- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470907584
- ISBN-13: 978-0470907580
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,058,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Whateverland: Learning to Live Here Hardcover – October 1, 2011
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From the Authors: Directions to Whateverland
1. Depart: Shame. Leave it behind and never go back.
2. Flip through the front of the book and read the alternate definition of "whatever." Make sure when you read it that you pronounce the word this way: "What-EVVV-er."
3. Flip through the book and look at spectacular photos of young Alexis and Jennifer as they grew up. Be sure not to miss the photo of Alexis running naked in a field as a toddler (p. 122) and Jennifer's giant prom hair and dress (p. 213). Then go back to the beginning of the book.
4. Read through Introduction and make sure you're clear about the fact that this is a funny un-self-help self-help book that's going to help you more than an actual self-help book because it's not going to try to change you. Whateverland was written to get you to accept yourself even if you are a disorganized semi-hoarder, a Pop Tart eater, or someone who firmly believes in sex on the first date.
5. Arrive: "What the Hell is Homekeeping?" Ponder the miseries of having a houseguest, being a houseguest, and having workmen (hot or, mostly, not) use your bathroom. Check out Jennifer's safe side of the bed theory and Alexis' explanation for why she is the way she is (being forced to leave New York City at a young age for a house in the wilds of Westport, Connecticut, in which the doors had no doorknobs).
6. Depart: Homekeeping chapter. Arrive: "Does Talking to Pop-Tarts Mean You're Crazy?" Don't actually answer that question because Jenny and Alexis fight about it and about other food and eating-related topics, including chicken fingers, children's menus in restaurants, and when people go out to dinner in restaurants but don't order anything because they say they're not hungry even though it's really because they're dieting.
7. Depart: Food chapter. Arrive: "Getting Married in a Gray Flannel Suit." See the photo that proves Alexis actually did get married in a gray flannel suit (complete with a priceless expression on Martha's face) and read how her honeymoon was the beginning of the end of her marriage. Listen to Jenny explain her "Irresistibility-to-Annoyingness Ratio" relationship survival theory. Leave chapter with a new and profound respect for the fact that any relationships ever work out and that you're not the only one who's crazy when it comes to dating and connecting in romantic relationships that often end in cheating.
8. Rest stop. Take a few minutes to look at more pictures. Consider the photo of Alexis proudly holding one of her first pastry masterpieces (p. 207), Jenny-in-pigtails eating a giant candy apple (p. 28), the letter from Martha to Alexis at summer camp (p. 128), or the photo of Barbra Streisand enjoying Christmas with Jenny (p. 143).
9. Back on the road. Depart: Marriage and Relationships chapter. Arrive: "Not a Hoarder, Still a Slob." This is one of those chapters you secretly bought the book for because it contains Alexis' secrets for organizing her home and closets.
10. Enough with the cleaning and organizing. Back to sex. Arrive: "Should Sex Ever Involve Food?" Spoiler alert: No. Feel free to sleep with this chapter on the first date! It's that good.
11. Depart: Sex and Dating chapter (no guilt or apologies necessary). Arrive: "Wrapping Your Own Christmas Presents." Read Alexis' and Jenny’s epic, screamingly funny tales of growing up dysfunctional! Feel the full power of Whateverland start to take effect. You're not the only one who had a crazy childhood and a dysfunctional family. Important travel tip: don't forget the tissues—there's some wonderfully weepy stuff here.
12. Hungry? Perfect timing. Arrive: "What Do You Mean You 'Can't' Cook?" Understand how having Martha Stewart teach you and your friends how to cook while wearing little child-sized toques in your own house would probably have had a profound impact on you, too. And learn that some people think chicken on a Caesar salad is right (Jennifer) and some people think chicken on a Caesar salad is very very wrong (Alexis). Drool over a selection of Alexis' recipes, including the one for chocolate chip cookies she came up with at the age of thirteen.
13. Travel alert: Ignore all signs for off ramps to Guilt. They will take you back to Shame and delay your journey.
14. Arrive: "Drawing the Line at Fat Elbows." Another spoiler alert: Jenny did, and she lost over 70 pounds and changed her life. Body Image and Weight Loss chapter highlights include their unisex Rules for Looking Presentable and Not Repulsing People.
15. Depart Body Image/Weight Loss. Arrive: Chapter 9: "The Devil Wore Palazzo Pants." You can certainly get fashion advice here but really, the highlight is the pictures. Hi. Freakin’. Larious.
16. Prepare for final stop in WHATEVERLAND: "You're Only as Sick as Your Secrets." This amazing chapter catalogues Alexis’s and Jennifer's deepest, darkest secrets and personality quirks which should prove to you that learning to accept yourself for who you are -- however imperfect and odd you might be -- is the only way to go through the rest of your life.
17. Park, check in, unpack your bags. You're going to like WHATEVERLAND and you won't want to go anywhere else. Enjoy.
From the Inside Flap
Welcome to Whateverland!
In this special world, there's no such thing as shame, grim embarrassment, or TMI. Now, in this hilarious and irreverent guide to life, the Whatever duo of Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt shares their edgy commentary, colorfully candid true-life stories, and stylish common sense on everything from dieting to home, marriage to organizing, dating to eating, fashion to sex.
This unique tour of Whateverland is perhaps the world's first un-self-help book. Most self-improvement and DIY books ask you to focus on your flaws and then change yourself and your life in order to fix them. In Whateverland,Alexis and Jennifer confess that we all haveimperfections and insecurities, and they argue—with wit and irony—that we need to accept ourselves the way we are. Yes, we can improve, but we don't need to aim for perfection. Our flubs don't have to get in the way of our happiness, and yes, they can be funny.
