APW Bookclub – For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage

Columns Editor Alyssa here!  And it’s APW Book Club time!

For the newbies, APW Book Club works like this.

  • A book is picked.
  • We read it.  (If you’re interested.  No pressure.)
  • On the designated day, a magical gathering of readers happens; wherein the book is discussed, cocktails and snacks are consumed and much merriment is had all around.
  • Then, we keep the party going online with a virtual discussion of the book.

{One time, the Baltimore Book Club went to a lingerie shop. I’m just saying.}

Our previous book club picks were Dan Savage’s The Commitment and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, and The Bitch In The House, edited by Cathi Hanauer.  This time, we took a vote and the winner was Insira’s suggestion, For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, by Tara Parker-Pope, with 78 votes!

I would like to just point out that the other choices that came in second and third were Marriage: A History (on the history of marriage) and Spousonomics (a book that applies economic theory to marriage). Out of all the books in the world that APW readers could nominate and pick, books on marriage and science, history and economics were the winners by a pretty good margin.  Once again, APW readers take gender stereotypes and kick them in their damn teeth.

{The Denver book club is sassy, as is Kristy at Moodeous Photography who took this}

With this month’s selection, we’re taking more of a (slightly) scientific approach to love and marriage. Tara Parker-Pope, a reporter and columnist for the New York Times, interviewed biologists, sociologists, neuroscientists and psychologists to try and discover the reasons that marriage can work.   By examining the science behind topics like sex, love, money, monogamy and housework, Parker-Pope takes what she learns on how human relationships works and tries to distill it into practical (yay!) advice for the rest of us.  Does she succeed?  That’s what we get to discuss…

(Fun side note from Parker-Pope’s bio: “In 2010, Tara won the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s media award for outstanding newspaper article for her report, “Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside.” A few months later, the story was cited by President Obama as influencing his decision to issue new rules for hospitals in their treatment of same-sex couples.” We’ll have to read the book to be sure, but I think she’s our people, y’all.)

The next order of business is to choose a date.

Now get to reading!

(Note: Need to buy the book?  All links in this post are associate links, which means if you buy the book by clicking through the site, you help support APW. Yay!)

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  • Oh this looks awesome! I am so in.

  • Just put my copy on hold at the library. w00t!

  • Alison

    Totally in! I hope there’s a Philly book club gathering!! :)

  • Yeah for another book club book!!!

  • at first I was a little sad we weren’t reading fiction this time. BUT. this book actually sounds awesome. and I think I voted for it haha. so YAY book club!

    • Yeah, I’m pumped to read this, but I hope that the fiction sugggestions were noted for a later date (and I’m definitely continuing to pimp my suggestion, “On Beauty” by Zadie Smith, which had close to the same number of votes as this one!).

      And I’m buying it this time because my holds never arrive at the library in time. Ottawa ladies, let’s get it organized!

    • meg

      We’re doing fiction next time, with a focused effort. This time the fiction selections were not the most well rounded group to pick from, so we’re going to do a fiction push.

  • Sarah

    Anyone know if the Hardcover and Paperback editions are actually the same? The subtitles are different.

    • Sarah

      The publisher says yes. New cover, new subtitle, added section of quizes. But it’s the same book.

      • Abbie

        Thanks! I was wondering the same thing!

  • EmilyJH

    Yay book ordered. I am looking forward to it!

  • tuffbunny

    These dates are way too soon to my wedding for me to participate, but I’ll definitely pick up the book to read on my own later. Looks great!

  • Johanna

    Oh darn – I missed the last one b/c I found the APW website too late, and now I’m going to be out of the country for this one… Oh well, I can read the book and then the blogged wrap-up of events!

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Out of the country… and in what country? There are international APW book club meetings too!

  • Don’t pick my wedding day! I actually have time to read the book now and I can’t wait to read this particular book. Pick the first weekend pleaseeee.

    • Jo

      Hey, if most groups pick the later date, maybe your book club could do the earlier one?

