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At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch's case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch's case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger syndrome and learn to be a better husband—no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter's, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism-spectrum condition makes seeing his wife's point of view a near impossibility.Nevertheless, David devotes himself to improving his marriage with an endearing yet hilarious zeal that involves excessive note-taking, performance reviews, and most of all, the Journal of Best Practices: a collection of hundreds of maxims and hard-won epiphanies that result from self-reflection both comic and painful. They include "Don’t change the radio station when she's singing along," "Apologies do not count when you shout them," and "Be her friend, first and always." Guided by the Journal of Best Practices, David transforms himself over the course of two years from the world’s most trying husband to the husband who tries the hardest, the husband he’d always meant to be.Filled with humor and surprising wisdom, The Journal of Best Practices is a candid story of ruthless self-improvement, a unique window into living with an autism-spectrum condition, and proof that a true heart can conquer all.


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At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch's case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch's case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger syndrome and learn to be a better husband—no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter's, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism-spectrum condition makes seeing his wife's point of view a near impossibility.Nevertheless, David devotes himself to improving his marriage with an endearing yet hilarious zeal that involves excessive note-taking, performance reviews, and most of all, the Journal of Best Practices: a collection of hundreds of maxims and hard-won epiphanies that result from self-reflection both comic and painful. They include "Don’t change the radio station when she's singing along," "Apologies do not count when you shout them," and "Be her friend, first and always." Guided by the Journal of Best Practices, David transforms himself over the course of two years from the world’s most trying husband to the husband who tries the hardest, the husband he’d always meant to be.Filled with humor and surprising wisdom, The Journal of Best Practices is a candid story of ruthless self-improvement, a unique window into living with an autism-spectrum condition, and proof that a true heart can conquer all.

30 review for The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 stars In this droll and insightful memoir David Finch talks about learning to be a good husband and father despite having Asperger's Syndrome. David Finch's behavior was always different than most people but he had coping mechanisms that worked until he got married. After five years of matrimony Finch's union was unraveling because of his obsessive and (seemingly) self-centered behavior. Finch's wife Kristen - an autism expert - identified his problem as Asperger's Syndrome....and doctors soo 3.5 stars In this droll and insightful memoir David Finch talks about learning to be a good husband and father despite having Asperger's Syndrome. David Finch's behavior was always different than most people but he had coping mechanisms that worked until he got married. After five years of matrimony Finch's union was unraveling because of his obsessive and (seemingly) self-centered behavior. Finch's wife Kristen - an autism expert - identified his problem as Asperger's Syndrome....and doctors soon confirmed the diagnosis. David Finch with his wife Kristen and their children People with Asperger's are on the 'high end' of the autism spectrum and may exhibit a range of symptoms. Some Asperger's behaviors exhibited by Finch include: inflexible routines; preoccupation with a single subject; inability to understand people's feelings (lack of empathy); tendency to talk too much; trouble having a conversation; repetitive mannerisms; and others. For example: Finch had to take an hour-long shower every morning; eat cereal for breakfast every day; and wear shirts with red labels for casual wear and shirts with black labels for dress-up. He had to walk around the house in a clockwise direction every night and stare out the window at neighbors' rooftops. Finch had no concept of sharing household responsibilities (laundry, dishes, child care, etc.) and couldn't comprehend his wife being annoyed about this. Finch was uncomfortable with people and would spend hours preparing conversatonal tidbits and jokes before meetings. On game night with friends, Finch couldn't tolerate a change in the order of the games or - heaven forbid - substituting a new game. And much much more. Though most people might be dismayed by a diagnosis of Asperger's, Finch was elated. He figured, now that he knew what was wrong, he could fix the problem. So.....with Kristen's help Finch started to keep 'A Journal Of Best Practices' (really notes on random scraps of paper) telling himself how to think, act, communicate, and be a good husband and father. As Finch jokingly describes it, he put post-it notes everywhere - including his forehead - and had a night table drawer packed with helpful hints. Guided by Kristen, Finch would make notes like: - When we have company don't get in the car and leave for an hour. - Don't rant and rave in front of the kids. - Sometimes Kristen just needs me to listen.....and not blurt out my opinions. - Don't change the radio station when Kristen's singing along. - Laundry: better to fold and put away than take only what I need from the dryer. - Go with the flow. Finch's 'recovery'' wasn't all smooth sailing, and he engaged in long bouts of swearing, yelling. and dramatic weeping. Still, after a couple of years - and a lot of hard work - Finch's marriage improved; he was more attentive to his kids; and he was doing household chores. I read the book out of curiosity but I think people with Asperger's Syndrome (or other atypical behaviors) might be encouraged to see how one man improved his life. You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    If you're a married woman reading about David Finch's behaviors, you may begin to wonder if your own husband has Asperger syndrome. As Dave Barry notes on the book jacket, a lot of what David was doing and not doing falls in the category of "acting like a guy." But for an Aspie guy the cluelessness is genuine, and absolutely everything must be spelled out for him. Finch was married for five years before he got his diagnosis. After that, he set out to become the best possible husband he could be. If you're a married woman reading about David Finch's behaviors, you may begin to wonder if your own husband has Asperger syndrome. As Dave Barry notes on the book jacket, a lot of what David was doing and not doing falls in the category of "acting like a guy." But for an Aspie guy the cluelessness is genuine, and absolutely everything must be spelled out for him. Finch was married for five years before he got his diagnosis. After that, he set out to become the best possible husband he could be. He had to take a lot of notes to remind himself how to behave, because Aspie brains don't make the connections we neurotypicals take for granted. This book made me laugh and cry and snort. I admire Finch's humility and humor and determination to give his wife the husband she deserves. Kristen is a goddess. No woman I know would be that patient and forgiving. But then, no man I know possesses David's humble candor and dedication to self-improvement. Happily ever after never looks like the Disney movies, but David and Kristen have rowed hard together up the Asperger stream to find a realistic version of that dream. Any married couple could take lessons from their efforts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    arguably the most exciting thing about this book, for me, is that it's a memoir by a guy who diagnosed himself with asperger's syndrome using an internet quiz. this is something i joke about all the time! i used to be a member of this online feminist community, & one of the most annoying members in the community had diagnosed herself with asperger's using an internet quiz. every time she got called out for saying something stupid, she was always like, "stop being mean! the internet says i'm neur arguably the most exciting thing about this book, for me, is that it's a memoir by a guy who diagnosed himself with asperger's syndrome using an internet quiz. this is something i joke about all the time! i used to be a member of this online feminist community, & one of the most annoying members in the community had diagnosed herself with asperger's using an internet quiz. every time she got called out for saying something stupid, she was always like, "stop being mean! the internet says i'm neuroatypical!" my favorite was the time she wrote a long, gushing post about how she helped deliver her friend's baby because the birth clinic the friend had intended to use was closed for the weekend. yes. i forgot about how birth clinics maintain 9am-5pm monday-friday hours & all the women that go into labor on evenings or weekends get stuck doing unintentional home births with no one to help them out except for their bedraggled hippie friends. she also posted about food not bombs all the time & was like, "hey guys! there's this awesome organization that feeds homeless people using dumpstered goods! maybe you've heard of them but i don't know because they're pretty underground & obscure. they're called food not bombs. i think they've only been around for like 35 years or so." that girl was so obnoxious that diagnosing yourself with asperger's via an internet quiz couldn't help but become a joke. i wonder how ol' david finch here feels about the fact that his book was released the same month as the news that autism is being wildly overdiagnosed these days became front page news from coast to coast? especially in light of how the book is all about how his marriage was teetering on the brink of collapse until he realized that he was autistic, & then he & his wife worked together to help him learn how to behave in more socially acceptable/neurotypical ways (even if he was just playacting his way through it). i guess i should also note that after the internet told him he was autistic, he saw a doctor who confirmed the diagnosis. but, you know, doctors are the ones behind the over-diagnosing epidemic...i'm not saying this dude isn't actually autistic, but a lot of shit he writes about in the book sounded more like a dude that is kind of socially inept, a little bit self-centered, & goofy, & less like a dude that is autistic. then again, i'm not an occupational therapist, so maybe i don't know what the hell i'm talking about. i kind of feel bad for the dude's family. someday his kids are going to be old enough to read the book & finch doesn't really come off as a great, involved dad. though i guess by the time his kids are old enough to read & understand the book, they'll probably have already caught on to that fact. finch writes about how part of being autistic is that he is very obsessive about his daily routines. his morning routine involves getting up a full hour after his wife gets up with the kids, having a glass of water, downing some vitamins, & luxuriating in a shot shower for at least an hour. meanwhile, his wife is getting the kids dressed & fed & ready for the babysitter, while also getting herself dressed & ready for work, trying to fit in some bathroom time in between the dude's crazy shower schedule...so he decided that it would be a nice husband thing to do if he got up earlier & took over some of the child care duties. this involved running off to the bathroom to check in with his wife about every little thing the kids needed. he seriously asked her if the kids were allowed to have juice after they requested juice. he asked if the little girl was allowed to wear the dress she had requested. once the kids finished breakfast, he plopped them down in their pajamas in front of the TV rather than getting them dressed & ready to go to the babysitter's house. not exactly what i would call helpful, you know? which he acknowledges. but rather than being amused by the foibles of this clueless dad, i instead felt sad. his older kid is like four years old. how does a person share his home with a child for four years without having any awareness of whether or not it's okay for that four-year-old to have some morning OJ? it sounds like the dude has been completely checked out, & while a disability will certainly do that to a person, it still made me feel sad for everyone involved. but the way the book was written, i didn't get the sense that i was supposed to feel sad. i got the sense that i was supposed to be chuckling & enjoying the hijinks. he also writes a lot about how he brought a lot of pre-conceived ideas about gender into his marriage. he assumed that his wife would do the lion's share of the child care & enjoy every second of it. he also assumed that she would take on most, if not all, of the housework, leaving him free to pursue his busy schedule of hour-long showers & nightly wanderings around the house to make sure all the lights are off. this, despite the fact that both he & his wife work. he would even have the gall to suggest that "we make an effort to keep up with the chores" when the laundry was washed & dried, but not yet put away, & to compare his wife unfavorably to the stay-at-home mom next door who always manages to have fresh cookies baked & a pork loin ready for dinner. he seems to be implying that his autism was somehow responsible for these sexist ideas--that this is how his parents' relationship functioned, so it became a routine in his life that he expected his wife to maintain. i was reminded of an incident a few years ago in which i volunteered at an anarchist bookstore with a woman who was being stalked. the bookstore was contemplating the possibility of banning him from the space for, you know, stalking & terrorizing one of the volunteers. he explained to a couple of other volunteers that he didn't mean to scare the woman; he was autistic & not great with social cues & thought he was just flirting. my response was, "it's autism. it's not Asshole Disease." since when does atypical neurological functioning make it okay to be a fucking misogynist? & granted, finch does acknowledge his sexism & begin making an effort to change it. it's just amazing that his marriage lasted as long as it did, you know? long enough that he could begin the process of transformation & write this book. i wish him & his family the best of luck, but i am legitimately concerned that other people will read this book, diagnose themselves with autism on the internet, & use it as an excuse to behave selfishly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    willaful

