As Valentine’s Day draws nigh, our thoughts turn to romance. These three books explore dating and relating from a variety of viewpoints.

Any woman who’s tired of relatives, friends and co-workers who ask, “Why are you still single?” will appreciate Sara Eckel’s It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. The author, inspired by her 2011 New York Times "Modern Love" column, has penned a smart, I’ve-got-your-back debunking of the most common remarks made to unmarried women, especially those 30ish and older. Eckel, who married at 39, believes that being unmarried is due to one simple thing: not having met the right person. But after being told that she and her single friends were too needy, unrealistic or picky, she wondered why this blame-assigning mindset is so prevalent. One reason, she writes: “We’re a nation that believes strongly in personal efficacy—if there’s something in your life that isn’t working quite the way you’d like, then the problem must begin and end with you.” That myth shows up in all 27 of the wrong reasons Eckel explores, from “You’re Too Intimidating” to “You Should Have Married That Guy.” Eckel encourages readers to push aside the naysaying, enjoy life as it is right now and remember that the question isn’t why you’re single, it’s, “Why are near strangers so often compelled to demand answers?” 

GEEKS OF ENDEARMENT

Eric Smith’s The Geek’s Guide to Dating is a pop-culture compendium of advice for dating, with clever geek lingo and analogies galore. Smith (founder of the website Geekadelphia) offers sound tips for readers who spend so much time behind their computers that they haven’t learned the nuances of courtship. Topics include Selecting Your Character (identifying your interests and strengths), Search Optimization (where to meet geeks) and Building a Bulletproof Wardrobe (no LED belt buckles, please). Smith’s advice is straightforward, whether reminding readers to approach others with respect or suggesting that they “Start a conversation, not a debate.” Fun illustrations, plus charts, lists and what-if scenarios add to the good-hearted guidance. May the force be with you.

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

There’s girl-talk, and then there’s Sex After . . . Women Share How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes, a no-topic-is-taboo collection gleaned from interviews with 150 women ages 20-something to 80-something (and a few men, too). Iris Krasnow, author of the popular The Secret Lives of Wives, specializes in writing about women’s relationships. In Sex After . . ., she wanted to go beyond stereotypes and explore what real women are experiencing: “And may that truth release you into becoming your authentic and fullest sexual self, after the honeymoon, after cancer, after boredom, after divorce, after wrinkles—until death do you part.” She alternates well-researched passages full of relevant statistics and quotes with frank stories about sex after major life events such as childbirth, illness, infidelity and more. While 20-somethings are enjoying “hooking-up culture,” Krasnow notes that young ladies aren’t the only ones having fun. She also finds “rocking grandmothers who attend Tantric sex workshops and are as lusty as teenagers.” Those skeptical of Krasnow’s assertion that, in the realm of sex, “the 70s are the new 40s” surely will change their minds after reading this lusty litany.

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