Category: Books

My Thoughts On “How to Be Single and Happy: Science Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate,” by Jennifer L. Taitz, Psy.D.

My Thoughts On “How to Be Single and Happy: Science Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate,” by Jennifer L. Taitz, Psy.D.

Dr. Taitz’s book helped me get into a better mindset about being single. She validates how hard it is to be single when you want a relationship, but at the same time, encourages you to take responsibility for creating a life that you can feel awesome about with or without a partner. She supports her ideas with specific research studies. For example, she backs up her ideas about self compassion with a study by Jia Zhang and Serena Chen, who asked 400 students to write about their biggest regrets. The group who was told to think about them from a compassionate, understanding perspective accepted themselves more and improved more (46-47).

Love isn’t entirely within our control, so we shouldn’t go overboard strategizing or planning for it (xviii). The healthiest way to increase our chances of finding love is to work on our happiness (5). It’s important to look at the whole pie and not get too focused on one slice, whether it’s love or another one. I admit that I used to daydream a lot throughout the day about romance, but reading stuff like this has been helping me chill out.

The acronym DEARMAN gives us a blueprint for solving conflicts (p.211). I like it enough that I’ll refer to it in the future if conflicts come up.

This book is a good dating guide and, more importantly, a good guide to having a healthy attitude about life and growing as a person.

Works Cited

Taitz, Jennifer L. How To Be Single and Happy: Science Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate. Penguin Random House LLC, 2018.

Image Credit: Amazon


My Thoughts on Improve Your Social Skills, by Daniel Wendler (Kindle edition)

I found this book to be comforting. He believes that the reader deserves a place to belong and wants everyone to feel loved and accepted (Wendler, 1). He describes the reader’s life as a gift to those who love them and those who will love them in the future (Wendler, 1). The book makes me more hopeful that I’m worth connections and will be able to find them. I feel calmer. I’ll return to these sentences again and again. I admire Wendler’s gentle compassion and am inspired to be gentler and more compassionate, myself.

Wendler has studied social skills in his free time and gone to school for clinical psychology. At the time that the book was written, he had given hundreds of hours of social skills coaching (Wendler, 4). As a child, he was diagnosed with autism, and it was difficult for him to understand socializing (Wendler, 4). When he was in high school, he realized that his problems weren’t due to a character flaw, but due to the fact that he needed to work on his social skills (Wendler, 4). People have criticized my character and personality before, so it’s a relief to hear that I can learn how to improve at socializing.

Wendler reassures the reader that if they experience a social failure, worst case scenario, they can always try again with someone else (Wendler, 14). He explains how to look for signs of comfort and discomfort in someone’s body language. There’s a chapter with tips for making conversation, such as that asking questions shows interest. The chapter after that covers group conversations.

He writes about empathy, starting with understanding your own emotions. He says, “Your problems matter, because you matter,” and I appreciate his caring (Wendler, 71). He encourages the reader to act on their empathy (Wendler, 78).

The chapter about meeting people is built upon the idea of participating in groups that are related to your interests. I’m uneasy about his suggestion to make conversation with customer service workers, since they may be too busy to talk, but the chapter is otherwise good (Wendler, 90).

Wendler explains what makes someone a good friend, which is helpful both for figuring out who to be friends with, and for being a friend. He says that a good friend likes the person, cares about them, accepts them, and treats them respectfully (Wendler, 97). I love that he devotes an entire chapter to explaining how to support your friends. One of his suggestions is to ask someone if they want advice before offering it (Wendler ,113).

There’s a chapter about dating. His outlook about relationships is very healthy. He says that both partners need to have other relationships, hobbies, and goals outside of the relationship and support each others’ interests in these things (Wendler, 137).

I recommend this book to anyone who wants suggestions about improving their social skills.

Works Cited

Wendler, Daniel. Improve Your Social Skills. 

My Thoughts on Counseling Skills For Dummies, by Gail Evans (Kindle version)

I don’t think that this is a good book for learning about counseling. Evans says things like not to ask questions, clarify, summarize, or change your expression, cuz doing those things will supposedly take power from the speaker (Evans, location 1952 – 2014). What she says doesn’t measure up to my experience in therapy. My therapist asks me questions. At the beginning of every session, she asks, “How are you doing?” She has clarified things, such as what my thought process was behind something that I did. She changes her expression. If I say something funny, she might smile. I’ll look elsewhere for information about how being a therapist works.

Works Cited

Evans, Gail. Counseling Skills For Dummies, 2nd ed. John Wiley and Sons, 2013.

My Thoughts on Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kiterridge is a collection of short stories about people who live in a small town, and Olive, a retired schoolteacher (who’s also an asshole) is the most prominent character. The author’s website’s description made the book sound appealing to me: “As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life…” I expected to read a poignant, thought provoking book.

I didn’t even make it through the first short story. I dislike the way that Strout seems to think about women. She assigned gender to a task when she wrote, “…[Denise’s hands] that would, with the quiet authority of a woman, someday pin a baby’s diaper…” (11). Parenting is a task for people of all a/gender identities.

Stout kept comparing one character, Denise, to a child, such as when she wrote, “Her child-face, made serious by her glasses, would be intent on the page, her knees poked up, her shoulders slumped forward” (13).” Women are grown ups, not children. Equating a woman to a child is insulting.

Another problem I have with the book is that she describes sex between Olive and her husband, Henry, in a really disgusting way. If you don’t wanna read about it, skip the rest of this paragraph. I forgot to record the page number, but at some point in the first story, she used the word “heaving” to refer to their sexual relations. As I recall, it was something like “[Henry] heaved in the night.” The word heave makes me think of vomiting or moving a heavy object, neither of which is something I wanna think about in relation to sex.

Overall, this book disgusts me on multiple levels.

Works Cited

Strout, Elizabeth. Olive Kitteridge. Random House, 2008.