Customer Reviews


88 Reviews
5 star:
 (48)
4 star:
 (17)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (7)
1 star:
 (7)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Idea
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is an extraordinary idea, which is amusing, perfectly executed, and well-written. It is exactly what the title says: an encyclopedia (A to Z) of the author's life. Entries are not comprehensive, of course, and are purely the author's choosing, encompassing things such as her husband, how she feels about her name, and her observations and...
Published on March 7, 2005 by JET

versus
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WANTED to like it...
I'd heard about EoaOL during a recent book club discussion, and it sounded like my cuppa tea -- positive, uplifting, something I'd enjoy. And, at first, it was. I liked the author's lighthearted observations and appreciation of life's simple pleasures. Then, it was like, ENOUGH ALREADY!!! What was initially cute and quirky soon became really boring and trite. I...
Published on July 2, 2006 by Cookie


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Idea, March 7, 2005
By 
JET (Parker, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is an extraordinary idea, which is amusing, perfectly executed, and well-written. It is exactly what the title says: an encyclopedia (A to Z) of the author's life. Entries are not comprehensive, of course, and are purely the author's choosing, encompassing things such as her husband, how she feels about her name, and her observations and feelings about birthdays.

The book reads like an encyclopedia that is slightly non-sensical, as the entries sometimes offer definitions, sometimes offer childhood memories, and sometimes offer observations or ideas. It is illustrated here and there with photos from the author's life, drawings by an encyclopedia illustrator, and other bits and pieces. Although some of the entries are not as engaging or interesting as the rest, overall, the book offers a no-frills, unique look at an ordinary person living an ordinary life. Of course Amy is extraordinary in her own way - she would have to be to write a book like this and for a book like this to be interesting. Her ideas are fun and funny, and I'm sure that many readers will try them out (such as leaving envelopes with change for strangers to find). She is also insightful, and one of the more fascinating aspects of the book is the juxtaposition that occurs between Amy's life and experiences and the reader's own. With a life mapped out in the manner of an encyclopedia, it is easy to draw such comparisons. I can't say that this is a book I'd read over and over again, but it is definitely one I will keep and one I will pass around among my family and friends.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, and why not?, March 24, 2005
By 
C. L. Ferle (Midwest Reader and Writer) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a writer who teaches memoir workshops to "ordinary" students, I will be using this book as an example in my classes. Given our celebrity-driven culture, I often have a hard time convincing would-be writers that their lives really matter, let alone are worth recording on paper. Books like Rosenthal's may not compete with literary essays or memoirs, but they serve a purpose and should not be discounted. "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" will give others the courage to record the quotidian moments of their days, and there's a lot to be said for that.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Simple or Blatantly Egotistical?, November 27, 2005
Looking at Amy Rosenthal's book, one of two things occurs to you: that it's an intriguingly simple idea and why didn't someone else, perhaps even you, think of it before; or that it is a tremendously boring idea and why should you be bothered? If you have got to the point where you are reading other people's opinions of the book, we can assume you are not in the second group.

Set up like an encyclopedia, in alphabetical order, Rosenthal creates a memoir of her life. It's like reading a magazine or someone's website, with snippets of random thoughts, interesting facts, opinions, lists, diary entries, mementos, quotations, even a recipe. And sadly, you realize that if you tried to do something like this, it would not be this interesting. It isn't that Amy has had a particularly fascinating life. She is pretty up front about that, her disclaimer right on the book jacket says: "I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story."

Why does Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life work? Why should I care that some woman in Chicago (Rosenthal) doesn't write down the order number when she buys something over the phone? I wouldn't, except that with Rosenthal, it's more like an confession, a conspiracy almost, because she suspects you only pretend to write down the number too. There a lot of moments in Encyclopedia, sometimes trivial, sometimes not, when you think, yes, I know exactly what she means.

I like the drawings in Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. They are mostly done by Jeffrey Middleton, who recently illustrated a new edition of Webster's Dictionary. When Rosenthal read about him in a newspaper article, she knew he would be perfect for her book.

