Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barash, Susan Shapiro. Toxic Friends: the Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships.

St. Martin’s Press. 2009. c.288p. photogs. bibliog.. ISBN 978-0-312-38639-9. $24.99.

In this noteworthy study drawing upon popular culture and extensive personal interviews with 200 women of various backgrounds and ages as well as with experts in the fields of psychology and counseling, Barash (Professor, Critical Thinking/Gender Studies, Marymount Manhattan College, 1992- ; M.A., Writing, New York University; B.A., Writing, Sarah Lawrence College; bestselling author of Tripping the Prom Queen; author of eleven books including this one;, a nationally-recognized gender expert, explores the ten types of female friends—the Leader, the Doormat, the Sacrificer, the Misery Lover, the User, the Frenemy, the Trophy Friend, the Mirroring Friend, the Sharer, and the Authentic Friend. She helps women recognize and understand them as well as develop means for assessing them and moving forward with problematic female relationships. Barash accomplishes the aforementioned tasks, by dividing her book into three parts based upon a continuum of types of female friends: female friends that are tolerable, intolerable, and worth keeping. According to the author, most women may be able to tolerate Leaders, Doormats, Sacrificers, and Misery Lovers, while they may decide to ditch Users, Frenemies, and Trophy Friends. Women may keep Mirroring Friends, Sharers, and Authentic Friends. Covering each type of woman friend in a separate chapter, while noting how the types may overlap, Barash sets forth the characteristics of each, first hand accounts of the natures of the type of friend, examples drawn from newspapers, books, and movies, current research, the pros and cons of staying in the type of friendship, and more. Including the questionnaire she administered to her interviewees as well as its percentage results by answer, Barash further references her work with a bibliography. Nicely- presented and sufficiently- well documented, even though it lacks footnotes, an index, and some “characters” are composites, this in-depth exploration of female friendships and useful, self-help guide will interest women readers, students, scholars, and others. Accessible, easy- to- read, with a reader’s guide at the end of the book, and scholarly, it belongs in large, public and undergraduate, academic library book collections. Highly recommended. Review copy. Availability:, Barnes &

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Harrison, Matt. The American Evolution: How America Can Adapt to the Political, Economic, and Social Challenges of the 21st Century.

Prometheus Institute Press. 2009. c.244p. illus. index. ISBN 978-0-615-28204-6. $14.00.

In uncertain times, America faces many, difficult, new challenges. Here Harrison (B.A., Business Administration in Political Science, University of Miami; candidate, J.D./Master of Public Policy, University of Southern California; author of over 200 articles, publications, and other features), founder and Executive Director of The Prometheus Institute (, a nonprofit public policy institute dedicated to discovering independent policy solutions to pressing national issues and creatively marketing these ideas to Americans, asks whether the United States can adapt to economic, demographic, technological, and security challenges in the twenty-first century. What specific policies will facilitate the national evolution? Synthesizing evolutionary science, quantum mechanics, systems theory, complexity economics, and other emerging sciences of progressive change, the author attempts to provide fresh insights on issues, not limited to the global financial crisis, the war on terror, immigration, trade, education, technology, social policy, job creation, constitutional law, elections, and more. For Harrison, many of the United States’ most challenging problems can be solved by the American people and the process of maximizing individual choices. Basing his ideas upon the evolutionary process of differentiation, selection, and amplification, the author shows how evolutionary choice theory can be used to determine solutions. Nicely organized and well documented, with a table of contents, nine chapters, footnotes, and two appendices, this insightful publication, which is not comprehensive or definitive, lacks a selected bibliography that would have been useful to readers. Its sometimes humorous diagrams and illustrations by Michael Kelliher ( supplement and complement the text by making it more understandable and accessible. Intended mostly for general readers, but also appropriate for some college students, it is recommended for some public and undergraduate, academic, library book collections as an additional resource. Review copy. Availability:, Barnes &

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Van Allen, Susan. 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.

Travelers’ Tales Guides. Travelers’ Tales. Oct. 2009. c.448p. illus. index. ISBN 978-1932361650 (Trade Paper). $18.95.

In this trim- sized (5.5 X 7.5 in.), relatively compact, uniquely- anecdotal, informative guide book intended for women, but also appropriate for men, who are traveling to Italy for the first or twenty-first time, Van Allen (author writing about Italian travel for over twenty-five media outlets including National Public Radio, Town & Country, Student Traveler, the Chicago Daily Herald, and; author of monthly Letters from Italy column on the Divine Caroline website; former staffer for the Emmy winning sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond; based in Los Angeles;, an Italian-American who has been journeying to Italy since 1976 to visit relatives and explore the country, writes about her personal experiences as well as those of her friends. With passion and humor that clearly evidence her love for Italy, its cultures, and peoples, the author culls the overwhelming amount of information on Italian travel into a reasonably- sized publication consisting of thirteen sections, one hundred chapters, and at least two appendices, covering all types of Italian adventures and experiences. With women predominately in mind, Van Allen describes and recommends museums, palaces, gardens, beaches, beauty treatments, spas, caffés, restaurants, winebars, shopping, biking, hiking, skiing, boating, yoga, cooking classes, Italian crafts, fine arts, language courses, entertainment, and more. She also provides many practical details and helpful tips in relatively short, concise chapters, each of which is supplemented by “golden days” or daily itineraries, lists of websites, and recommended readings. While this publication is not available as an ebook and lacks reference maps, photographs, an Italian-English glossary, and tear-out pages, all of which would have been helpful, value-added features, it does contain much useful, insightful, nuts-and-bolts information for women travelers and others visiting Italy. Sufficiently- documented, nicely-presented, and well- organized, this delightful, easy-to-read book is highly recommended for chick-lit readers as well as general audiences. It belongs in many public library collections as an additional travel resource. Review copy (Uncorrected galley). Availability:, Barnes &