HEATHER HAVRILESKY discusses her collection of essays WHAT IF THIS WERE ENOUGH?, with ANN FRIEDMAN

What if this Were Enough? (Doubleday)

From New York Magazine’s “Ask Polly” advice columnist Heather Havrilesky, the New York Times-bestselling author of How to Be a Person in the World, comes the highly anticipated What if this Were Enough? — a bitingly funny and inspiring essay collection tackling our modern cultural fixation on endless self-improvement and a manifesto for embracing the flawed imperfections of the everyday.

Why do our modern lives feel more difficult despite the world’s promises of limitless opportunity? When things go wrong, why do we always blame ourselves? We live in a time of extreme delusion, disorientation, and dishonestly — yet despite our uncertainties, anxieties, and resentments, we’re nevertheless instructed to sweep all hesitations or doubts under the rug and continue to fearlessly conquer the future.

How did we get here? And more importantly — can we imagine a different way of living?

In What if this Were Enough? Heather Havrilesky examines just how we’ve landed in this bewildering spot in our collective history — how traditions of forced cheer and optimism, along with our fixation on success and constant improvement have been ingested and metabolized to become a warped filter through which we see ourselves and others.

In nineteen essays, all new or revised and expanded, What if this Were Enough? investigates the ways we’ve convinced ourselves that salvation can be delivered only in the form of new products, new technologies, and new approaches to our lifestyles. From gaping at celebrities on Instagram and our Marie Kondo inspired purgings to the glorification of villains on TV and our grappling with the anxieties of new platforms and devices, Heather Havrilesky sees us struggling against the systems that we live within and redirects our attention toward what we have already. In pieces about Mad Men, Disneyland, and Fifty Shades of GreyWhat if this Were Enough? shows how we’re haunted by these ineffable things — hunger, worry, disappointment — and how sometimes just by describing them, we can begin to break their spells.

Heather Havrilesky has been writing about culture professionally for more than twenty years. Before she was Polly, she covered TV for Salon for seven years and has contributed bylines to outlets including the New York Times MagazineThe New YorkerBookforum, and The Baffler. Drawing on decades of experience as a critic, reporter, and essayist, in What if this Were Enough? she now imagines a new path forward for us all — one rooted in the current imperfect moment, rejecting the shiny, shallow future that will never come, repeating the mantra, “This is good. This will work. This is enough.”

Praise for What if this Were Enough? 

"Heather Havrilesky is a singular talent and an indomitable force. When it comes to the tension between thinking and feeling, of being out in the world and being alone with yourself, there is no one sharper, wiser, funnier, most honest, or more insightful. In What If This Were Enough, readers will find a splendid mix of Havrilesky’s familiar and intimate 'Ask Polly' voice and the authority and erudition of a seasoned cultural critic. I couldn’t get enough."—Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

"There's an effortlessness to Heather Havrilesky's writing that is incredibly rare. Her funniest sentences are still empathetic. Her darkest confessions are still pretty funny. It doesn't seem to matter what she's writing about, or what point she's trying to make. She's just good at it."Chuck Klosterman, author of But What If We're Wrong? and Killing Yourself to Live

"Heather is that dear friend you run into at a bad party at which you’re stuck and you say ‘Oh thank God you’re here’ and spend the rest of the night making dark and hilarious jokes about the party, other attendees, and the human condition. Thank God she’s here."Jake Tapper, author of The Hellfire Club and The Outpost

Heather Havrilesky is the author of How to Be a Person in the World and the memoir Disaster Preparedness. She is a columnist for New York magazine, and has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and NPR's All Things Considered, among others. She was Salon's TV critic for seven years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a loud assortment of dependents, most of them nondeductible.

Ann Friedman is a journalist and cultural critic. She is a columnist for New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times, and a contributing editor to The Gentlewoman.  She co-hosts the podcast Call Your Girlfriend and sends a popular weekly email newsletter. Find her work at

Event date: 
Monday, October 8, 2018 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
What If This Were Enough?: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385542883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - October 2nd, 2018

How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101911587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 27th, 2017

Disaster Preparedness: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594485466
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Riverhead Books - December 6th, 2011