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What If This Were Enough?

Essays
Narrated by: Heather Havrilesky
Length: 6 hrs and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

By the acclaimed critic, memoirist, and advice columnist behind the popular "Ask Polly", an impassioned collection tackling our obsession with self-improvement and urging listeners to embrace the imperfections of the everyday.

Heather Havrilesky's writing has been called "whip-smart and profanely funny" (Entertainment Weekly) and "required reading for all humans" (Celeste Ng). In her work for New York, The Baffler, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic, as well as in her advice column for The Cut, she dispenses a singular, cutting wisdom - an ability to inspire, provoke, and put a name to our most insidious cultural delusions. 

What If This Were Enough? is a mantra and a clarion call. In its chapters - many of them original to the audiobook, others expanded from their initial publication - Havrilesky takes on those cultural forces that shape us. We've convinced ourselves, she says, that salvation can be delivered only in the form of new products, new technologies, new lifestyles. From the allure of materialism to our misunderstandings of romance and success, Havrilesky deconstructs some of the most poisonous and misleading messages we ingest today, all the while suggesting new ways to navigate our increasingly bewildering world. 

Through her incisive and witty inquiries, Havrilesky urges us to reject the pursuit of a shiny, shallow future that will never come. These timely, provocative, and often hilarious essays suggest an embrace of the flawed, a connection with what already is, who we already are, what we already have. She asks us to consider: What if this were enough? Our salvation, Havrilesky says, can be found right here, right now, in this imperfect moment.

©2018 Heather Havrilesky (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Wise, wry essays on the false promise of self-help, the emptiness of materialism, and the beauty of the 'imperfect moment.'" (People)

"What If This Were Enough? feels cathartic.... Havrilesky's book is hilarious and pulls no punches, and its cohesiveness feels fresh." (Broadly)

“A sharp, humorous, and heartfelt essay collection that explores our culture's obsession with self-improvement, perfection, and success, What If This Were Enough? asks readers to reconsider their endless quest for the coolest, the biggest, the shiniest new thing, and instead find happiness in what they already have.” (Bustle)

“The popular ‘Ask Polly’ columnist returns with a witty collection encouraging readers to embrace their imperfections and reject our culture’s self-improvement obsession.” (Entertainment Weekly)

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what I have been waiting to hear

I have been on a self-improvement journey, not anymore. I bought this book on a whim. I'm so happy to have listened to it. It is like everything that has been in my brain the past four and a half years was written down by this author. There are no answers there's nothing to help you improve yourself. It is a collection of comments and facts about today's world that are refreshing to hear out loud. Can't wait to listen again!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Food for Thought

I really enjoyed her essays. The basic topics tethered together in this collection are those I love discussing. I have a couple degrees in Anthropology so I ponder the topic of happiness & fulfilment. What is it, why do we feel entitled to it?! What a recent concept in human evolution. Social media has a huge role in this as does commercialism, marketing. Pretty fascinating!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unfortunately, just not a good read

I read an excerpt of this book and was completely intrigued. It was a raw and realistic approach to life and I immediately decided to purchase the book and read it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even make it half way through because of the overwhelming whining and negativity...which I realize is sort of her point in the book...that it’s ok to be negative, unhappy and complain...but when it comes to reading a book about being negative and complaining it makes you feel just that... negative and honestly annoyed. I totally appreciate the outlook on realizing we don’t always have to be bettering ourselves but at the end of the day, as she says, we’re all going to die, so why not try to just enjoy it and be the best we can? The author really seems to rip on any sort of self-help or attempt at looking at our meaningless lives as anything remotely meaningful...which is a pretty downer outlook. I really don’t think anyone needs this in their life. I hate to leave a negative review heh but coming off trying to get through this book I can’t feel anything other than blah, everyone sucks. So. There’s that. Ugh. It’s just so bad.

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Important premise, failed execution

How we, as Americans, navigate this critical end stage of capitalism will determine the future of this country over the next few generations. Rather than engage this important topic, Havrilesky teases it, then devolves into a sulky, classist critique of the indignities she is forced to suffer through her proximity to the Great Unwashed.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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ugh. enough already. how depressing.

Maybe this books gets better after the first 30 minutes, but I'll never know. Debbie Downer makes life seem like a total corporate shell game, where happiness is hidden under one of the shells. She has a point, but then she just keeps making it. over and over and over and over .......

2 of 4 people found this review helpful