Cover Image: On Our Best Behavior

On Our Best Behavior

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Member Reviews

I got this book from NetGalley after having also read and reviewed Tara Shuster’s Glow in the Fing Dark. I can understand why it was recommended after! The book focuses intensely on the cos white woman experience but because the author was so clear about that, it didn’t irk me as much as it has in the past with other gender-based books. Some really great points for contemplation, plus a few action items (other books have left me enraged but not empowered, this one didn’t have that effect). Overall one I’d likely recommend to at least my cos white female friends.

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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

If you are a woman and you need a reminder of you you want to be then please pick up this book. As a teacher, I discuss barriers as well as societal expectations placed on us and this book hits this perfectly, especially for women. I would recommend picking this book up and giving it a go!

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I agree with the basic premise of On Our Best Behavior - that women are raised to be "good" but most of the time there is a price to pay for this good behavior. The place I ran into some difficulty was with Ms. Loehnen framing her thesis in terms of the seven deadly sins. Her historical background on fourth-century monk Evagrius Ponticus and Pope Gregory didn't add much to my thought process, especially because the seven deadly sins were posited for everyone, not just women. She devotes a chapter to each of the seven deadly sins, sloth, envy, pride, gluttony, greed, lust, and anger (and also adds sadness) and while I agree with her examples and personal reflections, I couldn't follow the gist of her argument. "Feminine energy" and "toxic masculinity" may be important but simply praising or railing against them isn't going to change things. I think that is up to each individual (man, woman, or otherwise) to try to live wholeheartedly while recognizing that meeting basic needs do not make you greedy, just as resting when necessary does not make you lazy.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. This book was published on May 23, 2023.

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I highlighted this book on my Booktube channel. The video can be accessed here:

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THIS BOOK! This book is such an interesting look at Feminism and Religion. I took so many notes, and was frequently bookmarking pages to remember for later. I'm fascinated with how religion has influenced every single part of our daily experience, so this is such an interesting study. My new favorite Non-Fiction book, I will be recommending to every person that I know. Thank you for writing such an epic book Elise.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Sometimes in between all the rom-coms, psychological thrillers, historical fiction and biographies you need to stop and read something that makes you think. When I read the description of On Our Best Behavior – a book that promised to discuss how our tradition and culture have decreed that women are inferior in all ways: physically, spiritually, and morally, desperate to prove our basic goodness and worthiness – I was excited to read it.

I’m a (happy, contented) wife, mother, educated professional woman, but as I read the chapter headings I found myself saying, “Yep, yep, yep,” and relating to all things we believe are bad and all the ways we try to be good.

In order to avoid:
• Sloth – we deny ourselves rest
• Envy – we deny our own wanting
• Pride – we deny our own talents
• Gluttony – we deny our own hunger
• Greed – we deny our own security
• Lust – we deny our own pleasure
• Anger – we deny our own needs
• Sadness – we deny our own feelings

I would venture that all women can relate to some of these items, if not all. Even if we are happy and satisfied with our lives, we often feel things are out of our control, we are being judged by a different standard, and we can never measure up. We joke about guilt being our most familiar emotion. We hear or experience things that marginalize us so often that we stop listening; we decide we are asking too much and lower our expectation of what we think we have earned or deserve.

This book is not a man-hating screed. It is obviously meticulously researched and documented. The author’s stated goal is to illuminate a path toward a more balanced, spiritually complete way to live through a probing analysis of contemporary culture and thoroughly researched history. In addition, by sharing her own story and the spiritual wisdom of other traditions, Loehnen attempts to show how women can break free and discover the integrity and wholeness they seek.

The book is full of biblical references to address the spiritual side, extensive detailed historical references and a wealth of the author’s own experiences. It is all very well put together but at some point it lost relevance for me and I felt a bit overloaded by facts and repeated statements starting with, “Women need to recognize . . . “ I did not expect immediate solutions or fixes or even a self-help book, but the final conclusion of, “We are not yet lost. We just need to find ourselves again and, wings unfurled, fly home,” left me disappointed and not quite sure what the book was trying to achieve and it if had actually achieved it.

