Up For Renewal

Up For Renewal

What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over

By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked herself what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When she took a closer look at her wants, she noticed something that seemed very familiar -- with the addition of exclamation points, her list could easily be transformed into the cover lines on every women's magazine: Find the love you deserve! Paint to the rescue! Eggs-actly perfect meals!

So Cathy gave over her life to the glossies for the next twelve months, resolving to follow their advice without question. By the end of her subscriptions, she would get rid of upper-arm jiggle, crawl out of debt, host the perfect dinner party, run a mile without puking, engage in better bathtub booty, ask for a raise, and rehaul her apartment.

Well, at least that was the premise of her social experiment. What actually happened was much less about cosmetic change and much more about internal transformation. Singular in its voice and yet completely universal, Up for Renewal will appeal to all who have ever wondered if they could actually make their life over.
Choose a format:
  • Atria Books | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416580423 | 
  • July 2008
List Price $16.99


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Cathy Alter, author of "Up for Renewal," set out to transform her life by following the advice in women's magazines.

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About the Author

Cathy Alter
Photo Credit: Marissa Rauch

Cathy Alter

Cathy Alter is a Washington, D.C.-based writer whose articles and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Self, Fitness, and McSweeney's. Her first book, Virgin Territory: Stories from the Road to Womanhood, was released in 2004.


Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Up For Renewal?

A. My life was a total mess. I was dating a string of narcissistic jerks, eating my lunch out of the vending machine at my office, partying like I was back in freshman year of college, and generally screwing up anything that was actually good in my life (which wasn't a  heck of a lot.) I knew I needed to get my act together, but didn't know how. One day, I found myself in a bookstore, in front of a wall of women's magazines and, after being bombarded with coverlines like, "How to turn the clock back 15 years!" "How to bring men to their knees!" "How to pull off plaid without the bagpipes!" I had my eureka moment: I was going to turn my life over to women's magazines and follow their advice, without question, for the next year.

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