A few weeks ago, I posted a list of the many self-help books that have been sitting on my desk. I sent those books to Love Letters readers for review. Today's holiday post is a list of their assessments.
In other news, you all really like "Casablanca." If you want to watch the classic film at the fancy Theatre 1 downtown on Feb. 25, RSVP here. Film critic Ty Burr will be there to introduce the film and to gloat about winning the Romance Rumble. I'll be there eating my feelings. Yes, the screening is free.
And now (drum roll) your reviews:
Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-laws into Family," Ruth Nemzoff
"Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family" insists everyone do their best to get along with the various in-laws to keep the peace and promote family bonding. Life is long and odds are one day having a positive relationship with an in-law will work in your favor. -- Emma
"Dumped: You would have dumped him and you know it. He just beat you to it. Here’s our grown-up guide to getting ... over your ex in record time," Maryjane Fahey and Caryn Beth Rosenthal.
Dumped will make you chuckle and give you feel good vibes. As far as advice for a newly single gal, it may not be too helpful in actually moving on. I did take some quotes and advice to remind myself it'll be okay: "Red shoes, bourbon, and lots and lots of pizza." -- Krysta
"8 Weeks to Everlasting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting (and Keeping!) the Guy You Want," Amy Laurent.
I am of the strong belief that we should update a popular idiom to "those who can't, teach -- but not well." 8WTE is a 21st century edition of "The Rules," littered with already out of date pop culture references, written by a delusional single woman. Don't waste your time, watch SATC instead. -- Laura
"The Nine Phases of Marriage: How to Make it, Break it, Keep it," Susan Shapiro Barash
This book is a collection of anecdotes from wives of all ages loosely structured around nine arbitrary stages of marriage. It is a typical self-help book, in that the advice is not particularly helpful at all, but the personal stories were somewhat engaging. -- EnjoyEverySandwich
"Meditation for Multitaskers: Your Guide to Finding Peace Between the Pings," David Dillard-Wright, PhD
My book report: Put down the phone already and relax. You're not that important. -- Wendy
"The Good Enough Spouse: Resolve or Dissolve Conflicting Marriages," Dr. William E. Ward.
I really wanted to be snarky about this- and expected to be! However, it was actually really helpful -- all people need to understand who they are, what bothers them, etc., in order to know what it is about their spouse that sets them off. The main drawback is that this book definitely seems at first glance like a "pre-divorce" book which might turn some people off! There are a LOT of divorces in it but the main point is that these were marriages where the spouses either waited too long or only one wanted to change. I hope some couples will look past the cover and give it a whirl. -- Rebecca
"Talk to Me Like I'm Someone You Love: Relationship Repair in a Flash," Nancy Dreyfus
127 flashcards for use when an argument escalates and a different approach to communicating is needed. You could find 5-10 flashcards (the index is good) that really resonate and use them, even as a makeup discussion after the cooling off period. I think this could help couples who are stuck in the same old fighting routine. Flashcard example: "I realize I'm overreacting. Can you give me a minute to get sane again?" -- Carolyn
"I Love You But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship," Mira Kirshenbaum
A surprisingly helpful, step-by-step guide to understanding the reasons why relationships lose trust and how to gain it back. The book lays out rules, dynamics, and semi-helpful, semi-amusing relationship case studies. Worth a read if you want to rebuild your foundation but aren't sure where to start. studies. Worth a read if you want to rebuild your foundation but aren't sure where to start. -- Shannon
"Codependent No More: Workbook," Melody Beattie
Be prepared to get spiritual ... Put your own work in (12 steps!), but do it in the context of relinquishing control to a higher power. Realize the only actions you can control are your own and feel more love for yourself, peace with those around you. Overall: relatable, probably helpful. -- Jessica
"It’s Complicated (But it Doesn’t Have to Be): A Modern guide to Finding and Keeping Love," Paul Carrick Brunson
I wouldn’t say this book was very helpful. The first few chapters did give some actual advice and insight. Then the rest gave what felt like made up stories about the author’s match making clients. The story was told, you could see the relationship/personality flaws, but that’s about all. -- Emma
"Stuff Every Husband Should Know," Eric San Juan
