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Self-help reviews for the holidays

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  November 29, 2013 09:03 AM

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I didn't want to cheat a letter writer out of good comments on the Friday after Thanksgiving, so today I'm posting the self-help reviews that readers did this fall.

For those who don't remember, I posted a list of self-help books that were sent to me by publishers over the last six months or so. Love Letters readers requested them, and I sent them out for review. (You'll notice that I had two copies of some books, so a few got reviewed twice.)

I told our intern, who compiled the list, to choose her favorite reader review. The winner is posted first. (Congrats KLC.)

We'll be back with a regular letter on Monday. - Meredith

“Beyond Soul Mates: Open Yourself to Higher Love Through the Energy of Attraction,” Cyndi Dale.

"Beyond Soul Mates" by is the hippie's take on the law of attraction. The concept isn't new, but this book will appeal to those who believe in eternal soul mates, reincarnated lovers, and anyone who smells faintly of patchouli. In seriousness though, the book provides reminders that in order to love truly, and be loved, we must first truly love ourselves. -- KLC

"Love Him or Leave Him, But Don’t Get Stuck with the Tab," Loni Love

I guess the main thing I got out of this assignment is there is no magic solution to our dating dilemmas that we're going to find in a "self-help" book. That being said, what can be helpful about reading something like this is that we get a kind reminder to focus on making positive choices while having a good laugh along the way. – Caitlin

"It's Your Move: How to Play the Game and Win the Man," Nick Savoy

Mr. Savoy's manual about the best ways to flirt with men predominately focused on maximizing your physical (womanly) attributes to make a man notice. A machismo perspective and nothing we haven't heard before. – R.S.

"Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating," Laurie Davis

Being relatively new to online dating, I chose this book in hopes of getting some helpful advice. While I did find much of the book useful, it suffers from three main issues: trying to cater to a broad age range, consistently plugging the author's online eFlirt Expert service, and the most annoying recurring device of all: transforming things in to "ePhrases," such as "eRelationship,""eBachelorette," and the "Wink Wide Web." So if you can get past the eOverkill, Davis offers up-to-date and handy tips for the online dating novice. -- MB

"How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing it Recklessly," David Richo.

I am a bit of a self-help book junkie. Good nuggets of information are buried in this book. I did feel though the book is a bit dense, took me a while to get into it and I did not feel like I bonded with it. -- dmcathome

"WTF Are Men Thinking?: Surprising Answers (from Thousands of Men) Women Won't Want to Miss," Christopher Brya and Miguel Almaraz

This book has the straight-forward survey results about what men are really thinking about regarding women in terms of communication, sex, looks, romance, dating, marriage, work, and more. Unfortunately, they pretty much only surveyed men in their early 20's! #nohelptome -- WickedMcCool

"Bedded Bliss: A Couple’s Guide to Lust Ever After," Kristina Wright

A collection of erotic vignettes about different couples at all stages of life along with snippets of advice for each. The vignettes were good, the advice was just pages to flip through until getting to the good stuff! -- Misty Falange

"The Five Flirting Styles: Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want," Jeffrey A. Hall, Ph.D.

This is the perfect book for people who prefer research based analysis from someone with a PhD. after their name to explain why their flirting efforts aren't giving them the results they want. Luckily, this PhD. details the pros, cons, and research analysis of each flirting style with humor and ease while detailing how to enhance and switch up each style to be more effective in the game of love. I've already recommended this book to friends -- after already analyzing their flirting style, of course. -- Amy

"The Geek's Guide to Dating," Eric Smith

Generalizes Geeks assuming that all Geeks are socially inept and on the spectrum. If you are a Geek, you have already learned everything in this book via reddit. -- Momma Merlot

"Happily Ever After: A Light-Hearted Guide to Wedded Bliss," Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall

This book is chock full of fascinating quotes from 400 years of writings on marriage. And each time I read one of those quotes, I thought, "Damn! I wish I was reading that book instead!" -- EnjoyEverySandwich

"Cheat: A Man's Guide to Infidelity," By: Bill Burr, Joe DeRosa, and Robert Kelly

A ribald, racy, risqué, and rip-roaring hilarious spoof on the Art of Cheating, "Cheat: A Man's Guide to Infidelity" is an absolute howl; not to be taken too seriously and may offend even the faintest of heart with its blunt use of female anatomy adjectives. The chapter on picking up hookers alone is worth the read ... sorry ladies, this book is off limits to you! -- Ken

"How to Fall Out of Love," Dr. Deborah Phillips with Robert Judd

"How To Fall Out Of Love" is a book for people who can't get past their ex. The advice about how to move on is extreme and is based on conditioning yourself to want nothing to do with your ex. -- Lydia

"How to Get Out of the Friend Zone: Turn Your Relationship into a Relationship," Jet and Star, the Wing Girls

Sigh, unfortunately Bloggers and now authors (if you use that term loosely) Jet and Star wrote a book that’s geared for an audience who watch the CW network; while the authors are secretly hoping that the movie rights get sold to Warner Bros and Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber will be the lead character. Overall this book is good for the awkward geek girl college student who is pining to find a way to get Johnny to like her. – Red Foxx

"Why Men Fake it: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex," Dr. Abraham Morgentaler

The differences between men and women are why we find each other so intriguing and even endearing, yes? Truth be told by this compassionate urologist's recounting of his long and varied practice, men are every bit as complicated as the women they try to please. Am I faking this review? Read the Boston Dr.'s book and find out for yourselves. -- Deb

