The Rules Do Not Apply
When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.

Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules--about work, about love, and about womanhood.

"I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can't have it all."

In this memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being "a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses." Her own story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed--and of what is eternal.

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The Rules Do Not Apply Reviews

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Mar 31, 2017

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I had read such mixed reviews of this one that I almost didn't read it, but I'm glad I did. Where other people saw an unlikable writer, I only saw honesty, about relationships, deciding what kind of life you are going to have, etc. I sat and read it cover to cover.One example: "I wante...

  • Rachel Smalter Hall
    Mar 31, 2017

    Rachel Smalter Hall

    I LOVED listening to this book, and devoured it in just a few sittings. It's a very raw, personal, and confessional memoir by a woman who wears her considerable flaws on her sleeve — in other words, it's exactly my cup of tea. The author gives a great performance on the audiobook,...

  • Bookforum Magazine
    Mar 30, 2017

    Bookforum Magazine

    "The truth at the heart of Levy's memoir, though, is that even the most privileged American women are not in total control of which desires will remain unfulfilled. And this can be an excruciating fact to accept. The difficult thing about thinking you are free to choose whatever life y...

  • Book Riot Community
    Mar 29, 2017

    Book Riot Community

    Back in the day, I was a fan of Levy’s first book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, about women and the rise of raunch culture. So I was thrilled to get my hands on an advance copy of her memoir, about a woman who wants it all—lifelong companionship, fantastic sex, a child of her own,...

  • Suzie Bull
    Mar 29, 2017

    Suzie Bull

    The Rules Do Not Apply is a compelling and extremely readable biography. It deals with many different issues, including loss of a baby, alcoholism, love, bisexuality, and friendships. It is candid, honest, and at times raw. I want to read more of Ariel Levy and see what other direction...

  • Esil
    Mar 27, 2017


    I didn’t know anything about Ariel Levy – who is a writer with The New Yorker -- but the description of her memoir sounded interesting. Well, it turns out that I would probably be happy to read anything by Levy and I need to look for some of her other writings. Her memoir dea...

  • Harvee
    Mar 25, 2017


    The plight of the modern woman outlined in this memoir: what happens or could happen when you want it all - all of life, together, at the same time, without necessarily making the sacrifices and trade-offs that may be required for a more predictable outcome. Revealing, honest. ...

  • Bookish
    Mar 17, 2017


    A few years ago, I was knocked out by Ariel Levy‘s “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” article for the New Yorker. The other day (which was, incidentally, a few days after the first anniversary of my divorce), I read an interview in Longreads with Levy. After I finished it, I imm...

  • Joanna
    Mar 16, 2017


    Beautifully-written and unflinchingly honest (if, at times, hard to read). ...

  • Claire McNeill
    Mar 15, 2017

    Claire McNeill

    This was so disappointing. ...