Just in time for February 14, publishers are releasing scads of dating advice books promising a one-way ticket to relationship bliss. But in the sea of books with snappy titles, how to discover which one is best for you? And how long before the author brings forth the inevitable nugget of wisdom from "Sex and the City"? Read on to find out.
The Book: A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend: For Every Guy Who Wants to Be One, for Every Girl Who Wants to Build One
The Authors: Actress Felicity Huffman is best known for playing working mom Lynette on "Desperate Housewives"; Patricia Wolff is a playwright. Both are hilarious.
The Hook: This is a relationship book for guys, and it has the vintage-style noir illustrations to prove it.
Who Should Buy: Those who look for laughs with their relationship advice. But let's face it: This book may be "for the boyfriend," but women will be the ones buying it for their boyfriends or brothers (or themselves).
Sample Quote: "A man's emotional checklist is pretty basic: Am I hungry? Am I sleepy? Am I horny? If he's content in all three areas, he's pretty much okay. A woman's emotional checklist reads more like a Russian novel. It's long, complicated, confusing, and you spend a lot of time trying to keep the characters straight."
First Mention of "Sex and the City": page 91.
The Book: He's Just Not in the Stars: Wicked Astrology and Uncensored Advice for Getting the (Almost) Perfect Guy
The Author: Jenni Kosarin is a sex columnist.
The Hook: A man's suitability for everlasting love and faithfulness is written in the stars. By pairing his Sun sign (determined by birth date) with his Venus sign (determined by birth year), you can "discover your man's predisposition in love." Though the writing is sometimes reminiscent of US Weekly ("love profiles" of celebrities, and their romantic histories, are included), the astrological profiles are scarily accurate.
Who Should Buy: Anyone who thinks the stars tell all, or serial daters. If you're in a relationship, just read the page on your current squeeze's sign in the bookstore.
Sample Quote: "Isn't it time someone tells the real story about how you should define men in love?"
First Mention of "Sex and the City": page 2.
The Book: Better Single than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling
The Author: Jen Schefft won her season of "The Bachelor" when she became engaged to Andrew Firestone in the finale. After their break-up, she starred in "The Bachelorette" but ended up turning down all 25 of her eager suitors.
The Hook: Being alone is better than being in a bad relationship, so wait for the right man. And don't let your parents, grandparents or smug married friends make you feel guilty about your single status.
Who Should Buy: Fans of Schefft (though don't expect any meaty behind-the-scenes gossip about the TV show), or any woman who's fed up with feeling bad about being single.
Sample Quote: "If you focus too much attention on the idea of getting a ring or having a wedding, you'll lose sight of the most importation thing: the marriage. When I walk down the aisle, I want to feel 100 percent certain that the man waiting at the altar is the best person for me. I won't let the glare of a diamond cloud my judgment. In fact, I've had one, and I assure you it doesn't guarantee happiness."
First Mention of "Sex and the City": page 10.
The Book: Kiss and Run: The Single, Picky, and Indecisive Girl's Guide to Overcoming Her Fear of Commitment
The Author: Elina Furman is a self-proclaimed commitment-phobe, and she's written several books on dating and singles.
The Hook: Men aren't the only ones with commitment issues. Don't let a fear of commitment keep you from saying "yes" to true love and happiness.
Who Should Buy: Jen Schefft. (Just kidding.) Women who could say yes to at least three of Furman's Top Ten Signs You're Commitment-phobic, which include "You have a long and elaborate list of requirements for your ideal mate" and "You have a habit of dating 'unavailable' men."
Sample Quote: "If you're choosing to be with someone who isn't ready for a serious relationship, what does that say about you? Remember the Golden Rule: IF YOU'RE WITH A COMMITMENT-PHOBE, YOU ARE A COMMITMENTPHOBE."
First Mention of "Sex and the City": page 12.
The Book: Secrets of a Fix-Up Fanatic: How to Meet and Marry Your Match
The Author: Amateur matchmaker Susan Shapiro also wrote the memoir The Five Men Who Broke My Heart. Her narrative voice comes across as a bit smug at times—but after sending 12 couples to the altar, maybe she's earned it.
The Hook: Getting someone you know to hook you up is the best way to find a good match—but you also need to learn to recognize the men who are marriage material and fix yourself up before you can be fixed up.
Who Should Buy: Singles with a large network of social, trustworthy friends—after all, any setup is only as good as the person making the connection.
Sample Quote: "The beauty of having someone near and dear to you set you up is that there'll be no surprises or shocks about what lies ahead . . . you can feel semicertain that your next suitor will not be a tranny in hiding, a serial adulteror, or an axe murderer."
First Mention of "Sex and the City": page 3.
The Book: Actually, It Is Your Parents' Fault: Why Your Romantic Relationship Isn't Working, and How to Fix It
The Authors: Philip Van Munching wrote Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt), and psychoanalyst Bernie Katz counsels families and couples on Long Island.
The Hook: Your childhood experiences shaped your personality and set the course for your adult life. If you can understand the way they did that, you too can have a healthy, conflict-free relationship.
Who Should Buy: Those with an interest in psychoanalysis; anyone who believes in nurture over nature; people who can't seem to be in a relationship without conflict (Van Munching says that's because you're playing out dysfunctional relationships from your childhood).
Sample Quote: "[W]e don't ask ourselves the single most relevant question when it comes to figuring out the origin of our longing for someone else: What does the personality trait I seem to be so drawn to in others reveal about me?"
First Mention of "Sex and the City": page 30.
Trisha Ping is currently single, but refuses to hold her parents responsible.