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Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over Paperback – Bargain Price, July 28, 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Realizing she needed to do serious work on her junk food/junk sex–littered lifestyle, Alter, a recently divorced thirty-seven-year old freelance writer, decided to spend each month of the coming year following the advice of a major women's magazine without question. She picked nine titles focusing on a how-to ethos more or less aligned with her own demographic: Elle, Marie Claire, O, Allure, Self, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, InStyle and Real Simple. Each month she'd work on a particular damage zone—diet, social fears, clothes, relationship snafus, cooking, sex, etc.—and follow the advice of her chosen magazine as earnestly as possible. Meanwhile, she'd also begun dating a new guy, which brought up relationship challenges her magazine mentors loved to address—spicing up the sex, learning to cook instead of eating out and deciding if his birthday present meant a marriage proposal was imminent. While she ends up feeling positive about the self-improvement her magazine experiment has brought, she knows if she hadn't been ready and willing to change, all the advice in the world wouldn't have helped. In the end, fans of Bridget Jones will also enjoy Alter—she's funny and endearing. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A funny, wise-crackey, addictively readable coming-of-maturity." -- Cathi Hanauer, author of Sweet Ruin and editor of The Bitch in the House

"Cathy Alter's Up for Renewal is witty and whimsical. You'll want to stay with her well-developed voice all the way to the end." -- Rachel Sontag, Author of House Rules

"You know that warm, relaxed, pleasurable feeling you get when cracking open the latest issue of your favorite magazine? That's what reading Cathy Alter's Up for Renewal is like. Prepare to not only have a great time but also to get truly inspired." -- Mandy Stadtmiller, "About Last Night" New York Post columnist

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743288416
  • ASIN: B005MZD9S8
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,912,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I absolutely enjoyed this book - but will you? Key facts about this one that might help you decide:

First off, you need to know that it is written by a woman who details how she coped with a period of time when she was trying to get past a divorce and felt unhappy, deeply so. By her own admission, she was making some poor choices and she is open about the details of her mistakes. Dating the wrong people. Eating poorly. Just generally...bumbling along.

Then she has a moment of inspiration and decides (however crazy it sounds) to use magazines as a path to self-improvement. She chooses to follow the advice she finds in those magazines, focusing on various aspects of her life, one part at a time - from choosing jeans to learning how to be happier.

Although I was skeptical and expected this book to be a rather superficial and light read, similar to many glossy magazines out there (all surface but no substance) I was surprised to find Up for Renewal to be far more charming and engaging than I expected. There were genuine nuggets of wisdom in the book - as well as plenty of humor and insight.

At the same time, I do feel obligated to note that Up for Renewal will probably appeal primarily to female readers, particularly those going through a crisis...and perhaps those drawn to rather gossipy, self-help books. Would it have been my first pick of a book to read? Probably not. But it was well worth the time spent reading it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What is more annoying than a twenty-five year old who is trying to find her self? That would a forty year old who thinks and acts like she's twenty-five and wonders why her life is spinning out of control.

What seems like a semi-autobiographical peek into the insecurities of a big city girl, Alter shares her life. A divorce, bad relationships and overall bad choices lead her to wonder if the large display of shinny flashy women's magazines know something that she doesn't. So she plans to live the life that the magazines tell her to for one year and see what happens. Each month she picks a new topic and decides to work on it. And coincidentally, that month the magazines address her specific issues. Funny how that worked out.

I don't know if I got used to her antics and anxieties, but by the end of the book I was actually laughing along with her. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, or even most, but if you have any tolerance for women that are slow to grow up and overly anxious about the world in general give it a try. Other wise, just know that magazines are designed to entertain and make you insecure and if you're wise enough you don't live your life according to what other anxiety ridden writers tell you is important.
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Format: Hardcover
Really, I do. She's my cousin. But that's not why I love Up For Renewal. Cathy let loose with this one year memoir. It's detailed, intimate and funny. Clearly some people think it's too detailed and intimate (sleazy?!) If a frank discussion of sex is sleazy then I live in the sewer. Cathy has guts, the guts to write about office sex (most of us have either done it or fantasized about it,) the guts to publish personal conversations with her mother, the guts to reflect on her behavior and change it.

Changing your life while living it (as opposed to going to Italy, India and Bali on vacation) is something any of us can do. While Cathy gives us a prescription/subscription for doing so the magazines are not central to her tale. They do provide for amusing anecdotes though, especially when she tries out Cosmo sex moves.

Don't think it's all about sex. It's really about how your behavior affects your relationships with others, dating, friends, family. I've known Cathy for a long time, but I know her much better through this book. Great writing is personal. You will want to get to know Cathy Alter.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
(I am adding this, because I forgot to the first time, this is a hardcover book, very nicely done and pretty!) This is my review from the Vine Voice reviewer program. When I first scanned down the list of books...I was like "where is the chick lit, where is the chick lit!"and VIOLA! HERE is is..except it is much deeper than your average chick lit..Perhaps it was just a little deepeR for ME, I have alot in common with Cathy, Im Divorced,we are close to the same age,AND I DEFTELY HAVE A PERFECIONIST, OVERBEARING MOTHER! Im 34 and shes 37, she inserts so much of herself into this book, that it almost feels like a BIOGRAPHY! All she wants to do is improve her life, and instead of turning to the magazines she loves so dearly, she needs a support system and a therapist! This lady is addicted to magazines, and their covers...she wants instant gratification, she wants great sex, a great booty, a boyfriend and so much more. She already has what most women REALLY want, shs is smart, successful, and has a great job. This is really a funny and good book. I admire the character in this book and if you are looking for a light,easy read, this is a perfect book. I can sooo relate to buying those magazines that promise you all these results and how to be a better lover,etc and it NEVER happens. There were several reviews already written, the very same day they ordered the book...so Im not sure if the book was actually READ or not, but this is an honest version of my point of view on Up For Renewal!
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