Book Club: The Girl's Guide to Absolutely Everything

Today's Book Club review comes from my best friend, Jen. Longtime readers of this blog will remember that Jen is not only the designer extraordinaire who did the header for this blog, but her day job is a librarian so I trust her book recommendations, of course. When she offered to write a Book Club review for me, I knew it would be a great opportunity for my readers to gain more insight on some interesting books out there.
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Usually I couldn't care less about self-help/guidebooks. They all have a different formula to sell to make you into your perfect self, or offer advice based off the authors own miserable mistakes - frankly I’m usually not interested. Having said this, The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything by Melissa Kirsch feels like my own personal Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy and I highly recommend it (both actually). 

I picked up this book out curiosity thinking: "I'm an adult, what could this book possibly tell me that I don't already know or that I couldn't find on the internet," but after looking at the table of contents I was intrigued. Kirch highlights almost every random question I've had. So I started reading it and was hooked by page 10. 

Kirsch takes every question you've ever had about life and lays out it in an eloquently written guide - Questions you were too embarrassed to ask your mom or too proud to ask your friends about. For example, how do you know when you need therapy, and if you’re considering therapy, what type do you need? What kind of health care do you need to have? How can you improve your body image? How can you nail a job interview every time? Is grad school for you? What kind of budget do you need? Are your id and superego controlling your spending habits? Do you need an 401k, an IRA, or something else? Are credit cards a gateway drug to debt? Are stocks something you should get involved with? What are some etiquette essentials? Are you a good friend? How do you make new friends or eliminate toxic ones? When is a friendship worth saving? Can you do long distance relationships? 

Kirsch covers a lot in this massive tome, but it was a quick read and didn't feel arduous to me. 

Kirsch discusses these questions along with input from professionals in their given fields. For example, when Kirsch deals with body image, health care, and mental health, she has quotes and opinions from gynecologists, nutritionists, Chinese medicine experts, psychiatrists, therapists, and more. This diverse and reliable input allows the reader to understand some of the solutions to the questions discussed in a more comprehensive manner. For example, when discussing 4 ways to make cramps more manageable, Kirsch gets a nutritionist to illustrate the benefits to taking a combination of primrose, borage, and fish oil to combat PMS symptoms. The gynecologist says to give up ice cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt, because a dairy fast can give some women a reprieve from menstrual symptoms. The Chinese medicine expert recommends staying away from cold things (ice cream, cold packs, etc.) because coldness obstructs blood and chi flows, so use warm things (hot packs, tea, application of warm herbs to the abdomen, etc.) to restore balance to your body/soul. Finally the crampologist recommends ibuprofen, a heating pad on the pelvis, and a heat pack to stick under your clothes during the day. 

Kirsch truly covers a lot of ground in this book, and it would be impossible for me to discuss all of it here. However, I’ll try to touch on some of my favorite bits.

When discussing stress and getting the blues, Kirsch tells the reader to try talking it out with a friend or family member to get perspective, write down what you are feeling, and most importantly don’t suppress what you are feeling. She states “We wouldn't appreciate our good moods if we didn't acknowledge our bad ones.” Kirsch also tells the reader to consider therapy if you’re stress or blues are persistent. Kirsch outlines some of the reason someone might get therapy, the various types of therapy and what issues they are used to treat, and how long you could expect to be in therapy in these therapies.

The woman’s sexual bill of rights is another section of this book I liked the most. Some of these “inalienable rights” include the freedom of speech, a woman’s right to sexual pleasure shall not be infringed or limited, the missionary position should never be assumed (any position should be fair game), a woman is entitled to stop any sexual contact “that makes her feel like a blow-up doll,” women are different and respond differently to sexual experiences, all partners should have a clean sexual bill of health, women can do what they want with their own pubic hair, orgasms don’t determine success, and finally hygiene before or after are with the woman’s rights.

In addition to the Sexual Bill of Rights, Kirsch provides an awesome list of women reading materials, a few of which are: The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans, The Clitoral Truth by Rebecca Chalker, and How to be a Good Lover by Lou Paget. There is also a very interesting question and answer section, and information about birth control and STDs.

"Home Ec for Modern Times" was a chapter in this book that covered homemaking tips that your mother didn't teach you. Kircsh discusses how to find an apartment or home to live that fits you budget (noting that you your rent or mortgage should be no more than 25% of your gross monthly income), what to look for during an inspection, do you need renter’s insurance, and how to sign a lease. Kirsch talks about quick and easy ways to keep house, like creating an installment plan to keep your apartment spotless, which involves cleaning in installments (one task a day, 15 minutes a day, or one room a day) and this will help you stay either tidy, clean, or spotless. Kirsch also discusses how to hire a housekeeper if needed and how much you should pay him or her (and tip!).

Finally, "Fashion Sense for Any Era" was a chapter where Kirsch discusses the importance of not following trends and dressing to your figure. Kirsch talks about finding foundation items that are comfortable, dependable, and solidly constructed. Foundation items are: a good pair of black pants, a little black dress, a classic cut skirt, jeans that fit you to perfection, a white button down, or a solid colored cardigan. Kirsch also discusses a cost per wear equation. Cost per wear is the cost of garment divided by the number of times you wear the garment. If you spend $200 on a pair of pants and wear it at least twice a week all fall and winter (about 64 times), you are spending $3.13 per wear. Conversely a pair of pants that costs $29.99 that you wore four times costs $7.50 per wear.  Additionally Kirsch provides advice from an image consultant who gives some very interesting insight in to dressing common sense and how to figure out what looks best on your body type; for example if you have short legs you could balance it by wearing heels, high-waisted dresses, or dresses that hit just above the knee, but you should avoid low-rise pants, flats, and ankle straps.  

There are of course many other interesting sections to this book, that I haven’t talked about, but it is a very long book. Despite its length, it is a quick read, and its ok to skip around depending on your problem or interest.

I would recommend this book ladies in high school, college, 20-somethings, middle-aged women, and to the classy ladies in the red hat society. I would recommend this book to fathers, brothers, and husbands. This is officially the first self-help/guidebook I enjoyed and will probably reference back to when my friends or I am having a problem.
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If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out Jen's tumblr page here. It's pretty amazing!

6 comments

  1. Great review! Just like you, I've never been one to follow someone elses' "Guide to Life," but this all sounds like pretty sound advice. I think it could be a fun easy read, or make a great gift!

    Have a great week!


    XxMO
    madame-ostrich.com

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  2. I'm normally not into self-help books either, but I might make an exception for this one! :) Great rundown.

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  3. Thanks to Jen! Obviously this is a really helpful book and I was already fascinated by reading the review :) Interesting questions, now I want only have the answer. My next step will be to check if the book is available in German - if not, I will be couraged and buy it in English :)

    xx from Germany/Bavaria, Rena
    International Giveaway: Christmas Surprise with Self Interest
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  4. I'm actually a little "obsessed" with reading about self-help books. I never buy them, but research them is constant. I like that Kirsch mentions to dress your body type over dressing for trends. I think following classics with little pops of the current trend is the best way to do fashion but keep practical with it. We can't all be Kim K.

    Much Love!!

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  5. Thanks for sharing these self help books. I like trends but I always keep in mind that I dress for my body type and include some trends here and there. I wish I can follow them all but sometimes things just don't work for a pint size person like me. I will check this out on my next trip to the bookstore.

    xo
    Sam
    http://fabulouspetite.blogspot.com

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Thank you for your comments! I read every single one :]