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Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses Paperback – January 3, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2011: Yoga, even as it furthers its storefront-by-storefront takeover of American leisure hours, remains a punchline, a shorthand summing-up of a certain way of life. One of the charms of Poser, Claire Dederer's memoir of motherhood and marriage structured around her love affair with yoga, is that--as her title hints--she gets the joke, and tells it very well herself. She knows, to the molecule, the subculture she swims within--the "liberal enclave" of late '90s North Seattle, with its self-policed, guilt-laced dictates about the proper ways to parent, work, play, and wed (and divorce)--and she's well aware of every knee-jerk response you might bring to a story about yoga (she had them too). She's sharp and funny, shifting expertly between earthy put-downs and the earnest openness that yoga leads her to. And she's wisest, and most fascinating, when she's plotting the differences between her mother's generation, breaking out from the traditions of young marriage and motherhood in sloppy, self-invented ways, and her own, responding to the chaos of their parents' marriages and their own youth with the anxiously seamless embrace of attachment parenting. Readers will inevitably be reminded of another witty, navel-gazing, West-meets-East memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, but Dederer's more domestic journey is her very much her own. --Tom Nissley
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

All of the reviewers enjoyed Poser, but they may have been less than effusive with their praise because they spent so much time explaining what the book was not—not a yoga guide, not a self-help book, not as gimmicky as its title would seem to indicate, not a conventional memoir. That said, Poser does contain scant elements of each, with passages on feminism, attachment parenting, and the history of yoga thrown in. But all that negation suggests that Dederer has achieved something like the self-actualization yoga promises, all without taking herself too seriously. In the end, reviewers seemed to say, the voice of this book is truly Dederer’s own, and more than sufficient. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250002338
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250002334
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book hooked me quickly, only to disappoint me more and more as it plodded forward. Dederer is an extremely skilled writer, but needs to find something more interesting and consequential to write about than her own obsessive need to keep up with the Joneses. Jeez, the trivial stuff she chooses to make important in her life makes it no mystery why she spends so much of her time unhappy.

The yoga framework works in the early chapters, but is stretched far too thin in later chapters, and becomes an obvious structural gimmick. And while I was waiting for The Big Point to reveal itself, the book ended. Call me crazy, but shouldn't a memoir contain a lesson? If it was in there, I missed it, somewhere between her fretting over whether the way she's raising her kids meets with her friends' approval, and her not actually seeming to enjoy the very children on whom she claims to be focused.

Although her talent is obvious, it's badly misspent on self-absorbed minutiae.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sorry but I couldn't even finish it. I love yoga. I love to read. I love a good memoir. This missed the mark completely. I seiously wish I could get a refund. I'll give her this much - she had a knack for describing the poses.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As someone who practices yoga, "Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses" immediately caught my attention. This sounded very interesting as I know from personal experience how intertwined a yoga practice can be with personal growth. However, not all of the book was exactly what I was expecting.
This memoir is a journey of self discovery - that I expected -- although at times I thought that the author was stretching it a bit (no pun intended) to connect events in her life to a particular yoga pose. What I didn't anticipate was that the issues would be so specific.
For example, she's dealing with questions such as how long she should breast feed her children, whether or not to participate in a co-op pre-school, and how long her children should sleep in the bed with her and her husband. I'm not exactly from same generation so from time to time I had difficulty relating to her. Some issues, such as how to fit her writing career in with her parenting responsibilities and understanding her relationship to her parents was a bit easier for me to connect with.
On the plus side, this is a thoughtful and well-written book. I enjoyed the descriptions of her struggles to master some of the more difficult yoga poses. I also enjoyed the references to various places in the Seattle area (but that's probably because I live there).
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer is a memoir about a young mother told through a variety of yoga asanas. Each chapter is titled after a yoga pose-some repeated-that tie in, more or less, with the theme of the chapter itself.

Have you ever read a book that you really, really wanted to like and you ended up only liking it, sorta? That's how I feel about this book. The idea of it, I loved but the interesting premise of giving each chapter a yoga pose often seemed more pretense, done for effect and not always effective. The young mother anxious over every detail of her young daughter's life isn't fully contextualized until later in the book and by then all this navel gazing made this reader want to point out the obvious: children have survived worse parenting than this self-conscious young woman could ever fear to be.

Dederer's humor is off-key for me. I could see the humor on the page but it never even drew a smile to my face, let alone had me chuckling along. If anything, I occasionally found myself laughing at her rather than with her, a feeling that I did not like at all. And what vague moments of enlightenment she achieved over the years, as a wife, parent, yogini-all of these are given short shrift as if she felt they were too delicate to hold up to the harsh light of letting other readers see what she believes and has experienced.

If western yoga is vilified as being watered down, more about exercise than enlightenment, morally irrelevant and mostly a social fad that has come and gone before and will go away soon, then this memoir is a testimony to the truth of these accusations. Dederer's yoga experience is American, with all the best and worst that this implies.
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Format: Hardcover
I had such high hopes for this book but I became disappointed after just the first twenty pages. So I decided to read the Amazon reviews, many of which confirmed my suspicions that finishing the book wouldn't be worth it. Yet I perused the rest of the book and found it to be drab and flat, the opposite of a robust yoga practice.

I'm a guy who's really into yoga, but I notice that in the U.S. yoga is radically feminized and presented as if it's primarily the domain of women. There is a surplus of books, such as this one, which offer this impression. (A recent issue of "Yoga Journal" magazine had a male yoga teacher on the cover, the first man to grace the cover in seven years!) This has the unfortunate result of driving off scores of men who, to their detriment, think yoga is "girly" and something that "real men" just don't do. Many people don't even realize that yoga was INVENTED BY MEN thousands of years ago and, initially, was an exclusively masculine endeavor -- women were actually prohibited from practicing it. It's great that women have become so passionate about it. Now if only a lot more men would step up to the mat the world would be a better place.

For guys curious about yoga, I enthusiastically recommend "STRETCH: THE UNLIKELY MAKING OF A YOGA DUDE" by Neal Pollack. It's "the hilarious true account of an overweight, balding, skeptical guy's unexpected transformation into a healthy, blissful yoga fiend" -- a great read!
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