"Modern Dating: A Field Guide," Chiara Atik

A quick read but cute and fun. I found myself laughing out loud. -- Kristin

"The 30-Day Love Detox: Cleanse Yourself of Bad Boys, Cheaters, and Commitment Phobes—And Find Your Perfect Relationship," Dr. Wendy Walsh

I recommend The 30 Day Love Detox for the many women in their 20s and 30s who, like myself, are trying to have some sort of healthy romantic relationship with guys and find themselves in fun, sometimes hot, often ridiculous but ultimately unsatisfying situations. While I find the author's writing is cheesy at times and some of her rules absurd in this day in age (ie..only kiss a guy ON THE CHEEK for a month of dating him), her book holds some wise gems that have in fact caused to reevaluate my actions and useless pining for "junk food men." -- BlondieBostonian

"The 7 Minute Marriage Solution," Stephen Arterburn

"7-Minute Marriage Solution is not for someone who's not religious. It's almost a turn off when I read 'start praying for [spouse/yourself/situation]' or 'to believe in God'!" -- Krystal

"I Only Want to Get Married Once: The 10 Essential Questions for Getting it Right the First Time," Chana Levitan, MSc

This book starts by treating you like a middle schooler (infatuation ≠ love?), convinces you that most long-term relationships are doomed to either boredom or constant value clashes, and then ends up with practical, proactive, and ultimately heartening tips for preventing and addressing plausible conflicts. Good for its lists, and the inclusion of a few sympathetic couples with realistic troubles. -- Lauren

"Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating. Grand Central Publishing," Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider

Not Your Mother's Rules are EXACTLY your mother's rules but for the 21st century: don't sit, stand, or flirt with a guy first; don't text or call; don't ask him out; wait at least 4 hours before responding to any communication; don't be friends on social media; don't sext or accept booty calls; wait before sleeping with him; and don't date indefinitely without a commitment. Basically, look pretty and hope he likes you. Be passive (or have patience?) - he'll make the moves and he'll be in touch. -- Caitlin

"I Saw Your Future and He’s Not It: A Psychic’s Guide to True Love," Louis Helene with Kim Osborn Sullivan, PhD.

To help you find out if he is the one, Psychic Louise shows you how to bring out your inner psychic by interpreting food coloring shapes in water, chanting what you want at the ceiling, and watching which way your ring swings over a drawing of a clock. If you still cannot figure it out, remember that he doesn't want to hear from you unless you make him laugh by texting a crotch joke. – Julie F.

"The Remarriage Blueprint: How Remarried Couples and Their Families Succeed or Fail," Maggie Scarf

Not so much a "How to" rather more of a "Here's why" book, "The Remarriage Blueprint: How Remarried Couples and Their Families Succeed or Fail" by Maggie Scarf provides unique, instructive insights on the pitfalls confronting blended families. An eye-opening must-read for any couple contemplating remarriage. -- Ben

"The Book of Love," Dr. Laura Berman

To be successful in love, your partner should be able to challenge you mentally, which causes you to open and broaden your mind, and once achieved, the intimacy you reach is phenomenal. -- Twinkie

"The Two Truths About Love: The Art and Wisdom of Extraordinary Relationships," Jason B. Fischer with Sabrina Kindell

Transform your relationship by letting go of expectations and judgements while not being a puppet to your emotional responses. Great read with powerful and actionable takeaways emphasizing the "self" in self-help. -- Susan

"WTF Are Men Thinking?: 250,000 Men Reveal What Women REALLY Want to Know," Christopher Brya and Miguel Almaraz

This tome cautions women against jumping to conclusions when trying to decipher men's behavior. However, the men's explanations can vary, showing how opinions, unlike the words on a page, are rarely black and white. – Seattle Single

"Jane's Guide to Dicks (and Toms and Harrys)," Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras

This is a comical book that should not be taken too seriously. Jane says call your guy every half hour to say I love you. Jamie says, please don't. -- Jamie

"The Five Flirting Styles: Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want," Jeffrey A Hall, Phd

The best insights from the book: "The Five Flirting Styles: Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want" were: 1. very different flirting approaches can all lead to success though at very different speeds. 2. how to spot the 5 flirting styles (physical, polite, playful, sincere, and traditional) 3. where each flirting style is most effective and 4. how to match your style with your relationship goals and who you are interested in. My results with a guy I've liked for quite some time: I minimized my playful flirting which wasn't communicating interest in his flirting language and I got up the courage to bring out more of my sincere flirt; despite my previous attempts at flirting, it was the first time he actually realized I was interested in him. :-0 :-) – Social Butterfly

"How We Love Now: Women talk about Intimacy After 50," Suzanne Braun Levine

The independent generation has allowed themselves to come of age -- without guilt or restrictions – finally! Second Adulthood is now accepted and understood and if you don’t think so, then How We Love Now by Suzanne Braun Levine will inform you how/why. -- Eileen

"Not Your Mother's Rules: The New Secrets for Dating," Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider

Not your mother’s rules is a bit of a game with a lot of waiting times included on when to respond back to a text, Facebook message or the like. The mantra throughout is to be a creature unlike any other (CUAO) which I agree with, however, when you recommend weighing the benefits of a nose job to get a man to notice you, that’s kind of sad. The rules is fine to use as a basic refresher, however I'd adapt them as needed. – Annie M.

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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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