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'The Spinster's Guide to Dating,' by Mary Minerman

I interviewed Mary Minerman, the author of a “The Spinster’s Guide to Dating” some time ago and finally got a copy of the book to review, complete with a lovely envelope and note from Mary herself!

Mary wrote and illustrated her own dating book during her free time while working as an elementary school teacher in Laguna Beach. I found out about her book while reading an online article about her on the LA Times. We connected and I had a blast interviewing her about her take on dating, which you can find here.

Mary is currently retired and but plans on writing a sequel while still dating. Below is my review of her book, “A Spinster’s Guide to Dating”.

Above: Mary's drawing of a stereotypical spinster  

Dating is a really ambiguous word to me since there’s no rules on how to date. Instead, you have to use common sense and prepare to make meeting a total stranger as pleasant as possible. Mary Minerman’s take on dating in her book “A Spinster’s Guide to Dating” seems a little more straightforward since they never seem to end well for her. However, even if she hasn’t shown any great dates in her book, I found her drawings and short stories on dating funny rather than cynical.

The book is 170 pages long and easy to pick up and read at any time since there’s no order you have to read the book in. I’m not sure my peers would pay for a real book now that the internet has made everything so accessible but this book feels very well made and designed. 

Rather than just writing about all of her dates, Mary combines short stories, satirical observations and drawings to make her witty remarks on overly-tanned cougars and douchey looking guys less whiny and more relatable. Although I’m a 20 something year old, which doesn’t fall into the “spinster” category, I can still relate to her dating experiences and appreciate her uplifting tone despite her setbacks.

For instance, here is Mary’s drawing of the Cougarus Butt Turn - a mating ritual from her idea of Orange County as a dating “savannah“.

“The African Serengetti has nothing on the OC when it comes to mammal mating rituals” - Mary Minerman

These cute yet poignant cartoons are on a lot of the pages so there’s never a lot of words without something to look at The font is also very large, making it really easy to read. Think the opposite of a thick novel! The overal visuals of the book made me willing to approach a book that I wouldn't otherwise think suitable for someone my demographic. 

Above: A page from "A Spinster's Guide to Dating"

Reading a “Spinster’s Guide to Dating” as a 20 something year old guy made me laugh at Mary’s humorous take on dating since it reminded of my own experiences, some from dating and some not.

Best reason not be a gold digger: "You marry for money, you earn every penny of it." - Spinster's Momma (Mary Minerman, 111)

For instance, she writes about her horrible hiking dates that made me realize my own dating hikes could have gone much worse. As weird as it sounds, reading about someone's unpleasant dating experiences made me appreciate my own "normal" ones much more. 

However, some of my female friends went on what Mary calls the “hikes from hell”. My friends wore the wrong shoes for the hike since they weren't told it was a hike or their dates packed a lunch for themselves only. Yikes!

My own drawing on a "hike from hell" scenario.

I wish Mary would put some of the book's content online so that my smartphone-using peers would be able to enjoy her witty humor without having to get a physical copy. I think a kindle copy or blog would be useful to spread the message without a physical medium. 

The book ends on a positive note, just as our interview did, with Mary letting me know that proceeds from the launch of her book went to Rylie’s Angeles, a charity fundrasier that’s a part of the A-T Children’s Project, a non-profit that supports research in various neurodegenerative disorders. Check out the fundraiser for Rylie’s Angels if you want to donate.

Above: Rylie's fundraise benefited from the launch of Mary's book

As of this post, A Spinster's Guide to Dating is sold in independent bookstores like the Laguna Beach Bookstore, Twig and at Mary’s website: www.spinstersguide.comI wish she would put some of this content as a blog online so that my smartphone-holding peers would be able to laugh along though. Despite poking fun at the dating mishaps along her journey, she ends on an optimistic note: don't give up!

Art by Mary MInerman
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