In Whateverland, Alexis and Jennifer share their shocking life experiences, deep and dark personality quirks, and exuberant gossip. You'll read about the time Jennifer clogged Martha Stewart's pristine toilet, what happened when Alexis's pants came undone in a crowded restaurant, and much more. The Whateverland women share practical advice for every area of your life, including getting over the mistakes your parents made, starting over when you mess up on a new diet, and fun things to do with your underwear when you're on a date.
You'll read Alexis and Jennifer's rules on dating and home decor. Illustrated throughout with photos from the authors' personal collections, Whateverland also includes simple, elegant,and delicious recipes.
Whatever you struggle with—bad hair, an unhappy childhood, or not-the-best cookingand "homekeeping" skills—the real-deal wisdom of Alexis and Jennifer will help you see that it's totally okay not to be perfect at home,at work, and in your relationships. Once you level with yourself and lighten up, life can be happier and a hell of a lot more fun.
This is definitely not your mother's self-help book. Whatever!
Top customer reviews
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Here's what I think this book does really well, and why I'm happy I bought it:
1. Alexis has a very unique voice and point-of-view. A reviewer here called her "damaged" in a very derisive way and I do agree that her bitterness and anger towards her upbringing is totally apparent. That's how you end up when you're raised by narcissists. She _is_ a damaged person, and I think those are often the most interesting people to listen to, especially if they've gone on to make enjoyable lives for themselves as Stewart has done. Additionally, I would argue that Hutt is also "damaged" from her upbringing, it just manifests itself in a much more palatable way for most mainstream audiences. But for both, the damage is what gives them a point-of-view and why I and others find them interesting.
2. There is a lack of "self-help" (and I use that term very loosely) books for people who don't necessarily want to be smiley-happy or who don't want to 'celebrate abundance' or all the other acceptable buzzwords in the advice-book industry. Stewart is very straightforward about her distrust of "happy" and her acceptance of herself as the cynical, judgmental, impatient, regimented person she is. I feel the same way - I have no desire to be "happy," and it would be nice to read practical life advice from the vantage of those who don't feel compelled to go around making nice all the time.
3. Building on point #2, this book left me wishing there was a companion book, something properly authored as an anti-self-help self-help book written for those who, like Stewart, don't really care if you like them, have pretty rigid opinions about how things should be, don't want to compromise on their standards, and who honestly don't desire or care about relationships, and who don't think any of that needs changing. As one of those people, I have trouble accepting and not feeling the need to hide those parts of myself but at the same time know after years of trying that I don't want to change them. I would love to read more from Stewart or someone like her - someone who clearly has won that battle of not caring if they fit in with the 'norm' of what people should want. In absence of that, this book fills the void.
What I disliked about this book:
1. The cover is absolutely ridiculous.
2. The formatting is weird. I read it on a Kindle, so that may be part of it.
3. Way too many pointless photos of Jennifer and Alexis. It's like Jennifer is trying constantly to prove to everyone how hot and hairy her husband is and Alexis wants to show just exactly what having <1% body fat looks like when you're 40. Yawn.
Some current media reports indicate that the portrayal of Martha Stewart in "Whateverland", a book written by her daughter, Alexis,(as well as her friend Jennifer), is unflattering. In the dedication section...or what appears to be that section on my Kindle... Alexis writes "Thanks in advance to my mother for not getting angry about anything written in this book."
But will Martha take this all in good humor or not? On her own show, she joked about it and many articles I've read thus far notes that she seems to be taking it in stride. From this reader's perspective, Alexis and Jennifer manage to spend a great deal of time focusing on Martha in ways that I perceived as less than complimentary. "Food was not love in my house," writes Alexis. "Not at all. Food was just food - assuming there was any in the house." Ouch.
Alexis and Jennifer also write that the book is meant to be a self-help book and not just an expose' of Martha. They add that "It's just two regular women...talking about how coming to terms with who you really are -and who you're never going to be -isn't nearly as scary as you think." I'm paraphrasing but (hopefully) you get the idea.
Even if intended as a self-help book, though, plenty of the information centers on Martha Stewart from the perspective of her daughter. .
Alexis writes that she doesn't allow her mother in her home "for any extended period of time." Nor does she allow workmen or boyfriends to spend lengthy periods of time in her home....or she tries not to. But workmen do tend to be around much of the time. She also calls Martha Stewart's Schedule for Home Maintenance "really geeky."
Invite her mother over for dinner? According to Alexis, her mother will "make a face" and then push away anything served. Hardly a flattering portrait. And, oh yes, if she eats baked beans out of a can her favorite part is "the cube of fat."
Still, readers who can put aside what seem like jabs at Martha (and, honestly, they do take up what seems like the lion's share of the book) will also get a sense of Alexis and Jennifer's habits. Alexis needs lots of privacy. Jennifer likes to sleep on the side of the bed farthest away from the door, also known as "the safe side of the bed."
Both consider artwork on walls to be overrated, suggest that readers don't get a piano because it won't stay in tune and is just another thing to dust, and make sure to cover all bare bulbs even if that means using a paper lantern.
The basic content of this book seems to consist of two things: poking fun at Martha (or attacking her, depending on your point of view) and two girlfriends comparing and contrasting their lifestyles and upbringing. For this reader, that pretty much sums it up.
If you are not offended by spicy language and graphic descriptions of an emotionally-charged household then this book will let you in on what was going on in a look-good-on-the-surface household.
Beware, every page is written in a manner that would have gotten our faces slapped if we had talked like that at our homes!