A disarmingly honest memoir about giving advice when you're not sure what you're doing yourself, by the woman behind The Boston Globe's Love Letters column.
Every day, Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein takes on the relationship problems of thousands of dedicated readers. They look to her for wisdom on all matters of the heart- how to cope with dating fatigue and infidelity, work romances, tired marriages, true love, and true loss. In her column, she has it all figured out, but in her real life she is a lot less certain.
Whether it's her own reservations about the traditional path of marriage and family, her difficulty finding someone she truly connects with, or the evolution of her friendships as her friends start to have their own families, Meredith finds herself looking for insight, just like her readers. As she searches for responses to their concerns, she's surprised to discover answers to her own. But it's after her mother is diagnosed with cancer that she truly realizes how special her Love Letters community is, how this column has enriched her life as much, if not more than, it has for its readers.
Can't Help Myself is the extraordinary (and often hilarious) story of a single woman navigating her mercurial love life, and a moving and poignant portrait of an amazing community of big-hearted, love-seeking allies.
Goldstein, who writes the popular "Love Letters" column for the Boston Globe, assembles her favorite entries from the column's nine years of publication, along with details from her own life, in this heartfelt look at the life of an advice columnist. In the memoir portion, Goldstein recalls a particularly difficult breakup, followed by her mother's diagnosis with stage-4 cancer and the grueling years of treatment during which Goldstein served as her mother's primary caretaker. The excerpted columns cover topics ranging from "work spouses" to online dating to striving for friendship after a breakup, and include some of the more thoughtful comments left by readers on the Globe's website. The book's strength is the way Goldstein shows the blurring of personal and professional boundaries from the unique perspective of an advice columnist. She admits to making mistakes: for example, lashing out at a recent cancer survivor whose letter expressed annoyance at her caregiver husband a complaint that hit close to home for Goldstein at the time and feeling like a "certifiable fraud" for answering sex questions during a bout of celibacy. Though Goldstein includes some ancillary details that occasionally steer the book off course (notably anecdotes about her sister's relationship woes), her story of coping with her mother's illness is moving and tenderly wrought. The book will appeal to loyal readers of advice columns particularly Goldstein's but be forewarned, this book is a tearjerker.