Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me along the Way

Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me along the Way

by Ruth Reichl


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Bestselling author Ruth Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed and openhearted investigation of her mother's life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Looking to her mother's letters and diaries, Reichl confronts the painful transition her mother made from a hopeful young woman to an increasingly unhappy older one and realizes the tremendous sacrifices she made to make sure her daughter's life would not be as disappointing as her own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594202162
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/21/2009
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 7.28(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ruth Reichl is the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine and the author of the bestsellers Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples. She has been the restaurant critic at the New York Times and the food editor at the Los Angeles Times.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 16, 1948

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., University of Michigan, 1968; M.A., University of Michigan, 1970

Table of Contents

The Mim Tales 9

What Girls Can Do 33

Finding Mr. Right 45

Idle Aptitudes 62

Chaos 74

What We Are Made For 85

Dear Dr. Portnoy 95

Rainbows 111

Tsunami of Pain 120

Grateful 129

Gifts 136

Acknowledgments 141

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Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me along the Way 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked Ruth Reichl's other books, so I was interested in reading this book. I was especially interested in learning more about Reichl's relationship with her mother. Reichl's writing was fine, and her stories were insightful, making this a good read. It would make a good book for book clubs, as there were many topics that made the reader ponder the changing roles of women in society, and the opportunities open to them, over the past several decades. However, the small size of the book made me feel that the story was over too soon and the relatively hefty price made me feel that, in the end, the book did not quite justify its purchase price.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave this book to my Mother (an avid reader) after reading a review. Her take was that it was bleak and left a hangover of sadness, so I thought I'd better read it and share the misery. Bleak, sad, a woman's life frustrated and a daughter who who can at least claim to have succeeded in her Mother's hope that her own life be more fulfilled. I can't suggest this book as a gift, or even a diverting read. sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have read any of Ruth Reichl's other books this is a rerun and a short one at that. She writes an interesting book, but not this one. I felt stung having paid money for material from her other books.
booklady2031 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this memoir. I felt that it lacked substance. I wanted to get to know the author's mother, who sounded like an interesting person to know, but this book merely scratched the surface.
stephaniechase on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reichl is a born storyteller, and I have always enjoyed the "Mim Tales" she shared about her mother. In this short book, Reichl shares with us the other side of her mother, about a woman who struggled to be happy and did all she could to not have her daughter lead the same kind of life. Two generations removed from the women's movement, it is always interesting to me to see just how different choices were for women in the past.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A slim book, in both senses of the word. She's a wonderful writer, and it was interesting to learn more about her mother, but the book was more a short story than a book and so slightly unsatisfying.
idiotgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Audiobook. A good book. Reichl goes back and uncovers her mother's life from her letters. Comes to know a woman she didn't really know when she was alive. Well done and compelling. An interesting mother/ daughter point. Her mother taught her, did everything she could do, to ensure that she didn't become her mother. I had a mother who invented herself (went to college and became a school teacher when no one in her time and place really did) because she didn't want to be her mother. The variations on this theme are endless. A book I'd recommend.
LesaHolstine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Not Becoming My Mother, Ruth Reichl tells some familiar stories of her mother. But, she also writes a love letter to the woman who raised her and allowed her to make her own path in life. And, she sends a thank you letter to those women who, trapped in their generation, gave those of us who are their daughters and granddaughters, the chance to lead our lives. It's a book that might open our eyes, and allow us to say thank you to our own mothers. So, thank you, Ruth Reichl.
countrylife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sifting through a box of her mother's papers, Ms. Reichl's remembers her growing up years and what her mother taught her. The bottom line: don't settle for what I settled for.And so today, when people ask, ¿Why do you work so hard?¿ I think of my mother, who was not allowed to do it, and say, ¿Because I can.¿ . . . In her own oblique way Mom passed on all the knowledge she had gleaned, giving me the tools I needed not to become her.Short, somewhat repetitive, but a sweet memoir. (2.7 stars)
