A fine, insightful relationship self-helper filled with useful suggestions.

THE RECIPE

LOVE MADE SIMPLE

A soup-to-nuts primer on romance offers a simple, though not always easy, plan for success in dating and marriage. 

Blum (The Tao of Your Psychotherapy Practice, 2011), a psychologist who counsels couples and singles, argues that relationships are among the supreme psychological boons that life provides. But they remain hampered by the difficulties people face in building intimacy and trust and overcoming childhood complexes that hobble adult bonds. He structures his advice using a series of food-preparation metaphors that mainly serve as memory devices for commonplace principles. (His “three spices” for productive dating turn out to be homespun injunctions about primping to make oneself attractive, getting out to socialize more, and being receptive to new people.) Blum grounds his presentation in psychological theory, delving into the insecurities that inhibit people from approaching others, the different and often mutually incomprehensible communication styles that impede the sexes from understanding each other, the evolutionary tactics that make them bring sometimes-incompatible goals to relationships, and the baffling antagonisms that can arise among seemingly attuned couples who are too similar to each other to make up for the personality deficits they share. He translates these ideas into practical strategies for resolving issues, with valuable tips on everything from repairing a relationship after an infidelity to rekindling lust to breaking out of routine arguments by rewriting the script or, in a pinch, dumping water over one’s head. Blum has a knack for grounding romantic idealism about love with pragmatic realism about how to achieve it, conveying his ideas in warm, straightforward, very readable prose—his “gold medal recipe for love” is nothing more complicated than “two people who are good to each other stay in love”—illustrated with intriguing case studies from his practice. Singles looking for love and couples wrestling with it will find much nourishing food for thought here.

A fine, insightful relationship self-helper filled with useful suggestions.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9855658-9-3

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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