    One of the big surprises of learning that someone you love has Aspergers Syndrome is realizing that the “robotic” stereotypes are often misleading, and that Aspies are just as likely to be funny, creative, engaging and loving. In this memoir, Aspie David Finch shows himself to be all of those things -- but he’s also extremely anxious, inflexible, unempathetic and uncommunicative, and all of those issues have severely impacted his marriage and family life. This insightful, touching and amusing bo One of the big surprises of learning that someone you love has Aspergers Syndrome is realizing that the “robotic” stereotypes are often misleading, and that Aspies are just as likely to be funny, creative, engaging and loving. In this memoir, Aspie David Finch shows himself to be all of those things -- but he’s also extremely anxious, inflexible, unempathetic and uncommunicative, and all of those issues have severely impacted his marriage and family life. This insightful, touching and amusing book is a chronicle of Finch’s dedicated attempts to be a better husband and father, keeping a journal of “best practices” to guide him. Undiagnosed until after he was married with two kids, Finch had had a long term friendship become a love affair, which started to fall apart after marriage -- partially because he had unrealistic expectations for a wife, partially because he had so successfully put forth his best “persona” in social situations, but couldn’t maintain it long term. After his wife suggested that he had Aspergers (followed by a formal diagnosis), Dave felt relieved to have an answer to why things have been so difficult and set out to make changes in an analyzed, step-by-step, yet sometimes obsessive way. Of course, part of the problem is that so many aspects of how a relationship works are hard to explain and pin down if you don’t understand them intuitively. I was worried for awhile that this book was going to be all about the ways Dave is “wrong” and needs to change, but his wife Kristen doesn’t come off as a jerk about it, often telling him, “We can work together to fix our marriage, Dave. This isn’t about fixing you.” (Naturally, Dave being Dave, he immediately takes a note about this.) And I was pleased to see that Kristen does do her share towards improving their relationship, as well as accommodating his debilitating anxiety One of the gifts of the book is Finch’s ability to communicate about his differently-wired brain in an understandable and funny way: “My standard line of questioning relating to her day usually sounded so mechanical and awkward that she could never quite get into it: ‘Yeah, it was a good day. Notable? I wouldn’t say notable. Quantify it how, Dave? You mean score it on a scale of one to ten? I guess my day was, like, a six or seven. No, ten being the best. Listen can I call you later?’ In such chilling moments, when I’d found myself hoping--praying--to get carjacked by Charlie Sheen so that I’d have something to share at dinner, I had to wonder what had gone wrong.” ~~ “A graphical representation of empathy might involve a Venn diagram -- two circle, one for the affective component and one for the cognitive, slightly overlapping, with me standing well outside of both circles talking incessantly about the weather during a funeral.” ~~ “Sometimes I would sit in my car, furious at myself for making everything so hard, sobbing uncontrollably, slapping myself in the face over and over and screaming, ‘Fucking asshole! Fucking asshole!’ But who hasn’t done that from time to time?” ~~ “Of all the people I know, I’m the only one who would ever take notes during an ass-kicking.” (Of course this was a metaphorical, rather than literal, ass-kicking, and Finch goes on to explain how useful the note taking actually was, and how it helped influence real change in his behaviors.) I sometimes felt sad while reading this, because of how much time and energy Finch spends on feelings and behaviors that he apparently has no idea he might be able to change. He works so terribly hard on becoming a better husband and father, yet doesn’t seem to realize that anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior aren’t a fixed part of Aspergers Syndrome and might be treatable. On the other hand, it was lovely to see him stop beating himself up and find acceptance on some points: “Socializing wasn’t my strong suit, true, but I realized I could find a way to have fun and be fun at parties by contributing my own way. My contributions wouldn’t look like everyone else’s, but that didn’t necessarily matter…. best of all, I wouldn’t have to use a persona anymore. I could just be me.” The book ends with Finch learning that it’s time to stop his system. “…by the end of the summer it had become clear that the Journal of Best Practices was dominating our lives.” But at that point, communication with his wife and interactions with his children had vastly improved and the story ends on a very happy note. I hope Finch will continue to write and publish, partially because I want to know how his story continues to unfold and partially because I know I’ll enjoy the telling of it. (reviewed from arc provided by netGalley)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maryrose

