April 25, 2014

I Reviewed This Book Once...

I had the opportunity to get and review the book "I Dated This Guy Once..." through 20sb that I for some reason jumped at the chance to do, which meant that... I had to READ a BOOK. Anyone who knows me or has been following my blog for awhile also knows that reading is not something I spend a lot of time doing or get excited about. My thing is TV and movies. The stories get told so much faster in those mediums. And I am impatient and have ADHD. But really I would like to read more and that is why I instantly wanted to sign up to review this book because it would force me to READ A BOOK. Also because it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Anyway...

"I Dated This Guy Once..." Review

"I Dated This Guy Once..." is memoir about author Toni Rae's 8 years of dating experiences and still ongoing journey to find love. I quickly got on-board with reading it because I too have had both fortunate and unfortunate dating experiences that I often reference when giving dating advice to friends (naturally, I'm far better at giving than following my own advice). I was also really glad to discover that it was a memoir and not a novel because I find something hollow in stories that are works of fiction. To spend so much time connecting to characters that are not real leaves me feeling empty once I've finished such a book (classics, sci-fi, and fantasy excluded).

I'm not sure how much it was meant to be significant but Rae chose to split her story into "episodes" rather than chapters. I'm also not sure if it was meant to be an homage to the term "episode" in the TV world. She made several explicit references to How I Met Your Mother and Seinfeld so maybe that was the intention. Either way, I chose to believe it was and it added a little bit of extra enjoyment to my reading.

Toni Rae's story starts with a number of accounts of past boyfriends and describes herself as preferring "drastic spurts of change" and advises that we "make sure [we] are living with passion." All of which I found thoroughly relatable and hence enjoyed. I laughed, I cried, etc., etc. But in all seriousness her anecdotes felt genuine and told of her experiences ranging from most fulfilling to most frustrating and happiest to most heartbreaking.

She then takes a break from the ex-boyfriend stories (and only seldom goes back to them later on) and becomes a little preachy for my liking. She mentions being Christian early on but kept it dialed back for the first third of the book. In trying to be inspiring and motivating she references God far to much for someone not spiritual such as myself. It may have been because I wasn't expecting it or because it felt like it came out of nowhere but I struggled to make it through these episodes. I appreciated her trying to motivate and inspire her readers but I cannot be motivated to pray or find God and then when she cites TV characters as experts it was hard to keep taking her seriously. Coming from me, this is saying a lot since I self-proclaim myself as someone who "speaks in TV references."

When Rae does return to telling stories of past relationships she starts to come off as more and more naive and a little bit braggy and condescending. Her writing style grows more conversational which is meant to add levity and humor to the story, but instead makes her seem more juvenile. Surprising since she was older for these relationships and life experiences. She falls in love at the drop of a hat and describes these relationships as if they were going on for months or years and then we discover that they have broken up after a matter of weeks and oh-these-guys-turned-out-to-be-terrible one page after they were the most wonderful person she ever knew. What.?

She starts giving a advice about dating which I strongly disagreed with and since she really has yet to be successful at dating I will continue to disagree with. Most of the relationships she describes are whirlwinds of emotion that last weeks or a few months, and none have resulted in what she keeps "praying for" which is a husband.

She blames technology for increased instances of cheating and her perceived downfall of humanity. "...Technology effects present day faithfulness." Does it? Or does it help cheaters get caught? I could not be there person I am without technology. I could not have the job that I love. I could not connect to friends the way that technology allows me to. How could I take any amount of advice Rae is trying to give me when she hates things that are so important to me? While I know that there are people would whole-heartedly agree with her, I'm sure so many people feel exactly as I do. She does eventually admit that she has an appreciation for technology, especially how easy it made it for her to actually write her book, but because of the lengths she went to put down technology, it just feels hypocritical.

This may sound nit-picky, but it was really hard for me to stay on board with her as an expert-based-on-experience when I discovered that neither she, nor presumably anyone who edited her book, has taken a physics class. "He weighed about 180 and I weighed about 110, so of course he fell faster than I did." Nope. Not how gravity works, actually. I studied physics for three years before moving on to video production so this was a hard sentence to swallow. It was because she said "of course." Sorry, could no longer find Rae credible after this.

In so much of the book she is trying to lead by example by describing her philosophies and beliefs and quotes people telling her how wonderful she is for them. I agree with some of them but the overall result for me is that I feel like she must feel so superior to people like me. 

I almost lost if when she called me a sinner, "Because we are all sinners, we tell certain people certain things and then make sure those people or worlds never collide." First of all, this quote is from a paragraph about how people tell different lies to different people and blah, blah, blah, and that is not something I do at all. She admits that she used to lie all the time. But I (almost) never do. My worlds can collide all they want and my life will be exactly the same. I would never call myself a sinner, and resent being called one when it is not a thing I believe in. By her standard I am. I break commandments and commit sins... by christian standards. By my standards I am living. I am not hurting people by doing so and therefore do not consider myself to be the evil person she is saying I am.  This level of generalizing and preaching made finishing her story harder and harder to do.

Should you read "Once I Dated This Guy..."? I wouldn't say no. Especially if you are Christian or at least believe in God. If you are/do I would probably recommend it. I have a Christian friend who I would love to have read this book so that I can get her opinion on it. There were many parts I related to, agreed with, and drew inspiration from, "It is humanly impossible to have positive thoughts and be in a bad mood or state of sadness." I loved this thought and I will actually make a effort to take her advice on how to be a more positive person. And I 1 million percent agree about "Wo Code" (Woman Code) and that girls should stop sleeping with other girls significant others!

This book was just not quite what I expected, which was a bit disappointing after reading the first few episodes. I am an insanely literal person which is why so much of what Rae wrote made me want to grab her by the shoulders to shake some sense into her. But overall she is trying to inspire good in the world which I agree is needed. Just not necessarily in all the ways and extremes she thinks it is. She suggests we "Read a real book" to get back into nature. This is another thing that is hard for be to be on board with, in execution even though it is a good idea in theory, since I am very extremely environmentally conscious. Not cutting down trees to print "real" books is what's keeping nature going!

If you do choose to give "I Dated This Guy Once...," a shot, I advise that 1) e-readers are awesome and the "books" are cheaper and "greener" that way, and 2) keep the criticisms I cited in mind and use some suspension of disbelief if you are anything like me. 

About the author: Toni Rae was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. While at Park University, she earned a degree in Social Psychology. Rae taught English in South Korea for a year, which is where she began the writing of I Dated This Guy Once… For more information, visit www.IDatedThisGuyOnce.com.


  1. your review makes me want to go hate-read this. so i suppose that makes it a success for everyone?

    1. Ahahah I really wanted to like it. But just couldn't. Well the first three "episodes" were good? And I think the last one also?