‘Can’t Help Myself’ helps you find your future goals (Biz & Books Review)
Special to the NNBW
The Book: “Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist”
The Author: Meredith Goldstein
The Details: c. 2018, Grand Central Publishing, 272 pages, $26
You don’t know what to do next.
Say yes, or say no. Pick one or the other, make up your mind, just do it – though merely reading those words makes you hyperventilate. Should you laugh or cry or run for the hills? You can’t decide. As in the new memoir “Can’t Help Myself” by Meredith Goldstein, you can’t do this on your own.
Breaking up is sometimes like ripping off a bandage; other times, love takes on a life of its own. Boston Globe columnist Meredith Goldstein had first-hand knowledge of this and so, following an emotionally messy split with a newspaper ad rep, she approached her bosses with an idea: how about an online column of advice for the lovelorn?
Looking for something different for their website, they gave her their blessing and the column became a runaway hit. That was a surprise for Goldstein, though she’d “sort of been an advice columnist for decades, at least to… family and friends.”
Much of her advice-learning came from her divorced mother, a Julliard-trained classical pianist who’d had to give piano lessons to make ends (almost) meet while her daughters were growing up. When she wasn’t helping her mother’s love life, Goldstein’s talents were tested by her sister, who “preferred big experiences and excitement…” There were friends who needed help, younger colleagues benefitting from Goldstein’s words and, of course readers — and so, every day, Goldstein opened her email, read the days’ letters, picked a few, and dispensed advice in a format that allowed readers to weigh in with their thoughts and experiences.
She advised shy-guys who’d fallen in love from afar, and lovers who couldn’t commit. She denied a letter-writer a “snooping pass” and told another to consider his amour’s age. She counseled “work wives” while gaining a “work husband” of her own. Goldstein’s columns took on romance and how to find it; she dealt with jealousy, immaturity, May-December romances, responsibility, parenting, and illness. And when a crisis hit her own doorstep, the love-advice columnists got a little love from her readers, too…
Let’s just get this out there: “Can’t Help Myself” is cute. It’s like binge-watching Friends on TV, or like finding a pile of your “Babysitter’s Club” books from Eighth Grade. It’s like a grown-up version of a pajama party with your BFF. It’s cozy.
But it’s not fluffy.
Quite the contrary, author Meredith Goldstein is serious about love and her job and her readers and that comes out clearly in this memoir; she’s also seriously funny when she pulls her family and friends into her story. As for the crisis inside, it’s a rolling arch that cradles this book with love and exasperation – but mostly love.
You need to find out more yourself.
You’ve been warned.
This is a perfect book for anyone who’s ever not known what to do next. It’s great for mothers, daughters, sisters, and for those who’ve lost love and found it again. If that’s you, then reading “Can’t Help Myself” is the best advice.
Terri Schlichenmeyer is the reviewer behind “The Bookworm Sez,” a self-syndicated book review column published in more than 260 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She can be reached for feedback at http://www.bookwormsez.com.
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