Synopses & Reviews
Based on a popular New York Times
article, a hilarious and compulsively readable memoir by a former Second City writer who combats his Asperger Syndrome and reinvents himself by creating a list of “best practices” to manage his quirky behavior and try to save his marriage.
At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, what is wrong with my husband’s brain?! In David Finch’s case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years into his marriage, David and his wife Kristen learn that he has Asperger Syndrome, an autism spectrum condition characterized by egocentricity, unusual and sometimes repetitive behaviors, and impaired social reasoning. The diagnosis explains David’s life-long quirks, his difficulty socializing, and his need for things to go according to plan. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.
Determined to change that, David embarks on an ambitious journey to understand and rein in the symptoms of the disorder which have wreaked havoc on his marriage. With the analytical fervor typical of an Aspie and with Kristen’s patient help, David compiles a list of best practices—hard-won epiphanies that arise from fights, from self-reflection both comic and painful, and once from watching SportsCenter: “be her friend first and always,” “use words,” “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s life,” and “laundry: better to fold and put away than to take only what you need from the dryer.” Over the course of two years, the Journal of Best Practices leads David to surprising insights, transforming him into a better husband, father, and all-around better guy… albeit one who sometimes quacks in public.
Wickedly funny and undeniably winning, The Journal of Best Practices offers a unique window into living with an autism spectrum disorder and proof that a true heart can conquer all, even the brain.
"Few people would consider the moment they are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a positive moment in their life, but for Finch it was a blessing in disguise. At the point he found out about his condition, which he describes as 'a relatively mild form of autism,' his five-year marriage to his wife, Kristen, was crumbling under the weight of his idiosyncrasies ('lining certain items up,' 'lightly touching objects in a particular way,' needing 'things to go as planned') that controlled Finch's daily life and made it impossible for him to be the type of father and husband he or his family wanted him to be. But after gaining an understanding of what he needed to 'overcome,' Finch, who wrote a well-received article for the New York Times about his disorder, begins the long process of learning how to manage the 'egocentricity' and 'relationship-defeating behaviors' associated with Asperger's. Finch's main weapon in his fight against his own brain is what he calls 'The Journal of Best Practices,' a notebook in which he keeps track of concepts, hints, lessons, and reflections that help him deal with and even conquer the manifestations of his disorder. In relating his story, Finch is compellingly honest, a trait that works well with his self-deprecating humor. There are points when the 'best practices' are repetitive, but of course that is the nature of Asperger's syndrome, and Finch's ability to put his experiences on paper will no doubt help more people and families understand this oft-misunderstood disorder." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“David Finch has Asperger Syndrome – a disorder that, in some ways, means ‘acting like a guy.’ His often-hilarious efforts to understand and cope with his condition will resonate with every guy whose wife has ever asked him, ‘What the hell were you THINKING?’”
--Dave Barry, author of I'll Mature When I'm Dead: Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of Adulthood
“I loved The Journal of Best Practices
by fellow Aspergian David Finch. This book perfectly captures the essence of succeeding at married life from the perspective of an Aspergian male. If you're in an AS-NT relationship—or any relationship--you absolutely must read this book! It's an upbeat and refreshing change.”
–John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In the Eye
“Hilarious. Gives some of the finest explications of Asperger’s out there… a primer of sorts for all of us on how to be better partners.”
--People Magazine, 4-star review
“What makes the book compelling is how funny Mr. Finch is about himself. He’s great company.”
--The New York Times
“Extremely amusing and compelling…This poignant memoir is a great read for those with Asperger Syndrome and the neurotypical alike.”
"A remarkable love story and a fascinating account of how two people saved a marriage."
"Funny, moving and insightful."
“In relating his story, Finch is compellingly honest, a trait that works well with his self-deprecating humor. [His] ability to put his experiences on paper will no doubt help more people—and families—understand [Asperger’s disorder]. “
“In this funny, endearing, lesson-packed memoir, Finch shows what a couple
can accomplish with acceptance, forbearance, determination and love.”
— More Magazine
“As a science writer who’s written about the psychology of love and affection, I was struck by the clarity and honesty that illuminate this work. Finch provides a clear and unflinching look at the ways that this disorder leaves a person struggling to navigate through the complexities of our “neurotypical” social world. But he tells his story with humor, affection for others, and without self-pity. In his deep desire to be a good husband, a better father, a decent human being who connects with and care for others, Finch tells a universal tale, a fulfilling and even inspiring story of the difference that love - genuinely giving love - can make in our daily lives.”
--Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook
A warm and hilarious memoir by a man who combats his Asperger's by implementing "best practices" that change his behavior and save his marriage.
At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What the @#!% is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch’s case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.
Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger syndrome and learn to be a better husband— no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter’s, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism-spectrum condition makes seeing his wife’s point of view a near impossibility.
Nevertheless, David devotes himself to improving his marriage with an endearing yet hilarious zeal that involves excessive note-taking, performance reviews, and most of all, the Journal of Best Practices: a collection of hundreds of maxims and hard-won epiphanies that result from self-reflection both comic and painful. They include “Don’t change the radio station when she’s singing along,” “Apologies do not count when you shout them,” and “Be her friend, first and always.” Guided by the Journal of Best Practices, David transforms himself over the course of two years from the world’s most trying husband to the husband who tries the hardest, the husband he’d always meant to be.
Filled with humor and surprising wisdom, The Journal of Best Practices is a candid story of ruthless self-improvement, a unique window into living with an autism-spectrum condition, and proof that a true heart can conquer all.
About the Author
David Finch grew up on a farm in northern Illinois and attended the University of Miami, where he studied Music Engineering Technology. In 2008 he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. His essay, “Somewhere Inside, a Path to Empathy” appeared in The New York Times and became the basis for this book. David lives in northern Illinois with his wife Kristen and two children and is still a total nerd.