As it turns out, my personal library contains far too many embarrassing books to include in one little post. I’ve added the highlights, divided into four categories: romance, self-help, random and odd, and movies (cause we love multimedia literacies).
This is a sampling of my Ken Follett collection, along with a smattering of other romance favourites.
Ken Follett: My deep, abiding love affair with Follett’s not quite trashy romance, not quite something you’re not embarrassed about having on your bookshelf writing began far too young when my mother handed me Pillars of the Earth at the cottage when I was 13. If you’ve read any Follett (and come on, admit it, you totally have and loved it all), you know that 13 might be a bit shy of the appropriate age to be reading his fabulously steamy sex scenes. But I did and I was quickly hooked. Who wants to read about tentative first kisses when you could be devouring detailed accounts of first coitus? Not me.
Once I’d discovered Follett, I pretty much left YA behind and began to explore the world of romance novels. At 13, I thought I was reading grown-up books of high quality. Waltzing in Ragtime was a particular favourite. I’ve never actually read Come Love a Stranger. It was picked out at a garage sale on account of the fabulous cover and this excerpt: “Their eyes melded in warm union as he braced himself above her, then came ecstasy, plunging in with the bold thrust of a knight’s lance and forging them together in the knot of love.” I had to own it.
Again, just a sample of the worst, but you get the idea. There are a few genres of self-help: eating and food, relationships and breakups and general.
Eating and Food
Having spent a good chunk of my life in and out of hospital with anorexia, I’ve made several attempts to normalize my eating, or, more realistically, figure out how eating and food are supposed to work. Nutrition for Canadians for Dummies was purchased in an attempt to ward off an admission a few years ago. I figured if I could just understand food better, I’d be able to figure out a workable meal program on my own. And, of course, the best way to do that is to buy a 394 page tome containing every detail about food you never needed to know. It wasn’t much help and it now hides in my bookshelf corner of shame.
Also in there, we have Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works. This was actually stolen from a friend who lent it to me, then disappeared. I read it, again, in an attempt to normalize eating. All I needed to do was listen to my body! It would tell me when I was hungry and when I wasn’t hungry and that would magically cure me of all food issues. Sadly, bodies are confusing. As it turns out, my body sometimes wants to eat nothing but potato chips for weeks on end. So intuitive eating wasn’t such a good idea after all. Into the corner of shame it went.
Relationships and Break-ups
Of course, we have the classics. He’s Just Not That Into You and the sequel It’s Called a Break-up Cause It’s Broken. The first was purchased on the recommendation of a friend when I was around 18 and trying to get over a much older guy who treated me very badly, then disappeared. It was, in fact, a wonderful little resource that served me well in moving from hysterical crying while listening to sappy love songs to hysterical crying while listening to super empowering moving on songs a la Kelly Clarkson.
It’s Called a Break-up Cause it’s Broken was purchased with the encouragement of multiple friends who were just about done listening to me cry over my then-current disastrous boyfriend and very ready for me to realize he was a giant asshole who seemed to prefer the company of his ex-girlfriend unless he was having sex with me. It made lots of sense and I promptly ignored all the advice contained therein, and continued to follow boy 2 around like a beaten puppy until he eventually cheated on me and left me for the ex-girlfriend (which, incidentally, is precisely what Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt told me he would do). I think I might even recommend both of these books. Maybe just pay more attention than I did.
The Breakup Book was purchased at a kiosk due entirely to the following poem:
Yesterday, I Cried
Yesterday, I cried
I cam home, went straight to my room, sat on the edge of my bed, kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra
and had myself a good cry.
I’m telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale
I cried until my ears were hot
I cried until my head was hurting so bad
that I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues
lying on the floor at my feet.
I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.
Yesterday, I cried
for all the days that I was too busy or too tired
or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days and all the ways
and all the times I had dishonoured, disrespected,
and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways
others did to me
the same things I had already done to myself
I cried for all the things I had given, only to have them stolen;
for all the things I asked for that had yet to show up;
for all the things I had accomplished, only to give
them away, to people in circumstances,
which left me feeling empty, and battered and
plain old used.
I cried because there really does come a time when the
only thing left for you to do is cry…
Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late. I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn’t know
that my soul knew everything I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying, I felt my freedom coming,
Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.
Note the favourite highlighted passages. Need I say more? This was a poem I had to own and share with the world.
Finally, Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving. I don’t really want to talk about it. Ahem. *blush*
Ah, The Anxiety of Phobia Workbook, 4th Edition. How you’ve helped me through the hard times. The details: purchased for myself at the recommendation of my psychologist (yes, I have one of those. Shut up). Yes, I have worked through most of it. Yes, the best sections are “overcoming negative self-talk,” “changing mistaken beliefs” and “coping with panic.” Yes, I would recommend it. Yes, it still goes in my corner of shame. Sigh.
Finally, Regaining Your Self: Breaking Free From the Eating Disorder Identity. Given to me by a friend. It sounded really good, but I didn’t actually like it all that much. Although I did read the whole thing, highlight it and make notes. It think it’s maybe more helpful to friends and family of those with eating disorders as it does a really good job of explaining the mind-set and the identity component of the disorder. For those of us who have already been through years of therapy, it was old news. Back in the corner of shame it went.
… and now I must bathe. Stay tuned for odd and random and embarrassing movies. They’re pretty good.