It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway

And Other Thoughts on Moving Forward

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Pub Date May 02 2023 | Archive Date Not set
Nelson Books | Thomas Nelson

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A collection of refreshingly honest and hilarious essays from Southern Living columnist Elizabeth Passarella about navigating change--whether emotional or logistical--and staying sane during life's unexpected twists and turns.

After Elizabeth Passarella and her husband finally decided that it was time to sell their two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, she found herself wondering, Is there a proper technique for skinning a couch? The couch in question was a beloved hand-me-down from her father--who had recently passed away--and she was surprisingly reluctant to let the nine-foot, plaid, velour-covered piece of furniture go. So, out came the scissors. She kept the fabric and tossed the couch.

We've all had to make decisions in our lives about what to keep and what to toss--habits, attitudes, friends, even homes. In this new collection of essays, Elizabeth explores the ups and downs of moving forward--both emotionally and logistically--with her welcome candor and sense of humor that readers have come to love. She enters into a remarkable (and strange) relationship with an elderly neighbor whose apartment she hopes to buy, examines her own stubborn stances on motherhood and therapy, and tries to come to terms with a family health crisis that brings more questions than answers. Along the way Elizabeth reminds readers that when they feel stuck or their load feels heavy, there is always light breaking in somewhere.

It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway will make readers laugh, cry, and feel a little less alone as they navigate their own lives that are filled with uncertainty, change, and things beyond their control.

A collection of refreshingly honest and hilarious essays from Southern Living columnist Elizabeth Passarella about navigating change--whether emotional or logistical--and staying sane during life's...

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Featured Reviews

I have never read anything by Elizabeth Passarella before but I will be looking for her books now. It Was an Ugly Anyway is filled with essays about Elizabeth’s life in New York but the stories aren’t really about New York. The stories are so much more. They remind us that life is about so much more than what we see. We need to dig deeper. Throughout the shorter essays is one essay that continues about trying to acquire an apartment from an older lady who doesn’t live in the building. I will admit, Elizabeth had more patience than I do.

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. Thanks to Elizabeth Passarella, too!

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A collection of essays sharing the author’s reflections on nearing middle age, and learning to use the wisdom from her past to help her choose which battles are worth fighting, and find fulfilment in humour in the everyday. Share a few laughs and nods of agreement as she provides adulting advice on parenting, relationships, careers, and how to maintain a healthy relationship with your mother-in-law.

✍️ My review:
A quietly entertaining collection of essays that share a realistic and (mostly) positive view of embracing aging as gaining life’s wisdom rather than just getting old. This book took me a while to finish as I found some of the essays were harder to relate to than others, but I did think the story-line of “moving to a new apartment” that occurred in segments throughout the book helped tie everything together.

💕You might like this book if:
🔹 you agree that life, or at least parts of it, gets better as you age
🔹 you appreciate reflecting on life changes
🔹you can see your role in a family as both child and parent / caregiver

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Loved this book! Slice of life in essays is one of my favorite genres the past few years. And while this isn’t necessarily a Christian book, her faith comes through in some of the essays which I really liked. NYC living is intriguing to me and I loved getting a glimpse into that. A great mix of laughing out loud but also touching stories. I immediately added her first book to my TBR.
*Thanks to NetGalley for an Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for my honest review.

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A quick read, It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway is a collection of essays around the idea of change uncertainty, and staying put. While I didn't underline/highlight anything, and I'm not sure I have any takeaways (wouldn't read it again), this was still an enjoyable read.

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What an absolute delight to read! I devoured Elizabeth Passarella’s previous collection of essays, ‘Good Apple’; I resonated with so many of the themes and topics she wrestled with, that I revisit those stories often. This collection felt like an extension of ‘Good Apple’ and exceeded my expectations. There was an excellent balance of poignant moments and laugh-out-loud anecdotes. I was so thoroughly invested in the essays about the (new!) apartment that I’m already looking forward to her next collection.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

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Thank you #Netgalley for the advanced copy!

