Women Who Run With the Poodles – Barbara Graham – March BBBR

Women Who Run With the Poodles: Myths and Tips For Honoring Your Mood Swings
Barbara Graham
Avon Books, 1994
150 pages

I totally admit I bought this book for the title. I’ve read Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves, and I can see where a lot of it has become cliched in the realm of self-help. This book was an attempt to parody that, and numerous other self-help books–and those of their readers who have gone way beyond self-help and into self-over-criticizing and other counterproductive behavior.

On the one hand, there are some amusing moments in the book–I’m waiting to see if some enterprising public speaker comes up with workshops like “Insurance Warrior”, “The Way of the Gastroenterologist”, and “Creating Your Sacred Tax Shelter”. The illustrations are cute, and match the general feel of the book. And there’s some value in pointing out that it’s okay to not be perfect, to have some blemishes. Plus I liked the section on how you don’t really need all sorts of accessories.

However, there are also some down sides. Practically speaking, it reinforces some unhealthy stereotypes such as therapy being useless, as well as some ridiculous elements of the supposed “War Between the Sexes”. It’s a great guide on how to ignore anything useful out of alternative spirituality whatsoever. And the humor does get old after a while; this might have been better as an essay, not an entire book.

If you’re need to be a bit jaded about the self-help industry in general, this might be an okay read. I think the author might have had something more to say than “You don’t need all those useless attempts at self-improvement!”, but tried too hard and didn’t quite get the snappy wit she was attempting.

One and a half pawprints out of five.

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Fun Signs – Hans Wilhelm – January BBBR

Fun Signs: The Most Accurate Zodiac Guide Ever Drawn
Hans Wilhelm
Wallaby Books/Simon and Schuster, 1981
96 pages

“Hey, baby, what’s your sign?” Who at this point hasn’t heard this dated cliche? From about the same time period came this odd little paperback cartoon guide to sun signs. when I saw it at the local Goodwill, I couldn’t resist a bit of brain candy–I totally admit to being a sucker for things whimsically illustrated.

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to astrology–this isn’t it. It’s a very basic overview of sun sign information. What is in there aligns with much of the common info on the zodiac, so the author did do his research. However, it’s about on par with any of a number of “date by your sun sign!” booklets. The saving grace of this one, of course, is the illustrations. Simple but expressive, the drawings made me wish there was more of a market for humorous paganism/spirituality/etc. 101 texts in comic/cartoon format. (Of course, everyone knows paganism is serious business!)

If you happen across this long out of print book in a secondhand shop, pick it up as a novelty or amusement. There’s nothing new here that you can’t find in any book on astrology, but it has its own charms for the drawings.

Four pawprints out of five.

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