For me, there is nothing more luxurious than having time to read (for fun). On my recent trip to Palm Springs, I was able to finish three fantastic books - Sex and the City and Us, Bachelor Nation and Can't Help Myself. The third and final book is by Meredith Goldstein, the Love Letters columnist for The Boston Globe. I have been reading that column since it first debuted in January 2009. At the time, I was deep in a series of bad JDates and was hopeful that Meredith's advice could lead me toward making better decisions.
Over the past nine years, as I've read all of the letters sent to Meredith, I was always impressed by her calm and measured advice. Conversely, those kind words were regularly followed by bold, opinionated and judgemental comments from the Love Letters community. Any time I thought about submitting a question to Meredith, I hesitated because that comments section can be downright brutal!
I was excited to read this book and learn more about Meredith, the woman who heals broken hearts all over Boston.
I knew I would enjoy it after the very first page. The introduction reads, "This is a memoir told through stories and letters. It's what happened, as I remember it, and my sister says my memory is pretty good. Some names and details have been conflated and changed, mostly to protect innocent people who took me to the Cheesecake Factory." I related to this instantly! Whenever I am having a tough work day, my office bestie and I head straight to Cheesecake. There isn't anything a plate of avocado egg rolls can't fix.
The book tells the story of how Love Letters came to be. Meredith shares how engaged and supportive the readers have been over the years. She was so interested in the faces behind the comments that she even organized a meet up for the readers to gather in real life. It was funny to read about how she pictured certain people and what they turned out to look like in person.
Letters that really stuck out to Meredith, or pushed her to open her mind in certain ways, are shared in the book - the original submission, her answer and a smattering of reader comments. It was fascinating to learn what was going on in Meredith's personal life at the time and how that may have influenced her advice. It all felt very Carrie Bradshaw.
A significant portion of the book is dedicated to Meredith's final years with her mother, who was being treated for cancer. Meredith shares, very openly and honestly, how the Love Letters community helped her find strength and how she developed a deeper sense of compassion for her readers as a result of going through this incredibly painful time.
I always related to Meredith through reading her column, but I felt even more kinship with her while reading the book. As you can imagine, as single women in our 30s, we have a lot in common. That said, it was a good reminder that even love columnists can feel lonely sometimes.
If you are a Love Letters reader, this book is like being given the ultimate, behind-the-scenes tour. Even if you've never read the column, the book is funny, poignant and a beautiful reminder to keep an open heart.
*Homepage image via WBUR.