Book Review: Textbook Romance

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a textbook with clear lessons on clever dating and how to build that Perfect Relationship? One that tells it straight but lets you laugh at yourself too? One that leaves you with your dignity and your personality intact? There is!

Introductory story/tangent: It was Mason’s birthday a couple of months ago and I bought him tickets to a stand-up comedy show by Jordan Shanks of podcast/YouTube/all social media platforms FriendlyJordies. At least I thought it was a comedy show when I booked the tickets. Upon inspection, I realised we were going to a motivational speech interspersed with comedy. Relaying this info went down like this:

Me: Mason, I think it’s a motivational, self-help kinda show

Mason: Nah, it’s definitely comedy.

Two weeks later

Mason: You were right, it’s definitely self-help

And then suddenly I was excited because a self-help show is up my street, a brightly lit laneway I walk down while reading The Secret and glancing at a phone with Law of Attraction quotes as the screensaver. Self-help is my shiz and seems to be Jordan’s too. He boldly proclaimed (a la Miley Cyrus) to 4get da h8rs because self-help books are not a scam because what’s more valuable a pastime than learning how to improve yourself?

So that’s how I walked into my favourite bookshop and shamelessly purchased a copy of a relationship self-help book. I bought it purely because I’m having a bit of a moment with Zoe Foster Blake’s books but thanks to Jordan I didn’t feel like a character in He’s Just Not That Into You when I slapped Textbook Romance down on at the register.

Textbook Romance is a step-by guide on “how to find the guy, make him fall wildly in love with you and keep it that way” that is (obviously) set out in textbook format and contains three modules of learning: Preparation, Dating and Relationships. This is a handy little structure for someone who would’ve benefited from learning The Chase Commandments two years ago and is now more interested in how to challenge Yin and Yang (see chapter Would You Rather Be Right, Or Happy?). It’s written by Zoe Foster, a former Cosmo dating columnist and currently in the spotlight for her novel-turned-TV-series The Wrong Girl. The book also features commentary by Foster’s now hubby Hamish Blake, he of Hamish and Andy fame, in the form of scribbled and hilarious notes in the margins. This duel perspective is a definite strength of the book; it adds legitimacy to Foster’s claims about the male psyche and the occasional conflict of opinions reminds the reader that every relationship is different and so requires a different approach.

Textbook Romance continues to become more #relevant, not just because Foster and Blake went on to produce the cutest baby to ever grace Instagram (bold claim but see here for proof), but because, like in any good dystopian YA novel, we become more and more #reliant on technology. Take Module One: Preparation, for example. In this section of the textbook, Foster begs us gals to love ourselves, channel the confidence of Beyoncé, and build lives that are full and interesting. This goes against every meme about the hilarity of borderline alcoholism/hatred for work/friendlessness. The internet has made being a hot mess… well, hot. But who’s attracted to that? Hint: not very good people. The chapter Avoid the Boyfriend Cave is another gem. Why? Foster’s quirky voice, coupled with the sage wisdom of your mate’s older sister, convinces the reader that maintaining a quality life as an individual is necessary in building a quality relationship. Take that, Snapchat, with your pressure to be with boyfriends 24/7 because everyone else is posting a selfie with them and bae using the deer filter on their Story. Put simple; watching The Office in trackies, sans bae (because you want to, not because he’s busy) and  deer filter, is A-OK.

Other fantastic lessons can be found in the chapters Come as You Are: Not Just a Nirvana Song, and Be a Lover, Not a Mother. The theories in these will especially come in hand for couples who find themselves having the same argument over and over.

Textbook Romance isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’sonly for girls who like guys. Foster is even aware that some of her advice may be perceived as ‘dated’, so if that doesn’t float your boat you better keep sailing, first mate! Am I getting good at metaphors yet? No… If this does sound like your thing, however, you’re in for a treat because Foster’s attitude to dating is incredibly refreshing. Her whole philosophy centres on women being confident as individuals who don’t need boyfriends. And when these women do find themselves in relationships, they know how to form realistic expectations and create boundaries that allow for respect and individuality.

If anyone wants to borrow my copy, get in line!

Featured image by Marian Vusiatystka on Unsplash




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