A few months ago, I was contacted by the PR person for a new book that had just come out. Could she send me a copy for me to review? It was my first request and since it made me feel kind of important and also involved a free gift, I agreed.
That being said, you know the kinds of self help books you may read secretly but would never want anyone to catch you reading? A few examples. I have secretly read "He's Just Not That Into You" and passed it onto a friend as soon as I was done, as much to help her as to get the book off my shelf. I also secretly read "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" when I was 15. I publicly said it was a load of crap but then used the information on my future boyfriends with quite effective results.
I can almost tell what some of you are thinking: "But you just seem so together! Why do you need a self help book?" In truth, we'd all like to think that we don't need to read books, get therapy, or join programs/groups to navigate our lives. But I think a lot of us buy these books in hurried exchanges at our local bookstore (or even more anonomously order them online) because it is very human to want to be better people. And knowing more is helpful because we can't all go to school forever to become doctors, therapists, personal trainers, financial consultants, or life coaches. We do have time though to read a 250 page book over the course of a couple months.
The name of my newest secretly-consumed self-help book: Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker. The bright blue cover (with the heart graphic made up of dollar signs) made this unreadable in public without a paper bag cover. So I read most of it sprawled on my back deck in my little bikini, safe from the eyes of judgement (on multiple levels :^)).
So a few numbers: 40% of adults lie to their partners about spending habits. 82% hide purchases from their partners. (Harris Poll) 47% of couples do not discuss money before getting married. 51% of people said when they do talk about money, they end up in power struggles.
The book sets up the reasons why people are financially unfaithful and gives steps (including sample dialogues and exercises) that couples can do to communicate better about money. There are case studies punctuated with facts and figures and it is broken up into readable chunks.
This book allowed Sean and I to have some honest conversations about money. He has seen my retirement account statements, I know how his morgage works. I think we both hesitated to "combine" our money because we aren't married yet but in not talking about it at all, we weren't setting ourselves up for success. Example from our life: A few months ago when I had been wondering why we hadn't been going out lately, he had just spent a few thousand dollars for his morgage paperwork to be reworked so he'd be paying a lower interest rate.
So all in all, a great book with great information (though it's taken me months to read it because it is a little dense). What's the negative?
Well the title can put your partner on the defensive. "What's that?" Sean asked when he saw my hardcover book with the word "infidelity" on the front. When I told him I was reviewing it for the blog, he visibly relaxed. For better or for worse, the title is a little striking.
I also with there was a way to get men to read these kind of books more often. I don't know what Sean would say if I asked him to read this book but since I still haven't even read Flatland yet (his favorite book which he gave me a copy of over a year ago), I shouldn't expect him to eagerly devour this one.
But even having it on the coffee table has made this book worth having if only because it serves as a reason for discussion. And having at least one person read it is helpful, just like my having read "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" helped my dialogue with high school boys way back when.
I think of a whole secret population reading self-help books with the simple take home messages of "Assume best intentions" and "Take the time to communicate". And if this book can help you think that way about your existing or potential romantic relationship in even the smallest of ways, it will have done its job.