    This was an excellent book. As the mother of a son recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I have found myself consumed by the following: 1. Learning how to correctly spell Asperger's without having to look it up; 2. Learn more about the syndrome and finding strategies and best practices to help my son thrive in the demands of a neurotypical world. David Finch proves himself to be a very likeable subject and I found myself rooting for him, and could easily see my son in parts of Finch. While I This was an excellent book. As the mother of a son recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I have found myself consumed by the following: 1. Learning how to correctly spell Asperger's without having to look it up; 2. Learn more about the syndrome and finding strategies and best practices to help my son thrive in the demands of a neurotypical world. David Finch proves himself to be a very likeable subject and I found myself rooting for him, and could easily see my son in parts of Finch. While I did enjoy the whole book, I found this section alone to be worth the price: "Prior to my diagnosis, such a revelation would not have been possible. Perhaps that’s what a diagnosis does: it helps you to understand that you have unique operating parameters—unique limitations and preferences. Knowing why you don’t naturally fit in alleviates the shame and embarrassment. (That’s my brain, folks. Can’t help it. Who wants more champagne?) My diagnosis gave me an explanation as to why I was relatively alone in my circumstances whenever I went places, and that knowledge somehow made me feel less lonely. Best of all, I wouldn’t have to use a persona anymore. I could just be me. " Finch, David (2012). The Journal of Best Practices (p. 211). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition. Keeping this in mind when I work with my sweet boy, or work with the school to make accommodations is priceless. Reminding myself, my son and others that there is nothing 'wrong' with him, just that he operates a little differently, takes the shame and the pressure off of the work of helping him thrive in a world where people are programmed differently from him. Whether or not your life is touched by Asperger's Syndrome, it is impossible to read the book and not be touched by David Finch's journey.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    This was a very entertaining book, written by a man with Asperger's Syndrome. He doesn't learn he has Asperger's until 5 years into his marriage. He is very difficult to live with. He is very egocentric, he throws temper tantrums when things don't go his way. He shows some obsessive and compulsive tendencies. He also is not a very good father. The great thing is, once he realizes all this, he makes it his personal mission to change it and improve himself. He writes from a funny, self-aware place This was a very entertaining book, written by a man with Asperger's Syndrome. He doesn't learn he has Asperger's until 5 years into his marriage. He is very difficult to live with. He is very egocentric, he throws temper tantrums when things don't go his way. He shows some obsessive and compulsive tendencies. He also is not a very good father. The great thing is, once he realizes all this, he makes it his personal mission to change it and improve himself. He writes from a funny, self-aware place and the book is vastly entertaining and also eye-opening, in some ways. His wife is saint-like for putting up with him all these years, and also for shouldering almost 100% of the burden of raising their two children. She is to be commended. But it is also crystal clear in the book that he is very much in love with his wife, and very loyal and faithful to her. He doesn't seem to feel that kind of attachment to his children, however. He does make steps to improve that, though, reaching out and trying to be a better father. I really liked this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James

    Ok - the only thing that comes to mind is the possibility that David Finch has been living in my head, and my house, and following me around, with ESP writing a book about me but acting like it was about him. This book was close to perfect - but I don't know if it's for everyone. This book, is, well, why I don't like most fiction - I get into arguments with a friend of mine who teaches college english about the virtue of reading fiction - and what I strongly dislike is that nothing in the charact Ok - the only thing that comes to mind is the possibility that David Finch has been living in my head, and my house, and following me around, with ESP writing a book about me but acting like it was about him. This book was close to perfect - but I don't know if it's for everyone. This book, is, well, why I don't like most fiction - I get into arguments with a friend of mine who teaches college english about the virtue of reading fiction - and what I strongly dislike is that nothing in the characters lives, and nothing in the way that they act, resembles how or what people really do and say. This book, however - is so close to things I do, and thoughts I think... And, for me, that's the double-edged sword of this book - I don't know how it would be for other people, but for me it was an inspiring, and helpful memoir of how to deal with being me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Because I live with an ASD person I recognized so many of the thoughts recorded in this "Journal". Some of them made me laugh out loud. Anyone who is married should read this, anyone who knows someone with ASD or is related to someone with ASD should read this. Keep in mind this is one man's ASD. I would like a qualifier at the beginning of any book that touches on the subject of autism - it is a spectrum - therefore this may be sort of like the person you know with a similar diagnosis. You may Because I live with an ASD person I recognized so many of the thoughts recorded in this "Journal". Some of them made me laugh out loud. Anyone who is married should read this, anyone who knows someone with ASD or is related to someone with ASD should read this. Keep in mind this is one man's ASD. I would like a qualifier at the beginning of any book that touches on the subject of autism - it is a spectrum - therefore this may be sort of like the person you know with a similar diagnosis. You may recognize some of the symptoms and some of the therapies. But each spectrum person is different, so because you read Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime or this wonderful and funny book, doesn't mean you understand what it is to live with an ASD person or that you "get it." But read them anyway and keep trying. It's worth it and sometimes it's funny.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I picked this up from the Library's readers choice section. It seems that the past several readers choice lists have had one book that addressed autism/aspergers: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Rules, The Kitchen Daughter (to name a few). Every time I've picked one up and wondered if the subject has been overdone, but every time I've been pleasantly surprised to find the book had a new, fresh take on a disorder that has many different levels and forms. Until now. David Finch i I picked this up from the Library's readers choice section. It seems that the past several readers choice lists have had one book that addressed autism/aspergers: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Rules, The Kitchen Daughter (to name a few). Every time I've picked one up and wondered if the subject has been overdone, but every time I've been pleasantly surprised to find the book had a new, fresh take on a disorder that has many different levels and forms. Until now. David Finch is in a failing marriage. When he is diagnosed with Asperger's, he and his wife decide many of their problems were due to his disorder and they try to rebuild their marriage. As they try to reconnect, David keeps a journal of Best Practices: Use Your Words. Just listen. Laundry: Better to fold and put away than to take only what you need from the dryer. Give Kristen time to shower without crowding her. There are some funny moments reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory (he flashes back to his college roommate going ballistic on him and screaming about the many things he had endured that semester, including being locked out time after time. David is thinking, "But I thought I made it clear that I lock the door at eleven thirty sharp, no matter what" pg 105) However, these are the reasons the book didn't work for me: 1-He is positively exultant that he has Asperger's. Every single thing that has ever happened in his entire life is rehashed as proof that he has Asperger's. Just one example:"Performing music and assuming the personalities of characters came naturally to me. I assumed at the time that it meant I was sort of artistic, rather than sort of autistic, but as it turns out, I'm both." (pg 22) 2-Because he has Asperger's, every single bad thing he has ever done, every single bad character trait is not his fault, it's the disorder. "Whenever I find myself sitting in bird poo or demanding close relationships from complete strangers, I can chalk it up to God-given faulty cognitive processes. To me, this is great news. I don't have to be embarrassed anymore about my social cluelessness. I can't be expected to predict the intentions of others and assume their perspectives any more than I can be expected to rebuild a carburetor or sit down in a piano to knock out a Rachmaninoff concerto; I wasn't born with that particular talent. 3-I expected this book to be one of self-reflection and growth. And there is some of that. But primarily, it seems that his diagnosis gave him a pass with his wife for his bad behavior. "Prior to my diagnosis, Kristen often told me in frustration, "You just don't GET IT, Dave." Now that we know I have Asperger's, Kristen still finds herself saying those exact words all the time. The difference is that she now says them calmly, as a matter of fact. "You just don't get it, Dave. Your brain doesn't work that way." pg 80. I wonder how this book would have been written from Kristen's point of view. 4- The language is unbelievably foul. There are a lot of reasons for including foul language in a book, and this one I would characterize as, "I don't care enough about the English language to find a word that conveys what I want to say. I am incapable of using a thesaurus or even thinking for 2 minutes of another word to use." Rated R for foul language.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I heard the author of this book and his wife on This American Life a couple of weeks ago and then by chance my mom sent me this book. Listening to the interview was strange because in it David Finch sounds so normal and comfortable. He actually sounds more normal and comfortable than I would sound on air, so I kept thinking: Really? Does this guy really have Asperger's or is he just kinda quirky? The first part of the book reconfirmed this notion for me. He describes his failing marriage and how I heard the author of this book and his wife on This American Life a couple of weeks ago and then by chance my mom sent me this book. Listening to the interview was strange because in it David Finch sounds so normal and comfortable. He actually sounds more normal and comfortable than I would sound on air, so I kept thinking: Really? Does this guy really have Asperger's or is he just kinda quirky? The first part of the book reconfirmed this notion for me. He describes his failing marriage and how his Asperber's diagnosis made him realize and address his problems, but at first many of these problems seem like typical relationship issues (or Arggggghhh why does he do that?! issues). But Finch points out that many of these problems are "typical guy things" taken to extreme levels. I made my boyfriend take the Asperger's quiz Finch took (I did give him the option of joining me at the gym OR taking the quiz; I'm not a tyrant) and it turns out he's completely neurotypical. I kinda felt like he fudged some answers until I took the quiz myself and realized No, he doesn't have a preoccupation with building traps; No he won't stare at a blade of grass for hours; No, he doesn't have OCD routines. The farther I got into Finch's book, the more he discusses, or alludes to, the ways his disorder manifests in completely inappropriate ways in social and personal settings. He also says that he is able to "play the part" of what character he needs to be for short periods of time, which explains why he sounded so affable on the radio show. In general, the book is light, sweet, and occasionally funny. At times his constant attempts at humor annoyed me, but then again maybe this is part of his Aspie-ness. I also got a little bored with his descriptions of his wife as infinitely patient and compassionate with him, but eh, it seems like the chick did go through a lot with him so it's nice that he gives her a published, glowing review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    erin

