Journalist Ariel Leve chronicles her pessimistic attitude and neurotic tendencies in her new memoir, It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me. It’s a compilation of her “Cassandra” columns, which she used to write for London’s Sunday Times Magazine. In these short essays, she discusses everything from how hard it is to get out of bed and leave the house, to relationships, to being a hypochondriac. Since she lives in New York and London, she also has an interesting perspective on the differences between the cities, such as dinner parties in New York versus London.

I tend to be a bit of a pessimist myself, so I could totally relate to many of Leve’s musings. Her affinity for naps and her dislike of the question “What’s new?” (“I switched toothpaste, paid the phone bill, and bought a humidifier. I’m no Sharon Stone.”) reminded me a lot of myself. I like how she embraces her crankiness and says things that a lot of us are too afraid to admit. Since Leve’s a New Yorker and most of her observations are about everyday life, I got a Seinfeld/Larry David vibe from the book—only more feminine and introspective.

I can easily recommend It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me to pessimists, chronic worriers, and hypochondriacs—that’s a no-brainer. At worst, they’ll think, “What does she have to worry about? She should try being me.” As for happy-go-lucky folks? I just don’t know if they’ll get it. Perhaps they should first try reading some of her Cassandra columns to get a feel for the dark (but funny!) world of Ariel Leve.

Quotes from It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me:

Just then I discovered something very important. There is a world of difference between having nothing to do and having no plans.

People like having solutions. Men especially. If there’s a problem, it has to be solved. What’s wrong with having a problem and talking about it until you get tired? Sooner or later you give up and move on.

All I want to do is sleep. I suspect it relates to my fundamental inability to embrace the fact that I’m alive.

I feel bad that maybe I’m not doing enough. But then it occurred to me I’m doing more than most. I’m not having children. That’s about as environmentally friendly as it gets. Putting fewer people on earth does far more to prevent global warming than buying organic blueberries.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Harper Perennial | Pages: 304 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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