365 Ways to Change Your Life by Suzanne Somers — $17.95
I know what you’re thinking: How can Chrissy Snow, from “Three’s Company,” give us any advice other than dye your hair blond, wear tight shirts and jump up and down frequently? But Somers seems to be quite serious and actually concerned with making the world a better place. Still, she begins on the wrong foot when she cites a poem by Barry Manilow — not a good way to garner credibility. If you can get past the wretched New-Agey crap and keep to the strict daily regime of improvement, there is actually some decent straightforward advice. Take Day 73, for example — “You can’t keep doing things the same old way and expect that life is going to be any different.”
Britney Spears, Heart to Heart by Britney + Lynne Spears — $12.95
This book needs more of a warning than a review. Allegedly, it is “much more than a story of Britney’s life” because it features honest discussions of the challenges facing all mothers and daughters. They lie. It is horrible, disturbing and a threat to young women. The first hint that this little moneymaker is everything you expect it to be can be found in the size of the text. How, if Britney and mother Lynne are so sharing, caring and fair, can the size of Britney’s words be much larger than her mother’s? Somehow, they never get around to addressing why Britney’s life is one long quest for fame at all costs, why she dresses like a slut or why a mother would allow her daughter to arouse Bob Dole in a Pepsi commercial.
O: The Oprah Magazine ($4.50 or oprah.com)
The joy-themed first-anniversary issue was actually rather pleasant. Everyone likes to dis Oprah, but I don’t think she’s so bad. As you would expect, this magazine is chock-full of colorful advertisements, horrible perfumed inserts and flowery adjectives. But, where else, other than in the above-mentioned self-help books, can we get stories about finding joy, developing listening skills, appreciating the little things in life? I truly believe all of these things are very important. But why is it they only seem to be available to the middle-aged, middle-class women O Magazine is targeting? Why can’t the rest of us find out how to achieve these everyday opportunities of transcendence in our magazines? Even rosie magazine ($3 and, coincidentally, rosie.com), which is a direct rip-off of O, can only come up with essays like “Why Can’t They Make Shoes for Big and Beautiful Feet?” and “Delicious Dinners, $12 and Up.”
Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever: The Making of a Happy Woman by Judge Judy Sheindlin — $12
Tough as (and a lot nicer than) that old hag Dr. Laura, Judge Judy offers a nice, healthy antidote to Britney Spears. Sad as it may be, Judy’s command to young women, “Don’t allow yourself to be defined by the way you look,” will never be as popular as Oops ! ... I Did it Again. But Judy does her best in 10 poorly titled sections (e.g. “Denial is a River in Egypt”) to encourage women to find their independence. The only bad part is the revelation that Judy’s parents were one of those weird husband-and-wife dental teams. Why is it that the wife is always the receptionist and the husband is always the dentist?
Comfort from a Country Quilt: Finding New Inspiration and Strength from Old-Fashioned Values by Reba McEntire — $9.95
I reckon this right here is what city folk might call philosophy for Wal-Mart shoppers. The title pretty much says it all. But more importantly, it reminds us how flexible a code word “country” really is. Just look at the following and how many meanings this one lil’ word contains: country folk (white or black), country cookin’, country living, Country Time Lemonade, country club, country decor, country music. You either love or hate all these states of country depending on your economic status, race and age. Once you finish reading the profound title, there are useful, interesting tidbits — like Reba’s husband is named Narvel (which sounds a lot like a pharmaceutical pain reliever) and Reba’s statement, “I overdid it on the alcohol when I was in college.”
Click on over to last week's Attention Span to discover what male celebrities have to say about how to live our lives.What grabs your attention? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org