    First off, this is not the definitive book on adults with Asperger Syndrome. It claims to be a memoir, and it truly is. David Finch was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 30, and his diagnosis made him assess his life in a way that started him on a journey of self-improvement. I don't share Finch's sense of humor, nor do I agree with his ideas on what men and women should or shouldn't do for a family, but I don't have to. Since this is a memoir, it is a slice of one man's life. I think that th First off, this is not the definitive book on adults with Asperger Syndrome. It claims to be a memoir, and it truly is. David Finch was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 30, and his diagnosis made him assess his life in a way that started him on a journey of self-improvement. I don't share Finch's sense of humor, nor do I agree with his ideas on what men and women should or shouldn't do for a family, but I don't have to. Since this is a memoir, it is a slice of one man's life. I think that the true purpose of this book is to 1) help neurotypical people understand how some forms of Asperger's feel, 2) help adults with Asperger's who were not diagnosed until they were adults begin to process how their brains work differently than neurotypicals, and 3) remove some of the stigma that comes with not just Asperger's, but with all so-called mental "disorders." In its own way, The Journal of Best Practices does all of these things. One caution: because this is a memoir, it offers little or no practical advice for people with Asperger's who do not present in the exact same way that Finch does, or for neurotypicals who have people with Asperger's in their lives. This is not a how-to manual on acting neurotypical, rather it's a call for acceptance of difference. One last note: as I read, I often found myself feeling that Kristen, Finch's wife, seemed surreal in her patience and understanding. One of the things I found to be really lovely about this book is the way it comes from David Finch, and the way that Finch repeatedly alludes to the fact that he is an unreliable narrator. Whether how Finch perceives others is how they seem to neurotypicals is inconsequential--his seeming oversimplification of some of the people in this book are right in step with his diagnosis, bringing home the way that brain function can change individual realities.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    Oh, dear god, his POOR WIFE!! I related to Finch so much. I wouldn't want to be married to me, either. Oh, dear god, his POOR WIFE!! I related to Finch so much. I wouldn't want to be married to me, either.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Karmel

    Here's a passage I liked: "Being alone . . . I can enter the world of the mind. . . . It's not a lonely state. . . . But there's a different side of loneliness. . . . I see this side of loneliness when I'm out with a group of people without a prayer of being able to relate to any of them. . . . Worse than not fitting in, however, is finding someone you like and annoying them. This is part of the Asperger's package - our exuberance around people we like sometimes pushes them away. Ironic." The aut Here's a passage I liked: "Being alone . . . I can enter the world of the mind. . . . It's not a lonely state. . . . But there's a different side of loneliness. . . . I see this side of loneliness when I'm out with a group of people without a prayer of being able to relate to any of them. . . . Worse than not fitting in, however, is finding someone you like and annoying them. This is part of the Asperger's package - our exuberance around people we like sometimes pushes them away. Ironic." The author was certainly inconsiderate before this quest. But let's assume everything in the book is true, and that the author constantly strives to understand his wife's needs and to do the best job he can to satisfy them. Why exactly would people say he lacks empathy? What is the difference between wanting to use, and succeeding in using, your cognitive ability to improve your relationship with another person and having empathy? I wanted to know what was going on from his wife's perspective. Was it completely different? Also, my guess is that the author was not being completely honest. I think this book is exactly what it purports to be: one man's quest to be a better husband. Revealing his true thoughts would not make him a better husband, so I think many of his true thoughts were omitted. I also imagine he wanted to protect the privacy of his wife, children and other people in his life, but as a reader I wanted to know more personal details. I thought it was odd that the author thought his characteristics were entirely attributable to the fact that he has Asperger Syndrome, and that his ADD was non-existent so long as he took medication for it. I am no expert, but his personality seemed to reflect both Asperger's and ADD. It seems like his wife was extremely supportive and did not make him feel ashamed of his "abnormal" thoughts. She deserves a lot of credit for that, and I'm sure that helped him in his quest for self-improvement.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A couple of months ago, I picked up this book on a whim. A blogger I like recommended it as a good read, and it was about writing things down to solve problems, which meshed well with the fact that I was on one of my periodic rampages trying to organize my life. Once I started it, I read it in a single session, then again the next day. Because for better or for worse, I saw myself in almost everything he wrote. Damn, I thought. That guy’s a good writer. He really makes you feel what it’s like to A couple of months ago, I picked up this book on a whim. A blogger I like recommended it as a good read, and it was about writing things down to solve problems, which meshed well with the fact that I was on one of my periodic rampages trying to organize my life. Once I started it, I read it in a single session, then again the next day. Because for better or for worse, I saw myself in almost everything he wrote. Damn, I thought. That guy’s a good writer. He really makes you feel what it’s like to be somebody with Asperger’s Syndrome. It momentarily occurs to me to seek out the online quiz that started him on the path to his diagnosis, but I dismiss it. I’ve never had anyone suggest to me that I might be autistic, and I chalk up the empathy to good writing. Two weeks or so later, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it again, and I think, fine, I’ll take the quiz. Might as well get it out of the way. “Your aspie score: 122 of 200. Your neurotypical score: 79 of 200. You are very likely an aspie.” Well, interesting. Okay, but there’s probably bias in the quiz, right? It’s like I said above, everyone sees some of themselves in OCD or depression, so this is probably like that. Maybe it just rates geeks this way. So I ask a geek friend to take it for comparison. His result? “Very likely a neurotypical.” Well, interesting. So: I can't be objective. This book started me on a path of self-discovery, and I don't yet know whether that's going to lead to a self-identity that's tied up in autism or Asperger's or if it's just a prompt for me to start thinking about the way I think and interact, but either way, for me this was a revelatory read, not a voyeuristic one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This is the best book I have read about Asperger syndrome, and I have read a lot. Though it is just one person's story, not a how-to manual, I gained a lot about ways that might help me be more effective in helping individuals with Asperger syndrome, both in my job as an SLP, and as a mother of one. David's personal journey through trying to acknowledge his weaknesses and move beyond them was admittedly at times tedious to read. Well before his wife told him to stop with the best practices, I was This is the best book I have read about Asperger syndrome, and I have read a lot. Though it is just one person's story, not a how-to manual, I gained a lot about ways that might help me be more effective in helping individuals with Asperger syndrome, both in my job as an SLP, and as a mother of one. David's personal journey through trying to acknowledge his weaknesses and move beyond them was admittedly at times tedious to read. Well before his wife told him to stop with the best practices, I was thinking the same thing. But, I suppose that is the nature of him confronting his differences, and how even bettering himself could turn into its own obsession. I appreciated his ability to see that he was successful at work in part because of a very supportive boss, and also because what he was supposed to do was very clearly spelled out. I appreciated his insight that every aspect of his life as a husband and father couldn't be quite so clearly defined, which is exactly what made it so hard for him.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara Bruhns

