Book: No Regrets serves up 101 things to do before you get too cynical

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

May 13, 2009 at 5:00 am
Book: No Regrets serves up 101 things to do before you get too cynical

No Regrets: 101 Fabulous Things to Do Before You’re Too Old, Married, or Pregnant
By Sarah Ivens. Broadway Books; 268 pgs., $14.


*Sarah Ivens Book Signing/Reading*
Thursday, May 14
Carmichael's Bookstore
2720 Frankfort Ave.
Free; 7 p.m.

When I was 25, my best friend and I made a list of 10 things we wanted to accomplish before we died. While hers included life-changing tasks like seeing the Great Wall of China and going on an African safari, mine included somewhat less lofty goals like owning a Mini Cooper (check), sex in a hot tub (unchecked!) and drinking five Hand Grenades in one sitting at New Orleans’s Tropical Isle (check). On both of our lists is drinking Maker’s Mark in every state — so as we sipped our Maker’s & Diet last weekend in Chicago (Illinois: check), we laughed and reminisced about the hopes, desires and dreams we had just a few years ago — OK, seven years ago.

In Sarah Ivens’s new book “No Regrets,” the editor-at-large of OK! Magazine (and Louisville resident and LEO contributor) dishes up 101 things you should experience before you’re too old, married or pregnant. In the introduction, Ivens says that soon after turning 30, she had an Oh Shit! moment — where am I going, what have I done, what have I missed out on?

“What I regret now are the chances not taken,” she writes. “I look back and resent the time I wasted on faux friends, or office gossip, or working for cruel bosses.”

From her regrets and missed opportunities comes this list — which

includes simple things, like learning to love champagne and getting professionally fitted for a bra, to more serious milestones like sitting still at Machu Picchu and learning to express gratitude.

The book is a pleasant and easy read, as Ivens writes mostly about the benefits and her knowledge with each task. After a few paragraphs of input, she hands the mic to other women to share their own experiences on said topic. The 101 tasks are broken up into eight categories — Glamour Girl, Friend Indeed, Fashionista Sista, Wilderness Woman, Jet-Setter, Free Spirit, Chic Geek and Beauty Maven — and Ivens also offers alternatives for each, in case you just can’t bring yourself to sing karaoke or get thrown out of a nightclub (“If you can’t get thrown out of a nightclub … make out with the DJ. Even if he hasn’t been tickled with the handsome brush, he’s cool because he’s the DJ.”).

Ivens’s fresh, effortless style of writing and her affinity for pop culture as a thirtysomething makes reading “No Regrets” feel like a conversation with a good friend over a few drinks. She not only namedrops Debbie Gibson and Tiffany (my favorites), she suggests you learn quotes from “Grease” and rediscover the A-ha song “Take On Me.” There’s a nice balance of simple, somewhat humorous tasks (buy a vibrator) and more challenging missions (spend time with your grandma; learn to speak the truth, even if it’s painful).

As I read “No Regrets,” I amended my list of 10 with some of her suggestions. Here’s what I’m willing to try: look for shooting stars; people-watch in Paris; become a bit of a hippie; date outside of my type; dig through my dad’s music collection; be the first to apologize. Here’s what I’ll skip: swim with sharks; eat exotic meat; go (completely) bare down there; and learn to walk in three-inch Stilettos.