Category Archives: Dear Book Dr.
This week’s letter comes from Dal… who is interested in learning about book proposals. Listen up to learn if you even need a book proposal at all, and how to write one if you do.
Recommended podcast episode:
One of my very first projects here at the Book Dr was to ask for letters from readers. This was originally the entire concept of the Book Dr. site.
In the past couple of years, this home has grown to a place for even more than that, but I still love prescribing books for various life situations and challenges.
People wrote lots of letters. They wrote about how shitty online dating can be. Wondering how to write a Bollywood memoir. Feeling that a novel was needed after a long bout of non-fiction. I loved answering these letters with suggestions of books that would be helpful.
Over the course of working on these letters and developing this blog into something more, I realized there were a lot of topics that I wished people would ask about so that I could suggest books in response. I had a first aid kit of books just waiting for someone to ask for it.
But people never know you have the perfect solution for their woes unless you tell them about it, right?
So here I am. I made this eBook, 52 Books That Will Change Your Life for those of you who want a book that will help in a variety of situations. I’ve broken things out into topics and have a number of books that I love and have been indispensable to me and others I’ve shared them with on the topics of money, relationships, growing up, health, support (and spirituality), building skills, and expansion & adventure.
I’ve read these books over the past decades and each one has stuck with me ever since I read it. Its concepts and ideas still serve me and it’s a book that I have recommended to someone else because I loved it.
I’m working on more of these lovely eBooks because they are such a joy to write and dream up, and you’ll find this one and others to come in the Secret Library section of the site here. It’s open to all subscribers to Footnotes, which brings letters for book lovers right to your inbox.
Sign up here, and you’ll get the password to the Secret Library where 52 Books That Will Change Your Life is waiting for you right now.
In Need of an Online Dating Profile Makeover
Dear Book Dr.,I spent most of last year actively dating. I mostly used OkCupid to find my dates. I went on more than 50 dates and could write a book about all the sketchy and/or hilarious first date encounters I had. I met a total of 3 men that I ended up going on more than 5 dates with, though none of these connections lasted more than a couple months.I discovered major red flags or deal breakers with 2 of the men and the one guy that I liked the most and felt the most compatible with “ghosted” me after we spent a great weekend together and then moved across the country.I’ve been on a break from online dating since before the holidays and think that it’s time to get back on the dating horse/wagon/pony…but I need some direction and inspiration.Can you recommend a good book for me to help with clarifying what I want from a relationship and how to describe it effectively in my profile?Thanks!Ok Quitter
Ok girl. First of all, you are not an Ok Quitter because you took a risk and wrote this letter. Good work!
Also, I must acknowledge that online dating is a slog. Oh my god, is it a slog.
While men have to get up the guts to write someone, women have to deal with filtering through all the messages that can be as articulate as “hey” not even capitalized, with nothing else in the message. I feel you.
So before we even get to the books that will help you with the online dating, I think we need to start with the books that will make you feel like you want to be dealing with this in the first place.
What do I mean? After a disappointing bout in the dating ring and a restful retreat away from it, you need to get a bit spicy with your reading to get inspired again.
In short, you need to read some erotica. Doesn’t matter what kind, but I would hit up anything from the best of series with some sassy short stories to 50 Shades of Grey or whatever your flavor is. You can read more about finding your flavor here, and here. If erotica isn’t your jam, read something romantic. Something that helps you see that this absurd and exhausting process will be worth it in the end. Read Modern Love in the New York Times, even the Outlander series if that does it for you. Just get inspired for romance.
Now that we’ve got you feeling a little more footloose about the process, let’s get to the reading about the dating.
Here are the books I can recommend above all others for getting clear about what you want in a partner, a relationship, and therefore a dating profile:
- Calling in the One, Katherine Woodward Thomas. This book is as much about understanding yourself as it is about understanding a potential partner. It should be required reading for anyone over the age of 12, in my opinion. Not that 12-year-olds should be dating or seeking a soul mate, but it would help a lot of them to value their own needs and desires more. It is worth both reading this whole book as well as doing all the exercises. I think this made a huge difference when I was dating and I noticed a big uptick in the compatibility of the men I met after working through this process
- Love in 90 Days, Diana Kirschner. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same thing when this book was recommended to me- it sounds like snake oil. The title screams bullshit. But it is not bullshit, I promise. This book is much more about the strategy and process of dating itself. She has great advice, even the advice that sounds insane turns out to be correct. I formed a group on her recommendation- we called ourselves Team Love- and we worked through the book together. 3 our of 4 of us are now engaged or married to awesome men and the 4th is well on her way.
So this is my prescription for writing yourself a new love story. It is completely possible and I know you are well on your way.