  • Tara’s a great writer. Good choice, APWers.

    That’s so close to my wedding! Maybe if we do it the last weekend I could do a book club in Memphis! (since there’s never anyone else in Knoxville to hold one)

  • Veronica

    Oh, this is available on the Kindle! Hooray! I needed something to read on my flight this weekend.

    I’ll see yall at the New York book club. I’m moving back to the city on Saturday and am excited to make new friends!!

  • Bummer! I’ll be missing most of these due to weddings… Unless the Houston chapter of APW doesn’t mind me tagging along for one?

    • I’ll be in Portland (OR) the first weekend, and I totally plan on crashing if it gets scheduled then!

    • Jo

      DO IT! APW book club crashing is Ze Best.

      • Yep- Jo crashed ours in Cinci and we were THRILLED! Just do it.

      • Denzi

        Marj crashed ours in ATL, and ended up being one of two people who showed. So sometimes book club-crashing means the book club happens at all. So doooooooo iiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

    • Yes! Come! You will probably not forget your camera battery like some people (me)…

  • I love studies that look at why things work rather than why they don’t. So many of the psychologists I study looked at mentally not well people to form their theory. Only a small handful based their theories on people who were mentally well. It makes such a difference in the application and effectiveness of the theory I think.

    So it’s exciting to me that we’re going to read a book about why marriages work rather than what’s wrong with them.

    • Kim

      Totally agreed! I took a class where they talked about “Positive Psychology,” which (in my impression, forgive me if I’m totally misrepresenting it) is all about applying psychology to make a “normal” life better (in as much as there is such a thing as normal). It’s apparently an emerging field, so here’s hoping there will be more of it coming around.

      Side question – I want to use an associate link to buy the book, but it only links to the hardcover. If I go from there to the paperback does that still support APW or if not, can we get a link to that?

      • Katie in DC

        Oh shoot. I just bought the kindle version after clicking on the affiliate link, I didn’t even think to check. I hope it counts.

      • meg

        Yup! Actually anything you buy on Amazon once you click through, we get 6% on. Once someone bought a laptop, which was very exciting. Salaries were paid, lemmie tell you ;)

        • WOAH. Hold the phone. Do you know how much I buy on Amazon? Girl, you are gonna get PAID now that I know that it’s not limited to just the APW bookclub book.

          • meg

            Just click through on my “blogs and books” page, on any book, any time you shop, and APW WINS!

        • I had no idea it wasn’t limited to just stuff you showed on the site! Lady, I buy so much camera stuff from Amazon… I’m going to start using the affiliate link from now on, always. Gee!!

          • Class of 1980

            DITTO. Had. No. Idea.

          • Cool! It’s like a win win. Only don’t laugh when I buy the cheap internet pregnancy tests on Amazon.

        • Katie in DC

          So glad to know this! I do 99% of all my shopping on Amazon, happy to click on through here first!

        • ashley

          Great to know. I will bookmark this page, so I can always return to click through and buy all future Amazon purchases!

        • Do you think there’d be any way to make Amazon Canada links in future? I’ll probably try and get it locally, but I do occasionally use Amazon for hard-to-find books, and it would be fun to support APW that way. There doesn’t seem to be any link-through to the Canadian site, though…

        • Marchelle

          I don’t suppose you have this affiliate thingy with Amazon.co.uk, do you?

  • Julia

    How is Dashboard able to tell our location? Does it know from the IP address?

    • Jo


    • meg

      Correcto. I know all your locations, for example :)

      • It’s how I can tell that my mom checks my website at least five times a day. I told her we could set it up for her so she’d be notified when new stuff comes up so she doesn’t have to check it so often, but she doesn’t want that. She says it’s like Christmas for her when she suddenly finds something new.

  • Can we have a meetup in Rochester, NY? I’m happy to organize!

    • Sara

      Or maybe between Rochester and Buffalo?

      • That works for me!

        • Jessica

          I am totally in if you guys do something! I’ve been waiting for someone ELSE in the WNY area to read APW- just don’t pick June 11th cause I have pre cana that day!