As I read the book "Stuff Every Husband Should Know," it reminded me of the book "The Rules." I cringed, because it seemed to be written from the perspective of a demanding, smarter-than-you woman (not a guy author named Eric San Juan - surely this is a nom de plume?), essentially tailoring your life and responses to meet the needs of a self-centered woman. I saw it as emasculating. It advises men that your relationship is all about the woman. This isn't true in real life, it's a partnership and unless people recognize this they're in for a world of pain. Some relationships are traditional, and it would be helpful for those guys to learn about home maintenance, but I found that chapter to be straight out of the '50s. Do most people really buy into this philosophy? Gawd, I hope not! And one more point. I hated these two sentences: "Everything is your fault. Learn to embrace this." Um, definitely not. Shudder!! -- Janet
"I See Your Soul Mate: A Intuitive's Guide to Finding and Keeping Love," Sue Frederick
This relaxing read feels as if the author is chatting with you over coffee about using intuition to find and follow your true life path -- including meeting a soulmate. Dreaming (in addition to numerology) is useful here. Now I'm off to sleep, maybe dreams will lead me to Mr. Right! -- Kat
"50 Ways to Play: BDSM for Nice People," Debra and Don Macleod
BDSM for kindergartners! In all seriousness, a nonthreatening, easily digested book that explains BDSM and suggests ways to integrate it into your existing routine. -- Briana
"Shut Up and Dance: The Joy of Letting Go of the Lead- on the Dance Floor and Off," Jamie Rose
Whether Julliard-trained or cursed with two left feet, independent women will easily relate to the author as she recounts her relationships snafus using wit, humor, and humility. However, the advice somewhat leans towards those ladies with a partner as opposed to those still waiting to fill their dance card. -- Sarah
"Flirtexting: How to test your way into his heart," Debra Goldstein and Olivia Baniuszewicz
In my original email I wrote "As I am almost nearly sort of close to 40, sexting is kind of ridiculous BUT I do have someone I can Flirtext with...." What I learned is that no one over 35 (and even then that's pushing it) should be texting anything - sexy OR flirty. No matter how hip, savvy, young at heart you think you are, you aren't. Hey, no one snowflake thinks IT was part of the blizzard. But if you are 30 or younger and spent too much time in front of a video game in your formative years and now have no clue how to communicate with an actual human being, this is a good guide for you. -- AB
"Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become," Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD
Chapter 6, "Loving Self," begins with ... "we can’t love others unless we first love ourselves." Tell me something I don’t already know! There are many meditation practices suggested; however, since I found the book to have too scientific an approach to Love, I had a tough time really getting into it and trying any of the ideas. To me, love isn’t scientific ... it's from one heart to another. The way it should be. -- Ruth
"The Heart of Money: A Couple’s Guide to Creating True Financial Intimacy," Deborah L. Price
This was a useful guide to get your "financial house" in order, whether you are currently part of a twosome, or preparing to become a +1 in the future. This book gives great discussion points, to have with yourself or your partner. -- Elizabeth
"Anxious in Love: How to manage your anxiety, reduce conflict, and reconnect with your partner," Carolyn Daitch, PhD, and Lissah Lorberbaum, MA
Quiet your anxiety and learn how to communicate in your relationship as a part of a couple and an individual with relaxation techniques like breathing, visualizations, and time outs. Who's got time to take a time out? You'd better if you want to change! Not too condescending and lots of fun exercises. -- BB
"It's Your Move: How to Play the Game and Win the Man You Want," Nick Savoy
Savoy spends the first seventy pages of his book detailing his expensive workshops for wannabe "pick-up artists." (I checked the website to see when this workshop will be in my city so I could avoid all bars that weekend.) The other 200 pages weren't as offensive as they could be. -- Kate
"Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred," Mark Nepo
I couldn't get through the book. I did like reading about Nepo's own personal enlightenments and experiences with mindful listening, but the reflective journal and table questions at the end of each chapter were a little much. Nepo does leave meditations throughout the book for more eager/mindful readers though. -- Michelle
"The Promise of Love, Sex, and Intimacy: How a Simple Breathing Practice Will Enrich Your Life Forever," Mark Whitwell
This message in this book has been written before. It's "The Secret" mixed in with some basic tenets of meditation and a smidge of tantric sex. The author persuades the reader to make "The Promise" to devote 7 minutes each day to breathe and focus on bringing love into their life. The promise is that it will happen. -- Kathy
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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.