August 19, 2008

Review: It Starts with You! by Julia J Austin


It Starts with You!: Every Woman's Guide to personal growth and a successful Love Relationship is another one of those books I wanted to be so much better than it was. The premise is pretty simple, really -- this books answers the unasked question, "Have you ever noticed that the common denominator in all of your problems is you?"

Here's the blurb:

When you read this book, you'll learn how to define where to begin on your journey to success in relationships.

By following these simple guidelines, you'll know what to look for when considering a man as a lifetime partner. This book offers several discussion provoking questions for you to go through with the special man in your life to determine if he is the right man for you.

This book concludes with suggestions on how to make your relationship a priority, some practical tips for a happy marriage and how to keep your romance alive.

Note what that first sentence -- "you'll learn how to define where to begin on your journey..." -- promises. You won't find success in your relationships. You won't begin your journey to success in relationships. You won't define where to begin your journey to success in relationships. You will learn how to define how to begin etc etc. I realised as I was typing this that the blurb of a book isn't necessarily relevant to its contents, but this interests me nonetheless. I mean, how vague can you get?

The answer: pretty vague, just like the inside of the book! Many of the topics covered are treated in a few sentences, with such caveats tucked on at the end:

There are many good books that can help you to do this. You may be able to find some or all of these books at the library so you don't have to go out and buy them all. Another suggestion is if you have a girlfriend who is also interested in self-improvement, you can share books (p. 31).

Golly gum golly! I never would have thought of checking for books in a library. See, this is the biggest problem with It Starts With You: The target audience -- at least as far as I can figure out from the almost constantly condescending tone -- is, basically, dumb people. Dumb people who need to be talked down to.

Here's another choice excerpt:

Don't be a slob. Pick up after yourself and put things away. If you don't have a place to put everything away, then either you live in too small a place, or you have too much stuff, or a combination of both. [...] The only man who will enjoy living with a slob or pack rat is another slob or pack rat. If you really want to live in a dump, then you can ignore the last two paragraphs (pp. 29-30).

Classy.

The advice given in this book is, for the most part, basic common sense. But even common sense is rendered unpalatable by the bossy, superior tone of the advice given. It's also not very well-written even looking beyond the contents; semicolons are particularly abused and the author apparently has a "fascination" with using "lots" of "quotation" marks, often inappropriately. It's full of platitudes and dopey little cartoons ... I think the way I'd describe the entire thing is that it's as if it was written by Mary Worth.

I read about the first three-quarters and then decided that it wasn't worth finishing.

4 comments:

glumpuddle said...

But what about the promised "discussion provoking questions" (author has aversion to dashes?)? Did they materialize? Did they provoke? Tell all!!

Christine said...

The discussion comments are full of exciting sentences like "If you have a sprider phobia and he wants to have a tarantula as a pet this could spell 'trouble'" and "If you are a 'health food nut' and he is 'hooked' on 'junk food', this could be a problem."

My favourite explanation, though:

Just in case you aren't sure what I mean by "personal habits" I will name a few as examples. This is not a comprehensive list by any means; it only serves as an example to get you thinking in the right direction. Habits that others may find irritating include; nail biting, smoking, gum popping, finger drumming, lip smacking (while eating), laughing with a snort, figeting, excessive-compulsive behaviours, hair twisting, mustache or beard stroking, knuckle cracking, interrupting, constantly correcting the other person, nagging, finding fault, blaming others, always needing to have the last word, gossiping and overeating just to mention a few.

glumpuddle said...

Wow.
Good to have a list like that eh?
(Saying eh may also annoy some people ;-)
Making lists also can be annoying, especially when they are obvious lists.

raych said...

Ah jeez. I need to barf a little bit.