Arts & Entertainment

Men are from Somerset, women are from St George’s

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Let’s face it; we’re never going to understand women. Mostly that’s because they don’t want us to. They like us to be continually guessing as to whether “I’m fine” means “I’m fine” or “I’m so angry with you right now that you’re in a world of hurt and don’t even know it yet”.

Ah, the joys of the fairer sex.

Luckily there are some books out there to help you try and get inside her head, although it’s entirely possible they will just leave you even more confused than before.

Still, you can but try, and for some helpful hints check out the informative, yet frankly terrifying, The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D.

Other tomes that are worth a look include: Self Help, by Lorrie More, a book for men “who worry they’ll never be able to relate to a female character”; The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, by Adelle Waldman, a book to help men “understand the seemingly mysterious behavior of women in relationships”.

If those first three aren’t enough for you, then take a look at the list below for some books that can help men understand women, at least a little bit better.

Bad Behaviour, by Mary Gaitskill

In Gaitskill’s dark, even ominous short stories, which are filled with dysfunctional relationships and lurid details, there’s an honesty about relationships between men and women that can be uncomfortable to take. And while many male authors have recounted distasteful liaisons and sexual misadventures in literature, Gaitskill’s perceptive portrayal of how real women think and behave — and how their fantasies and desires mingle uneasily with harsh reality — adds a piece to the psychological puzzle. Instead of obscure objects of desire, as women in such stories penned by men often are, Gaitskill’s women are alive, and have their own thoughts and actions, sometimes.

The Group, by Mary McCarthy

There simply aren’t enough books out there about female friendship. As Virginia Woolf herself wrote in A Room of One’s Own, literature by men often fails to imagine what women might talk about when men aren’t there. “I tried to remember,” she writes, “any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends.” But of course, women often have powerful friendships. The Group explores the friendship of eight women over the years after they graduate from college, and it does so in an honest and unflinching way. While women often read about male friendships, it’s just as important for men to read about women’s.

You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, by Deborah Tannen

This book reveals “a rare combination of scientific insight and delightful, humorous writing. Tannen shows why women and men can walk away from the same conversation with completely different impressions of what was said.”  She also gives you the tools to understand what went wrong — and to find a common language in which to strengthen relationships at work and at home. A classic in the field of interpersonal relations, this book will change forever the way you approach conversations.

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