IN PRAISE OF MESSY LIVESI am pretty sure that most of my friends will like this book as much as I did, and not just because of the ironic title.  Which is not to say that we are messy people, per se.  Katie Roiphe’s insightful, witty essays are not about being a slob in the physical sense (although she would forgive you if you were).  Rather, she’s trying to say that we should all be more tolerant of imperfection and experimentation.  And she’s annoyed by people who aren’t.

From the first paragraph, she lays the groundwork for both her content and her approach: she pokes fun at something then confesses that she is guilty, too.  She begins: “Here is something I remember from school: in French class we quickly learned that no matter what we were reading—Camus, Sartre, Ionesco, Voltaire—the correct answer to any question was always “L’hypocrisie de la bourgeoisie.”  Then she goes on to admit, she “[fears] that same commitment to theme is a little bit on display here.”  In short, she knows she’s as obsessed as her French teacher, but A) at least she knows it and B) she can laugh about it.  And so can we, because her writing is both acerbic and self-deprecating.

For those who’ve felt oppressed by cultural norms because you do not live a conventional life (or don’t WANT TO), this book is for you.


About OnlyGoodBooks

Creator of The Literacy Cookbook (, I am an educational consultant who also happens to love to read incessantly. I found myself referring friends to so many books that it seemed like time to create a blog to record all of these recommendations. So here it is.
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