Thanks to Random House Publishing for providing an advance copy of On Our Best Behavior in exchange for my honest opinion. I voluntarily leave this review; all opinions are my own.

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Very useful both as a feminist clarion call and as basic self help. As a non- religious sex-positive non-Christian, I was not expecting to personally relate - but I was amazed how much of the perfectionism and “sleep while I’m dead” hustle culture came from these concepts! Must read for all my tired strivers! There’s probably something in here for every woman.

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Not a light or casual read but a thoughtful and thought provoking one, Loehnen has pulled apart each of the seven deadly sins, added sadness, and looked at how women reflect and are reflected in cultural attitudes and approaches to them. Each sin has its own chapter. I learned a bit, nodded more than once, and tut-tutted as well. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.

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Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and author for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

Loehnen gives readers a history lesson on the seven deadly sins and their origins while giving an understanding of the ways humans are socialized and our cultural conditioning. She reminds us that everything we've been taught and every belief we internalize as truth must be challenged and critically analyzed lest we perpetuate the narrative. Loehnen points out how the narratives of the seven deadly sins (sloth; envy; pride; gluttony; greed; lust; and anger) actually separate us as human beings from our true nature and have taught us to deny ourselves and our impulses. She doesn't argue that we should be led by these impulses but that we should be aware of them and not deny them. That in order to live an authentic life we must integrate these needs and understand them as a part of who we are and what they have to teach us.

While analyzing history, fairy tales, myths, folklore, religion, and much more, Loehnen provides us with an important argument around how owning our desire leads to wholeness and a rich human experience not a sinful one. This book was not at all what I was expecting when I picked it up, but I'm glad I kept reading to see her entire analysis.

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Thank you to Net Galley for the eARC of this book.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, especially how the author wrote about the seven deadly and specifically how women are percieved and pressured by society through these sins. Elise's writing is whitty and enjoyable to read. This is one of those books that literally everyone needs to read.

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A dive into the Seven Deadly Sins and how women are expected to conform to not "break" them. I found some chapters really interesting, especially Gluttony. Others, I thought leaned too heavy into almost memoir instead of bringing in more critical analysis.

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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'On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good" by Elise Loehnen, a well thought out and researched book, about how women strive to abide by the rules of the seven deadly sins in order to be "good". The book really digs in deep, explaining how we, as women, are not living "our best" lives because we are restraining ourselves due to these antiquated rules set so long ago. We were taught to live a life without lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride from a biblical and patriarchal society, causing women suppression of true self and happiness. A person who might have been raised to these standards may benefit more from this book, as it explains that you can still be a good person while not limiting yourself happiness. Though the book was very well written, and considerate of others outside of the author's personal demographic, I do not think I am the target audience for 'On Our Best Behavior'.

Thank you Random House Publishing and NetGalley for the e-ARC for my honest review.

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A book bringing the 7 deadly sins into modern context and how through history they have come to shape women's lives. This book was brilliant, I found myself nodding YES, highlighting and underlining and talking about this book to whomever would listen. Highly recommend. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Page after page, I found myself viscerally reacting to just how relatable almost everything Loehnen wrote was to my lived experience. As someone who threw myself headlong into my career for a decade (to the exclusion of my health, my family, and my marriage) -- and who recently quit my job in an attempt to break this unhealthy pattern I was in, and figure out who I am and who I want to be, this book was an invaluable tool in that journey.

Loehnen's deep examination of the societal structures over history that have contributed to the place that women generally exist in now was extremely informed while being very accessibly written. She was funny, engaging, witty, and informative.

Coming into it, I was unsure of how much I would connect to the writing because I have experienced previously that sometimes white women of relative privilege do not acknowledge their own identities, and speak in a tone that implies that their experience applies to everyone. HOWEVER, I appreciated deeply that with Loehnen this was not the case. She was honest about her background, her privilege, but also still real about her struggles. She did not minimize the challenges that she endured (and by extension, the challenges that those similar to her might endure), while simultaneously acknowledging that many people in different situations face obstacles that can be even more overwhelming due to their marginalization.

This book is such a necessary one, in my opinion, even though at times it can be extremely painful to be confronted by the very difficult truths it holds. I wish it was required reading!