etxgardener on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ruth Reichl is know for being a cook, a restaurant revieer for the New York Times and the editor of Gourmet magazine. For those who have read her books, she is also known for having a mother who at best could be called eccentric and at worst a mental case. In this book, Reichl, after her mother's death, finds a box full of her mothers journals and letters and starts reading. This takes Reichl on a journey of discovery. She finds that her mother was a deeply disappointed woman who strove her whole life to please everyone but herself. Her mother's main goal was to make sure that Reichl didn't inherit her fate, and in her wild and crazy behavior during Reichl's childhood mad Reichl determined to be different from her mother.At the end of this small & wonderful book, Reichl has made peace with her mother & has the grace to thank her.
DBiere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting & a very quick read.
Doey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not sure who the intented audience for this book is. She seems like a pretty self agrandizing person. In the end, I found little sympathy for the author, but great sympathy for her mother who had t put up with such a child. What sort of self-absorbed person wouldn't realize that she had a pretty good mother all along. Reichel would have been fortunate to have been her mother instead of running away from her all her life. Getting to that conclusion in the book was tedious, boring and the writing was not uplifiting or inspiring. I could write a better book than this on the back of an envelope.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reichl has always had a peculiar relationship with her mother, a love-hate, an adore-loate, a respect-revolt relationship. Her mother, Miriam, longed to be a doctor, but her parents refused, saying if she became a doctor she¿d never fulfill the only real purpose a woman should have in life: to find a husband. So Miriam complied and got a degree she didn¿t want, married a man she didn¿t love, gave up a career she desired, and had children she never wanted. Reichl uses her mother¿s letters and journals to tell her mother¿s story, a cautionary tale for Ruth, of course, but also for women everywhere.
karenlisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not becoming My Mother By Ruth Reichl. Every daughter should read this. Given the opportunity to explore a box of old letters and diary like excerpts, Ruth Reichl pieces together a new, different mother. Ruth Reichl is an accomplished memoirist, writer, editor, cook and businesswoman. Her previous writings delve into her life from early childhood through today and are wonderfully entertaining and heartfelt. This book, a small novelette, focus's on Ruth's mother. An important, influential person in her life but one that she did not fully understand until a box of letters and diary entries are found. These writings detail for Ruth more about her mother than she ever knew and help her piece together some of the mystery that was their family and her mother's character in general. Every daughter (really, sons too!) should relate to the feeling that unexpectedly is revealed, at some point in your life, that your mother is a "person." That you are a part of her life but that her life existed before you and will after you move out on your own into adulthood. That a mother's desires, dreams, regrets and fears are real. They are not less important or life changing than your own. They need to be respected, understood, for better or for worse. The author finds this out after her mother's death. The reader may wonder what would have happened had she learned these things sooner or perhaps, take the time to learn from the experience and call your mother.
honeydew69862004 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not Becoming My Mother is a great book. It is a quick read and an eye opener. It really makes you think about if your mother was happy while you were going up. With the age gap it is probably closer to one of my mothers siblings than my own mother but it still makes me wonder. It also makes me think of my own life of being a young mother of two and right now being a stay at home mom. Definitly a book I think all women should read.
RefPenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read some of Ruth's other books, with the stories of the terrible things her mother did, I thought this book would be exceedingly funny. Instead it was quite sad. Miriam, a woman of intelligence, was born into the wrong time period and struggled, unsuccessfully, against its strictures. She was determined that her daughter wouldn¿t suffer the same fate.
SumLacuna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Touching little book. Less a memoir than a very personal meditation on the author's mother, the impact of attitudes towards women just after WW2, and the legacy handed down to her. Doesn't read like the author's other books (which I love). But a quick, enjoyable read nevertheless. And really got me thinking about the lives of my grandmother's generation.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable as all Ruth Reichle's books, but not as entertaining as Tender to the bone or some of the others.
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Elizabeth-Ann More than 1 year ago
I bought this book knowing full well that our book group would enjoy it before we even cracked a page. Having read all of Ms. Reichl's books, and many of her forewords, I was certain that this would work her magic as well. It did. We all enjoyed the read very much. It resulted in conversations about our own mothers and about how difficult relationships can be, for so many different reasons.