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What If . . .: A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure Hardcover – November 12, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 147 customer reviews

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From Booklist

Almost 80, MacLaine has earned the right to do this book in a bit of shorthand. The title question leads off every topic and sometimes is just one line on a page for the reader to answer: What if we were as aware of our spiritual condition as our physical nutrition? These shorter questions run the gamut from thoughts about the Constitution to wondering if dogs reincarnate. But there are much longer answers to queries, too. What if getting a Lifetime Achievement Award turned out to be like going to your own funeral? That gives MacLaine 20 pages to riff about her American Film Institute award, who was there, what was said, and whether it was smart to wear a wig. Her take on Downton Abbey is also lots of fun. And does she mention her favorite topics—karma, reincarnation, and spacemen? Why, yes, she does! She’s heard every joke and endured the scoffing for decades now, but she hasn’t budged on her firmly held New Age beliefs. Fun and thoughtful by turns and told in MacLaine’s feisty, funny voice, this should appeal to fans and doubters alike. --Ilene Cooper

Review

“Fun and thoughtful by turns and told in MacLaine’s fiesty, funny voice, this should appeal to fans and doubters alike.” (Booklist)

“The legendary MacLaine will leave you laughing out loud while scratching your head with questions." (BeliefNet)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476728607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476728605
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What if...we always stayed the same? I've come to expect the unexpected from her and I wasn't disappointed. As JimmyRae said, there are "tidbits" here one can miss if reading too fast. MacLaine has always savored life and shot straight. "What If" is no different. This is a treat to read, with laughs tucked into unexpected places. Can you imagine her using a Porta Potti?! The information on this country's Founding Fathers was super intriguing. Even Shirley MacLaine has problems with picky airline rules for companion dogs. While "What If" is not "Camino" or "Out on a Limb," it is still very much Shirley MacLaine. She's still dancing in the light.
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Format: Hardcover
People who do not like to think deeply, or use their imaginations, or stray from the 'norm,' or think outside the box will probably not appreciate Shirley's new book, "What If . . . " But if you're the type of person who loves to explore new ideas, put intellectual puzzle pieces side by side and compare them, try to figure out the larger picture, speculate on meanings and causes, then you will have a good time with "What If . . ."

MacLaine's new book is almost a compendium of what many free thinking advanced souls are ruminating about within themselves and with their friends. She runs the gamut from politics to alien DNA, carries on regarding the Founding Fathers and Downton Abbey, references an overview of past lives and life being "show business,", dwells on the spirituality of animals and the purpose of UFO's. In fact, this book could be the newest entry in adult party games for the intellectually brave and curious. You'd all gather around and then choose a page at random and read the "What if . . ." that's on it. Discussion ensues! Fun! Also involving -- and everyone would learn something and feel exhilarated. Laughter would abound except for those who would take it all so seriously. But isn't that always the way with life and party games?

One of my favorite parts was where she gave 140 definitions of "love." Some were hilarious; others profound. A few made you cry. But a brilliant chapter. Her comments on "hope" are illuminating -- and poignant in their way. And who knew the Dalai Lama had a dirty mouth?
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By JimmyRae on November 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I got this book a few days after it debuted and was thoroughly pleased and enchanted with the wonderful questions and humorous stories she brings to share with us here. It's not a HEAVY read at all and some may miss the meat and potatoes of some other works by La MacLaine, Sadly though, these are the same folks who shall pass up this delicious dessert that she shares in this sweet and delightful read as well. I was ver pleased and have read it several times already and always find some extra tid-bit that makes me say "Hmmmm..." with a delightful grin. Thank you dear Shirley MacLaine for everything that you write and I read in such a spirit of gratitude... Its simply sublime.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love all of her books but not so much this latest one. Definitely not on par with her usual in-depth writing on everything from politics to UFOs. I would say read an older book if you are a new fan. This one only scratches the surface in my opinion. An early favorite is "It's All In The Playing" and later "The Camino" if you want more interesting reading for you money.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Shirley, I love you. I've read all your books (I think). About two-thirds of this book did not come up to par. There was too much rehashing of your movie life, which you've already told us about in previous books (such as the studio system and your friendship with Dean and Frankie plus the Mob). The bit about your Lifetime Achievement Award was too long, although you fully deserve that award.

The best part was where you got to the more spiritual questions. It's the same questions I have ... I do not for a moment believe that a band of hairy apelike men walked out of Africa many thousands of years ago, and turned into blond, blue-eyed Nordic types, and I don't believe the anthropologists on that one. Let's say the jury is out -- but I liked your "what-if's" about the probable origins of humankind.

I expected this book, like your others, to grab me right from the start, which it didn't. But I'd say to readers who believe in reincarnation (I do) and other spiritual matters that there really are questions to ponder here. I'm just not too sure of any shift in human consciousness -- humankind seems to be getting more barbaric and stupid in many way, rather than morphing slowly to a fifth dimension ... if I understood that "what if ..." correctly.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are already a fan of Shirley MacLaine, this book won’t disappoint you: the author comes to the table with every book she writes. Perhaps less “radical” than some of her previous books, What If is nonetheless an entertaining, provocative, witty, romp through her musings on life: from philosophical and social conditions to Hollywood’s heyday, from galactic beings to her favorite beings (her dogs), there is something here for everyone. Well, perhaps the author is actually just as radical as ever, but in posing her wide-ranging and deeply considered views as questions, the spirit of curiosity trumps what might be the usual knee-jerk objections to her out-of-the-box thinking. The enigma of Shirley MacLaine is that she offers herself as an open book, and yet each time we are able to peer into her life, she remains a deep mystery. Consequently this book, like her others, is a delightfully irresistible.
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