A few weeks ago, I sent out self-help/love/relationship books to readers and asked them to give me a one-sentence review of what they read.
The reviews are finally in and I'm posting them today. The book list changed as I went through my desk drawers, but it all worked out. I asked our Living/Arts co-op to choose his three favorite reviews. As promised, his winners will be sent mediocre prizes. Congrats.
First place winner is:
After reading this book, I now understand that there are four types of people in this world, as suggested by attachment theory, which this book applies to adult relationships: "Secure" people who have emotionally healthy relationships; "Anxious" people who crave emotional intimacy and obsess about it; "Avoidant" people who run away from emotional intimacy because they see fear losing their independence; and people like me who think that Attached vastly oversimplifies the range of human experience into these three bins, but if you are drinking the Kool-Aid, may ultimately give some insight into patterns of troubled relationships.
Second place goes to:
"Celebrating Love (Share, Remember, Cherish)"
If there's one thing I learned from reading "Celebrating Love" by Jim McCann, it's to never voluntarily read a book published by 1-800-Flowers.com.
Though posing as a cure for anxiety/fear, this book is more likely the used as a drinking game for psych students because if you took a shot every time he mentions the "amygdala", you'd be fearlessly drunk by the end of the second paragraph (and if that's the case then maybe it works).
And everybody else (let's call them Honorable Mentions):
Don't be a humorless, self-involved, poor-mannered, stunted, obsessive, pizza-hating negative nancy, and you will find someone out there who loves you!
"The Man Who Lied to His Laptop"
The Man Who Lied to His Laptop by Clifford Nass is what How to Win Friends and Influence People would be if written by Malcolm Gladwell... and relevant enough to all facets of life for me to read at work for Professional Development!
reviewed by: "yeah, that's right, the Packers won the SUPERBOWL!!"
"I Love You Even Though..."
A hardcover compilation of Hallmark sayings, with such endearments as 'I love you even though you don't know the difference between shabby chic, Euro-chic or Euro-trash' (the horror!) and 'you consider all asking to be nagging' (rightfully so).
"The Art of War for Dating: Master Sun Tzu’s Tactics to Win Over Women"
A thoroughly nauseating and glib male advice book featuring 200 pages of such inspiring words as '[expletive] shield,' '[expletive] blockers,' 'swagger,' and '[expletive] tests,' in which Rogell lays out (pun intended) his game plan for getting a gal into bed as fast as possible—proving once again that the battle of the sexes is alive and well in 2011.
A Compendium of Kisses
No need to buy the book, just get down to business xoxoxoxoxo.
"Shameless: How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure...and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner"
If you're married with a boring sex life and a poor body image but do not want to have an affair, getting an erotic massage will help you find your sexuality - enough so that even if you're married with an exciting sex life and a fabulous body image, you will want an erotic massage anyway, just to reap the benefits of your newly found inner sexual goddess.
"Women are From Venus, Men Are Idiots"
Gary Larson is from Mars, John McPherson (the cartoonist who attempted this Far Side-like look at romantic relationships) is an idiot.
"What About Me"
"What About Me" by Dr. Jane Greer effectively explores how selfishness (apparent or not) can lead to unhappiness and absence of intimacy, the two factors that will almost certainly kill a relationship.
This book had good intentions, but could have been summed up in a quirky Cosmo article, saved a few trees and me the embarrassment of carrying around a hot pink and black book that read "4 weeks to a sexier you" on the cover.
The first half of Koren Zailckas' memoir about how repressed anger has influenced and affected her relationships reads like an overly-researched scholarly text written on a deadline; it is only in the second half of the book when she writes about a profoundly personal experience that we get a sense of connection and feel the raw, honest emotion emerge.
"Back to Us: A Couple's Journal of Reconnection and Growth"
A poor man’s couples retreat, this book helps couples get back the spark through journaling.
"From Heartbreak to Heart's Desire: Developing a Healthy GPS"
Although a quick read, this pseudo-MD probably does a better job counseling women in person than through print -- if you don't already know that working out, eating healthy and loving yourself before a guy will make you happy this might be for you.
"Money and Marriage"
A quick, informative read on co-mingling (and separating) assets - subjects included how to effectively stalk your intended through public records, how and when to hire a private investigator (don't worry, it's not a pre-req to a grilled cheese), divorce advice, and even a wedding budget spreadsheet!
"The Military Marriage Manual"
You're better off watching an episode of Army wives.
“Goodnight Tweetheart” was amusing enough for bedtime reading and the characters were well thought out and realistic, however at some points it felt more as if I had been snooping on a friend’s computer and coming across some mildly witty tweets rather than reading a true love story.
-Jessica B. from Brighton
"Girl, Get Your Mind Right!"
How to stop settling for Mr. Wrong, it should be required reading for women who keep hooking up with losers because they're "too desperate to wait for the results of the background check."
"eHarmony Guide to Dating the Second Time Around"
This book will provide you with lots of advice/tips for dating but the only way to meet your true love is thru the eHarmony service.
"Stop Calling Him Honey...And Start Having Sex!"
This book promises a new solution that none of the other relationship books contain and it has a couple interesting tips, but at the end of the day the authors could have just written one sentence saying, "Talk dirty not cutesy."
"Save as Draft"
"Save as Draft" was a cute, easy to read, chick book which was easy to relate to and made you think about the influence of technology on relationships.
"Fight Less, Love More"
A practical, easy-to-read approach for bickering couples who don't know where they've lost their way, this book details the work necessary to apply the "Golden Rule" to ones relationship, but if you swallow your pride, take the initiative, and put in the effort to change your attitude and your partner doesn't reciprocate, well, then maybe you'll just have to use this book as the paddle you'll be lacking.
"The Men's Health Big Book of Sex"
The Men's Health Big Book of Sex taught macho me how to have stronger "elections," how to keep her humming ... then I flipped the book over and was sensitively and sensibly told by The Women's Health Big Book of Sex how to keep romance alive, which types of contraception to use, and how specific word choice is key in any constructive communication regarding critiques of performance (or Boston.com book reviews).
"The Case for Falling in Love"
Author has no original ideas and merely quotes popular tv shows and puts down other relationship/self-help books while she attempts to show that there are no rules to love, which may be true, but she gives her reader no concrete advice or reason why they read her book!
"Lovecasts: His Star Sign Secrets Revealed, The Astrological Guide to Finding Lasting Love"
Win any man you want, armed with only his birth date.
"Project Happily Ever After"
If you are wishing your spouse dead so often you have planned every detail of the funeral, get help - quick - by reading every relationship self-help book you can get your hands on and, together, completing any and all activities included in the books; if after 4 months you stop wishing death upon him/her, consider yourself successful!
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.