    A peek into the inner life of Asperger Syndrome, with life lessons that will benefit any marriage, all with an adorably good-humored attitude. David Finch is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome after 5 years of marriage, and suddenly new light is shed on the marital issues he and his wife have been battling with. Finch's research reveals problems he's struggled with his whole life, some of which he wasn't even aware of, and he starts to realize how these problems have been affecting his interactions A peek into the inner life of Asperger Syndrome, with life lessons that will benefit any marriage, all with an adorably good-humored attitude. David Finch is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome after 5 years of marriage, and suddenly new light is shed on the marital issues he and his wife have been battling with. Finch's research reveals problems he's struggled with his whole life, some of which he wasn't even aware of, and he starts to realize how these problems have been affecting his interactions with his wife and 2 children. Far from being disheartened by the way his brain is wired, he embarks on a quest to work together with his wife on ways to become a better husband. And so, the Journal of Best Practices is born, as a collection of tips and tricks he learns through the process. With the zeal, analytical skills, and quirky humor of his Asperger Syndrome, he takes us through his development on some of the most important Best Practices, revealing past problems, the often hilarious process of improvement, and his initial and rediscovery of love for his wife and children along the way. My only criticism isn't even anything I would want to change; sometimes I found myself feeling frustrated by behavior pre-Best Practices. However, his endearing personality and determined, positive attitude totally won me over from the start. This book is especially great for those curious about Asperger Syndrome, but there's lots of valuable lessons for any marriage here.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    At the age of 30, David Finch was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. The diagnosis enabled he and his wife to confront the problems in their marriage and start fresh, and Mr. Finch chronicles that transformation in this memoir. I won this book through Goodreads, and I started off really, really liking it. Mr. Finch’s use of notes (or “best practices”) to remember what is and is not acceptable behavior is funny and applicable to everyone (My favorite? “Apologies do not count when you shout them.”) At the age of 30, David Finch was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. The diagnosis enabled he and his wife to confront the problems in their marriage and start fresh, and Mr. Finch chronicles that transformation in this memoir. I won this book through Goodreads, and I started off really, really liking it. Mr. Finch’s use of notes (or “best practices”) to remember what is and is not acceptable behavior is funny and applicable to everyone (My favorite? “Apologies do not count when you shout them.”). The longer the book goes on, however, the more it falters. It lacks a strong, overarching storyline but doesn’t quite have the necessary divisions to work as a series of vignettes. The bigger problem, however, is that Mr. Finch blames everything on his Asperger Syndrome, and, in places, it reads like those annoying self-help, pop-psychology guides from the ’90s. I can appreciate how knowing what was wrong gave he and his wife a roadmap forward, but I would have preferred a book that dove into the complexities of marriage and its bumps with more honesty – something along the lines of ‘yes, having Asperger Syndrome didn’t help matters and did cause problems, but the diagnosis allowed my wife and me to also see and address our other shortcomings.’ In particular, it does take two to tango, and there were a few places in the book where Mr. Finch was remiss in not pointing to his wife’s lack of communication as compounding the problems. I’m glad the diagnosis gave he and his wife the tools they needed to fix their marriage, but I finished this book annoyed that the memoir never went beyond ‘it’s all Asperger Syndrome's fault.’ Quasi recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Straka

    David Finch has Asperger Syndrome. What’s interesting is that he’s not diagnosed until he’s 30 years old and married for five years. When he’s diagnosed, he and his wife finally have the answers of why he’s the way he is. He describes the news as a relief, because he now knows what causes his odd behavior, outbursts, and other quirks. The Journal of Best Practices came about through Finch’s note taking and journal writing. He is on a constant quest to improve himself. His notes include “Don’t ch David Finch has Asperger Syndrome. What’s interesting is that he’s not diagnosed until he’s 30 years old and married for five years. When he’s diagnosed, he and his wife finally have the answers of why he’s the way he is. He describes the news as a relief, because he now knows what causes his odd behavior, outbursts, and other quirks. The Journal of Best Practices came about through Finch’s note taking and journal writing. He is on a constant quest to improve himself. His notes include “Don’t change the radio station when she’s singing along,” and “Be present in moments with the kids.” This was a great book. It’s not just a book on understanding Asperger Syndrome. It details one man’s quest to become a better husband, and a better father. The situations that Finch describes are laugh out loud funny, and the book is never dry or boring. He and his wife have a great relationship, and work hard at making it even better. They’ve gone through some tough times and Finch’s diagnosis has helped them come to a better understanding of each other. I listened to the audiobook, which Finch narrates. I’m usually skeptical of an audiobook that’s read by the author. With this book, though, David Finch’s style makes you want to keep listening.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Spider the Doof Warrior