A collection of interesting essays intertwined with an ongoing story of selling their current apartment in hopes of getting another apartment in the building. I found myself more intrigued with the apartment stories rather than some of the other shorter essays. Enough to where I wanted to look up her instagram to see if there were before and after photos of the new apartment. I loved the sense of humor throughout the book and how she connects with others, including her unique mother in law and Lois. Great read!

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I loved this book. Made me laugh and cry.. Wanted to see the layout of the apartment... That's how invested I was reading it. Don't miss this one.
Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Cute book of entertaining stories about moving on and going forward.

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'Really enjoyable essay collection about marriage, parenting, friendship, and—in some of the juiciest bits—New York City real estate. Highly recommended!

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I enjoyed this very much. I had never heard of Elizabeth Passarella (possibly b/c I don't read Southern Living), but I am very glad to have discovered her. I am a sucked for essay collections, but I have been hard-pressed to find great ones written by women that I would return to time and again. I think this collection from Passarella is a keeper.

Passarella is a little older (43? 46?) than most of the women writing. I've read a LOT of Millennial-age collections - and they are good, but don't always resonate. This one from Passarella did. Even though I'm a (cough, decade) older than her, I found her book really relatable. We just purchased a new home last year, and her stories about trying to purchase a new apartment really resonated. I also found her chapter about her mother-in-law endearing as well as chock-full of good advice.

I don't have kids, but Passarella doesn't overly focus on them - they're just part of her life, not her whole focus. So I found the stories that included them very relatable. Passarella is also a practicing Christian. I didn't know that when I requested the book from NetGalley - and I'm glad I didn't b/c (myopically) I probably would have given it a pass. Passarella's faith is a genuine, integrated part of her life, and while her roots are Southern, she's living as a New Yorker and her faith feels like it has evolved to have a bit of New Yorker vibe as well - making it more palatable to a heathen like myself.

Passarella's writing is fun, fresh and easy to read. I'm looking forward to keeping an eye out for her future pieces but also picking up her earlier book, "Good Apple". Oh, what really made me fall in love with this book - Passarella describes reading Ruth Reichl's "Tender at the Bone" (or was it "Comfort Me with Apples"?) and it really resonating with her, just an immediate, visceral reaction. I felt the same way when I read it (ADORE Ruth Reichl!) and felt an immediate kinship with Passarella.

If you like creative non-fiction essays, I heartily recommend "It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway". If those aren't your jam, I'd still give it a try. Definitely worth the time!

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me read an ARC!

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I really enjoyed Elizabeth Passarella's first book. It resonated with me a lot, so I was looking forward to this second book by the author. I didn't have as much of a connection with this set of essays. All in all, I'm glad I read it, but her debut was more relatable to me.

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A collection of relatable essays. I had not read any other books by this author but I enjoyed reading this story collection.

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

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I laughed, I cried, I loved this book! I will be adding the author’s other collection of short stories to my “to read” list.
Maybe it’s because I’m around the same age, and have recently gone through some similar life events, but I found many of the author’s experiences to be relatable. Those that weren’t were still entertaining and full of hope for moving forward in both big and small ways.

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for this ARC!

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This was a funny book. I liked her reminiscing about her dad and the couch. I liked the stories about the couch too.
I like how Passarella talks like she is talking to a friend.
I enjoyed reading this as my dad passed recently and it made me think of fond memories I have with him.

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC.

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My thanks to Net Galley and Thomas Nelson Publishing. Pub Day 5/2/23

I absolutely loved this memoir of essays by Elizabeth Passarella! She shares the story of her family - her husband and three kids living in a two bedroom apartment in NYC - but wanting to move to a three bedroom apartment. Along the way she shares her childhood growing up in Memphis (oh the humor of her Southern roots!) and life in NYC with 3 young children in a tiny apartment. This intrigued me as a southerner who loves her wide open spaces. Her humor was so relatable, her stories so funny, yet true (I too have lost my kids!), and a book I really didn't want to end. I will look forward to her next book!

