Category Archives: Book Reviews

New Year’s Dating Resolutions

Was 2011 a tough year for romance? Or for other reasons? Loneliness can be our biggest enemy especially when accompanied by heart-wrenching conflicts. You know, the ones that get us begging to an unseen being, or asking, “WHY?” Whether the struggle is within relationships or fighting through life’s challenges, there is nothing like loneliness to force us to feel the pain.

Fortunately, we can also triumph over loneliness either by learning to be comfortable alone or by finding companionship.

Television producer, Tamara Duricka Johnson, triumphed by the latter method, which she shares in her new book, 31 Dates in 31 Days. The title explains. In the new year following her 31st birthday, Tamara (rhymes with camera) would have 31 dates, one date every day for 31 days.

Can you imagine having a date with a different person every day for a month? Most of us probably don’t have the energy to do it. But it became Tamara’s mission in her quest to answer, “Why am I still single?!” (Note that the question wasn’t, “Where is my future husband?”)

Make a resolution count

If you’re in the habit of making new years’ resolutions, you’ve likely failed to keep at least some of them.

Resolutions should resolve something, such as a problem. Maybe one of the reasons why so many people give up on diet or weight resolutions, is because diet and weight are not really problems unless they are causing life-threatening conditions, like heart disease or diabetes. Of course, there’s prevention, but unless there’s a real reason to change something, why change?

An effective resolution requires a willingness to change. Without that willingness, nothing will change. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get comfortable, be lackadaisical, or not really care. Hence, unwillingness.

To make a resolution really count, do this:

  1. Quit complaining
  2. Desire change
  3. Write attainable goals

The aim is resolution. In other words, you must become resolved about whatever the issue is. In the case of loneliness, the aim could be to either become content with being alone, or find companionship.

Tamara wasn’t about learning to be alone, but she was willing to learn to be that way. She made a plan, designated dating rules, then put out the word about her “project”. At the very least she would learn something even if she didn’t find companionship.

So how do you make a resolution that actually resolves?

First of all, you have to want to become resolved, or want change. If you don’t really want to change anything, then don’t bother trying. But if you do really want change, the key is in your goals. And goals need aim.

Aim vs. goal

A soccer player doesn’t score a goal without aim. When he aims, the goal cage is the focus. Not having aim puts the ball in any direction. Making goals is nearly impossible without aim.

Tamara’s aim was to conquer loneliness. Her goal: go on 31 dates in 31 days.

It’s much easier to attain goals, when your aim is clear. And it’s much easier to reach goals when they are attainable. For example, a goal of losing 20 pounds can be exciting at first, but it can get taxing when you’re 18 pounds away. Make the aim 20 pounds and the goal losing 1 pound per week. (Then remember the weeks will be up and down.) Or make the aim having more energy.

The dating resolution

If you want to change your dating life for the better, make your aim clear, and set attainable goals.

The following table lists some examples of aims and goals.



  • Make new friends
  • Meet one new person every week for 20 weeks
  • Learn something about yourself
  • Go on 2 dates with 3 people who are not your type
  • Conquer loneliness
  • Frequent a new place every weekend for 3 months

Whatever your resolution, set fun goals. Your life should have quality, so don’t make yourself miserable.

For inspiration, read Tamara’s book available in bookstores or on Amazon. It’s funny and insightful, and gives an inside look at her joys, despairs, and triumphs. For more about Tamara’s project, visit

Making the battle of the sexes fun: A book review

Dating– love it, hate it, play with the idea, or do what Cecily Knobler did when she wrote her book: try to figure it out. She’s Crazy, He’s a Liar, Now What?: A Single Girl’s Guide to Understanding the Sexes isn’t the guide every single person needs, but it is a source of relateable laughter that can help the cynic smile at this ubiquitous topic.

Guys, don’t let the subtitle keep you from picking up the book. At first glance it might seem like it’s a guide for single girls. Knobler, a single woman, has a mission to shed light on different perspectives on dating.

Knobler takes trips down memory lane and reveals the source of her quirky sense of humor– a bit reminiscent of Sarah Silverman, but not as twisted. In refreshing lightness, she shows us that laughing at our own pathetic lives is a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism. In light of her stories, the book is mostly about having common sense.

