One of my jobs at CDPL is to shelve the books people return. Yesterday I shelved a book called “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope.” Along the bottom of the book cover were these words: “Moving Toward Healing; Deciding Whether to Stay or Go; Breaking Free from Damaging Patterns.”

I turned the book over, and on the back cover, the author, Leslie Vernick, was described as a licensed clinical social worker with decades of experience who offered “intensely practical, biblical advice.”

Difficulties in relationships can take many forms. A few months ago I helped a patron look for books on how to best explain to children that they are adopted. “How do we know what they can understand developmentally?” the patron asked, and then we proceeded to look for books that could address the uncertainty and upheavals the family was trying to work through.

Recently, I found myself in a difficult situation with a friend. I made an unsolicited critical remark about something her child was doing, and the fallout was immediate. I really “stepped in it.” The friend accepted my apology, but there was more work to be done in repairing the relationship, and aside from wanting to repair the relationship I also wanted to better understand her perspective.

During the next few weeks a book showed up on the shelving cart at CDPL: “The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children” by Ross W. Greene. I would not describe my friend’s child as “explosive,” but I took the book home and read about half of it. It gave me some new, helpful perspectives and a lot more compassion for the challenges my friend and her child were trying to navigate.

Beginning Friday, CDPL will display a collection of our titles on difficult relationships and communication. These books will be displayed on the second floor.

As I’ve researched and gathered books for this display, I’ve been surprised at how many kinds of difficult relationships and conversations there are. The combinations of roles we can assume (parent, child, friend, romantic partner, spouse, co-worker, “ex”) with the issues that arise from these roles seem just about endless. And while many of the CDPL books will address these roles and issues from a serious perspective, there will also be some humor involved.

“Dump ‘Em: How to Break Up with Anyone from Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser” is by Jodyne Speyer, a self-described “recovering avoidant.” She offers advice for fellow avoiders and gives tips for “peaceful but permanent” break-ups with doctors, mechanics, personal trainers and even houseguests.

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