It isn't hard to see why Encyclopedia was initially rejected by several publishers. It's an odd idea, downright brazen when you come to think of it. Who the hell cares about your admittedly ordinary life? But that's the dilemma of all writers. Who the hell cares what you have to say? Fortunately, there are always plenty of people who overcome their doubts, say what they have to say as entertainingly as possible, and hope to connect. Rosenthal has succeeded.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's nothing 'ordinary' about Amy Krouse Rosenthal, March 16, 2006
It would be so easy to hate Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal has written a raft of books about parenting. They have titles like "The Same Phrase Describes My Marriage and My Breasts...Before the kids, they used to be a cute couple."

Amy Krouse Rosenthal has created sound files of her children. Like: kids slurping breakfast cereal.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal once had a column called "15 Megabytes of Fame."

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, asked what it's like to have three --- three! --- kids, responded thus: "It's just love to the third power."

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's idea of five words that sound great: "They lived happily ever after."

Amy Krouse Rosenthal asks herself questions like: "Are Christo's gifts amazingly wrapped?"

Cute. Terminally cute, in that charming (but really, when you think about it: annoying), suburban, privileged, NPR way. You know, like she just happens to write down the cute things her children say and her mind serves up, and then --- surprise! --- a magazine calls and pries her notes from her reluctant fingers.

I'm not buying it. I say Amy Krouse Rosenthal --- and, c'mon, what's with all the names? Is she an acolyte of Hillary Rodham Clinton? --- is a professional writer and a damn clever one at that. I say cute is a brilliant disguise for ambition and craft. I say 'Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life' is anything but a random tour through the days and thoughts of an ordinary woman --- there's not one ordinary thing about Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

What's really going on here?

Back in the day, Ms. Rosenthal has recalled, she got some great advice: "Don't worry so much about being the absolute best at what you do (there's always going to be someone 'better') but rather try and be the only one who is doing what you do.'" She loved that. "Kinda gives you permission to experiment, be true to your own voice, and suck a bit if you have to."

The experiment here is the form. Seemingly unplotted --- but actually highly organized; as she confesses, she did five drafts of the book --- 'Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life' is carefully designed to get you to the letter 'Y' (which comes after Z) in a state where you'll be receptive to that entry (which is all about 'you'). So she starts cute, as if to reduce herself to a goofy waif: "We invite you to add your name to the list of people who have ever read this book and who were personally thanked (by e-mail) by the author. Click on 'Thank You' at encyclopediafanordinarylife.com." (Never received e-mail from a published writer? Hey, here's your chance.)

Then she "orients" the reader with pages of "plain facts" about American life, her life to date in a few pages of diary entries, and Important Dates. Finally, on page 37, the book actually begins. And any fool can quickly grasp what she's up to: celebrating every last minute of daily life, peeling the onion of banality to reveal the magic inside.

Like these entries:

CAR WASH: "Every time I go to the local car wash, the owner peers inside, throws up his arms and says, 'Oh, Miss, very dirty! Very, very dirty.' I'm sorry. I didn't know I was supposed to bring it in clean."

EUPHORIC: "The child is euphoric because there is an elevator button that needs pressing. Or perhaps a moon is spotted in a daytime sky."

FRENCH FRIES: "How great is it to find a few stray bonus fries at the bottom of your McDonald's bag?"

HUSBAND: "Jason and I were fixed up on a blind date, by my dad's best friend, John. When I opened my front door and saw him, I knew there was something between us. By the end of our merlot and rigatoni, I knew he was the one. Fifty-two weeks later, he knew."

SMOOTH JAZZ: "It would be hard to not let your fondness for smooth jazz come between us."

It's worth getting to YOU because Amy Krouse Rosenthal is very much a writer for these ADD-addled times. She's a poet, really. Her poetry isn't about stanzas, it's sentences, each a compressed idea or anecdote. They grow up to form paragraphs that become encyclopedia entries. But it's all built on that first sentence. A bravura performance --- there's nothing easy or lazy about this book.