    This short little book was good, but I can't help but be a bit biased because I got diagnosed as being on the spectrum myself so I can related to David Finch about parties, socializing and things like that. I am not fond of that stuff. I hanging out with people I'm comfortable with but I love reading in bed at home listening to music and doing my thing. Which makes me wonder if it's a good idea to get married since I like collecting live spiders and so many people hate them for some reason. I lik This short little book was good, but I can't help but be a bit biased because I got diagnosed as being on the spectrum myself so I can related to David Finch about parties, socializing and things like that. I am not fond of that stuff. I hanging out with people I'm comfortable with but I love reading in bed at home listening to music and doing my thing. Which makes me wonder if it's a good idea to get married since I like collecting live spiders and so many people hate them for some reason. I liked that David was trying to become a better husband, but I also wondered if his wife should have seen his perspective a bit more too. After all, it's not a picnic to have Asperger's. I still don't think people with Asperger's lack empathy. I have empathy. Too much of it. It's one reason why being around so many people wears me out and I have to recharge alone with some sweet music and not talk to anyone for a while. More later. Mostly I would hate to be forced to socialize with people I don't know well. I will probably talk about spiders at them.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna Penner

    This book was hilarious. It isn't even a tiny bit surprising that David Finch used to write comedy sketches, based on the sheer amount of humour that is packed into this not very long book. I mean, in what other Asperger Syndrome book would you find a quote like this, "Engaging the social world without empathy is like going to the mall without any money or pants on; it can be done, but you're bound to have problems."? The humour makes it an easy read, as do the non-judgemental portrayals of all o This book was hilarious. It isn't even a tiny bit surprising that David Finch used to write comedy sketches, based on the sheer amount of humour that is packed into this not very long book. I mean, in what other Asperger Syndrome book would you find a quote like this, "Engaging the social world without empathy is like going to the mall without any money or pants on; it can be done, but you're bound to have problems."? The humour makes it an easy read, as do the non-judgemental portrayals of all of the people in this book. There are no heroes or villains, no people to blame for a marriage gone wrong: just an examination of behaviours and responses that can be changed and, in being changed, make a difference. As well as being humourous and having a clear narrative, this book also contained practical information and suggestions. If I were recommending a book as an introduction to adult Aspergers it would be this one-- a lovely book that is ultimately focussed on love and hope.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Pierce

    Listened to this book in one day. Besides the intricacies of parenting while on the spectrum I found that a lot of it went along with my marriage with my husband who is on the spectrum. He gave a voice to a mind much like my husbands. He is trying to be a better husband like he is on a PIP and I can see why he would think this way. I also would like to state that the wife is much like me. She is often frustrated, but takes the good with the bad in stride. When she read how much he had hurt her, Listened to this book in one day. Besides the intricacies of parenting while on the spectrum I found that a lot of it went along with my marriage with my husband who is on the spectrum. He gave a voice to a mind much like my husbands. He is trying to be a better husband like he is on a PIP and I can see why he would think this way. I also would like to state that the wife is much like me. She is often frustrated, but takes the good with the bad in stride. When she read how much he had hurt her, I recall those moments as well with my husband. Empathy is often not the same when someone is on the spectrum and I will never expect it to be that way with my husband. I would like to say that I have known my husband to show empathy in many beautifully different ways that has made me appreciate him all the more. Someone mentioned she was a saint and I have often heard people saying these things about me. She is very patient and loving to her best friend and husband, which would make her out to be this. I don’t like to be referred to as a saint because I’ve had to work on my resentments and my communication as well in my 11 years of marriage. I also don’t like people holding me up because I took the time to get to know him, even after he was diagnosed, which is what treating someone as human is. You can’t avoid annoying people your with sometimes, it’s how you handle it that counts. Anyway thank you for sharing your story. I hope more people will do the same.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Similar to Graeme Simsion's book The Rosie Project, this one is more painful to read than Don's story because it's David Finch's real life. A refreshing read by someone who is actually on the autistic spectrum and not just speculating about it. Asperger's is no joke, and David's self-absorbed lifestyle and comments make his memories both laughable and cringe-worthy. Finch offers great insight into a commonly misunderstood diagnosis--a mind that needs everything spelled out in a step-by-step inst Similar to Graeme Simsion's book The Rosie Project, this one is more painful to read than Don's story because it's David Finch's real life. A refreshing read by someone who is actually on the autistic spectrum and not just speculating about it. Asperger's is no joke, and David's self-absorbed lifestyle and comments make his memories both laughable and cringe-worthy. Finch offers great insight into a commonly misunderstood diagnosis--a mind that needs everything spelled out in a step-by-step instruction manual. While some introspection lagged a bit with self-proclaimed egotistical thinking, Finch's love for his wife and family proves that we can all overcome whatever aspect of self-centered behavior we struggle with to do more and be more for those we love.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. I first heard about this book from an article in Oprah Magazine. To be honest, I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't really think I would go out and buy it. Borrow it from the library maybe, but not buy it. A short while later, I happened to notice it was being offered as a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads and thought, why not enter? Before I knew it, I got an email te Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. I first heard about this book from an article in Oprah Magazine. To be honest, I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't really think I would go out and buy it. Borrow it from the library maybe, but not buy it. A short while later, I happened to notice it was being offered as a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads and thought, why not enter? Before I knew it, I got an email telling me I was one of the winners and would be receiving a free copy! After finishing a most disappointing novel, I picked up this memoir and once I started it, I could not put it down. I literally flew through this book. Before I get started on the content of the book, I need to say that David Finch is an amazingly talented writer. His work is easy and enjoyable to read and he suffused the entire thing with a wonderful sense of humor. (Also with a *bit* of choice language - that type of thing does not phase me, but if it bothers you, you have been forewarned.) Before reading this book, I had a general understanding about what Asperger's Syndrome is, but I had never heard a first-hand account of what life is like for a person with the disorder. In his memoir, David shares not only how his life in general has been affected by Asperger's, but mainly focuses on how it has affected his marriage. Earlier in life, David and his wife Kristen started off as best friends and their relationship progressed from there. Once they got married and moved in together, things started to get much more difficult for them. Realizing they were not happy with the way things were between them and with David only recently diagnosed, he sets out to improve himself and his marriage. He comes to realize he has to learn and practice certain skills that come naturally to "neuro-typicals." In order to do this, he starts his "Journal of Best Practices," a collection of rules and hard-won insights he uses as a tool to help him improve some of his more difficult behaviors. I don't mean to diminish in any way the difficulties David faces in his everyday life; however, I could not help but think on occasion, "typical man!" So many of the things David is working on are things most men could use some improvement on. What wife doesn't want her husband to be a better listener? To let her vent her frustrations without jumping in with a logical solution to the problem? To take initiative around the house with chores, etc? David certainly has many more obstacles in his way and other additional issues he must face, but many of the problems specific to his marriage are not so different from the problems any other couple might face. After finishing this book, what I was struck by the most and what will stay with me for a long time to come, is the love this man and his wife share. He may have trouble showing it and they may face many more challenges than the average couple, but the love they have for each other is so real and so touching. David is often extremely hard on himself and wishes he could be more "perfect" for Kristen because that is what he believes she deserves. But let me tell you, if love were "graded" for effort and a desire for one's partner to be happy, David would get an A++ Bottom line? Read this book. Now. I challenge you to not be moved and touched by it. Read any of the passages where David relays stories of the crazy things his kids have done or said and I challenge you not to dissolve into hysterics. Any other book David may write in the future will definitely make it onto my To-Buy List. On release day. See more of my reviews at: http://bucklingbookshelves.blogspot.com

