Today’s letter touches on the topic of passion. Our writer is balancing creative impulses in love and art. Two topics I adore!

Dear Book Doctor,

I want a book that will help me feel my power and creativity as a woman while making dating feel light and fun versus heavy and future oriented. A book that will give me insight but also make me laugh.

Perhaps this is two book requests! Was thinking about doing Artist Way again.

Thank you,
Passionista

Dear Passionista,

I will recommend more than one book for you, but not for the reason you think. It seems that the answer to your dilemma is contained in your question.

One of the things that dating can do, in my opinion, is pull us into this forward-thinking place. “What’s going to happen next?” we wonder. We want answers and certainty. But these things are never possible. I could recommend dating books, but I won’t in this case. I think the way to keep dating light and in the present is to stay in the present with your creative lady self.

Go toward the part of you that wants to be creative and make art. Being with that part of yourself is going to keep you juiced up and pliable. I don’t think you need any answers about dating. You need to set yourself free to be a wild artistic woman. If your creative self is happy, the rest of it falls into place.

These are books that I think will help:

 

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I love this writer. I first read his work in grad school for Expressive Arts Therapy. His view is that art is medicine, and in this case, I certainly believe that is true. This book is great for anyone who feels pulled to do the Artist’s Way, but prefers something more free-form and less regimented. This should jump start your artist self for certain!

 

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I do adore some Twyla. It doesn’t matter that she is a choreographer- this advice is wonderful for any creative endeavor. I have even found her to be an inspiration for my running.

Concise and immediately applicable, this is one for the library. I read it and felt every suggested exercise made me want to make something right then. This is the practical companion to the philosophical aspect of Shaun McNiff above.

 

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Last but most certainly not least, this should be required reading for life. Shaun McNiff will inspire you, Twyla will show you the keys to get started, but Steven Pressfield will kick you in the pants to get started.

I remember laughing at this one when reading it. It is short little one page tidbits that bust the critic and get you moving. This could probably be read in one sitting and I am sure I will come back to it again and again.

So… there you have it, Passionista. I think sorting out how to be with dating and love has a lot to do with submerging yourself as much as possible in what you love doing as soon as possible. Once you are feeling flow, creation, and the excitement of discovery, and once you stick with your creative process through thick and thin, it will be much easier to assess how you feel in dating. I think you will be a better partner to yourself and to others if you are a happy artist.

Because if your creative heart isn’t happy, no partner will be able to fix that. And if you are creating and delighted, it won’t matter how it goes in dating- you’ll be happy no matter what.

And, paradoxically, this seems to be when things turn out the best in that department.

Happy reading,

The Book Dr.

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Here’s today’s letter from the Book Dr mailbag. I do like a challenge!

Dear book doctor,
I am a reader who likes the best of everything and is a bit of an omnivore in terms of genre.  I miss the feeling of falling into a book and literally  needing to finish it in two sittings.  Can you give me some ideas of books that left you enthralled?
Sincerely,
Let’s Get Lost

Dear Let’s Get Lost:

I feel a little bit naughty, because I am about to recommend a book that I am currently reading and haven’t finished yet. Gasp! So I can’t 100% promise what the outcome will be in the end. Still, in terms of getting lost, I think this one is making it happen right from the beginning:

 

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Since I know that one of the genres this omnivorous reader likes is memoir, I think this one will be especially appealing. It is told in first person and is the first in what promises to be a trilogy about the friendship between two women who grew up together in a rough area in Naples. I started to call it a suburb, but that makes it sound far too fancy and genteel. This is a ladies-pulling-each-others-hair-for-making-eyes-at-each-other’s-men type of neighborhood, not a sixties ladies-in-white-gloves spot. How I do love hyphens today, it seems.

The first chapter promises a friendship that lasts for decades before it jumps back to the time when the girls first met in elementary school, so I am feeling very swept up for a long saga. I think this one will definitely provide an escape. I wish I had some longer sittings so I could chew this one right up. Perhaps I will do just that over the weekend…

Other books people have wanted to float away on? Please leave your favorite titles in the comments!

Happy escaping, Let’s Get Lost!

The Book Dr.

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<p>This letter reminded me of a favorite book when I was a kid: <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Bells-Fixit-Shop-Little-golden/dp/0307021041″>Mr. Bell’s Fixit Shop</a>. He has a sign in the window that advertises fixing everything, except broken hearts. But when fixing a beloved child’s toy saves the day, he changed the sign to read the he fixes everything EVEN broken hearts. Very sweet. And as the owner of a shoe-destroying cat, this sentiment is more meaningful to me than ever.&nbsp;</p>
<p>But I digress. This is a bit of a retroactive letter, but I want to make sure this book is making the rounds. It was recommended to me when I went through a big breakup a year and a half ago, and was so incredibly helpful.&nbsp;</p>
<p>A few friends have been in similar situations this year and I had to pass the same suggestion along to them.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Here it is for the masses:</p>
<p><a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Apart-Relationships-Through-Ending-ebook/dp/B0073GVJA4/ref=la_B000APTG4G_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1398894813&amp;sr=1-2″></a></p><a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Apart-Relationships-Through-Ending-ebook/dp/B0073GVJA4/ref=la_B000APTG4G_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1398894813&amp;sr=1-2″><img src=”https://31.media.tumblr.com/234b3c284b1f38b7bebf9c2e289a154a/tumblr_inline_n4v5pvLV9a1s76ogo.jpg” alt=”image”></a><p></p>

