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Whateverland: Learning to Live Here Hardcover – October 1, 2011

2.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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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!


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Product Details

  • 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: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, I confess. I bit. I downloaded this bit 'o fluff onto my kindle and zipped through it in short order. While it was sporadically entertaining...and not in a good way...there is no helpful or even insightful information anywhere. This book is really just an oddly written, self indulgent profile of two modern women, very different, both clearly intelligent, both mildly interesting. And both sailing in under the wire standing solidly on Martha Stewart's coat tails.

Jennifer comes across as a girl's girl, loving and needy, but clearly possessing a generous heart and nature. She is self-deprecating, once chubby and now svelte, and wears her heart on her sleeve. She might be a bit exhausting to know, but a trustworthy broad who seems to love her husband and family beyond measure. Unfortunately, her 'advice', commentary and tips are utterly unremarkable.

On the other hand, Alexis Stewart just screams 'damaged'. So much so that it's sad to read, really. From her immature obsession with having her own way, to her self-proclaimed rigid personalty, EVERYTHING bothers Alexis. She's bitchy, judgemental to the nth degree and sure doesn't seem very happy or like she'd be any fun, in any capacity. She admits to being unable or unwilling to do anything professionally that doesn't depend on her mother's backing or connections, blames her mother for ill-preparing her for life, and then hates herself for it as exemplified by the extreme lengths she goes to appear to reject everything her mother stands for all while taking everything she hands out. It's like reading the diary of an articulate, spoiled, entitled 13 year old, which, once one gets past the fact that she's Martha's daughter, really isn't very interesting after all.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have to admit, my initial reason for buying Whateverland (E-reader version) by Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt was for the fun of hearing what Alexis would have to say about her mother Martha. I happen to be a big fan of Martha Stewart, but it's still fun to hear what people are "really" like. She definitely delivers on that later in the book.

The book opens with a dictionary explanation of the word "whatever" and then goes on to give you an idea of the personality differences between Alexis and Jennifer. If you have ever watched their television and/or radio show, you will already know what those differences are.

They consider this a self-help book of sorts, and it is to some degree. The two authors explain that the reason they wrote this book was because "If we can thrive with our embarrassing, humiliating, shameful crap, then our readers can too." And so the book moves on. I will give you a very brief synopsis of what the chapters contain.

Life at home: The disdain of house guests, the love of privacy, bathroom issues, Martha's obsession with bed linens, advice on cleaning, and what not to have in your home.

Food and eating: Jennifer's upbringing on all the wrong foods and Alexis' upbringing on healthy "real" meals...including Plantagenet Palliser (read the book). Some well thought out advice on healthy eating. Jennifer's weight control issues...thoughtful and contemplative...honest and revealing. Alexis explains her choice of vegetarianism and discusses factory farms and the unhealthy animal raising practices. This is thought provoking and insightful.

Marriage and relationships: Alexis' need for space, alone time. She discusses her former husband and many trysts. Jennifer is married and faithful.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Even though this book wasn't scheduled to come out till October 18, it was released early in the Kindle edition. So if you are wondering about why this review is appearing now, there's your answer. Now on to the book itself:

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. .

Some samples:

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.
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