Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review - Lying on the Couch by Irvin D. Yalom

Whenever I get a really good book, I tend to fly through it and feel cheated at the end because I read the book way too fast. However, when I began the book Lying on the Couch by Irvin D. Yalom, I found that, as much as I wanted to devour the book, I instead took my time and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book took me about a month to read yet it felt shorter than that. This is a book that everyone should read, even if psychology is not your thing.

Meet Ernest and Marshall, the two therapists that are central to the novel. Ernest is a widower who still has a sexual appetite that remains unfulfilled and Marshall is a no nonsense man and husband who is steadfast when it comes to the science of psychology. Yet, as the reader finds out very early on, they are both human and their choices, both made and not made and the consequences that they must endure is insightful, surprising and at times, funny.

Justin, a client of Ernest, comes into his office one day to inform him that he has left his wife for another woman and never has he felt happier. However, the woman Justin has left behind, an ice queen and very bitter woman named Carol, has plans of her own in trying to exact a sort of revenge. As part of her scheme, she becomes a patient of Ernest, thinking that he was the one who encouraged her husband to leave her. Marshall's wife, Shirley, becomes more and more interested in ikebana and Zen meditation as her husband  kindles a friendship with a former patient who is literally too good to be true. The degrees of separation are not six; the reader watches the drama unfold itself as each character plays their part into the hands of someone else over and over again - all in the name of psychology.

Yalom, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, has written quite the psychological drama laced with black humour, hints of the erotic and even lessons in and of the mind. This book is for the person who needs to have several free hours a day to read with no disruptions or for someone who just enjoys a well written and well laid out story that will keep you guessing to the end. And, for the record, he does not bring the story to a closure; you'll have to create your own ending that will be right no matter what.

This book is highly recommended with all ten fingers up!


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