          • I think 3 is a meetup! Let’s do it. If we have less than 8 I can host at my place (It is pretty small) in Rochester. Or we can meet in Batavia – I think that is halfway between Roc and Buf.

          • Sara

            YES sounds great! Anywhere between here and there is good.

  • The poll isn’t showing up for me, but I am excited to read the book nonetheless!

    • There it is! First weekend, first weekend, first weekend!

  • anonymous

    I searched for this on my local library’s website, and got the automated suggestion that maybe I meant “fir better Thea sciences if AI goody marriages.”

    But I’m pretty sure the book club already did that one…

    • ElfPuddle


  • Other Katelyn

    Sweet. I will pick it up.

    Side note to the APW reader who mentioned “Crossing To Safety” by Wallace Stegner: I’m reading it now, and completely mesmerized. Thanks!

  • Another Alice

    Oof, first weekend is wedding shower, half marathon, birthday. Second weekend pleeease!

    • Denzi

      Seriously. First weekend I am in Columbus, OH for my fiance’s brother’s graduation. Ooooh, unless I could crash a Columbus meet-up…is there a Columbus meet-up?

  • ElfPuddle

    I’m in. And this time, Georgia ladies are going to get it together, even if y’all have to sit in my family room!

    • Denzi

      Second weekend! Second weekend! (It will happen. We had a 2-person meet-up last time, but it happened!)

      • I would have come last time but it’s hard to skip a baby shower for your own baby! I’m totally in for June… I voted for the first weekend, but if our group needs to meet up the second weekend I’m down for that too.

  • Katie in DC

    I can’t till I move from “pre-engaged” to engaged (hopefully this summer, we’re going ring shopping in 3 weeks!) so I can start coming to these book club meet ups. I’ ve really enjoyed the other picks thus far, and am going to go order this one right now.

    • 1. Congrats! Enjoy ring shopping!
      2. You can totally go as a pre-engaged lady, duh.
      3. But you’ll have to get past our bouncer, Felipe.

      • Katie in DC

        Thank you! I’m very excited…to go to the book club meeting (okay ring shopping too!), I’m pretty sure I can take Felipe.

    • meg

      Yeah, why on earth wouldn’t you come? That’s just silly!!!

    • Dear Katie in DC,

      We expect to see you at our next meetup, as they are super duper awesome. We had at least 2 people there last time who were not engaged.

      Felipe is not so tough, but we find him necessary to keep away the creeps who keep asking us if we are discussing Sex in the City.

      • bahaha right?? definitely need a Felipe for teh creepz.

        Katie! if you haven’t already, please search facebook for “APW-DC” and add in to the group! there’s a happy hour this Weds if you want in on that.

    • I’m totally “pre-engaged” and probably will be for at least a year. I understand feeling a little strange about being in that spot, but I went to the last book club and felt *completely* welcomed, and like I could add to the discussion and fit in fine. It was a great experience, and I hope you make it out to the next one, too!

  • Libby

    Oh, this is awesome! How do I hook up with the Denver gals??

    • meg

      That will happen a bit later, on Facebook.

      • Libby

        Thank you!

  • And the excuses for not finding my Kindle, which has inexplicably disappeared in my house, are gone.

    • Cass

      If only the Kindle version wasn’t (for some reason) more expensive than the hard copies.
      I will probably get the Kindle version anyway, because it’s environmentally friendly, convenient, and I can start reading it right away.

  • Anne

    Am I the only one who’s kind of ready for my wedding to be over so I don’t have a wedding related conflict for EVERY FREAKIN APW book club?? Just me?

    • carrie

      Nope. June 4 is the day in the lead and it’s my shower. Awesome for me, yay! But sad to miss book club, boooooo.

  • I may actually get to go to one of these finally and the book sounds great!

  • I think I’ve got to take a break from marital non-fiction for the moment. Too many of those makes me kind of crazy, and I’ve read too many :) I’ll jump back in for the fiction next time. Have fun ladies!