<p>Now, lest you write this one off as part of <a href=”http://www.goop.com/journal/be/conscious-uncoupling”>Gwyneth and Chris’s split</a>, I assure you that it was written a number of years ago.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Whether you are leaving a relationship or the one being left, or even if the choice to split is mutual, the process is never easy, nor is it painless. I have often needed reassurance that I was doing the right thing, if I was leaving, or wondered if I would ever feel ok again, if I was the one being left.&nbsp;</p>
<p>This book provides solace no matter which end of the stick you end up with. It even provides an explanation for why things come to an end that makes sense and allows for a larger context that does leave room for new growth and happiness in the future. I can’t recommend it highly enough, whether you are in the trenches of a breakup right now, or still reeling from the end of something from a long time ago.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Plus, there is an <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Apart-Relationships-Through-Ending-ebook/dp/B0073GVJA4/ref=la_B000APTG4G_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1398894813&amp;sr=1-2″>eBook version</a>. I am so happy for those of us who do enjoy a little self help reading to have this option. I will never forget the awkwardness of doing grad school reading on planes or in public places and having to brandish volumes with large letters on the front proclaiming mortifying sentiments like “NEVER GOOD ENOUGH” and having to endure the sympathetic looks from those around me. Thank you Kindle and Nook and iPad for ending all that. Read your self help proudly in public everyone.&nbsp;</p>
<p>But don’t take my word for the use of this book- here is the letter from a satisfied Book Dr reader:</p>
<blockquote>
<p>”Your recent recommendation for my break up was exactly what I needed. You’re a genius. …</p>
Lookin forward to more Book Rx 🙂

Sincerely,
heart-broken”
</blockquote>

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And today, we have our first letter to the Book Doctor!

Dear Book Doctor:

What would you suggest for someone who has been doing mostly academic reading for the past few years and really wants to burst back into pleasure reads? This person has a stack of books ready to go but wants to buy something you suggest and put it on top.

Sincerely,

Textbook Overload

Dear Textbook Overload,

I know this conundrum well. When I was in graduate school, I got so sick of reading dense psychoanalytic texts that I finally gave myself a loophole- I was allowed to read Harry Potter as long as I was riding on public transit to and from class. (This was in SF, not Los Angeles of course) This had a bit of a strange side effect- I ended up taking longer and more inefficient routes in order to get more time reading something that felt less grueling.

Now, I happen to know this reader well and I will not suggest Harry Potter for your case.

I have several options, from the most simple balm for the brain to the more adventurous and challenging. It is my experience that those coming off an academic bender either want to go whole hog with fiction and really get into it, or they just need something that will calm the synapses. I have been in both places.

Suggestion #1: Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter.

 

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For the totally sizzled mind that just wants a lovely story.

This is the book I have been slinging at everyone at the moment, in all fairness. But it is a delight. Bouncing between 1950s Italy and contemporary LA, it is 100% satisfying diversion and beautifully written, as befitting the title. A gem. Who wouldn’t love a book where Richard Burton is a character? I loved it so much.

Suggestion #2: Longborne by Jo Baker.

 

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For the brain that has just a little bit of power left.

I listened to this on audio during my terrible commute from Silverlake to the west side of LA and found it enchanting.

This book is quite clever- a story of the below-stairs world in the home of the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice. If you are an Austen geek like me, or enjoy period stories, this will be a diverting treat. Again, better for the slightly less sizzled brain, because it’s fun to pick up on how the story weaves between the below-stairs world Baker has created and the original plot line of Pride & Prejudice.

I was a bit sizzled from work myself when listening to this one, and I was charmed completely.

Suggestion 3: Bark by Lorrie Moore

 

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Just saw this lady speak at the Aloud series and she read a full story from the collection. It was clever and witty and charming. And took you right into her world, which is a place worth visiting.

If you have a real desire to feel more of a pull into literature and you don’t feel completely zapped by textbooks, this is the one for you.

Those are my suggestions.

Please report back and let us know what you think of them!

Happy reading,

The book doctor.

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It seemed only fitting to begin this site with an optimistic title, helpfully one that I only got to reading quite recently, in fact.

It is with great expectations that I begin the Book Doctor site at last, after many years thinking about it and with much encouragement from those who have benefited from my book prescriptions.

Great Expectations is a book I would very much recommend as a gift to recent high school or college graduates, if they haven’t already read it in school. As a book that cautions against decisions made in the late teens early twenties that the main character comes to regret, perhaps reading this will breed some caution?

I probably would have completely ignored that sort of advice at that age, so I may be all wrong with this one. Perhaps this is a better read for those of us who have a few regrets later on in life, but not too many. I certainly felt that I wasn’t so badly off once I finished the book.

It’s also a good classic if you are in the mood to feel studious or are nostalgic for high school English class in the fall.

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