I also like that Cathy does not give the magazines all the credit, "...these women's magazines were just the vehicles (ambulances during some months) I took on the road to self-discovery. I was the one who was willing to put on the miles."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    When freelance writer Cathy Alter decides to spend a year following the advice found in the pages of 14 different womens' magazines, she finds some contentment, new skills and a fiance. A journey into improved nutrition begins with a lesson in how to correctly cling-wrap a sandwich so that it stays together in one's lunch bag (although, in today's environmentally aware environment, I do not know why Alter did not choose a reusable sandwich case and lunch box). That's just the beginning of a refr When freelance writer Cathy Alter decides to spend a year following the advice found in the pages of 14 different womens' magazines, she finds some contentment, new skills and a fiance. A journey into improved nutrition begins with a lesson in how to correctly cling-wrap a sandwich so that it stays together in one's lunch bag (although, in today's environmentally aware environment, I do not know why Alter did not choose a reusable sandwich case and lunch box). That's just the beginning of a refreshing and light-heartened memoir that examines both a woman starting over in the aftermath of divorce and the silliness of some women's magazines. In the end, I applauded Alter's decision to dump every magazine except one for which she had actually written. While she gets her "happily ever after," it really comes more from examining who she really is and what her goals are than from any "50 Ways to do Whatever" article read over the course of the year. Overall, a highly entertaining read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    In Up for Renewal, Cathy Alter’s life is a mess. At 39, she is divorced, has an unhealthy lifestyle of partying, and is even involved with 2 terribly inappropriate men. Her wake up call comes when a long time friend calls to tell her that she’s fallen too far to remain a close. Alter decides that something needs to change. Instead of turning to self-help gurus, Alter turns to the covers of women’s magazines. These magazines are full of self-improvement ads from getting into shape to looking grea In Up for Renewal, Cathy Alter’s life is a mess. At 39, she is divorced, has an unhealthy lifestyle of partying, and is even involved with 2 terribly inappropriate men. Her wake up call comes when a long time friend calls to tell her that she’s fallen too far to remain a close. Alter decides that something needs to change. Instead of turning to self-help gurus, Alter turns to the covers of women’s magazines. These magazines are full of self-improvement ads from getting into shape to looking great at a party to wowing your man with bedroom tricks. Her source of information might seem inanely shallow, but the resulting year of makeover produces real results. Alter’s namesake shows that all you need to start your personal transformation is the desire to begin somewhere, however humble. If you continue to progress, the beginning attempt to wrap a sandwich in plastic wrap can end you up in a happy, successful life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    When I picked up this book at a used book sale I was intrigued by the cover and title. I have read glossy women's magazines in the past but felt they never connected with my life. So I was curious to see what the author had to say. Alter's life was a mess and she decided to do an experiment for a year in which she followed the advice of women's magazines. Her early attempts are amusing--she struggles to wrap her sandwich in Saran-Wrap. Over the next couple of months she takes on bigger challenge When I picked up this book at a used book sale I was intrigued by the cover and title. I have read glossy women's magazines in the past but felt they never connected with my life. So I was curious to see what the author had to say. Alter's life was a mess and she decided to do an experiment for a year in which she followed the advice of women's magazines. Her early attempts are amusing--she struggles to wrap her sandwich in Saran-Wrap. Over the next couple of months she takes on bigger challenges--career, relationships, weight loss, etc. At first I found Alter to be really annoying and self-absorbed. But over time I started to admire her efforts to change her life. My only thought is that she should have read some food magazines to improve her cooking skills. A woman's fashion magazine is only going to give diet advice. There isn't any way to measure the success of the experiment but her life does improve.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    This was a fun, fast read. The author is witty, slightly neurotic, relatable, and doesn't take herself too seriously (at least on paper!) She has issues a lot of people share, and like a few other authors, she decides to address them in a slightly arbitrary but yet positive way: to take the advice of women's magazines for a year, focusing on a different topic for each month. I do wish she'd been a tiny bit more focused with that, really getting into each month's issue and how the various tidbits This was a fun, fast read. The author is witty, slightly neurotic, relatable, and doesn't take herself too seriously (at least on paper!) She has issues a lot of people share, and like a few other authors, she decides to address them in a slightly arbitrary but yet positive way: to take the advice of women's magazines for a year, focusing on a different topic for each month. I do wish she'd been a tiny bit more focused with that, really getting into each month's issue and how the various tidbits of advice she was following impacted that issue for her, but that likely would have slowed down the narrative a little. Funny friends and relative abound, and amusing anecdotes. Made me feel a little less alone in my own single, slightly neurotic life. And made me pick up Good Housekeeping in the doctor's office this morning instead of bringing a book like I normally do.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    When Cathy realizes her life is a complete mess and nothing is going right. She doesn’t know where to begin to fix it. When she makes a list of things she wants to be different, she realizes that with a little bit of editing, her desires could read like a magazine article. So she figured she had nothing left to lose by using a series of magazines to try and better her life. In this fun and funny romp, we follow Cathy as the tries to throw the perfect dinner party, rid herself of unwanted fat, bl When Cathy realizes her life is a complete mess and nothing is going right. She doesn’t know where to begin to fix it. When she makes a list of things she wants to be different, she realizes that with a little bit of editing, her desires could read like a magazine article. So she figured she had nothing left to lose by using a series of magazines to try and better her life. In this fun and funny romp, we follow Cathy as the tries to throw the perfect dinner party, rid herself of unwanted fat, blow his mind in bed (who he ends up being is a pleasant surprise rarely found in real life). I enjoyed this book because it doesn’t gloss over the reality of the fact that life is hard, messy and difficult to get right. While not always a perfect heroine, Cathy is very relatable and almost always funny and insightful. I think any woman (and some men) should give this book a try.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I am so glad this woman turned her life around as she was clearly in a bad state at the start of the book. I think it had more to do with her own willingness to change rather than the advice of magazines, which sometimes seemed to give her terrible advice. My biggest critique of the book is ... TMI. I really wished she had edited herself a bit, and I think the story would have worked better as a novel than non-fiction. I was shocked and horrified that she would have dedicated a book with so much I am so glad this woman turned her life around as she was clearly in a bad state at the start of the book. I think it had more to do with her own willingness to change rather than the advice of magazines, which sometimes seemed to give her terrible advice. My biggest critique of the book is ... TMI. I really wished she had edited herself a bit, and I think the story would have worked better as a novel than non-fiction. I was shocked and horrified that she would have dedicated a book with so much sexually explicit information to her PARENTS!!!! However, I did laugh when she tries to be a sex goddess with her fiance Karl using various creams and oils and he asks if she's trying to torture him. That was hilarious.