The funniest parts of the book are Knobler’s transcriptions of her roundtable gender discussions. These talks are a clear indication of how much advice people need regardless of background, belief, or marital status. Wisely chosen, Knobler’s counterparts range in personalities that exemplify the range of perspectives people have. Not everyone thinks about dating the same way! Oh, that’s why there are so many books on dating. As far as guidance is concerned, none is given in these discussions. Though, one can get to know what the other gender thinks from these talks. Just listen carefully.

Knobler also spends considerable verbiage on Fein and Schneider’s The Rules. Supporters and non-supporters represented, Knobler is clear that she is not a Rules girl. What is a Rules girl anyway? She responds to that question in more ways than one.

The book could have done without the glossy magazine-like paper, the pages of which were tempting to turn as if they were a magazine. Why the gloss? Probably to make the color illustrations pop. Maybe Knobler really wanted to write a comic book, which would have totally worked given the content, especially with the roundtable talks. Though her narratives could have made a fun manga as well.

While “guide” doesn’t justify all the content, the book has its how-to moments. Useful? Maybe. That really depends on how lost the reader is in his or her quest for true love. For those who have a handle on the dating scene, read it for sheer entertainment value. As far as her target audience is concerned, it can be as useful for guys as for the female who needs girl time. Throughout the book, Knobler has a lot to say especially to guys, mostly in the first half. Perhaps Knobler thought guys would give up on the book before the halfway point, and thenceforth focused on the girls.

As the author of AlphaDog, the dating guide for men, reading She’s Crazy, He’s a Liar tended to be frustrating at times. The gender differences Knobler pokes fun at can easily avoid relationship problems when we know our own personality types. (Though, I learned something about women reading this book, and I’m a woman.) Overall, it’s a fun, easy read with lots of pictures to keep the reader wondering what’s next, some interesting facts that show Knobler did some research, and plenty of healthy chuckles.

Book review: How to Find a Woman…or Not

How to Find a Woman...or NotImagine that you have an older divorced buddy who decided to throw himself into the world of dating. Imagine the same buddy going up on stage and delivering a comedy/advice show all about his dating adventures to you and all of your friends. If you can imagine that scenario, then you’ve imagined Gary Morgenstein’s new book, How to Find a Women…or Not.

Make no mistake, this book is highly targeted towards those who are in a situation similar to Gary: past a first marriage, a little older, and trying to get back into the dating game. If you happen to live in New York, you’ll also benefit from recommendations on where to take the older woman for a nice date.

The content delivery is exactly what you’d expect from a sarcastic standup comedian. There are few sentences that slip by without a parenthetical side commentary, which can make the book seem more stream-of-consciousness than it really is. The other thing you’ll find a lot of in this book is lists. Almost every page feature either a bulleted or numbered lists of things you should keep in mind. The downside of this approach is that it breaks up the flow of the book, so reading it straight through is a little bit tiring. The upside of this approach is that you don’t have to worry about getting lost if put down the book and pick it up later.

Where the book really shines is towards the middle, when Gary takes on Internet dating. Having been through the Internet dating experience and emerged with my own battle scars, I could really relate to this section. He deftly dissects the ins and outs of Internet dating and how to keep your sanity while making an attempt to meet someone interesting. I love the title of Chapter 10,  “Online Dating and Other Surreal Experiences”.

Gary really explores all realms of dating, including the value of gay friends, how to avoid losing your job while dating at work, why getting setup with someone by friends isn’t always a good thing, how young is too young, and of course, sex. He moves swiftly from one topic to the next, peppering the text with “Morgy Rules,” Gary’s pieces of advice that you’ll want to write down and remember, such as:

Remember the woman always chooses. ALWAYS. They decide if we can touch their private parts, not us. If they deign, we sleep with them. If they don’t, we don’t.

Note that this book is not a step-by-step guide to dating, but rather a book-length comedic rant about dating in general with some words of wisdom sprinkled throughout. Being younger than Gary, I had a little bit of trouble relating to some stories (dating women with children, needing to pack the little blue pill just in case, etc.), but I can definitely imagine those older than me relating very well to this. How to Find a Women…or Not is recommended if you enjoy sarcastic/funny writing on the complex topic of dating and the adventures a 50-something year old divorcee can still have in the quest for love and happiness.

