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Being Perfect [Hardcover]

Anna Quindlen
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2004
A few times in your life, someone will tell you something so right, so deeply true that it changes you forever. That is what Anna Quindlen, author of the timeless bestseller A Short Guide to a Happy Life, does here.

In Being Perfect, she shares wisdom that, perhaps without knowing it, you have longed to hear: about “the perfection trap,” the price you pay when you become ensnared in it, and the key to setting yourself free. Quindlen believes that when your success looks good to the world but doesn’t feel good in your heart, it isn’t success at all.

She asks you to set aside your friends’ advice, what your family and co-workers demand, and what society expects, and look at the choices you make every day. When you ask yourself why you are making them, Quindlen encourages you to give this answer: For me. “Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am. . . . That way lies dancing to the melodies spun out by your own heart.”

At the core of this beautiful book lies the secret of authentic success, the inspiration to embrace your own uniqueness and live the life that is undeniably your own, rich in fulfillment and meaning.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; 1 edition (1 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375505490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375505492
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 13.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anna Quindlen is the author of the bestselling novels Blessings and Rise and Shine, amongst others, and of the non-fiction titles Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud and A Short Guide to a Happy Life. Her New York Times column 'Public and Private' won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek and lives with her husband and children in New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Being perfect Anna quindlen 30 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I am totally shocked that I read the book in five minutes. The cost of the book does not justify the content. It has no substance and nothing of interest shame! Zero rating
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced, silly 27 Nov 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoy this author's fiction for the most part, so I gave this a try, but it's just a short essay full of vague generalities and not interesting. I cannot believe how much I paid for this -- it should be free or .99 at the most!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short book; potent message 12 May 2005
By R. Shaff - Published on
Anna Quindlen is one of those haunting writers, one who can fool you with a simple, basic cover and an ostensibly simple message. Then, she hits home with poignant views that makes one think, engage in introspection, and question why we do what we do.

Quindlen has done it again with BEING PERFECT. This little 64 page book extolls the wisdom of avoiding perfectionism, or the perfection trap. She furthers her argument of the dangers of the perfection trap by describing the consequences and the toll it can take on life. She provides answers to the trap, answers that most likely will assuage those habitual perfectionists, as well as the novice. Satisfying oneself is a goal worthy of effort, yet difficult at times to quantify and compose as many perfectionists don't look at finite goals. Consequently, perfectionism can be a slippery slope.

Quindlen moves ahead of the pack by asking the reader to consider what makes YOU happy, not your friends or family, YOU. This is an underlying message in the book...set goals and objectives in life that create happiness for you. We all have a tendency, at times, do what it takes to make those around us pleased or happy. The problem is simply this: these acts are not necessarily what makes us happy and thus, we are not living our own life.

Quite honestly, Quindlen has created an essay designed for introspection and enrichment, one that is quite thought-provoking. This is a book that can be read and re-read, and quite quickly. Her message, though short, is quite potent. Recommended.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We need reminding.... 18 Aug 2005
By healowe - Published on
A year ago, with my 25 year marriage falling apart and a spouse in full-blown midlife crisis, and with 3 teenaged boys, I took 6 weeks to follow a lifelong dream of visiting Ireland. I stayed in hostels, walked and bussed, followed my own nose after years of trying to be the best wife and mother I could be. Shortly before this trip, I found Anna Quindlen's graduation address to Vassar (?) college, from which Being Perfect is largely derived. This, with a few select prayers, poems, and books, went everywhere with me.

Last fall, I wrote Anna Quindlen an email thanking her for her wisdom that balances "head and heart" so well, and telling her about her essay coming with me. She emailed me back saying I had "made her day" and telling me that "her sisters look over her shoulder" as she writes...

I was delighted to see what she had done with this excellent gem of writing. This little book is not meant to be a self-help tome, but a reminder that we need to re-check our motives frequently and assess what we are really doing in relation to the people and cultural pressures around us. The photos are, in my opinion, perfectly eloquent expressions of moments when perfection and conformity come into being in our lives--in all their beauty and joy, but all to often, with too much shallowness and mimicry.

A picture is worth 1000 words, right? This book is complete; to elaborate more would have muddied its message.
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great book to pass along to a friend... 22 Oct 2005
By Wabi Sabi - Published on
I enjoy Anna Quindlen's articles/columns and found her book Blessings to be a pleasant story. That said, I was quick to pick up this book, Being Perfect, while browsing through a bookstore at the airport. It is a short book - I was able to read the book cover-to-cover while standing alongside my carry-on bag in the bookstore (less than 15 minutes).

