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It's Hard Not to Hate You: A Memoir Hardcover – September 13, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It's refreshing to read as Frankel realizes that anger can be cathartic, even entertaining, when expressed, and makes for a fuller, fun life. Fans of her recent memoir, her novels, or her collaborations with Joan Rivers and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi will especially enjoy learning what makes the funny, warm Frankel tick."--PW

"Told by a doctor that she must reduce stress, Frankel decides: "The hate in me just has to come out." Fortunately, it comes out fast and funny, tart and taut, in your face and genuinely helpful for anyone who's felt tense, fat, overmanaged, underloved, or just plain human."--Library Journal

"Funny girl Frankel dishes about what there is to love about hatred. The resulting string of essays on negativity and its pursuits includes a number of hilarious moments alongside helpful, hard-won insight."--Kirkus

"Valerie Frankel is one of the bravest, boldest, funniest writers on the planet. Her new memoir, It's Hard Not To Hate You, carries a kind of startlingly fresh honesty. Every page feels as if you are sitting across a cafe with her, having coffee, and spilling your soul."--Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You

*Book of the Week* "Funny, personal . . . By letting her hater flag fly, Frankel realizes that releasing the aggression is her own recipe for happiness. This lively and entertaining book should be embraced for its honesty and wit."--Jessica Grose, Slate

"With humor, Frankel shrewdly probes her darkly shallow places."
--Kirkus Reviews
 
"Fans ... will especially enjoy learning more about what makes the funny, warm Frankel tick."
--Publishers Weekly
 
"Fast and funny, tart and taut, in your face and genuinely helpful for anyone who's felt tense, fat, overmanaged, underloved, or just plain human."
--Library Journal

From the Author

Q&A with It's Hard Not to Hate You author Valerie Frankel

What made you decide to write a whole book on toxic emotions? 

I was inspired to write It's Hard Not to Hate You in April 2009 while staring down simultaneous health and career crises. I was diagnosed with colon cancer, which led to the discovery of a genetic mutation that could cause cancers in numerous other organs. At the same time, print journalism took a terrible blow due to the Great Recession. A freelance magazine writer, I was having a bitch of a time getting assignments. My checking account dwindled precarious. The double whammy of problems beyond my control was too much. My carefully maintained easy-going persona cracked under the pressure. Negative emotions seeped out of me at an alarming rate. Instead of trying to suppress them (no longer possible), I resolved to stop fighting and just let them come--in real life, and on the page. The hate in me just had to come out. I'd been wearing a poker face since I was a tweenage closeted rageaholic, so there was a lot of it.

How has opening the door to negative emotions changed you?

I had no idea just how happy being angry would make me. Or, more accurately, how great the relief would be. Women struggle to be perfect in so many ways--having a stellar career, being thin, a great cook, a skilled lover, a wise mother. We expect ourselves be emotionally perfect as well. I blame the positivity movement (The Secret, etc.), but it goes back farther to "sugar, spice and everything nice." Anything less that bursting with joy feels like a personal failure and public shame. Happiness, as opposed to Honesty, has become the ultimate emotional goal. I tried to pull off Happy, and hid my darker sentiments for as long as I can remember. It was a defense mechanism. I vowed never to let anyone see me emote. The result: I stunted myself socially, romantically, professionally and, of course, emotionally.
            This memoir's goal, of feeling whatever comes up without guilt or shame, was a humanizing process. As in, I let myself be human. I quickly discovered that I was not alone in the Hater Closet. By outing my jealousy, impatience, envy and anger, my eyes opened to just how much hate swirled around me. More than I dared imagine. This was a joy and comfort to me.
Emotional honesty is fun, too, even euphoric. You can look into the eyes of the undeserving dilettante who landed your promotion and say, "Congrats! You totally deserve it!" while joyously, salubriously wishing her dead.  If you can banish the Feelings Police from your mind, you'll have more psychic energy to function at a higher level. All of your emotions--good, bad and fugly--will be more intense. You'll feel angrier, but also happier. Which is better.