TRUTH about cats & dogs

“It’s a given that all men are dogs. What differentiates each guy is how much dog is in him.”

I barely settle into my side of the cab and my college buddy starts barking his version of conventional dating wisdom at me.

“I suggest you tap into me to discern the purebreds from the strays in your life and NOT that silly book by Steve Harvey.” Davis glances down at the three copies I’ve got carefully tucked in a clear plastic bag for my gal pals. He’s determined to squeeze in brunch by the Bay before heading back to Tulsa. “You know a good guy will come along when you least expect it, or are looking for it.”

It’s obvious he’s caught wind of my recent internet dating fiasco. I suspected as much when both he and the girls were quite insistent that we meet up on this not-so-sunny Sunday morning. I try to fill him in on my latest mismatch: Mr. Persistent-turned-less-Consistent.

“Well, that could be a sign, but it also could be something came up.” Davis runs his hand through his chin length hair. Looks at my expectant expression and pinches my nose before it can wrinkle. “You should never read too much into what men do, because, quite frankly, we don’t know what the hell we are doing in most cases.”

“It just throws me for a loop. I like it when guys do what they say they’ll do. I thought we had that. It’s what I liked the most about him.” So I thought. I am SUCH the SUCKER.

“The guys you select just don’t know real talent when they have it in their grasp.” He shakes his wavy locks. “It’s just a shame.”

“You’re being sweet because you’re my friend.” My mood matches the forecast. It doesn’t help that I’m not a morning person.

“No. I’m telling you because you’re missing the point. The one thing I do know is that the more you women like a man, the more they get all scared.”

“Who does?” Davis wags his finger between himself and the driver. The driver glances back at us through his rear view mirror, his eyes crinkle in agreement. He’s got great laugh lines. He’s also got on a ring. On his left hand. Guess he’s not one of the strays.

Davis rubs the steamy window with his elbow. He squints at the street signs up ahead. “Make yourself a little mysterious. We love a good mystery.”

Here we go again. “I don’t get it.”

“Look, you know I think you are the sweetest woman I have ever met. Just real thoughtful and nice. And I am a total prick.” Davis guffaws. Maybe that’s a mark of a real man in the Midwest. Someone not afraid to carry around, then empty out, belly fulls of laughter everywhere he goes.

“So if I see it, you know darn well those soft guys you like will notice it, too.” He laughs out loud again at the look of horror I can’t seem to squelch these days. “The old adage, ‘don’t mistake kindness for weakness’ perhaps.”

This time, I groan loudly. “I barely know how to flirt as it is. Now that I’ve sorta got that down, what next?”

“What you have to do is be interested, but not seem interested. It’s a fine line to walk, but be more cat-like than dog-like.”

“What’choo talkin’ ’bout Willis?” The rain’s pounding on the cab’s rooftop now, matching the rhythmic thudding of my heart.

“You ever notice how a dog runs up to you when you come home?” I nod. He smiles. Doesn’t skip a beat and continues: “But a cat. Oh my, a cat does not seek you out. A cat has to be found.”

The gentle drum of the rain onto the roof of our cab does nothing to drown out Ra Ra Riot’s refrain ringing in my head …my bed’s too big for just me… I shake my head. Hard.

“Be more like a cat.” Just for the record, I abhor cats. Of any kind. Maybe it’s because I’m deathly allergic. “You are sweet with a heart of gold, but not every guy needs to know that from the start. And, lastly, mix it up just a little bit. Maybe you need to be more selective. A lot more selective.” No kidding.

It’s my turn to stare out the window. It’s all fogged up. So is the story of my current dating situation. Gotta love it.

“Just don’t play your hand too fast is all.” Davis hands the driver a twenty and slips out of the cab. He opens his umbrella and holds out his hand towards me. “Quality women usually get quality men. It just does not happen on the time table you may have set for yourself.”

the POSSIBILITY of sex

“So you’re really back in the game, huh?” Eddie pushes the last piece of the mulberry tart towards me with his fork. I shrug. We’re both killing some time by grabbing a bite before heading out to a singles’-slash-benefit event in the Mission. I nudge the last bite towards him. Eddie’s got an insatiable sweet tooth. I wouldn’t even think of depriving him of this last choice morsel. He grins widely. “Just for that, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.”

