I just finished No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make It Better. (Scribner, Feb 2012) by Elizabeth Weil. It's a fun, easy read, but with depth.
I'm not a big fan of "self help" books, steering away from tomes that threaten to give me step by step improvement instructions. Instead I prefer to learn from other people's narratives (that is to say, other people's mistakes) - which is just what one can do from No Cheating, No Dying.
This often funny, sometimes brave book expands on an article Weil wrote for the New York Times a couple of years ago. I read the article after finishing the book, and my first reaction was that reading just the article would have been sufficient. But, on even the briefest reflection, I realized that that's not the case
because whereas the article reads as a series of related, amusing, vignettes on the author's quest to improve an already decent marriage, it takes a 170 page book, and the time it takes to write said book, to fully reflect on something as complex as a marriage, in order to join the dots and be able to separate the true trigger points from the peripheral irritations. In other words, whereas the article is an amusing conversation piece to read over your Sunday coffee, the book enables the reader (or at least this reader) to gain perspective on her own life - which is, I assume, why most of us read in the first place.
If you're in a long term relationship which seems comfortable enough but you think might be improved, save yourself a visit to the shrink and pick up a copy of No Cheating, No Dying - especially if you enjoy "warts and all" memoirs laced with humor and delightfully free of smugness.
(And, once you've read it, check out Weil's husband's website at danielduane.com)
Davina, BookBrowse Editor