I congratulate you on sticking it out, taking a break when you needed to, and being ready to get back in the game.
Sounds like this is your year!
Keep us posted on how it goes.
xxx and happy reading,
The Book Dr.
It seems there is a theme on here lately… erotic fiction? Is this something people are looking to discuss further? Do let me know in the comments or on FB, even email me to discuss. (I feel a survey coming!)
And now, on to our question:
Dear Book Dr.,
Our women’s book club is reviving itself with style by now renaming itself (for awhile) Smutty Book Club…😜. Any recommendations for some fun? 😘
Bring on the Sexy Books
Well hello there, Sexy!
I love the idea of a women’s book club going right for the smutty. This is such an amazing topic that is rich for discussion and exploration.
My first question for you would be what level of depth this group is prepared to handle. By this, I mean: do people really want to dig into what makes them tick or are you just looking for a good giggle and some tittillation as a group? I think that’s something to consider as a group when picking books. Plus, let’s face it, the point of erotica is not to keep up the storyline for ages and ages. Ahem.
I can give recommendations for a variety of scenarios and then I leave it to your good judgment to decide.
In either case, I think anthologies of short erotic fiction are a good way to go in a group. I talked about this before in a Book Dr letter about finding something sexy to read when it’s too hot out to think, but I’ll go further with the topic here:
If you have a group of people reading the same book, the chances of everyone being turned on by the exact same story or kink is pretty low. By picking anthologies, you can each share which story was the most exciting for you, which ones didn’t do it for you, and which ones surprised you, among other lines for discussion.
- For a general starting point, I recommend Susie Bright’s Best American Erotica series. Lots of stories of high quality and a wide variety of topics. The 10th anniversary edition just came out in 2014, so that might be a good option.
- If you want to go a little further down the rabbit hole, you could pick a more specific topic. For example, Please, Sir is an anthology of stories for ladies who might have enjoyed the submissive female scenario of say, Fifty Shades of Grey. And it’s a bit more accurate to the BDSM community, from what I am told.
- If you want a longer book, Alexandra Franzen recommended Priest quite effusively. (“This is some next level shit.”) Full disclosure: I bought it based on her enthusiastic review, but I haven’t read it yet. Her original instagram post has a lot of additional titles in the comments as well. Something on this list should please your sexy book club.
Alright, my sassy minx. I hope this gets your book club up and running. Do report back and let us know how it goes?
Happy sexy reading,
the book dr.
As we get close to Halloween, I often think about those relatives that are no longer with me. In Los Angeles, we have an unbelievable Day of the Dead celebration, and honoring family is central to that.
I got a comment recently from a reader who has her parents on her mind frequently as they are getting older, and this seemed to be a good time to honor family and how we take care of them.
Here’s the letter:
Dear Book Dr.,
Here’s a question (and you’ll recognise it!) – what books do you know, if any, fiction or non, about the experience of taking care of elderly parents and all that it means?
Helping as best I can
Thanks so much for your comment, and for bringing up this topic. This is something all of us will deal with eventually, if we’re lucky. I have friends who have lost parents far too young and it seems that either option can be quite a challenge.
While I haven’t lived through this experience with my own parents, I have experienced sudden illness with friends and helping to support my grandparents later on in life. Playing a caregiver role is both a gift and can be an enormous stress, so first of all, I think it’s important to take good care of yourself.
To that end, I can recommend some Pema Chödrön, the master of all things difficult. I particularly recommend The Places that Scare You in this situation, as I find thinking of parents becoming less able brings up a tremendous amount of fear for me. She can do no wrong in my eyes, and this book has been a godsend on numerous occasions.
Specific to the topic of caring for aging parents, my research turned up My Mother, Your Father: Embracing Slow Medicine, the Compassionate Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones. Written by a family doctor and geriatrician, Dennis McCullough, this book covers everything from what to ask your parents’ doctors to the cycle of experience your parents have. Helpfully organized into the eight stations of later life, most reviews seemed to sigh with relief at finding this one. And the New York Times called it “A valuable book, chilling and comforting in equal measure.” Should be just the ticket.
Finally, I think the best way to stay sane in the midst of mind-bending change is to inject a bit of humor. To that end, I recommend David Sedaris’ writing. No one is funnier about weird family dynamics, so I think a little comic relief could be exactly what is needed when you feel in over your head with mom and dad. Since the holidays are approaching (aren’t they always?) I’m probably going to treat myself to a re-read of Holidays on Ice this year. I suggest you give it a go as well.
Lots of love to you, and your parents.
the book dr.
PS- if anyone else has reading that has helped them with elderly parents, PLEASE SHARE in the comments below. We can all learn from each other’s resources!