Can’t Help Myself: Lessons and Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist

Meredith Goldstein. Grand Central, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4377-9
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. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/08/2018
Release date: 04/03/2018
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-7205-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-7202-1
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-4555-4376-2
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