There is an old riddle that asks, “Do they have a Fourth of July in England?” The answer, believe-it-or-not, is “yes.” Similarly, one can ask, “Is there a Valentine’s Day for singles?” Again, believe-it-or-whatever, the answer is also, “yes.” But both riddles beg the next question, “does it mean the same thing?” This time, the answer is, “um, are you serious?” To those of you celebrating Valentine’s Day: don’t worry, I will share something clever and not-too-cliché reads before I reach my 1,000 word limit. And for all the rest, unencumbered by encumbrances, I have some thoughts too on what reads go best with a day better known as, “Feb. 14.” So, here we are. In a perfect world, wall-calendars would intuitively know when they should shout out things (like Super Bowl Sunday, or National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Day) and what they should tone down (again, like Valentine’s Day). According to some Zen master somewhere, the world is not perfect. Some of us are single by choice, others by circumstance. I guess that the same thing can be said about marriages and relationships, too. One of the finest American traditions is the lumping of people into insanely simplistic boxes. Keeping to that fine time-honed tradition, let’s lump all of us of legal age into the following groups: 1. Single by choice 2. Singled by divorce/break-up 3. Singled by death 4. Single with kids (but looking for a relationship) 5. Unhappily in a relationship 6. Head-over-heals in love Single by choice In 2004, Judy Ford published, Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent ($12.95). In her book, Ford offers the following insight into singleness: “Single” is… …not a condition to be cured … it’s just as natural as being part of a couple. Its wisdom is contagious. Its message is powerful. …a sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and always uplifting collection of true-life experiences and practical wisdom that helps you celebrate your single status. Singled by divorce/break-up Two of the most lauded books about surviving divorce or break-up are Abigail Trafford’s Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Revised Edition ($14.99) and Susan Eliot’s Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You ($14.95). Intelligent, insightful and based on Abigail Trafford’s personal experience, extensive research and interviews with hundreds of divorced men and women, Crazy Time charts the emotional journey of the breakup of a marriage — identifying the common phases that lead to separation, divorce, and, eventually, to a new life. Getting Past Your Breakup is a roadmap for overcoming the painful end of any romantic relationship, even divorce. It’s over — and it really hurts. But as unbelievable as it may seem when you are in the throes of heartache, you can move past your breakup. Forget about trying to win your ex back. Forget about losing yourself and trying to make this person love you. Forget it! Starting today, this breakup is the best time to change your life for the better, inside and out. Singled by death Comparisons are impure and tend to leave no one the wiser. Whether you are minted single by divorce or widowhood, it just plain sucks. There is much in common about the destination, but the journeys are different and the coping mechanisms, while sometimes overlapping, are also different. My personal favorite book on working through grief is Linda Feinberg’s I’m Grieving as Fast as I Can ($14.95). Feinberg offers a guide for young widows and widowers through the normal grieving process that highlights the special circumstances of an untimely death. Young widows and widowers share thoughts and dilemmas about losing a loved one, what to tell young children experiencing a parent’s death, returning to work and dealing with in-laws. Single with kids (but looking for a relationship) Despite the provocative title, Sex and the Single Parent ($13.95) by Meg F. Schneider and Martine J. Myer offers solid guidelines on dating for single parents and widows/widowers. Parents, they believe, deserve and need a love life, but at the same time they must protect children from further loss and confusion. The authors treat the whole spectrum of dating, from casual dates through serious relationships and remarriage. They openly confront problems (e.g., hostile teenagers, power plays by children to try to derail a parent’s relationship, and the need to find time for passion), offering realistic and varied solutions, and in separate chapters deal with dating after the death of a spouse and after children have left home. Although divorce and parenting books generally provide some coverage of romance, this is the only extended treatment of the topic – one certainly on the minds of many parents today. Unhappily in a relationship A wise, albeit jaded friend once shared with me that the only thing lonelier than being by one’s self, is to be in an unhappy relationship. If you’ve not yet exhausted every possible means of repairing what is broken and the inevitable is not yet inevitable, How to Know If It’s Time to Go: A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage by Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman ($14.95) might just save your marriage or your sanity. Drs. Birnbach and Hyman team up to present a guide to gauging how serious problems are in a marriage, what can be done to resolve them, or whether it’s time to separate and divorce. Each chapter covers a relevant topic and closes with self-assessment questions. The authors see divorce as a last resort but provide a concrete plan for how to prepare and carry it out so it’s as painless as possible. Excellent support for those who feel trapped in an unhappy marriage. Head-over-heels in love If you are smart you already know that if you are happily married you should count your blessings! You not only found your Holy Grail, but you are lucky enough to have someone else to drink out of it with you. For you, I offer What I Love about You ($13.99) by Kate and David Marshall. This fill-in-the-blank book prompts you to say what is in your heart, but may not always be at the tip of your tongue. Playful, tender and personal, this is the perfect gift for the person in your life who makes your pulse race.
Liberal, Jewish and vegan. Scott has six kitties, a dog, four kids and a wife who saves peoples' lives. He operates EVERYbody Reads bookstore, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.