  • Olivia

    Nice pick. I enjoy her columns.

    Would anybody be interested in a meet up in Switzerland? I’m in the Zurich area, but could travel within reason.

    I know the “where” gets sorted out on FB later, but I’ve never seen anything near me, and wanted to put some feelers out.

    • meg

      Well, we had 350 visits from Switzerland last month. So! There must be some people!

      • Olivia

        Really? Cool! Can you tell if they were independent visits? Because otherwise, for all you know, I just check the site extremely compulsively.

        • meg

          I couldn’t figure out how many people it was. Not for lack of trying, I’ll tell you what. 25% were new visits though, and they were scattered around the country. So unless you’ve been traveling a lot and acquiring new computers regularly, it’s not just you ;)

          • Olivia


  • Kathryn in VT

    Fantastic! I’ve been wanting to read this for a long while now, and can’t wait.

    Any Vermonters in the APW bunch? I’d be happy to host, if there are, or we could rendezvous in BTV. Otherwise, I may just have to schedule that trip down to New York to see friends to magically coincide with the book club weekend…

  • I’m really hoping for weekend 2, because weekend 1 is just not possible for me. (Sadness!) But, weekend 2 is up in the air, too … damn, and I was the one who suggested this book, too! :)

  • Brenda H

    Well I went and voted. :) I’m sure all the logistics will get sorted out on Facebook later but I’m curious – any other APW readers near Edmonton, Alberta?

  • cartascartas

    Crossing my fingers for the second weekend because I’ll be on my HONEYMOON (!!!!!!!!!!) for the first. :-D

    Can you guys tell I just realized this and got very excited? haha

    Also, I’ll be making all my future Amazon purchases through APW. Starting with this book!

  • Maria

    Yay! Another book club in time for the end of the semester. And it’s available in a Nook edition.

  • This looks good! I hope I can make it. We’ll just see… (depends on the closest meet-up, and I can’t host it) So here’s hoping!

  • Bought the Kindle edition through your link! I might not be able to go to a book club because on of the dates is my shower, but I look forward to the online discussion at least.

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  • Ohhhhhh, I am torn over these dates. I am SO excited to finally organise a Scottish APW book club meet-up at last, and cannot wait to finally meet all the fabulous APW ladies I’ve been chatting to from round these parts recently – but if it was ONE DAY LATER, I could have gone to the San Francisco one! Which seems like the APW mothership, you know?

    Not to worry – APW Scotland here we come!!! Yay!

    • meg

      Oo! Email me. We can do a meetup of sorts for you, I’m sure.

      • KMA(C)

        Ooh yes please! (Assuming that would include some of the rest of us… whoops). I may have to miss the sf one, too (for the “shower” at which neither my partner nor I has ever met any of the guests…ahem…) but always love an excuse to meet more awesome APW women!

      • For reals?? Ok now I am doubly excited!! (As you can tell from the double punctuation!!)

  • I know there is usually an LA/OC meet up but I was wondering if anyone lives in the Valley, Calabasas, Westlake/TO area?

  • Marlo

    Dear Vancouver,

    Lets get together this time!

  • Wynne

    Any Pittsburgh-area APWers interested in meeting up?

  • Hooray! Thanks for the looonnnnggg in advance date. For us teachers (and all the other crazy peeps out there) the way in advance notice rocks the house.

    And I am SO damn excited about this book!

  • Amy

    Any Colorado (vail) area apw folks. I’ll be out that way on my own for a few days this august and I’d love some company for a meal or drinks!

  • Katie

    I’m excited for this Tara Parker-Pope book, and I’m also excited for fiction in the next round. BUT! My husband, a lawyer put this book Public Vows on my nightstand a couple of months ago, right after we got married, and I really wanna make myself read it. He swears it’s excellent, and he also thinks it’s good book club fodder. Someone else (I can’t remember who) nominated it this round, but I guess it wasn’t in the top three. Time after next! I’m going to lobby for it!

