Book covers distracting me from writing at my Barnes & Noble Starbucks table

Between Two Worlds by Tyler Henry

Oh, that wide-smiling, angel-haired Tyler. Am I crazy to believe he talks to dead people? Yes, you say, but I say no. If famous actors—many of them ardent skeptics, mind you—believe him, shouldn’t I? For the sake of argument, let’s say believing something a celebrity believes just because a celebrity believes it is akin to living “between two worlds” of rationale and Scientolog-ic. Would it still not be the worst kind of arrogance to presume to know the limitations of a universe whose vastness can only be imagined? (I do wonder, though, why no one ever asks Tyler what the afterlife looks like. Is it gauze panels and mist, or is it wildflower mountains and streams of delicious wild salmon? Can the disembodied consciousness enjoy salmon? Can it explore outer space? Are the afterlife realms cordoned off, separating those who help people pick up dropped papers from those who really, really want to shoot hibernating bears? Tyler?)

Ancestral Medicine by Daniel Foor, Ph.D

Bloodletting? There’s probably something about bloodletting in there. Have we not advanced beyond that? Famous people do that Egyptian cupping ritual, which is kind of like bloodletting. If famous people believe in the abilities of Tyler Henry, and I believe in the abilities of Tyler Henry, does that mean I should also believe in the benefits of cupping? If Zac Posen says pleated mom jeans are back in style and famous people start wearing them because Zac Posen says to, does that mean I, too, should no longer consider them the fashion abomination they are? (I’ll wait to see whether Gwyneth wears them. When Gwyneth wears mom jeans, I’ll steam my lady parts.)

The Happy Medium by Kim Russo

I’m not surprised that mediums need a self-help book. Every time I watch Hollywood Medium, I admit I wonder whether Tyler is happy. When he laughs, I think of that Joni Mitchell song and wonder, “Do you really smile when you smile?” Do you, Tyler? What’s the bigger burden: dead people poking you to connect with the living, or the living poking you to connect with the dead? And if the dead can know the future, what else do they know? What’s at the end of outer space? Infinite can’t actually be a thing, can it? Outside of numbers, I mean. Tyler?

F*ck Love by Michael Bennett and Sarah Bennett

You know what I f*cking love? That the F word has become so ubiquitous, so devoid of literary power, that its proud presence on hardcover book titles is enough to distract me into not giving a sh*t about love or how to f*ck it. (Or is it the F word at all? Sneaky asterisk!) What happened to the language of yore, of the days of couplets when words still meant a thing? Nowadays, the F word is nothing but…Well, nowadays

It features on our mugs, our shirts, and in our gripes on grammar,
Its cracking strike reduced to the thwap of a bean bag hammer.
So thorough was its transformation, giant to bloodless runt,
That all we’ve left with any heft is the word they actually don’t mind so much in Britain.

Think Like a Guy: How to Get a Guy by Thinking Like One by Giuliana Depandi

Oh, Giuliana. A relationship book? I suppose you and Bill Rancic—well, but Bill’s a little serious, don’t you think? Maybe a little patronizing? You’re right, though. Even a “reality” show can’t capture the complexities that make a relationship work. But did you really get him by knowing how he thinks? Or, I guess, how “guys” think? Does my husband—Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, former “rocker” in the high school smoking area, wearer of flannel pants—think the same way Bill thinks? Say all men do, by some chromosomal directive, think the same way. How can you know what they think or why they think it? I have to say I’m concerned that what I’ll learn from your book is not how guys think, but how a woman thinks guys think, and if I want to know anything—anything at all—about how women think, I’ll ask Steve Harvey.

Unless the women are dead, in which case I’ll ask Tyler Henry.

 

Kristen Tsetsi is the author of The Age of the Child, which imagines a birth control ban and its aftermath. Her 5On interview series at JaneFriedman.com asks people in the writing and publishing industry to share their behind-the-scenes insights into all things writing and publishing.

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