The Bookworm Sez: “The Journal of Best Practices” by David Finch

David Finch; Photo credit Mandi Backhaus

c.2012, Scribner                   $25.00 / $28.99 Canada 225 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

As long as you live, you will never totally understand your beloved.

Why, for instance, is he unable to hear anything but the television when it’s on?  You’re not sure, but you suspect that the house could collapse around him and he wouldn’t notice until the TV fell, too.

Why, for instance, does she insist that towels get folded a certain way?  She says you’re folding “wrong” but how can that be? The towels are folded. Isn’t that enough?

Along these same lines, Kristen Finch was irritated. It was her husband’s doing, but as you’ll see in the new book The Journal of Best Practices” by David Finch, there was a very good reason.

David Finch was afraid.

He feared being splashed by water. He was afraid of being fired from his job – which he hated anyway, but still.  He feared heights and schedule changes and surprises. Most of all, Finch was afraid his wife was going to leave him.

He knew their marriage had its problems. For five years, things had eroded slowly and he mostly blamed himself. He had a flash-point temper and was insistent on the most insignificant things – but he couldn’t say why. Kristen hated it.

He fell in love with her long before the vice was versa. They’d been friends for a long time; she was the pretty, cool girl and he was the nerd who did geometry for enjoyment. Things were fun then, and they were even better once the couple knew they were meant for each other. They bought a house together, had two children together, and now everything was falling apart.

Until Kristen, a speech and language expert, came across a quiz online, a quiz her husband failed. An official diagnosis was made and everything made sense: David Finch had Asperger Syndrome, which explained his quirks and unique behavior.

Once Finch knew that his brain didn’t work like most “neurotypical” brains worked, the solution was obvious and, in typical “Aspie” form, he started to take notes.

Note-taking was the best way he knew to become the perfect husband…

Socks on the floor?  Hair in the sink? Ignore them awhile and grab “The Journal of Best Practices.”  You won’t be sorry.

With a superb willingness to poke fun at his own brain’s shortcomings, author David Finch gives his readers a hint of what it’s like when social niceties are confounding and everyday chaos is insurmountable. Finch writes with honesty about shocking melt-downs and seemingly-needless anger, and you’ll be saddened to realize that you know what’s going on while there were times in which Finch’s wife did not.

But Finch doesn’t let us wallow in sadness for long. He lets us peek at his journal’s notes: the laugh-out-loud funny ones and those written with hopes that they’d fix the marriage he so wanted to keep.

I loved this earnestly sweet, delightful book and I think you will, too. If you’ve ever fallen for someone who’s less-than-perfect, “The Journal of Best Practices” may be one of the best books you’ve ever read.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. For more information, visit

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