  • Manya

    Is there a Nairobi chapter (perchance to dream?)

    • anna

      I wish I could be in the Nairobi chapter! One day!

    • I’m the next country down in Tanzania… but won’t be around by June! Pole Sana

  • Paranoid Libra

    Any APWers near the capital region of PA to save some gas from going to another book club?…hey its really getting friggan pricey. It also looks like I might be working on getting to really plan a wedding instead of feeling a little crazy trying to figure out a budget before I have a ring on my finger, so I needs to save all the money I can.

    …my boy blurted to me that he has until weds, can’t lie started shaking when he said that. Although knowing the officialness is around the corner definitely spikes a bit of anxiousness. eeeee

    • Hold up – are you saying you are going to get officially proposed to between now and Wednesday? Cos if so, that is SO EXCITING!!! Congratulations! And a little bit of Good Luck too – even though I knew it was coming, in fact maybe because of that, I found getting engaged a pretty overwhelming experience. Wonderful, but overwhelming. Enjoy it!!

      • Paranoid Libra

        Yes and thank you.

        ….aaaannnnd our friend is a pro photog so I’m dealing with damn it I need to make sure I look good at all times incase this is done where the friend is secretly hiding and taking pictures. Sooo I need to make sure all my nice figure flattering clothing is clean and ready to be worn instead of the stuff I feel like I look like a blob in.

        • Eek, that is a whole added level of pressure – it’s hard enough trying to act cool at a time like this without having to worry about looking good at the same time! You know what though? You’ll look so flipping happy that you could never look anything but beautiful, no matter what you’re wearing.

          Hope we’ll get to hear how it goes!

  • Ohhh – any NYS Capital Region APWers? I know we had a meetup last time (but I couldn’t attend)…let’s do it again! (cause I can attend every single one of those dates!)

  • Geepuff

    Any southern APWers out there? possibly ATL or B’ham area?

    • Denzi

      ATL REPRESENT! :D (We organize deets later on Facebook.)

  • Rowany

    I’m really excited to read this book! Even if I might not be available for the book club when I’m on my OB-Gyn rotation. :-(
    Given the book’s topic, I was wondering: are there ever any men in these book clubs? There are at least SOME male readers on the site, and of course many readers have male significant others. I feel like an open discussion among multiple couples and people from both sides of the relationship would give more insight, particularly since it’s so rare (at least for me) to have a group of couples talking about this kind of thing. And hey, maybe if you can’t make it to the book club, maybe your significant other can, and bring you back the deets? Just a thought.

  • Alex

    My husband (it’s been 1.5 years since we “graduated,” and I’m still reading APW!) bought a copy of this book when it came out, and we both read it. I highly recommend it for anyone getting married or just in a long-term relationship. It really made me pay attention to the little things I can do every day to strengthen our relationship. Plus it includes (spoiler alert) awesome and horrifying statistics about how many people whose partners snore end up with permanent hearing loss in one ear…not to be missed.

  • Sadie

    Guys! how do I find a book club (Raleigh/Durham)???

  • liz


    and yes. i plan to attend. even though i’m a silent member of APW these days. (sry)

  • melissa

    I can’t wait to be done with the awful class I’m taking so I have time to participate in the next book club!!

  • Edelweiss


    I’d love to go, but can’t see any poll or dates displayed? Should I try another browser, or did you close the poll and will let us know dates later? (I’m on the Jersey Shore – could do NJ, NYC or Philly)

    • Edelweiss

      Nevermind! Logged in on Firefox when I got home and it worked!

  • Hurrah! Anyone in Dublin (Ireland) who’d take part there?

    • Caroline

      Definitely! I think there are a couple others too!!!

  • Well, I’ll definitely have to read this, but if the meeting is the on the 4th, I’ll have to miss it as that is the day my husband and I get back from our belated honeymoon!

  • Aw, I clicked through to the map view, and I’m the only one in my state (so far) who’s voted. Bummer!

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