I wanted to hate this book. I went into reading it rip, roaring and ready to tear it apart. Just look at it — it’s seedy in that gold-chains-and-chest-hair way, all draped in leather with saucy silhouettes of women printed on the covers.

But I didn’t hate it. In fact, it’s the most useful dating book I’ve read so far, and even though Neil Strauss’ audience is largely guys, I think that women can learn a lot from Rules of the Game, especially women who complain that they don’t meet anyone.

Why don’t people meet anyone? Because, unless they’re tucked away in a hermitage, it’s because people don’t talk to people. Next time you’re walking down a crowded city street, or in a coffee shop, or on a bus or train, look at how many people are talking to each other. Not many. We create force fields around ourselves with our books, our iPods, even game systems so that people won’t talk to us.

Strauss sees it as his life mission to help guys break through that force field.

This is not Strauss’ first foray into the dating world. He instructed guys-not-in-the-know on how to get women on VH1’s The Pick Up Artist, and his previous book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, is the only book that I’ve gotten guys to admit that they’ve read, and tried.

Even though I’m not sure I like the end goal of these books — get laid as opposed to maybe meet a girlfriend — the basics laid out therein can get you started toward either goal.

Rules of the Game is broken up into two parts — into two books, actually, that come in one package. The first, The Stylelife Challenge, is a 30 day program to get you a date. I didn’t do the entire challenge (hey, I’ve got a lot of books to read), but if you’re dedicated to it, I can see how it works. I use some of these tactics already, like having go-to stories you tell to make yourself sound interesting and adventurous (the “Pauly Shore grabbed my foot during an interview” is my standby, followed quickly by the “I crashed the Cambridge University Press party and became the life of the party” tale). Asking someone’s opinion or for their help to settle an ‘argument’ between you and a friend is a good one, too. Some of the challenges seem hokey, like just throwing a dinner party by the last day (how many guys can do this? how many guys apartments are clean enough to do this), but the book as a whole might work because it’s broken up into steps people who are too shy to talk to strangers can take it one step at a time.

Most people who say self help books worked for them give the “it gave me a plan of action” reason as to why. That’s the strength of Rules of the Game. It’s detailed, it gives you assignments, and it’s all built around common sense.

I haven’t read the second volume, but any guy who’s going into this whole pick up thing with the “get laid” goal might want to. It shows how sleeping with beautiful women all the time is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be (something Strauss realizes while in the elevator with a meth-skinny, fake boob-buxom beauty and realized he wanted to nail the 60 year old woman who lived in his building — I did read part of it).

So, in the end, I didn’t hate it. I’m going to recommend it to someone, too. But as for Strauss’ advice to get some jewelry for yourself? To that I give a big, fat thumbs down (sorry Neil).

Fun fact: Strauss is also co-author of Jenna’ Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, a book I started reading in Barnes and Noble about a year ago. I’ve meant to get back to — there’s a reason it sold so many copies, and not necessarily because of the woman on the cover. Very well written, at least what I read. If that one comes out in paperback by the time my 52 weeks is up, expect it to be on this list.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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