Category Archives: Self Help/Relationships

Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by John Gray (and in the Bedroom, too!)

I know, I know… You make one mention of “relationship book” and women put on their glasses to do some research, while men run screaming for the hills. But seriously, Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus is a classic for a reason. Never before have I had so many AHA! moments while reading a self-help/relationship book. To put it simply, Gray points out what men do to drive women insane and what women do to annoy men to death. By relating to each other as if we are from different planets, it’s easier to change our expectations about how the opposite sex “should” react. men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus-by-john-gray-phd-2010-01-15

Even I initially rolled my eyes thinking of reading this book. Now, I’m a strong believer that EVERYONE should read it, male and female. Because it’s oh so true. The book could’ve been written based on a case study of myself and my live-in boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong, we have a great relationship, but… he’s from Mars…

There were actually examples of conversations that we have actually had, and it perfectly described his need for alone time versus my ups and downs. It makes it much more simple to realize that the two sexes handle things

51vnt96a25l_494_origdifferently and men aren’t “insensitive” and women aren’t “crazy.” They are just from two different planets.

However, when I decided to read Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus in the Bedroomthat’s when Gray started to go a little awry. I couldn’t really relate to the exercises he’d prescribe couples and the whole thing read uncomfortably–like that weird squirmy feeling you get when you’re watching a movie with your parents and a sex scene comes on. Gross.

So, definitely DO NOT miss out on MAFMWAFV, but you can totally skip the creepiness that is …In the Bedroom.

5 dumb boys out of 5 for the former, 2 flannel nightgowns for the latter

Butter by Erin Jade Lange


What if the only way you could win popularity was by killing yourself?

This is “Butter’s” dilemma. As a morbidly obese teen in a high school full of jocks and Barbie-wannabe’s, he is worse than unpopular. He’s invisible.

All 430 pounds of him.

So when he decides to kill himself, he wants to go out with a bang. Inspired by a hateful blog comment about him, he makes a website called . Fine, everyone thinks he’s a fat slob. He’ll show them. New Year’s Eve, he’s going to eat himself to death live on webcam.

So when his website garners him TONS of popularity around school, instead of mortification he feels good. Finally he’s getting noticed. Finally he has friends. So why does life have to be so sweet right now, at the very end?

This book was awesome and it’s so socially relavant I could weep. It addresses bullying and the wide range of feelings that come with it–good and bad. It’s interesting to understand that even though Butter was “popular” it was for all the wrong reasons, and his “friends” were really cheering on his death. That’s some crazy shit.

It sounds so cliche, but I loved Butter’s personality. I’m glad that he got mad and I’m glad that he fought back. His love interest, Anna, was a dumb little twit, and you could see him starting to realize that in little glimmers throughout the book. There was nothing to admire about her except her beauty.

I personally have never had to struggle with my weight, and for that I feel blessed. I can’t grasp what it’s like to use food as an emotional crutch, and maybe that’s why I’m so intensely interested in hearing people’s weight loss stories. To view food as a comfort mechanism is foreign to me, but a blight on so many others.

But Butter reminds us that no one is too far gone to be helped, and first and foremost you must love yourself–big or small.

4 sticks of butter of 5

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

8621462Patrick Ness is definitely one of my new favorite authors. His Chaos Walking Trilogy was BOMB-DIGGITY and I’ll read anything by him from now on. I was really intrigued by the dark illustrations–they were hauntingly beautiful and breathed life into the story.

Cancer is a disease that has touched the entire world and Ness’s story was inspired by author Siobhan Dowd’s idea–one she would’ve written herself had cancer not caused her premature death before the story could come to fruition.

Conor is a young boy who has been forced to abandon childhood too soon in the face of his mother’s illness. Suddenly, at 12:07 at night–a monster stands outside his window. What follows is reminiscent of a Christmas Carol-type lesson as the monster teaches Conor a new lesson every night with each story. Each tale is used to give Conor strength for his mother’s inevitable final battle.

This was an AMAZING book. I highly recommend it for anyone who is left behind after a cancer-related death. Adult and adolescents alike could find some sense of comfort and meaning from this book. You’re right, sometimes life isn’t fair. And like stories, life is interpreted differently from every single point of view. Your version of the story isn’t the same as mine.

Stuff of greatness.

4 yew berries of 5

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

I normally don’t read such sappy love stories, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll concede.  I originally saw the movie version of  P.S. I Love You (starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank) back in 2008  and in a fit of romantic inspiration, I went out and bought the book. It’s not your run-of-the-mill lovefest, however. Cecelia Ahern makes sure of that (as does Nicholas Sparks and pretty much every romantic novelist of all time…)

Holly and Gerry are a happily married couple. They’ve been together since high school and their lives are completely intertwined. They have coupled-up friends and do coupled-up activities. The only thing that Holly lives for (she never was a career person) is to be Gerry’s wife. Then–of course–the unthinkable happens. (You didn’t imagine they’d live happily ever after did you? Pshht). When Gerry begins to suffer from ever-persistent migraines, he goes to the doctor and gets the absolute worst case scenario diagnosis. Brain cancer. Tumors. Malignant. Inoperable. Terminal. Only a few months left to live.

