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The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir (2017)

by Ariel Levy

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6754334,899 (3.61)8
Biography & Autobiography. Psychology. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER •  “This Year’s Must-Read Memoir” (W magazine) about the choices a young woman makes in her search for adventure, meaning, and love

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
VogueTimeEsquireEntertainment WeeklyThe GuardianHarper’s BazaarLibrary Journal • NPR 
All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer—“the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life.
But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.
Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply
“Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”—Cheryl Strayed
“Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris
“Beautifully crafted . . . This book is haunting; it is smart and engaging. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day.”The New York Times Book Review
“Levy’s wise and poignant memoir is the voice of a new generation of women, full of grit, pathos, truth, and inspiration. Being in her presence is energizing and ennobling. Reading her deep little book is inspiring.”San Francisco Book Review

“Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”The Atlantic
“Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You’ll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend’s over.”theSkimm.
… (more)
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» See also 8 mentions

English (42)  German (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
This memoir is deeply personal as Ariel Levy traces her relationship with the woman she married and her deep desire to be a mother - both of which imploded in quick succession. A successful writer for the New Yorker, Ariel traveled the world in pursuit of her journalism and put off motherhood until her late thirties. Then, her pregnancy ended dramatically while on a trip to Mongolia, an event that opened a deep emotional wound. A touching and heartbreaking read and one that I wish I could hand to several people in my life. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | May 27, 2024 |
I burned through this, stopping myself at one point to take a breath. Gorgeous, searing writing that will stay with you. This is what reading should be like every time. ( )
  gonzocc | Mar 31, 2024 |
Beautiful and lyrical and full of tantalizing puzzlements. In the end, I found it too slight. But I would look forward to reading more by Levy. ( )
  fmclellan | Jan 23, 2024 |
There are a lot of valid criticisms of this book, but Levy is such a good writer. Even with its flaws, I found this to be totally worth my time. Read it for the great writing. Read it because it's honest.

In case you're curious, I think valid criticisms are:

1. It's extremely sad. This is not a feel-good memoir. It's a feel-bad memoir.
2. If it irritates you to have to think about the plight of a privileged white woman, this will surely irritate you.
3. There are no profound revelations in this book. It's extremely obvious that we don't all get to have perfect lives. That bad things happen. That we do not have total control over our lives. Like, duh.

But I'll say it again: she's such a good writer.
( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
This book was completely heartbreaking, but so beautifully written. After reading this, I cannot believe how underrated she is. ( )
  cbwalsh | Sep 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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Biography & Autobiography. Psychology. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER •  “This Year’s Must-Read Memoir” (W magazine) about the choices a young woman makes in her search for adventure, meaning, and love

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
VogueTimeEsquireEntertainment WeeklyThe GuardianHarper’s BazaarLibrary Journal • NPR 
All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer—“the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life.
But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.
Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply
“Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”—Cheryl Strayed
“Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris
“Beautifully crafted . . . This book is haunting; it is smart and engaging. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day.”The New York Times Book Review
“Levy’s wise and poignant memoir is the voice of a new generation of women, full of grit, pathos, truth, and inspiration. Being in her presence is energizing and ennobling. Reading her deep little book is inspiring.”San Francisco Book Review

“Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”The Atlantic
“Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You’ll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend’s over.”theSkimm.

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