What are Friends For?

What are Friends For? by Marsha Karzmer is designed to be a book that you give to your good friends to help them celebrate your friendship. It's the sort of "thank you for being there for me" book that you exchange on special occasions (or after an all night sob session). It's purpose is to be short, fun, and hip. It's a small sized hardcover book, meant for casual reading.

What are Friends For? I understand that completely, and I read a number of these types of books for gift giving purposes. I have a wonderful group of female friends and I'd love to have a book I should share with them! So I definitely read through this book deciding if there was any friend in my group that would love to get it.

The author apparently creates these books by reading women's magazines and cutting out headlines or phrases from them. It would be cool to actually see that - a scrapbook type of effect with the different phrases and papers all represented on the page. However, what they did instead is just randomly change the font for each line or two so it looks like someone went wild with the type settings. It doesn't give any sense that these were "magazine clips". I only discovered what they were trying to do by reading some background information. So that's a shame, that they lost out on that fun hook. Maybe they couldn't get legal rights to do that.

The next problem I had is that many of the items lauded as typical girlfriend behavior seems extremely stereotypical of packs of 15 year olds. The book seems aimed at an adult market, but they have "I love ice cream so much that I can't imagine life without it" and "my idea of a great day is shopping with my girl friends." I have many things I love much more than ice cream, and my female friends generally have much more involving things to do with me than to go shopping.

Apparently her friends "won't be talking about the weather or spring cleaning". No, it's "irresistible illicit and sometimes it's even true." I'm not sure I see lying enthusiastically to my friends, and sometimes we do enjoy helping each other with cleaning and organizing. It's what friends are for!

My friends love creme brulee, but apparently "any desert that doesn't have chocolate is a pointless dessert."

I realize of course this is a "fun" book - but to me much of the book is making fun of me and my friends, and looking down on the things that we do as uninteresting. It tries to promote true friendships as ones involving activities that are shallow and focused on high sugar intake. And lying.

When the book talks about friends being "the best kind of face-lift", I realize that my friends are the ones who love me just the way I am, who would not get a face lift and not want me to either. We all care for each other, support each other, love each other more than ice cream, go to marketing seminars, support each others' businesses and tell each other the whole truth. To me, that is what friendship is all about. To me it's about being there for the hard stuff, the spring cleaning, the gutter cleaning. A world of shopping and chocolate obsessions is just miles away in terms of friendship, and I'm afraid that any of my friends I attempted to give this book to would probably think the same thing.

Not recommended, at least in my circles of friends. I imagine that there must be women out there who focus on chocolate, shopping and ice cream as their three great loves, and that must be this book's target audience. I'll give the book three stars for making those groups happy, but even for them the cavalcade of fonts is just not giving the feeling of a "scrapbook of titles".

As a comparison, for a book I can wholeheartedly recommend of this exact style on friendships and why they are so powerfully important, take a look at -

The Nature of Friendship

UPDATE: I let the publisher know when I posted this review, as I always do. They told the author. The author immediately wrote me a fairly hostile message and apparently rallied her friends. Where other reviews I post rarely get any activity for the first week or two, soon after I wrote the publisher I saw several negative comments on this review including personal attacks.

Is the message here that friends are for launching personal attacks when a friend receives constructive criticism about a project? I gave this book three stars, not five, after all. Would any review less than five stars get instantly assaulted in a similar manner? Is that what friends are for?

Buy What are Friends For? from Amazon.com

Home Business Book Reviews

Work from Home Main Page