Obviously, the couple is devastated by the news and Holly stays with Gerry through every second of his remaining months. After his death, Holly struggles to find meaning in her life–a reason to live, if you will. That is, until two months later when her mom informs her she has a package.

It’s from Gerry.

The package contains a letter for every month of the year–each containing a new instruction for Holly to help her move on with her life and survive being alone. We follow Holly along through this year of love, loss, sadness, and growth. And I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

P.S. I Love You turned out to be, if not a love story, than maybe a personal growth story. It detailed all the mad adventures of Holly and her wacky friends and family as they struggled to not only deal with the loss of their friend, but also be a support system for a new/young widow. I liked it, because in the end, although Gerry’s death was a terrible tragedy, it also freed Holly to become her own person for the first time in her life. It took her until she was single and 30 to find herself, but find herself she did.

Ahern presented coping with a family member’s death and the grief process in a very realistic way. Some days Holly was a mess, laying around the house hardly sleeping or eating–certainly not showering for a week at a stretch. Then having a few good days intermingled in with the bad. Going from laughing to crying and then back again. Sloooooooowly being able to accept what has happened to you and your loved one, and learning to allow yourself to be happy without them. Being able to remember the fun times rather than the death. It’s a very messy process, for sure.

I’ll admit, I did get misty-eyed at a few passages, but overall it’s not nearly the tear-jerker it’s advertised to be. I think the movie adaptation was much more sad than the novel. Holly’s friends/family really helped keep the tone light for the most part. Although, damn…a headache is a bit more worrisome now than before…

This is definitely a good “chick lit” novel. It’s a fast read and you’ll be anxious to find out what Gerry’s next letter says. Those of you ladies whom enjoy reading about a woman experiencing a personal loss, triumphing over it as best she can, and learning that life goes on after love (cue Cher here)–this one’s for you.

4 of 5 stars

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

So… I’ve been putting off reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman for a while. I know… I know… It’s been on the best seller’s list for ages, it’s helped about a trillion couples save their marriages, and even my boyfriend has read it.

Yep. Boyfriend. Reading about love. Hope springs eternal, ladies…

But even after all that, I still felt trepidatious about picking it up. The boy had explained the principles of it, we’d discussed what our own “languages” were, and I’d even taken the online quiz on Chapman’s website. So I didn’t need to read the book, right?


Although the whole thing felt rather girly, it was a rainy Sunday, and as good a day as any to start a new book. Talking about feelings has not been my strongest trait in recent years, and while I felt strange reading a book about love, I pushed past my discomfort and decided to tackle this whole “language” BS.

And I finished it in two days…

Chapman’s book is a quick but powerful read. He details five different ways that people express love to others, and how they need love to be expressed to them in return. The five ways are:

Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch

  • Quality time is–you guessed it!–spending time with each other. And none of that “Well, we’re sitting next to each other for two hours every night watching American Idol!” crap either. This means real QUALITY time. Talking, laughing, joking, doing things together. You know… stuff you did when you still liked each other.
  • Words of affirmation are verbal expressions to your partner to make them feel good about themselves, and make them feel secure in your love. This can be anything from, “Wow! You’re such a hard-worker! Thanks so much for cleaning up around the house today!” to “Man, you are super hot and I can’t wait to get you home!” Basically, it’s complimenting your mate and showing your appreciation of them.
  • Acts of service are doing things for them, especially if you don’t really feel like it. No one really wants to vacuum the house every week, but if that’s what’s necessary to make your spouse feel loved, then by golly, that’s what you had better do. (I know it makes me feel loved when I don’t have to put my own air in the car tires… *hint hint*)
  • Receiving gifts is another language. Obviously this one entails making or buying objects for your partner to demonstrate to them that they were on your mind. They needn’t be expensive, but they should be thoughtful.
  • And lastly, physical touch. This means that your mate feels most loved when you are rubbing them, holding their hand in public, massaging them, and having sex with them on a regular basis. They express their feelings for you through the act of intercourse and without it they may feel left out in the cold (even if you are using some of the other languages on them.)
                        The good news for us, is that these are all relatively simple things to do. If we just take notice of our partners behavior, translate that into a specific desire, and then meet that desire–we would all be much happier. Chapman also relieves us in acknowledging the fact that most couples don’t speak the same language, but can readily adapt to learn new ones if necessary. Phew.
                           And don’t say anything, but I really got a lot out of this book. It helped me understand a lot about myself and I learned new techniques to use in my own personal relationships. These can apply to others in your life, not just your spouse. ( Except maybe the sex part…) The book is targeted at married couples, but really anyone in a relationship—or looking to be in one–could definitely benefit from reading it. I can see why this book has been a best seller for so long…
                         The only comment I really have as far as criticism is that some of the phrases Chapman suggests for the Words of Affirmation chapter are terribly scripted and cheesy. They sound like something June Cleaver would say to Ward. It’s better to think of your own, anyway. It makes it more personal to the both of you. Also, this book is also listed in the “Christian Living-Relationships” section of the book store, and while Chapman refers to Jesus a few times, he doesn’t get preachy about it at all. Some people might not like it because it has some religious ties, but if you take it for what it is, I feel you can get much use out of The Five Love Languages. 
5 of 5 stars