Still, I enjoyed the presentation. Anna's writing style speaks to me very eloquently. Her message was poignant and I'm sure would tear right at some heart strings for those individuals(particulary women) who have spent a better part of their lifetime trying to be the perfect 'parent' or 'spouse' or simply live up to society's impossible ideals. But for me, it was simply an interesting read that left me without any lingering thoughts.

While the black & white photographs were endearing, I couldn't quite see the full relevancy other than that they were from the era when Anna was a teenager perhaps. However, those photos seemed to occupy atleast 1/3 of the printed pages (which were few to begin with).

I would strongly recommend that you borrow this book from the library before investing $12.95 and having it sit idly on your shelf. I don't think its a book to be read and re-read, but perhaps a book that you would happily offer to a friend to take home and read and pass along to another friend.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be You Rather than Someone Else's Image of Perfection 7 May 2005
By Donald Mitchell - Published on
This brief picture book contains an essay based on a commencement address by Ms. Quindlen.

The basic concept of the essay is that a young person can get so caught up in meeting others' expectations . . . and doing so perfectly . . . so that there's no room left for the young person to be her- or himself. Instead, you become a perfect imitation of the current manias. Ms. Quindlen wisely warns that " . . . nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations."

She warns that it's hard work being yourself. There's no model for you to follow. You have to face yourself and make the most of your imperfections.

Ms. Quindlen also warns against the concept of "effortless perfection" that young people seek to portray. It's an oxymoron. Perfection is a great task and the goals are constantly being shifted for you. In addition, it's the imperfections that draw the eye and make the hand-made rug more appealing than the machine-made "perfect" one.

To be human is to be imperfect. Revel in it!

To me, the photographs were the best part of the book, and they would have reproduced much better if they had been on larger pages. I graded the book down one star for failing to do justice to the photographs.

The book opens with a photograph of a young woman carrying an enormous briefcase on her back. It's a metaphor for the weight of carrying the need to be perfect in the world's eyes. The next photograph has six women in bathing suits at the beach. One is standing on her head while five similar-looking women pose in high heels with their arms around each other sitting on a rail. In the next image, two identically dressed females compare their shoes.

There's a lot of humor in the images. You'll see bobby soxers, women walking with books balanced on their heads, a girl on stilts, a bride gaping as her veil flaps ahead of her in the breeze, three generations of women profiled, and lots of old-fashioned clothing . . . all of which were considered "new and perfect" at one point in time or another. You'll be giggling a lot over these photographs.

There are also some romantic, idealized images to reflect the need to be yourself. Those will cause you to yearn for tranquility and satisfaction.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anna Quindlen is a Lesson in Being Perfect! 9 Jun 2005
By Nancy R. Katz - Published on
If I had one wish other than good health and prosperity for my family and friends, it would be to spend an hour with Anna Quindlen. From Ms. Quindlen's earliest days as a columnist for the New York Times to her books and musings for Newsweek magazine, this author never fails to amaze me. I will truly never forget feeling black and blue when I read Ms. Quindlen's book so aptly named or the longings of Mrs. Blessing to nurture an abandoned infant in her book Blessings or most of all how she seemed to be writing about me in How Reading Changed My Life. But it was her canceled graduation speech and the basis of the book, A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life which filled me with joy and tears as I handed this to our only child when she left our home and she embarked on a career and living in the big city when she graduated from college.And now that I have read Ms. Quindlen's latest offering and once again I must sing her praises as a wise and witty author who shares with her readers her innermost thoughts on living a life of perfection and being perfect.

In Being Perfect Ms. Quindlen explores how each of us is consumed with the goal of being perfect and more important what happens to us when we march to our own drummer. While we hear this term and may even use it ourselves, as we read this book we really have time to think about what is "perfect" and what surprises and life lessons await us when we're not "perfect." And how we grow and learn and sometimes realize that being perfect may not only be a myth but harmful to us as individuals.

While avid readers love to read, we all read for different reasons. And when I read Anna Quindlen I can't help but think of CS Lewis' quote, "We read to know we are not alone," And so I know I am never alone when I read an Anna Quindlen book and it is as if she is standing right beside me urging me on to continue reading, continue to be myself and continue to enjoy what I hope will be a long and happy life. And if I never get to meet this gifted author, I can always look forward to her next book, or article or even reread one of her previous books which I cherished.

I urge to read Being Perfect and consider this as a gift for any and all who are embarking on a new journey or just living their usual lives. See if you don't agree with me that not only is Ms. Quindlen a wonderful author but one of our national treasures.
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