“What’s that?” I reach for my purse. Eddie playfully swats my wrist with one hand and slips a crisp ten-dollar bill under our dessert plate. He’s quick.

I wrinkle my nose, then stick out my tongue. We’ve known each other since grade school. I’m allowed. He wags his finger at me knowingly. Eyes crinkle, followed by his killer grin flashing perfect pearly-whites. “Do NOT ever forget that EVERY single thing a guy does is ultimately motivated by getting more sex or reproducing.”

I blink twice. Really. No kidding. I roll my eyeballs and start to collect my things. Pashmina. Purse. I’m always forgetting something. Eddie snatches the coat I’ve left by the window ledge. The book tucked in my coat sleeve tumbles to the floor. It’s Steve Harvey’s latest concoction ACT LIKE A LADY, THINK LIKE A MAN. I grin sheepishly and try to grab it from him. “Funny you should say that, Ed.” I playfully punch his arm. “Steve says the same exact thing.”

Eddie’s got an iron grip. He flips open to the page I’ve bookmarked. “What’s this 90-day thing?”

“Kinda-sorta along the lines of what you’re saying.” I’m beet red. Eddie scans the chapter. “Hey, we’re going to be late.”

He doesn’t look up. I try not to fidget. I clear my throat. No response. Eddie’s still poring over the pages. “Actually, this guy is right. Never give up your ‘cookie’ right away. It’s your most precious gem.”

We lock gazes. I’m silent. Then I tap the back of my left wrist to indicate the time. He ignores the gesture and continues, “You definitely should save it for that special someone.”

I blush. Again. I’m pretty certain he’s poking fun at me. “You’re my own personal PSA.” Actually, more like one of those afterschool specials. What am I, thirteen? Eddie hands me the book. I stuff it in my purse. Time to switch gears. Sort of.

“Hey, thanks for heading to this singles’ shindig with me.”

“Sure. Anytime. Do you have your game plan down?”

“I have to have a game plan?”

“Of course.” He jabs the the crosswalk button with his fist. “You’ve been complaining about how you don’t want to be a buddy-collector anymore. You need a plan so that you don’t make the same mistakes.”

He’s right. Friendliness is both my biggest blessing and constant curse. I sigh. “What do you suggest?”

“Flirt.” Eddie stoops down to play with the labradoodle tied to the corner lamppost. He’s as much of a sucker for leggy-brunettes as he is for all of GOD’s four-legged friends. “Just a little. Learn how to use your eyes to flirt with a guy.”

I grimace. Flirting is not my forte. Especially not when I’m conscious of it. “And how do you suggest I do that?”

Eddie chuckles. The light turns green. He’s got a long, lazy gait that keeps me tottering in my four-inch CFM-heels just to keep up. “As you’re saying something funny, basically advertise the POSSIBILITY of sex and you’ll have many guys all over you.” He stops at the corner turns around to look at me and grins.

I reach his four strides in sixteen steps. Pathetic, I know. The cost of cute kills me. He gently grabs my elbow to avoid tripping over a nasty pothole, “But NEVER have sex with anyone quickly or easily.”

“Wait,” it’s my turn to push the button to cross to the other side of the intersection. “I’m confused. You tell me to flirt with the guy. Promise him SEX…”

“… the POSSIBILITY of sex.”

“Same thing.”

“Nope, it’s not.”

“So you’re telling me to be a tease.” I’m sure that my cheeks are fire-engine red at this point. Not so much from exertion.

“No, I’m just giving you advice on how to get guys to fawn over you.” We’re outside the venue now. He reaches for his wallet and motions for the bouncer to reject my attempt at paying. “Guys will bend over backwards if they think they have a chance… however slight.”

Eddie hands the coat-check girl our belongings. I slip the claim ticket into my purse and glance up at his six-foot-four frame. I quickly bat my eyelashes. He grins like a proud Papa and rumples my hair. “Ready?”