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Katie

    I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I sarted reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised at the genuine and welcoming tone the author has. It feels very much like someone is sitting and having a conversation with you. I thought the premise was interesting. About 3/4 through the book though, it started to feel like traditional chic lit. Sh emet a guy, things were all hunky dory and then it went downhill from that. Although getting a guy was a happy side effect from her lessons...she fo I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I sarted reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised at the genuine and welcoming tone the author has. It feels very much like someone is sitting and having a conversation with you. I thought the premise was interesting. About 3/4 through the book though, it started to feel like traditional chic lit. Sh emet a guy, things were all hunky dory and then it went downhill from that. Although getting a guy was a happy side effect from her lessons...she forgot her premise once she went down this lane, and sort of lazily tied the book up after that. Maybe if the presentation had been different at the beginning it wouldn't have felt like it went off course at the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    March 2009 review: The author decided that her life was kind of crappy - bad relationships, etc. - tried to spend a year following the advice found in different womens' magazines. I didn't really like the author, and I wasn't sure she kept to her own rules in the experiment... I would have liked to see the same idea done by someone I could more identify with. Still an interesting idea, though. Originally read in March 2009. Rereading in January 2010. January 2010 review: I found I had more affection March 2009 review: The author decided that her life was kind of crappy - bad relationships, etc. - tried to spend a year following the advice found in different womens' magazines. I didn't really like the author, and I wasn't sure she kept to her own rules in the experiment... I would have liked to see the same idea done by someone I could more identify with. Still an interesting idea, though. Originally read in March 2009. Rereading in January 2010. January 2010 review: I found I had more affection for the author this second time around, and was more amused by her anecdotes. Changing your life is inspiring!

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