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4 fun stars

It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway has many fun, interesting essays about living in New York City and raising a family, ”because parenting, lest you forget, is a contest.” Pasarella’s skills as an experienced journalist shine through. The style is chatty, like friends sharing a funny story together.

Some chapters were not interesting to me, especially the ones about beauty and being a magazine writer. “If I am being honest, I’m starting to get annoyed by it all.” Or the one about childhood memories of a car accident and learning to waterski. IMHO, the chapter on her other-in-law was good, not great, but I enjoyed that Pasarella admits she is not what her MIL imagined either.

I did like when she showed her faith in her essays. “The whole crux of the Christian faith is that we cannot save ourselves. This is meant to be good news, although for people like me, who pride ourselves on being supremely capable, it feels irritating at times.” I would have liked a bit more of this.

The essay on her childhood pets is funny and wise. “When my older two children bring up getting a dog, I remind them that I gave them a baby brother three years ago, and he’s more fun. He can play Jenga….A puppy is too much work for people who are still potty-training humans.” The chapter on public schools and middle school is both wise and funny. All in all, these essays, bound together with a cumbersome title, are a good diversion from the world’s bigger problems.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway
Author: Elizabeth Passarella
Source:  NetGalley - Nelson Books
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023

One of my new favorite genres would be short stories, essays, and memoirs. Who knew? But It Was An Ugly Couch Anyway by Elizabeth Passarella is a charming story of the fun and foibles of a Southern girl raising a family and a husband (jk) in New York City. Trying to find a bigger home for a family of 5 is a large part of this book, and I loved learning the extent to which folks will go to secure a place in the city for a reasonable price (which, to me, is not so reasonable). Elizabeth is funny and shares great stories about her Dad (I can relate) and his 9-foot sofa that was ugly as homemade sin but so comfortable that no one could take it to the curb. I loved this book, and I look forward to reading more from Elizabeth in the future. Great job with stories that are good-natured and witty. She does share about her faith which I don’t find offensive; in fact, it's life-affirming. Read this sweet book due out tomorrow!  #humor #nonfiction #satire #entertainment #adult #losingkidsintheCity #findingAHome #ElizabethPasserella #ItWasAnUglyCouchAnyway #honest @espassarella #Charming #readThisBook @nelsonbooks @netgalley

I received a complimentary copy of this ARC. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Thank you to Nelson Books, and the author for the opportunity to read this book. Pub. Date: May 2, 2023.

#book #books #bookaddict #booksofinstagram #bookstagram #bookstagramer #bookshelf #booksbooksbooks #readersofinstagram #reader #booklove #bookreader #reader

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Many, many thanks to NetGalley and Nelson Books for gifting me a digital ARC of the new book by Elizabeth Passarella - 5 stars!

I was an absolute huge fan of Elizabeth's first collection of essays, Good Apple, focusing mostly on growing up in the south as an evangelical Christian and now living in NYC. Her second book continues along that same vein, probably with less religious themes, but with all the heart and humor from the first. These interconnected stories also feature the family's quest to purchase a larger apartment in their same building.

Elizabeth's writing is so relatable and even though I'm older than she is, I feel like I''m sitting across the table from a best friend drinking a glass of wine and talking about everything - but really talking, not just instagram highlight talking. I loved the story of her dad's couch - I had a relatable ugly couch in my life too that would probably have coordinated well with hers! But of course, it's about more than a couch and that's where Elizabeth's writing shines. It's about all the feelings associated with objects. Plus, there are very few people out there who are completely honest these days - so when Elizabeth writes about her facial hair woes or temporarily losing a child in Times Square, you can't help but relate and laugh along.

I can't recommend her books enough - I'm hoping she's sitting in the library now working on her next one!

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It Was An Ugly Couch Anyway: And Other Thoughts on Moving Forward is a collection of essays that touch on the topics of parenting, aging, and moving forward. This was an interesting read that gives a glimpse into what it’s like to live in Manhattan with young children over the past few years.

