Book Review: Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum

You know the kind of book you buy for its title, knowing nothing about it but that it speaks to you? That is what Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House is to me. I pre-ordered it last summer, while I was avidly apartment-hunting, job-hunting, and wedding-planning, and found myself in that position of total life upset where I just wanted that one perfect thing to cling to as my source of stability.

But that's just a long, rambling way of saying that Meghan Daum's title spoke to me.

Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House is Daum's funny, witty, and brutally honest tale of her own quest to locate, purchase, settle in, decorate and perfect a home. She calls it the "imperfect life lived among imperfect homes," and she is spot-on in that. From New York City to a farm in Nebraska to a loft in LA, through the housing crash and back again, Daum covers every apartment, house, and sofa she lived in from the day her parents moved her from Austin, TX to a house in NJ until her current dwelling (I won't give it away, even though her jacket bio does).

Remember when you played house as a kid? One person would be the Mom, one the Dad, and the rest the kids. (Unless you got stuck playing the dog, which was the crappy role.) Daum's been playing her whole life: playing at being a New Yorker with a certified New York grunge apartment; playing at being a Nebraska farmer; playing at being a traveling writer (oh wait, she did that one for real); playing at being a homeowner. Her current house is the background to all of this, and her current house is never enough. She has permanent house-envy, coupled with a permanent idea that perfection lies just one house away; she puts all her pennies in the bank of house perfection, with none to spare in matters outside the home:
"I don't think it's a stretch to say that our lack of enthusiasm for ourselves had a lot to do with our perpetual curiosity about what possibilities for happiness might lie at the destination point of a moving van." (13)
She grows, like we all do, and becomes an adult, like we all (unfortunately and/or somewhat) do. She longs to be content in her life, and therefore her house (or maybe her house, and therefore her life), acknowledging how big this really is:
"One of the many tragedies of college life is that it's almost developmentally impossible to have the wisdom to understand that contentment, which implies some sort of sustenance over time, can be an infinitely taller order of happiness, which is often inherently fleeting. It's also unfortunate that your average college student lacks the presence of mind to tell someone to f*** off when he spouts such bong-hit-fueld twaddle about the meaning of passion."
Daum's writing at times reminded me of Chelsea Handle, though not as crass. Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House (which, though I love the title, makes for a really long link, people) is a frank, honest monologue (it's not a conversation because it's one-sided). Daum writes with a sense with a humor born of bluntness, and a sense of philosophy born of Elle Decor. Anyone who's ever moved, decorated, furniture-shopped, browsed house listings, or had green eyes for the house down the street will be able to relate to Daum's near-obsessive behavior. And anyone who's anyone will find something here to laugh about, and something here to think about, and really, what more could one ask of a book about house shopping?


  1. that title speaks to me, too! i love that daum has traveled about and lived in so many diverse places! my hubby and i are itchy to buy a new old (lol) house. we'd love to live in something a la the addams family but aren't so handy...for now our center hall colonial will have to do! love this review and am interested in reading this one. thanks for the tip. :)

  2. "I just wanted that one perfect thing to cling to as my source of stability."


  3. Nat - Hope you enjoy it!

    Kevin, darling - My original draft said something along the lines of "A sane person would have turned to her fiancé, but the house search was all-consuming." I thought that might have hurt your feelings. :-)

  4. I saw this one a while back, and I'm totally enamored with the idea of this book. Although, I have noticed it's astronomically priced in e-format. Blah!

  5. For first time home buyers, it is important to request for credit report to begin cleaning up outstanding credit immediately.


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