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    So I need to start this by saying that for years I have told my husband that I have a mild form of autism/Asperger's. As a grad student in social psychology I read Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures, and I realized that I could very much relate to her way of not relating to other people. He (my husband) picked this book up a week or so ago at the library and has been waving it around the house chuckling while reading it and commenting that he agrees, but if this guy (meaning Dave Finch) is a So I need to start this by saying that for years I have told my husband that I have a mild form of autism/Asperger's. As a grad student in social psychology I read Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures, and I realized that I could very much relate to her way of not relating to other people. He (my husband) picked this book up a week or so ago at the library and has been waving it around the house chuckling while reading it and commenting that he agrees, but if this guy (meaning Dave Finch) is a 9 on the Asperger's scale, I'm a 3. I'm not sure if that is meant as a compliment (after all he means I'm not that bad) or as an insult (there's no reason to blame your ridiculous tendencies on Asperger's, there's probably something else wrong with you, honey). So, there now I can feel like I've gotten my "writing a response to David Finch" persona on. Come on, admit it, I've got a bit of the hang of the tone, right? Right? Or is it just my humor is not coming through on this one? No, I'm not going to try to write a whole review using his voice, just thought I'd throw all that out there. Overall, the book was better than average (hence the 4 star). He was annoying at times (yeah, I know, that's just him), he was repetitive at times (again), and certainly he's not always the most likeable person (egocentric holy shit). I think it was less a book about Asperger's and more a book about his failing marriage. And, no Dave, Asperger's is not the only reason you don't fold laundry. I have lots of female friends who have husbands who also never touch the laundry. I think your insight into chauvinistic expectations might be closer to the mark. The book was, though, very approachable, oftentimes funny and extremely honest. I'm sure Kristen (as well as Clint at work, and the neighbors Mary and Andy) feel a bit exposed with some of Dave's revelations, but it was worth the time and energy and a decent read. Sorry folks, I just wanted to note a quote here "I tried to do what Tom Hanks or Billy Crystal might have done for Meg Ryan were it a Nora Ephron film--I offered my company, without expecting her to want it. It was a tactic that prevented me from leaving more than three or four silly messages on her voice mail at a time and allowed me to pretend as though no time had passed when she finally called."

  25. 5 out of 5

    James Swenson

    David and Kristen's marriage is falling apart, after only a few years. Neither them is quite the spouse that the other believed they would be. One reason for this, they discover, is that David has Asperger's syndrome. The diagnosis is a revelation. David writes: I was not upset. I was not conflicted. The knowledge felt amazing. It was cathartic. And it made perfect sense. Of course! Here were answers, handed to me so easily, to almost every difficult question I'd had since childhood: Why is it so David and Kristen's marriage is falling apart, after only a few years. Neither them is quite the spouse that the other believed they would be. One reason for this, they discover, is that David has Asperger's syndrome. The diagnosis is a revelation. David writes: I was not upset. I was not conflicted. The knowledge felt amazing. It was cathartic. And it made perfect sense. Of course! Here were answers, handed to me so easily, to almost every difficult question I'd had since childhood: Why is it so hard for me to engage with people? Why do I seem to perceive and process things so differently from everyone else? ...In other words, why am I different? To me, that's extremely moving, and throughout the book, David is very good at writing about himself. [In fact, that's my main difficulty here: he writes so clearly about his own idiosyncracies and motivations that it's hard to sustain the belief that he suffers from any sort of empathy deficit.] The good news is that David leverages his own obsessive tendencies to focus on saving his relationship with Kristen, making it his top priority. He works to build his capacity for empathy, recording his insights in the titular Journal of Best Practices. A dozen or so of these become chapter titles, like "Laundry: Better to fold and put away than to take only what you need from the dryer." For me, the book gains its depth from the first of the Best Practices that we read: "Do all that you can to be worthy of her love." The surprise is while that the Asperger's diagnosis, and David's ability to laugh at himself, make it non-threatening to pick up the book, we increasingly wonder how much of his struggle comes from his mental disorder (David doesn't naturally realize that he could care for his family members by doing their laundry), and how much is the result of culture and implicit expectations he shares with the neurotypical population (David has always presumed that wives should do the laundry). David's commitment and dedication are a rebuke to those of us who face lower obstacles than he does, but give less than we could of ourselves to our loved ones.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I think David Finch has done a heck of a job writing a book about the trials and tribulations of being married to someone w/Asperger tendencies, and how to turn things around and make the marriage work. I am the mother of a senior in high school who is on the spectrum -- and had a father who was VERY MUCH like David Finch. Now, I've known numerous people with asperger's, and Mr. Finch seems to be fairly high up on the spectrum. The characteristics that he DOES have are a fairly big deal, to be su I think David Finch has done a heck of a job writing a book about the trials and tribulations of being married to someone w/Asperger tendencies, and how to turn things around and make the marriage work. I am the mother of a senior in high school who is on the spectrum -- and had a father who was VERY MUCH like David Finch. Now, I've known numerous people with asperger's, and Mr. Finch seems to be fairly high up on the spectrum. The characteristics that he DOES have are a fairly big deal, to be sure -- but he also is very adept at either covering up or distracting himself from making much of what aspergers IS not such an issue, because if he could NOT do this, the likelihood that he would be married and successful with a sales/marketing type job would be somewhat slim. I had a father who had very much the same trajectory, and so ... reading this book initially was to try and understand my son better, but I actually ended up understanding my FATHER better. First of all, much of what is written about in this book can apply to any marriage, or any of the skills (or lack thereof) that men have in maintaining a happy marriage. For that reason, it's a terrific book. I enjoyed reading it, and read it quickly. The mid-section of the book lagged a little bit, but by the end, the writing was really quite good. I laughed all the way through the book, and recognized my relatives in a lot of the specifics. I also had GREAT appreciation for David's wife, Kristen -- who, quite frankly, is a saint. Dealing with this stuff is not easy -- but it takes a certain person to not only endure some of the difficulties that are aspergers, but also RECOGNIZE the positive traits of a person on the aspergers spectrum. I was very impressed with her (and impressed with David's characterization of her). I was also extremely impressed with the kind and loving manner in which David talked about his own family upbringing. This part was especially charming. A fun read to be sure. Although Mr. Finch isn't exactly a poster-boy for aspergers, he has enough of the characteristics to make this book beneficial to those who have the syndrome, and those who love them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa T