I loved seeing Passarella’s struggles (and triumphs) with parenting, as well as her relationships with her parents and in-laws. I appreciated her honesty about certain aspects of aging and motherhood. I loved her perspective on parenting in Manhattan, even though it is entirely different from how she was raised in Memphis. I also loved how she embraces life and doesn’t seem to fear for herself or her kids while living in such a big city.

Perhaps because this is more of an essay collection than it is a memoir, many parts felt unresolved to me. I’m really quite curious to know what she’s going to do with the ugly upholstery she saved!

Going into this read, I knew nothing of Elizabeth Passarella, so I was unaware of her religious leanings. She did a great job incorporating her faith into the book without it being overwhelming, but not knowing this in advance made the first few spiritual references feel out of place.

I also felt this book was less about moving forward and more about hanging on to certain things. Based on the title, I was hoping for something more directed at major life changes, transformations, etc.

Overall, I enjoyed It Was An Ugly Couch Anyway and would recommend it as a quick and interesting glimpse into the life of a mother in Manhattan. Passarella is funny and insightful and honest.

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I absolutely loved this quirky memoir! The relationships and tangents (squirrel moments) were incredibly relatable and it all tied together to be a beautiful story of growth and family and friendship!

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This was a great essay collection. I loved the author’s candid and relatable stories and enjoyed her humor and wit and her storytelling. I really enjoyed the NYC setting and getting a glimpse into life and motherhood in the city. This collection centers around the author befriending an older lady who owns an apartment in her building as they go through the slow and complicated process of buying the apartment from the older lady. It’s about change and moving forward and life in the city. I will definitely read more from this author.

Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC.

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I loved Elizabeth Passarella's Big Apple so I grabbed this one up on NetGalley!

This collection of essays is funny and real. She talks parenthood and New York and an apartment saga and just about life. Being from the south, I love how she references her southern roots while giving the reader such a taste of life in her beloved New York. She's so candid about her insecurities, her family, her faith and pretty much everything.

I gave this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. I love a great essay collection! I thought this one was a notch above Big Apple. I can't wait to read what she writes next!

Thank you to @nelsonbooks and @netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

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I loved this book about moving forward in life and how to do that in a way that preserves memories, but makes it okay to leave things behind both metaphorically and physically.

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I absolutely loved this memoir in essays from Elizabeth Passarella. Her voice is so honest, funny and relatable, and her stories of motherhood, marriage and the impossible hunt for the perfect apartment in NYC are so delightful. There is so, so much warmth in her words, and she manages to find humor and levity even in the scariest of situations (a health scare or a global pandemic). I just loved this, and I’m so glad I read it. I think it would really resonate with our customer base at the bookstore!

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I love the title. Who hasn’t had an ugly couch. And who hasn’t had to move that ugly couch to numerous places. This is a great collection of relatable stories.

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I loved Elizabeth Passarella’s first book, and I was thrilled to see she had already written a second. After reading the description, my heart sank knowing that her father had passed. I loved reading about her relationship with her parents in the first book. Here, she has so gracefully navigated grief, and faith, and the changing of life’s seasons. It felt similar to the tender + bittersweet writing of Kelly Corrigan in The Middle Place. Passarella does a great job marrying humor and honesty.

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What a fun read by Elizabeth Passarella . The book is about navigating change in our live. Should she keep the couch from her parents are put it in the trash. Her father recently passed away and she feels connected to the couch and him. Elizabeth helps us see that is is fine to move on and ahead. A great quick read.

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What do a hoarder's apartment, the best technique for skinning a couch, and losing your child in NYC have in common? You’ll have to pick up IT WAS AN UGLY COUCH ANYWAY: And Other Thoughts on Moving Forward.

Elizabeth Passarella uses a beloved couch long past its prime and an emotional roller coaster of a move into a former hoarder’s apartment as the foundation for this candid essay collection. I love the way she explores the nuances of motherhood, life in NYC and moving forward in the aftermath of grief and change.

Striking the perfect balance of humor and heart, Elizabeth’s words felt like grabbing coffee with a friend in the trenches who is also trying to survive and sometimes thrive too.

As with her debut, GOOD APPLE, Passarella’s words are a love letter to New York City. As someone who has never been (!!) I love the armchair travel and how she simultaneously captures the flaws and beauty of a community she loves.

