Review AND Giveaway: Up For Renewal by Cathy Alter

WIN A COPY OF UP FOR RENEWAL!  See the review for details. CONGRATS to JESS of Book Reviews by Jess; She’s the winner!

renewalTitle: Up For Renewal

Author: Cathy Alter

Genre/Pages: Memoir/336

Publication: Atria Books; July 2008/Washington Square Press (re-release); July 2009

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS

A year in the life of a woman who has committed herself to change, taking advice from glossy magazines on the big Fs: fashion, fitness, food, finance, and, ultimately, FINDING herself.

I’m a huge fan of essays and memoirs–Jen Lancaster, Bill Bryson, David Sedaris–are some of my favorite nonfiction writers.  I have laughed my way through so many memoirs that deciding to review Up For Renewal was a no-brainer–it was a memoir AND the premise hooked me!

At the age of 37, Cathy Alter’s life wasn’t exactly going according to plan.  Recently divorced and spiraling down a bleak pathlittered with sexual conquests and take-out food containers, Alter commits herself…to change.

Over the course of one year, Alter focuses on improving herself.  Each month she tackles a different aspect of her life–fitness, finance, fashion, relationships.  Using the magazines as her holy grail and life map, she charts a new course for herself and learns that sometimes it’s necessary to cross choppy seas to get to a safe harbor. 

An entertaining read, Alter doesn’t sugarcoat her bad behavior, nor does she apologize.  She takes responsibility for her actions–good and bad–and is able to learn and move on.  Though I had difficulty relating to some of Alter’sbehaviors, I enjoyed the memoir and found her writing to be witty and easy to read.  Her tirades against Saran wrap had me snorting with laughter.

That said (and since there is a giveaway associated with this review), some readers with more Victorian sensibilities might be a bit put off by profanity and adult situations.  Consider this fair warning.  For the rest of you corrupt little scoundrels, carry on!

For a chance to win a  copy of Up For Renewal, simply leave a comment and tell me which magazines you love to read.  Contest ends Friday, September 4th at 8pm EST. 

Thanks to Minjae Ormes for the review copy!

26 responses to “Review AND Giveaway: Up For Renewal by Cathy Alter

  1. I love to read Business Week and also Cosmo…I know totally polar opposites… BW is for work, Cosmo for fun! 🙂

  2. Did she manage to change herself by the end of the book or was it a complete waste of time? I am really intrigued now. I would love to be entered if the comp is international.

    I actually don’t read that many magazines. When I go on holiday I like to read the gossip ones such as Hello, Now and Heat. I also get a kick out of the Enquirer as it is so full of rubbish it makes me laugh. I don’t do the glossies, but I buy specialist scrapbooking mags and writing mags. I love Books Quarterly mag from Waterstones which lets me know which new books are coming out.

  3. Yay! I really liked this one, too. It’s great to find a memoir that reads like fiction… fun, entertaining and sassy!

    No need to enter me, of course 🙂 I’m not that greedy! Just to had to share!

  4. No need to enter me, but I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I have it on my shelf.

  5. Wow, this sounds like a great book. I’m totally intrigued. 🙂 The magazines I love to read are: Real Simple, Bitch, Bust, Nylon, and Vogue.

  6. My favourite magazine is Canadian Living.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. Oh – I would just love to read this book. I read People / US at the gym on the stair stepper, I read Cosmo while I’m standing in line at the grocery store, and I read Golf Digest about once a month to ‘improve my swing’.

  8. I don’t subscribe to or read any magazines on a regular basis, but I will admit to sneaking peeks at People Magazine while I stand in the check-out line!

  9. I get Self magazine- which I love. Otherwise I will read anything that is left out on a coffee table.

  10. i’m here from cwg just in time for a give away. what luck! i love martha stewart magazine. and i’m totally NOT a martha stewart type. i wanna be a duck confit making, tablecloth weaving & initial embroidering perfection. 😉

  11. I am an avid reader of Newsweek, Vanity Fair (they have great articles!), the Advocate, and National Geographic here and there!

  12. I’ve always been a lover of People Magazine. But right now I read Romantic Times! 🙂 Love that magazine!

  13. I’ve been curious about this book since I first heard about it. I go through phases where I subscribe to a bunch of magazines and then dry spells when I avoid them all together. My favorites tend to be book related: Bookmarks, Mystery Scene and World Wide Literature Today. My guilty pleasure is Entertainment Weekly.

  14. I love to read Shape, Self, TV Guide and People. That’s quite a collection. Hmmmm.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. I’m a Reader’s Digest girl!

  16. I’m not a huge magazine reader and the ones I read regularly tend to be cooking magazines (Cook’s Illustrated, Rachael Ray, Cooking Light). I throw in an occasional Runner’s World too to feel virtuous. On very rare occasions when my neighbor has passed it along to me, I guiltily devour People as well. It’s like the Weekly Reader for Adults but it is terribly addicting!

  17. I don’t buy many magazines, but I do enjoy Real Simple and Oprah. I buy the occasional quilt magazine as well.

    This book sounds a bit like one called Help Me Help Myself. I’d like to read it to compare.

  18. I love Readers Digest. I also reading magazines pertaining to books. Our local bookstore makes good money on me montly when I go to get the book magazines
    I love memoirs.
    Thanks for the chance.

  19. I love Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. My daughter loves Ranger Rick 🙂
    Thanks very much.

  20. I think I just missed the deadline. Oh well. 🙂 It looks like a fun book anyway, and I enjoyed reading your review.

    To share my geekiness – I read The National Geographic and The Smithsonian.

  21. Well, I’m a bit ashamed to admit this – don’t often sacrifice the hard-earned bucks for magazines, except in those desperate fits of escapism when the rat race becomes too much … a local gossip magazine called ‘heat’. If I had the time and the money, oh, I’d roll in the homestyling mags and green living mags! (See, there IS some depth to me.)

    Sounds like the right book for moi and a bit related to Eat, Pray, Love. That’s if you do consider an international handsup for the giveaway. =)

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Porch, Nat.

  22. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I have a copy on my desk waiting to be read. I’m looking forward to it.

  23. justicejenniferreads

    This book sounds like one I need to read. I’m a magazine addict – they are the only reason I survive the gym! I’m a huge fitness, women’s health, cosmo, and glamour magazine fan. I don’t have subscriptions to all (who can afford it?!) but luckily the gym carries them so I indulge as I do my cardio. Thanks for hosting the giveaway – who doesn’t love to get free stuff?

  24. I like the idea of following magazines for guidance. They often give conflicting advice, so I imagine that Alter finds herself turning 180 degrees at times. This sounds like a fun read.

    I read the food magazines (Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light . . .). I also get PW and AudioFile.

    BFish (dot) Reads (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  25. Looking forward to reading this! Thanks for the contest!

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