What advice would you give someone who doesn't want to own (hello, Oprah!) her negative emotions?

Some women are genuinely delighted by the successes of their peers, love their children's friends like their own, and smile patiently at slow service and bad manners. Such superhumans do exist. I just don't happen to know any. If I ever meet one, I'd refer them to nearest army base for observation. To the women who fear reviling assholes and jerkoffs: The only thing to fear is the nervous breakdown in your future. Shed the Sally Sunshine skin. It'll feel GREAT. No one actually likes Sally, you know. She's soooooo boring. Her "friends" trash her behind her back.

How do your husband and daughters feel about this book? 

The husband's blurb: "It's Hard Not to Hate You is funny, smart, fast-paced, provocative, thoughtful-yet-lively entertainment! Totally worth the paper it's printed on! A bit mortifying for me, but I can live with that for the sake of my wife's emotional health, which I have to deal with Every. Single. Day."
            When Steve married me seven years ago, he understood that our sex life would be fodder for magazine articles read by millions. Those pieces, however, are edited for length, language and content. There are limits. When I started writing memoirs--without limits, I cut closer to the heart--Steve became philosophical. "If my wife writes a book about me in the forest where no one reads it," he asked, "is it still embarrassing?" Compared to a stadium-filling magazine readership, my book audience is like a dozen clowns in a Honda. This is a great comfort to Steve.
            As for my daughters, they haven't read it. They're too busy on facebook, watching LOL catz videos and reading A Shore Thing by Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. Speaking of which...

You were Snooki's ghostwriter! How was that? 

Let's rephrase. It's not "ghostwriter." It's "collaborator." Working on A Shore Thing was tremendous. The writing itself was an absolute blast. I adored Nicole and her excellent managers. For research, I spend four days in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, with my family. My daughters and I got full-body spray tans. Yeah, we glowed. I ate a fried Oreo with a fried pickle chaser. And I hit the New York Times bestseller list--"in stealth mode," as my friend Paul described it. I made a lot of new friends, personal and professional.
            Pertinently, I learned tons about hate. A Shore Thing detractors compared the frothy, sexy, beach comedy to the coming of Armageddon, the death of publishing and the decay of American culture. I'd never seen so much rage about a book! Even more than Decision Points. For a couple of weeks, I was a wreck about it. I forget one of the It's Hard Not to Hate You epiphanies, and took the avalanche of criticism personally.
            Nicole, however, was a Zen master. She let the negativity slide off her shoulders like so much bronzer. Her attitude: "Gotta let the haterz hate." Which was basically the message of this memoir: "Gotta let the hater hate; the hater is me."
            If I was free to hate, so was anyone else, as passionately as he or she liked. When this concept penetrated my consciousness, I relaxed and was able to enjoy the novel's success. Next time my confidence is shaken (and there certainly will be a next time), I'll heed Nicole's example of always keeping a sense of humor, not taking things personally and being brave. That's right: Nicole Polizzi is my role model for emotional authenticity. Just saying...
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312609787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312609788
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Megan VINE VOICE on July 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Valerie Frankel just might be my new snarky author crush.

It's hard not to like her, really, in her latest memoir. IT'S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU details Frankel's struggles with jealousy, insecurity, dissatisfaction and health troubles, as well as her life with Steve, her musician husband, and their two daughters. Frankel is a professional writer and her peeks into the freelance life were fascinating -- especially as she works from home and has scores of books bearing her name at Barnes & Noble.

But the real meat and potatoes of this memoir? Frankel's struggles with haterdom. While she is a new-to-me author, I appreciated Frankel's insights into why it's "hard not to hate" her spouse (a man she actually dearly loves, of course); the nasty, holier-than-thou neighbor who refuses to acknowledge her presence; the subtlety racist woman from her daughter's school who can't distinguish between she and another Jewish mother (though they look nothing alike). The book feels like tunneling into Frankel's soul -- and she does eventually get to the bottom of the hate and discovers where much of it stems from. And, like any addiction, owning up to the problem is the first step.