You’ll laugh. You’ll Cry. You’ll wish you had more time spent in these pages.

The big apple holds a special place in your heart
A hearty laugh or a good cry is in order
You find stories of imperfection and vulnerability relatable

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I loved Passarella's first book. I didn't even make the connection until about a few chapters in and suddenly I realized it HAD to be the same person who wrote Good Apple. I am not a Christian and normally I would not read anything written by an evangelist Christian, but I would make an exception for Ms. Passerella any day of the week because 1) she's a great writer, 2) she is so funny you WILL laugh out loud, and 3) she's honest about her faith but doesn't demean others.
This book resonated with me and is likely to do so with those readers who have lost a parent, made a move, or tried to figure out their next step in life. And... you'll never forget the couch!

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. From a Jewish fan.

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essay collections are quickly becoming one of my favorite forms of non-fiction to read and this book was no exception

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Such a fun read. Elizabeth Passarella manages to make you think and laugh almost simultaneously. In our divisive world, she has a winsome way to invite someone to look at life through the lenses of grace and believing the best! This is an uplifting read about the power of place, valuing those different than us and both honoring our desires and yet not holding them too tightly.

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A fun collection of essays in which I related to her on many of them (especially since I think we probably live within blocks of each other). She talks about teaching her kids her cell phone number in case they get lost (and other urban survival skills) - my husband made our information into a song for our kids while we walked around the city (“my parents name is… we live at…”) in case they got lost. I related completely when she talked about losing focus on a kid in Central Park and other parenting mishaps.

I fully enjoyed the humor in her essays and laughed out loud while reading it. It was interesting to hear her perspective on living in New York City- she’s a southern transplant who has now lived in NYC for years. Like many others who have read this, I felt like we were sitting having coffee on the UWS and chatting.

This was a super enjoyable read (and listen) and reminded me why I like humorous essay collections.

4.25 Stars

Thank you for the opportunity to review this ARC

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This book is packed with many short stories of the author’s life. Some I found really interesting. Others, not so much. Overall it was well written and easy to read.

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I loved this book. I even followed her on Instagram and got to see the couch! I loved how the stories wove together and wish I could meet "Lois!" Funny and poignant, it was a great read all around.

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There truly is nothing like the camaraderie found in a women’s restroom.

This memoir is a collection of short stories. There are tales about meeting Anna Wintour, NYC doormen, the physical effects of childbirth, to name a few.

The first ~15% of the book is about her husband’s fainting episodes and them going to doctors to learn more. It’s pretty detailed, so if you have phobias surrounding medical descriptions, I’d skip chapter 2.

The rest of the book picks up from there. Admittedly, if I weren’t reading for the purpose of posting a review, I probably would have DNF’d after Chapter 2. I can see the loose connection that needing to apply for life insurance has with her fathers death. But it set a different tone for the book than I was expecting.

I was shocked to find that people once CALLED Southern Living magazine and receptionists would track down the recipes from old issues and mail them. That’s wild. In the height of my magazine subscription days, it never occurred to me to do that. So funny.

Note: there is a lot of religion/belief talk that gets dropped into the stories. I wasn’t expecting it from the book description, so it’s worth noting.

Another note: there are many details within the stories that make it known this author has risen in socioeconomic status. It’s somewhat subtle, until it isn’t. I think if you’re 40+ you might not even notice it woven in. Anyone else, it does stand out and kind of took me out of the storytelling a bit.

Thank you to the punisher & NetGalley for my digital copy!

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This essay collection was funny, relatable and real. I really enjoyed the day to day details about parenthood in New York City especially during covid Now I really want to see the finished apartment they renovated in their building!

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As a Southern girl who is intrigued by all things NYC, this was such a fun read (listen). Written in essay form, the author describes her family's journey to get the perfect condo in the city. Along the way, there are tales of motherhood, setbacks, friendships, and growth. I also loved how the author added aspects of her faith into the story. The perfect amount of heart and humor. Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

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