By the end, although you never really know the husband or the kids, you kind of feel you do. And you definitely feel you know Amy Krouse Rosenthal. And, most to the point, you feel you know yourself better. You say, 'This reminds me of...' or 'When that happens to me, I...' and 'In our family, we call that....' and before you know it, you are dreaming your own book. That's impressive...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WANTED to like it..., July 2, 2006
I'd heard about EoaOL during a recent book club discussion, and it sounded like my cuppa tea -- positive, uplifting, something I'd enjoy. And, at first, it was. I liked the author's lighthearted observations and appreciation of life's simple pleasures. Then, it was like, ENOUGH ALREADY!!! What was initially cute and quirky soon became really boring and trite. I understand that the book's about an "ordinary" life, so maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree here??? Either way, I found myself hoping that, at some point, there'd be more substance, more take-away, more "this is what I learned" blah blah blah... but, unfortunately, no dice.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intricately Serendipitous read!, May 24, 2006
This review is from: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Paperback)
This book is an excellent book to read when you are in a weird mood, and your not sure what to read. It is a nice break from mass market fiction and not like your 'ordinary' autobiography. They way the author alphabetizes her experiences, feelings and random thoughts is really cool. I found myself time and time again, saying to myself "yeah.. I do that all the time" or "wow, I felt that way too - but never knew how to describe it!" and "man, I would never admit to that!" It was a complete joy to read and it makes you feel a little more "normal." If there is such a thing! This book will soon become the book that you want to show all your friends. Share the serendipity!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a real disappointment, January 26, 2008
This review is from: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Paperback)
Disappointment of the year. I was quite excited about Krouse Rosenthal's book, but perhaps ordinariness is indeed simply too dull to write about (Tolstoy nailed that one at the beginning of Anna Karenia). Her style is choppy and disconnected, which, she mentions, has never endeared her to editors. It never endeared her to this reader, either. Short as the book was, I was unable to finish it--a rare problem for me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this look into the things that make up the modern existance, February 28, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Paperback)
This quirky, fun little book is all about Amy, the author. Structured like an encyclopedia, with entries on all kinds of topics, Amy's encyclopedia entry covers everything from parking tickets to toast, the deep to the mundane. It is charmingly written and is surprisingly amusing and fun to read.

My only complaint is that the structure of the book is such that I didn't really want to sit down and read it for more than a half hour or so, because there isn't really a narrative flow. This would be a great book to keep in the car for those moments when you have to wait for someone or kill a few minutes at a time.

That said, the idea is so innovative and it is so charmingly carried out that I'd definitely recommend it. I enjoyed it all the way through, and the way she made the mundane things of life so interesting, gave me some new ways of looking at the mundane things of my own life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, not at all ordinary, January 7, 2007
By 
The author was an advertising copywriter for 11 years before she left the business to become a writer and mother full-time. I like this book because it's a good read and also because it gives me hope for my ideal career path (writer, not mother)

This book is, as the title suggests, a personal encyclopedia of the author's fairly ordinary life. She says, on the cover, "I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story." The topics are anecdotes, observations, timelines, random thoughts, sometimes hilarious, sometimes very personal and moving, but all very human. The book is a cross section of Amy's mind, witty and charming and passionate. It is also the kind of thinking an advertising person aspires to--concise, insightful human truths. I found myself nodding a lot, thinking "Yeah, that's true. I do that."

Aside from the format, the book is innovative in other ways. Amy invites people to please find for her a decent description of the moon and post it on her website because, she says, every author describes the moon but none of the descriptions are very good. And for another entry (which I can't find), she says that she will bake a pie for the 100th person to answer a question. And I believe her. She seems like the kind of person who would do that kind of thing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable - great for group discussions, June 8, 2005
By 
Antimony3 (Budd Lake, NJ) - See all my reviews
I happened to really enjoy this book. Those of you familiar with my reviews know that I rarely purchase books and am a huge library advocate. In this case, I own the book. This book made me laugh and smile a whole lot and at times I could not help but recall my own childhood. I could see quirky women in their early thirties really enjoying book. It's a good book to talk about with friends over coffee - nothing formal really.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Paperback - December 6, 2005)
$13.00 $9.88
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.