That’s What She Read: “The Tao of Martha” and “I Regret Nothing” by Jen Lancaster


January is cold, dark, snowy and depressing. Time for a double dose of light and frothy chick-lit from Jen Lancaster, serial memoirist, reality-show binger, pit bull lover and wildly funny lady.

Lancaster has built a successful writing career around her attempts at self-betterment, and in “The Tao of Martha” she tackles her chronic disorganization and all around serious life funk by deciding to live a year according to the principles of Martha Stewart, homemaking guru and lifestyle maven whom Lancaster has long adored. She decides to master entertaining with style, economy and panache, embracing careful planning and attention to detail.She asks herself at all times “What would Martha do?” and vows to master gardening, decorating, crafting, cooking and all things Martha, while trying vainly to “get all of that glitter off of the dog.”

A cute, frothy, funny read mostly, “The Tao of Martha” does address issues of mortality and loss when the author loses her beloved dog Maisie and learns to live in the moment. Becoming more organized and less frantic allows her to take more time to enjoy friends and family. Choosing to leave her comfort zone opens her up to new experiences that help her to grow and mature, even if it does involve cleaning exploded eggs off the ceiling from an Easter celebration gone horribly wrong.

“I Regret Nothing” follows the footprints of “Tao” as Lancaster vows to continue to live her life more openly and less fearfully, to enjoy friends and family and to create a bucket list of experiences she wants to pursue. This later book is less blatantly amusing, as she takes stock of her setbacks and decides how she wants to head forward into her future. Both books center on living more mindfully and taking time to discover what it is that makes her life meaningful, and figuring out ways to pursue happiness and fulfillment.

Lancaster writes very honestly about her struggles with her weight and her attempts to deny the fact that she is no longer a cute, perky sorority girl who can get by solely on her looks and charm. Who is this older, fatter woman and what does she want? What is important enough to work on (writing, family, getting healthier) and what can be jettisoned (caring what others think, worrying about appearances, social media)?

I enjoy Lancaster’s books; she’s funny, breezy and honest as she goes about trying to be her best self and figuring out where she belongs. She seems like the kind of best friend who will help you get to the truth, feed you delicious treats, make you laugh and take care of your dogs.