Monday, February 10, 2003

Sweeten love life with book

As Valentine's Day approaches, the right title could be great for your heart

By Shauna Scott Rhone / The Cincinnati Enquirer

With Valentine's Day around the corner, the how-to and how-not-to's in love and relationships have been landing in bookstores to help the advice-hungry masses. Here are a few worth thumbing through:

I'm lookin' for a new love, baby

Called a "virtual roadmap to healthy relationships," Still Single? You Don't Have to Be by Casey Maxwell Clair (St. Martin's Griffin; $13.95) says singles may be sabotaging their chance for romance by using bad, recycled relationship skills. Advice includes acknowledging the "unavailable lover," being aware of the one who rushes to the throes of love (talking about forever on the second date) and learning the 12 steps to opening your heart to the love you deserve.

  Several new books make fun gifts to the littlest sweethearts in your life:
The Little Book of Kisses by Steve Wiesinger, illustrations by Sumiko (Random House; $4.99), is a lip-smacking book of kisses for every occasion.
I Love You So Much by Carl Norac, illustrations by Claude K. Dubois (Doubleday; $5.99), is what Lola the hamster is trying to say to the people she loves most.
I Love to Cuddle by Carl Norac, illustrations by Claude K. Dubois (Dell Dragonfly Books; $5.99), celebrates the importance of cuddling with Lola the hamster.
Elmo Loves You by Sarah Albee, illustrations by Maggie Swanson (Random House; $4.99), is a sweet poem about how each person has something special to care about.
The Berenstain Bears' Funny Valentine by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House; $3.25) tells the story of Sister Bear's crush.
A Peanuts Valentine by Charles M. Schulz (Ballentine Books; $16.95) is a collection of comic strips from the archives of the late cartoonist.
Like a handbook of best-friend reminders, Best Advice on Finding Mr. Right edited by Kellie Gould (Rutledge Hill Press; $12.99) offers real examples by average women who've been there and done that when it comes to finding true love. Most of the quotes are just common sense but serve as reminders when insecure thoughts threaten a relationship's stability.

From Dr. Grace Cornish, author of 10 Bad Choices That Ruin Black Women's Lives, comes You Deserve Healthy Love, Sis! The Seven Steps to Getting the Relationship You Want (Crown Publishing; $21). From "Check Your Signals Before You Wreck Your Choices" to Learn to Affirm Healthy Love in Your Life," each chapter gives step-by-step instruction on cleaning your inner house before stepping into someone else's.

Ever wonder why Mr. So Right suddenly turned into Mr. Where-Did-He-Go? Relationships author William July II explains it in The Hidden Lover: What Women Need to Know That Men Can't Tell Them (Broadway; $12.95). He nails five "painful things men won't admit to women:" feelings of fear, inadequacy, unimportance, abandonment and sexual performance.

Could it be I'm falling in love?

According to How to Marry a Divorced Man by Leslie Fram (ReganBooks; $22.95), more than half of the 70 million American women between the ages of 18 and 54 will date and/or marry a divorced man in their lifetime. Cultivating a loving relationship with a man who's been down the aisle before can present issues not found with marital first-timers. Fram spells out some practical ways to negotiate this territory.

In Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid? The Serial Monogamist's Guide to Love by Carina Chocano (Villard; $9.95), the author wonders when the New York Times will come out with a "Shacking Up" section to go with its "Vows" engagement listings. So begins a humorous look at love, paranoia and the insecurity of placing your heart in someone else's hands. If you can read with your tongue in your cheek, you'll enjoy reading this book.

The 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships by psychologist David Niven (HarperSanFrancisco; $11.95) give the nuts and bolts percentages of years of research by scientists who know love when they see it. For example, their findings show that most people who ended an unhappy relationship were in a happy relationship within three years, and 74 percent say the new relationship was significantly different. It also says couples who say they never argue are more likely to divorce within four years.

When Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall released her book, Satisfaction (Warner Books; $16.95) with now-estranged husband Mark Levinson last year, she wasn't surprised when it hit the New York Times best-seller list. The illustrated how-to primer on sexual fulfillment practiced what her character Samantha preached on the hit TV show. The new paperback version is as flexible as she wants her readers' minds to be about this very adult subject.

I'm all out of love

For those on the exit ramp from the highway of love, there's The Girls' Guide to Surviving a Breakup by Delphine Hirsh (St. Martin's Press; $13.95). Hirsh gives good guidance on issues such as "How to express your anger without landing in jail," "Top 5 movies to get you through the worst times" and "how to face being single again with style." At this traumatic time, it helps to have something to help you laugh to keep from crying.

For the intellectuals who need to dissect what happened, Dumped, edited by B. Delores Max (Grove Press; $14) is a literary anthology from some of the most famous writers to ever have their hearts broken. Authors fictionalizing that achy-breaky heart include Steve Almond, Noah Baumbach, Saul Bellow, Elizabeth Berg, Jane Austen, Andre Dubus, Alice Munro, Dorothy Parker and Dan O'Brien.


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