Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Can't Help Myself

By Jami Deise

When I reviewed Flying at Night, I began the review by mentioning my addiction to advice columnists like Carolyn Hax at the Washington Post. Even before that review was published, Chick Lit Central was pitched a memoir by Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein. Kismet! I had to have it.

Goldstein begins Can’t Help Myself by referencing her Maryland childhood and affinity for Hax, so right away I knew her memoir was a good choice. Goldstein and Hax have similar credentials for the advice-giving profession—both are journalists who took up the mantle based on their ways with words rather than any kind of therapeutic background. Goldstein pitched the column as a web-based feature to drive more traffic to the Globe’s site and generate user comments; it was so successful that it found life in the paper’s dead tree version. Goldstein solicits user feedback after every question she answers, further investing participants in the site. (Hax has her own Greek chorus as well.)

The book is a great mix of Goldstein’s personal life and the questions that she receives and answers, along with her followers’ responses as well. As the memoir begins, she is reeling from a break-up she didn’t see coming and looking for a way to broaden her impact at the paper. She starts the column, and right away it becomes more successful than she or the paper had anticipated. At the same time, her personal life remains rocky. As she writes about her personal challenges in the memoir, she runs letters from folks in similar situations, along with her response and the advice her followers offered.

Goldstein addresses the reader directly, and is very upfront about what she sees as her personal shortcomings. (Although I think the desire to stay in and binge-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an asset, not a liability.) As her home life gets more complicated, her column becomes more circumspect. While I thought there was a little too much about her sister’s love life, overall Can’t Help Myself is a quick read with a charming narrator.

Can’t Help Myself should be a big hit among readers of Goldstein’s "Love Letters" column. But now that she turned the spotlight on herself, readers might ask for more and more personal details. I imagine followers writing in, offering to set her up with old friends or at least borrow some DVDs to binge on. I hope Goldstein keeps her fans updated.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have TWO copies to give away!


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends April 22nd at midnight EST.

More by Meredith Goldstein:

18 comments:

Janine said...

I'm best at giving advice and answering questions about cats.

Kate Vocke said...

Everyone comes to me for computer advice - I wish I had more advice on how to say "no!"

Storeybooklover said...

I don't mind advice on retirement planning or investment accounts!

Melissa said...

I'd like advice on how to be at my piece with my past and know that I can reinvent myself and pursue my goals and dreams even if I haven't achieved them by the time I thought I would.

Linda May said...

If I had to give relationship advise I would say be honest with each other.

Kelley said...

I'm great at giving advice on which books you might like!

traveler said...

I give advice on many things. Being Jewish it is a compulsion but no one listens anyway nor cares.

Dianne Casey said...

I like getting advice in home improvements.

Mary C said...

I like giving advice on books.

Nancy said...

I need to get advice on chemistry and mechanical things.

Linda Kish said...

I can give good advice on setting up your budget but, getting someone to follow it is much harder.

Jennifer said...

I think I am good at giving advice on how to relax about parenting!

bn100 said...

food

Mary Preston said...

My work always has people asking for advice.

RD said...

I would like advice on how to become an entrepreneur.

rubynreba said...

Advice on family drama!

John Smith said...

"What is something you'd like advice about?" How can I sleep??? I want to sleep!!!

Lesley McIntosh said...

I like to get advice about good books to read , and I don't mind sharing advice on gardening to young people starting out