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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 94/100: The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband - David    Finch

At first I was worried this might be one of those "interesting stories" coupled with lackluster storytelling. The first couple chapters had that sort of "forced" feeling you get when you know that a book has been written by a ghostwriter attempting to capture the subject's "original" voice while also bringing the writing up a few notches. However, my initial fear that this book might be a chore to get through was happily unfounded. Within a few chapters the book had hit its stride and Finch has found his voice -- straightforward, self-deprecating, vulnerable, and eminently competent to tell this story.

I love marriage memoirs for the way they allow an outsider to peek into the most intimate relationship in the writer's life and for the things they can teach me about my own marriage. For David and Kristen Finch, his diagnosis of Asperger's is a lightbulb moment for them, as they realize that he's not a self-centered dick, but only that his brain works very differently than his wife's. This sets him off on a journey of self-improvement that any couple could learn from. Because he has trouble reading social cues and interacting by instinct with his wife and children, he has to make a particular effort to understand and abide by his wife's preferences even when he doesn't understand them -- something we could probably all stand to do more of in our own marriages. Although I admired the (somewhat obsessive) effort Finch put into healing his marriage, I could also understand his wife's frustration over him reducing their marriage to a "project" when she was just trying to get through each day. His Asperger's led to her shouldering the majority of the emotional, childcare, and house work in the marriage, and I admired her wherewithal. Finch does a great job of characterizing her as supportive but by turns frustrated and full of "tough love" (turning off her cell phone so she can't answer her husband's questions about how to care for the kids, for example), but yet I still found myself wanting to read a companion book from her perspective. It's clear what Finch sees in her -- what does she see in him that inspires her devotion despite the extra challenges of an Asperger-Neurotypical relationship?

Overall, this book is a great testament of the power of dedication and love, not to mention a fascinating look into a "mixed" (Asperger and NT) marriage.