    In case you are thinking, "Does Roger have Asperger's?"; no, I don't think he does. That's not why I chose this book, I am just interested in learning more about this increasingly common syndrome, and this seemed like an informative way to do so, without being too bogged down in clinical details. (I just want the summary, not all the details! I am an impatient learner!) So, my review. I may have given this 5 stars, except for one tiny detail. Profanity. I cannot stand reading profanity. For a maj In case you are thinking, "Does Roger have Asperger's?"; no, I don't think he does. That's not why I chose this book, I am just interested in learning more about this increasingly common syndrome, and this seemed like an informative way to do so, without being too bogged down in clinical details. (I just want the summary, not all the details! I am an impatient learner!) So, my review. I may have given this 5 stars, except for one tiny detail. Profanity. I cannot stand reading profanity. For a majority of the book, the language is perfectly acceptable, delightful actually. But here and there, the F-word creeps in. Ugh. And, for one section - when the author is describing a particularly difficult time in his life, it fairly leaps off the page and screams in your face. I almost stopped reading at that point, but, hoping the alluring prose previously exhibited would continue, I persevered, and I am happy that I did. (In his defense, the author is merely chronically his experiences, and demonstrates a lot of tact generally. I assume he merely writes as he speaks and thinks, and I cannot fault him for that. But, perhaps his editor should have mentioned it may still offend some readers, even in this society? I digress.) Otherwise, this was a pure delight to read. Finch tells a story effortlessly, a story rich with detail and emotion, and I felt as though I had been allowed a glimpse not only into his mind but a bit of his soul as well. Fascinating. He has a captivating sense of humor, which had me laughing out loud more than once. He helped me walk a mile in his shoes, and although some of the steps were painful and embarrassing to admit, I never lost respect for him or felt annoyed at his recitation. (Other than the profanity, of course.) Best of all, I appreciated both his and his wife's dedication to their marriage and the commitment they had made to each other. Both simply refused to give up, and this dedication was both endearing and impressive. I hope their story has a happy ending, they certainly deserve it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    The subtitle says it all. Finch writes a lovely memoir that is at turns poignant and heartfelt or laugh-out-loud funny. He doesn't set out to give the reader the best practices for all marriages, but in telling the story of his own, the reader will find aspects that resonate or prompt further thought. I'd recommend this book (or audiobook - it's read well by the author) and even though, from what I could tell, the author isn't a Christian, I'd include this in my collection of marriage-advice book The subtitle says it all. Finch writes a lovely memoir that is at turns poignant and heartfelt or laugh-out-loud funny. He doesn't set out to give the reader the best practices for all marriages, but in telling the story of his own, the reader will find aspects that resonate or prompt further thought. I'd recommend this book (or audiobook - it's read well by the author) and even though, from what I could tell, the author isn't a Christian, I'd include this in my collection of marriage-advice books. That's not its genre or intent, but I think his approach to the friendship side of marriage is worth considering.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    My long-suffering spouse heard this story on NPR and immediately placed Finch's book on my reading queue for whenever it arrived at the library. I have it now and have dutifully fulfilled my assignment, a labor of bemused like. Unlike the author, I can't use Asperger's to excuse the sort of egocentric traits that make me terrible at remembering personal details; nor do I seem to possess the clinical levels of obsessive-compulsive disorder that would allow for the sort of thoroughly dogged behavi My long-suffering spouse heard this story on NPR and immediately placed Finch's book on my reading queue for whenever it arrived at the library. I have it now and have dutifully fulfilled my assignment, a labor of bemused like. Unlike the author, I can't use Asperger's to excuse the sort of egocentric traits that make me terrible at remembering personal details; nor do I seem to possess the clinical levels of obsessive-compulsive disorder that would allow for the sort of thoroughly dogged behavioral deconstruction and remodeling Finch self-effacingly describes himself undertaking. All of which is to say that The Journal comes across to me as more of a confessional than a self-help book. I should add that it reads a bit like a Slate article needlessly stretched to book length, which helps to explain why, after I finished the first chapter, I was motivated to skim the remainder of the book, essentially glossing the ends of chapters and reading the last two or three verbatim. Inexcusable, really. But then my tween daughter stole it and read it over an extended weekend, which proved to be an unexpected boon. Not only did this give me a chance to finish a couple of other books that Finch had unintentionally interrupted (thereby improving my patience and focus), it allowed me to seek a blurb from her on what she thought of it. Here's her 4-star take, verbatim from her website:Though I was skeptical when I first picked up this book, (having nothing else to read I took it from my father's to-read pile) it turned out to be a very entertaining read. The book is full of funnily eye opening anecdotes about David Finch and his quest to save his marriage that (he thinks) has been ruined by his quirks and aspergyness. David Finch writes ranges of things from "Don't change the radio station while she is singing along" and "apologies do not count when you shout them" to "be her friend first and always." The only reason I did not give this book a full 5 stars is because it just happens to not be in my favorite genre. It is very fast-paced for a non-fiction novel and it depicts Finch well as an annoyingly likable character (which would make sense as it is written by Finch himself). Enjoy this tense-at-moments though lighthearted overall non-fiction book.So there you have it, out of the mouth of a soon-to-be-adolescent. Pretty much says it all. In fact, I should probably stop there but will add a few more ad hoc observations, anyway. You know, I think this would make a fine popcorn flick. It's not really written that way; only the first and last chapters chronicle the tragicomic arc of Finch's relationship with his wife from meet-cute to confidante to rebound lover to marriage to estrangement to reconciliation and happily-ever-after that so neatly fits the Hollywood Rom Com model (the primary obstacle to the couple's happiness in this case being the jerky qualities of the otherwise lovable, hunky protagonist). The fact that any adaptation would have to be re-arranged from the sequence of topics Finch tosses out ought but to legitimize the hiring of a screenwriter. So, yeah, Finch is an affable narrator who rightly worships his wife Kristen (a woman who seems like Cameron Diaz with Mister Rogers' manners). Finch is also a bit repetitive, especially toward the middle chapters. Less of a nitpick is that he's sexist (his wife inhabits a "girl world," he characterizes his part of parenting as "helping," he expects her to put in 60 hours a week as a domestic and personal valet in addition to her regular full time job). Maybe he can work to overcome this deficient worldview in the Hollywood version. Is it right to blame Asperger syndrome for this state of affairs? Finch explains his clinical lack of empathy thus (p. 75):Cognitive processes allow us to understand the mental state of another person -- his or her emotions, desires, beliefs, intentions, et cetera -- which in turn helps us to understand and even predict the person's actions or behaviors. They allow us to step outside of our own experience in order to take on and understand other people's perspectives -- something that every wife on the planet wishes her husband would do. The affective component of empathy... allows us to feel some appropriate and non-egocentric emotional response to another person's emotions.... A graphical representation of empathy might involve a Venn diagram -- two circles, one for the affective component and one for the cognitive, slightly overlapping, with me standing well outside of both circles talking incessantly about the weather during a funeral. So his condition renders him oblivious to social cues and inclined to behave inappropriately. That said, I think Finch overcredits his Asperger symptoms with the root causes of his marital stress. For five years of marriage he's been an absentee husband and father consumed by a job he hates, who, upon coming home is liable to throw a hissy fit should he be offered salsa from a jar instead of homemade the way the neighbors do it. So while his egocentrism and difficulty reading social and emotional cues are surely big contributors to growing emotional distance, other likely culprits he cites include his volatile temper, negative attitude, unreasonable expectations of his marital partner, passivity, and his and Kristen's complete failure to negotiate or otherwise come to an explicit understanding as to how household and parenting duties might be shared by a full-time working couple. Asperger's aside, Finch offers us introspective, note-taking neurotypicals (*ahem*) a fairly straightforward lesson. It is sympathy more than empathy that fuel intimate relationships, listening actively rather than defensively. One can be "more tuned in and responsive without this magic ability to define whatever it is [our partner is] feeling" (p. 164). That requires persistent effort, ongoing awareness, and caring. And isn't the act of caring what love is all about?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Byron

    This deserves more than 5 stars in my opinion. Having recently discovered that I have Asperger Syndrome, this book was gifted to me to help me understand my condition as well as work on how to manage myself better. To put it simply, it worked. David is incredibly brave for writing this book. Which, is stark and brutal in its core observations, yet, heartfelt and genuine. I can wholeheartedly say that this book has helped me. Not necessarily changed me, but enabled me to manage situations in a more This deserves more than 5 stars in my opinion. Having recently discovered that I have Asperger Syndrome, this book was gifted to me to help me understand my condition as well as work on how to manage myself better. To put it simply, it worked. David is incredibly brave for writing this book. Which, is stark and brutal in its core observations, yet, heartfelt and genuine. I can wholeheartedly say that this book has helped me. Not necessarily changed me, but enabled me to manage situations in a more reasonable manner. Thank you David Finch.

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