Title: Five Things I Can’t Live Without
Author: Holly Shumas
Release Date: July 13, 2007
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating 4 out of 5
From the back cover:
On paper, Nora’s life looks perfect. She’s moving in with her boyfriend Dan, she has a stable job and a great group of friends. But she’s stuck in what she refers to as “meta-life,” the plight of overthinking and secondguessing to the point of self-sabotage. One day at work, Nora decides to thwart her meta-life by following her instincts. In what feels like a moment of revelation, she quits her job. Immediately, her meta-life goes into overdrive: What on earth was she thinking–and what is she going to do now? Fortunately, when a friend asks Nora to rewrite her Internet dating profile, she realizes that not only is she good at it, but she really enjoys it. Billing herself as a Cyrano de Bergerac for the lovelorn, Nora finally begins to find professional success. But soon, Nora’s meta-life has latched onto the question she’s asked so many clients: What are the five things she can’t live without? Is her flourishing business one of them? Is Dan? With each new client and each step she takes in her own relationship, she must confront her biggest demon–her self-sabotaging “meta-life.” But will she be able to slay it forever?
Five Things I Can’t Live Without is one of those books that has been languishing unread on my shelves for a really long time. When I heard that Holly Shumas has a second book coming out in 2009, I decided it was time to pick it up and read it.
The first thing I have to say about Five Things I Can’t Live Without is that you can tell the author has a day job as a therapist. The amount of analyzing that Nora puts herself through is exhausting – I couldn’t live every day doubting myself to that extent. And that is why Nora is on the edge throughout the book. She is so consumed by the prospect of failure that she can’t just live her life.
I think that the leap Nora takes in her life (quitting her job to focus on writing) is brave, but a bit irresponsible. I feel like she could have explored writing while still working (her boss offered her a cut in hours, but she quit instead). I am a person who needs security, so it would have made more sense to me if she had tried to figure out what she wanted to do at nights while working during the day. But the whole point of the book is that Nora took a leap of faith in order to stop her own psychoanalysis – if she had continued at her day job, she most likely would have been paralyzed by fear and insecurity.
I really liked the portrayal of online dating in this novel. I think that generally, a lot of people still see meeting people through online personals as a last resort for the pathetic. But I have more than a few great, attractive, wonderful friends who have met (normal) people through sites such as match.com because they weren’t satisfied with the people they were meeting at the office or at bars. One such couple is getting married in the spring. I very much appreciated Shumas’ effort to show that online match sites are not a world for the weird; they’re just another way to try and meet people.
Five Things I Can’t Live Without is a quick, light read that chick lit lovers will probably enjoy. If you’re one of those people who has a nasty voice doing a running commentary in the back of your head, this is definitely a book for you.