First of all, it needs to be noted from the outset that this is a religious book and you will be proselytized to / at. Even so, this book is very, very much worth a read.
This book manages to keep the vast world of interpersonal relationships simple enough to comprehend what to do next, but doesn't try to reduce the complexities of our lives into a tagline. Gary focuses on devising a plan of attack for improving the relationships in our lives, not on making out a set of rules or a proscription for universal success.
Overall, I feel like he does a great job -- I learned a lot about myself, a lot about many of the people I've dated in the past, and I came to better understand my parents, my sisters, and my co-workers.
That said, there are a couple of problems with this book that keep it from a five star rating. As I mentioned before, this book is openly religious, and by that I mean Christian. I seldom desire a sermon, and when I do I would like fair warning.
Secondly, and much more alarmingly, this book has a very sex-negative view of the world, bolstered by some of the shoddiest research I've seen since the last time I watched Bill O'Reilly. Since I was already being preached at, I wouldn't have minded a sermon on the evils of the flesh, but trying to make his arguments seem factual with clearly biased "facts" just insults my intelligence.
All in all, though, despite one or two uncomfortable moments, an amazingly enlightening read.
This book is quite amazingly good at just what it says. You'll get a lot of fact, and be left to develop it how you choose. No more search for the magic buttons, or a ten-step program for orgasm. I'm glad he doesn't insult me by trying to give me a script to follow, and Ian also manages to make the presentation quite fun, if a little eerily motivational speaker-esque at times -- this man needs to be put on a ration plan for exclamation points.
I think perhaps the most ringing endorsement I can make is that I would never, ever listen to this with my girlfriend or spouse. I'm not embarrassed easily, but I spent most of the time listening a brilliant shade of salmon. I think I'm better for the experience, though.
The only thing I regret is that there's an almost negative tone regarding genital sexual intercourse. I know it's not what the book is about, and I accept that, but I don't think he needed to be that negative about what is for many women a fun and viable way to achieve sexual gratification and yes, orgasm. Normally I'm put off by a "whatever works for you" approach in a sex book, so I appreciate the vehemence, but I would have moderated the tone a bit.
Still, all in all, a fascinating read.
I always feel badly whenever I pan a book. I know what kind of effort and focus it takes to create one, and I don't envy the task this author has set for herself. Regrettably, though, this book has very little content, presented at length in a borderline offensive way.
I can sum up the content as I see it in a few short sentences: all women are the same, and everything they do that annoys you men (again, who are all the same), they do for love. I am not kidding, this idea comes up every three minutes, and even the word 'love' is always breathed in the most reverent My Little Pony voice you can imagine. Rather than discussion, communication, and compromise, men are told instead to understand and consciously manipulate the feelings of the women they love. We are shown how to craft the finest veneer we can with the least effort.
Women, meanwhile, are given not the message of "you're not really insecure and neurotic" or even the less committal "well, you are but you can fix it with your mate's help," but rather the bizarre message of "everything you think is insecure and neurotic really isn't, which is a good thing because you can't help it anyway."
So women, if you want to feel completely stereotyped and fade back into Victorian times, and men if you want to have all your feelings and needs and desires trivialized, mocked, and displaced in favor of rank emotional manipulation, this book is perfect for you.
I don't end up agreeing with Susie all the time, certainly, but I have to say that I really enjoy listening to her. She makes good points, she's funny and charismatic, and she argues her cases very thoroughly and thoughtfully. I would recommend this program to anyone with an open mind, whether they want to hear their own positions stated eloquently and poetically or they want to hear what the other side has to say about sex, relationships, and the freedom to engage healthily and fully in them.
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