I'm a lifelong hater. Moody, bossy and controlling, it's hard for me to admit that my bad moods often spoil things for others -- but I know that's the case. As I've gotten older, I've learned to check my negative energy, resist complaining when things aren't going my way and realize that not everything is about me. That final bit is a realization Frankel and I share -- that no, the world isn't out to punish me. The jerk who cut me off in traffic wasn't cutting me off in traffic, you know? He was just being a jerk. And I happened to be minding my own business on the highway during his Reign of Jerkdom.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First, a confession: I am a fan of Valerie Frankel. I follow her blog religously, and I've been reading her magazine articles forever (I believe she started writing in the late 80s). I'd actually wanted to read her other memoir Thin is the New Happy, but never got around to it. So I was pleased when this came in through the Amazon Vine program. As a person who secretly (though often) hates other people, this seemed right up my alley.

And to a great degree, I liked it. I enjoyed Frankel's writing in this memoir. I found it humorous. I especially ate up the gossip about the famous novelist who never gave her a blurb. (I'm betting it's Helen Fielding, based on her description.) And the stuff about her health crisis was interesting in a horrifying sort of way. But overall, this felt like a bunch of magazine articles pieced together with no clear sense of focus. Also, Frankel is an author of several novels, she wrote the Snooki novel, she frequently writes magazine articles, has lovely kids and a cute (her word) husband, so why does she feel the need to be jealous of others? And her habit of fragmenting questions? Gets annoying.

Overall, I'd say this is worth reading, but you can skip the chapters about her childhood and her experiment where she tries not to complain.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I find myself reflected in this story. A socially awkward person who is unlikable because she is honest and crass. The insecurities of never being able to be stick thin and beautiful and yet trying nonetheless. It sometimes feel like a novel that needed to be written to excuse past behaviors and it sometimes feels like the author suffers from self pity, but deep down inside who doesn't? It was funny and an emotional roller coaster of laughs, treats, indignation and sometimes dislike toward the author. I found myself hating her and living her at the same time. Very easy to read.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was both hilarious and thought provoking. I could totally relate to the Val's struggle to close the gap between how she really feel and how she thinks she should feel. She expresses the huge price many people pay for being "agreeable" and "a pleaser". It takes a lot of courage for many of us to express our genuine feelings, especially when it's not what people want to hear. I just wish I could be as funny as she is! Bravo Val!
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This is the second book I've read by Valerie Frankel (I started with Thin is the New Happy) and I have really enjoyed both of her books. Frankel has an engaging, easy-to-read writing style that quickly pulls the reader into the book. The book is written like a series of funny essays more than like a novel, making it the perfect type of book to read when you have limited time.

The essays cover a wide span of Frankel's life, starting in the junior-high years and going right on through to the present. She discusses the various people in her life that have wronged her in some fashion, including junior high school "mean girls" and neighborhood snobs, and how she starts to deal with it by choosing to fight back instead of quietly accepting the behavior or seething in silence. I don't want to give away too much of the book, but for example, there is this hilarious scene where Frankel finally stands up for herself by giving the neighborhood snob, a woman who has repeatedly refused to acknowledge Frankel despite being introduced to her numerous times, a taste of her own medicine. I also really enjoyed the sections where Frankel talks about how envious she is of other authors' professional success and how she is dealing with that. She's a talented author, and I found myself hoping that this would be the book that elevates her to that level of success.

Basically, if you aren't the most popular person in your school/neighborhood/workplace, you're going to find something to relate to in Frankel's book. Sure, there are a few scenes where I thought she might be being oversensitive or going overboard, but they didn't really distract me from the overall message of the book. Highly recommended!
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