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On Our Best Behavior by Elise Loehnen is a timely and thought-provoking book that explores the ways in which we can all become better versions of ourselves. The author provides a wide range of insights and strategies for improving our behavior and cultivating positive habits, all with the aim of leading happier, more fulfilling lives.

Loehnen's writing style is engaging and easy to read, making even the most complex concepts accessible to readers. I particularly appreciated the practical tips and exercises sprinkled throughout the book, which helped me to apply the ideas presented to my own life.

That being said, there were a few sections that felt a bit repetitive, and at times, the book felt more like a self-help manual than a casual read. Additionally, some of the suggestions may not be practical or feasible for everyone, depending on their individual circumstances.

Overall, however, I found On Our Best Behavior to be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to improve their behavior and cultivate positive habits. It's a well-researched and thought-provoking read that offers practical strategies for becoming the best version of ourselves. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in personal growth and self-improvement.

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Elise Loehnen's "On Our Best Behavior" is a groundbreaking exploration of the ancient rules women follow to be considered "good." Loehnen reveals how the Seven Deadly Sins still control and distort our lives, leading women to equate self-denial with goodness. She explains how these impulses are ingrained in us by a culture that reaps the benefits via an extraordinarily effective collection of mores known as the Seven Deadly Sins. Loehnen's probing analysis of contemporary culture and thoroughly researched history explains how women have internalized the patriarchy, and how they unwittingly reinforce it. By sharing her own story and spiritual wisdom from other traditions, Loehnen illuminates a path toward a more balanced, spiritually complete way to live. Overall, "On Our Best Behavior" is a must-read for anyone seeking to break free from societal programming and discover their true selves.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Dial Press for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for a review

This book covers a lot of whys! Why are women still following rules of the pasts. As hard as we try there is a reason why we are the way we are. Its history! Its hard!

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A Fresh Take on an Age-Old Concept

In the insightful and captivating book, On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good, author Elise Loehnen takes a unique and thought-provoking approach to examining the societal pressures that women face. Through the lens of the traditional Seven Deadly Sins, Loehnen explores how these age-old vices manifest in the lives of modern women, revealing the high cost they pay for trying to meet impossible standards. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complexities of being a woman in today's world and looking for a refreshing perspective on the challenges they face.

Elise Loehnen's writing style is friendly, witty, and engaging. The tone of the book is conversational, making it feel like you're chatting with a close friend over a cup of coffee. This approachable writing style makes connecting with the author's experiences and perspectives easy, allowing readers to see themselves in her stories and relate to her feelings.

The book is organized into seven chapters, each addressing one of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth (with a surprising 8th added in). Loehnen thoroughly analyzes how these sins manifest in women's lives, highlighting the double standards and internalized misogyny that often drives women to strive for perfection at a great personal cost.

One of the most empowering aspects of "On Our Best Behavior" is Loehnen's encouragement for women to embrace their imperfections and let go of the need to be "good" at all times. She reminds readers that it's okay to be human and make mistakes, and that true growth comes from learning from our missteps and finding balance in our lives.

This book provides readers with the tools to recognize and combat the negative effects of the Seven Deadly Sins and serves as a reminder that we are all works in progress. In a world where women are constantly bombarded with unrealistic expectations, this book is a breath of fresh air - encouraging us to be kinder to ourselves, embrace our imperfections, and celebrate the beautifully messy journey that is life.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book early in exchange for an honest review.
This is an interesting read that explores the Seven Deadly Sins. I think most readers will find a lot that they identify with in the book. And there was definitely a lot of research to find sources to back up the author’s ideas. Sometimes all of the citations/notes take away from the flow of the book.

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This book is an interesting take on the programming women have been going through for ages. Learning at a young age that we must be good and abide by all the rules set out in front of us while denying ourselves our own truth and happiness has become second nature. By using the seven deadly sins in exploring this topic, it helps the reader to engage more with the theories and identify and analyze their own lives.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a very engaging read for me as I found it tedious to read at times. A lot of effort and research has gone into it, which I appreciate. I’m not sure I am the intended target audience, though.

The publisher provided ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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