Maybe You Should Talk to Someone was one of my best books of 2023. Even though I read it a few months back, the book is fresh in my mind. It made such an impact on me that I’m here writing a full review for the first time in six months.
about Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
Ever wonder what your therapist is really thinking? Now you can find out …
Meet Lori Gottlieb, an insightful and compassionate therapist whose clients present with all kinds of problems. There’s the struggling new parents; the older woman who feels she has nothing to live for; the self-destructive young alcoholic; and the terminally ill 35-year-old newlywed. And there’s John, a narcissistic television producer, who frankly just seems to be a bit of a jerk. Over the course of a year, they all make progress.
But Gottlieb is not just a therapist — she’s also a patient who’s on a journey of her own. Interspersed with the stories of her clients are her own therapy sessions, as Gottlieb goes in search of the hidden roots of a devastating and life-changing event.
Personal, revealing, funny, and wise, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone opens a rare window onto a world that is most often bound by secrecy, offering an illuminating tour of a profoundly private process.
Content warnings: Alcoholism, Cancer, Car accident (past), Child death (past), Death of parent (past), Domestic violence (mentioned), Grief, Mental health, Miscarriage (mentioned), Profanity, Suicidal ideation
When I first started the book, I was told that reading the book is a little like going to therapy. It is slow and may not be revolutionary in the beginning but it impacts you as you continue. And it’s true.
The book is structured like therapy. In the beginning, we are introduced to the author and four patients who started seeing her recently. Throughout the book, we go through highs and lows with all five of them. We get insights and advice into various types of behaviours. Towards the end of the book, we have enough compound knowledge to take the book’s words to our real lives. And at the end of the book, we read about the termination process in therapy. It also feels like the book is initiating the termination process with us, letting us go slowly.
The book gives us behind-the-scenes information on therapy. We read about how therapists are trained, how they learn, how their lifestyle changes due to their profession, and how they do their best to help their patients. And author specifically shows us how therapists are people with their own problems. At times, they require therapy too.
Sitting-with-you-in-your-pain is one of the rare experiences that people get in the protected space of a therapy room, but it’s very hard to give or get outside of it.
The author and her four patients were going through different situations but we see how there are underlying similarities between them. Therapists drive sessions based on relatability too. Patients might not know it but the therapist may be going through something similar.
The book also shows us how the surface-level issue is often not the problem to be tackled. There could be something underlying which is presented through the issue that we can see. Instead of just saying it, the book showed it to us through the author’s narration too as she struggled with her own issues.
The presenting problem, the issue somebody comes in with, is often just one aspect of a larger problem, if not a red herring entirely.
I first started this book as I was going into a slump due to work pressures. Because of my slump, I was able to read only three chapters of the book before putting it on hold for months. When my slump started to lift, I picked this up again. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone got me out of my slump.
While the book is non-fiction, it reads like fiction. The combination helps because I could read one chapter and find it satisfying and I could also continue reading because it was easy to read.
Each chapter was worth it because it had something specific to say or show. Especially in the second half of the book. I read one chapter every morning before starting my day and it was great. Because reading each chapter was worth it, I’d remember the contents throughout my day. I took the words and advice with me.
The book had so many accurate points and advice to say that I couldn’t help but bring out my annotations tools after a long time. For the first time ever, I used three methods of annotation. I highlighted sentences that were impactful, tabbed the lines that I want to look up and go back to, and wrote chapter summaries at the end with sticky notes. The summaries were longer for the chapters that I could relate to.
My paperback copy looks well-loved with all the annotations. It is a book that I will cherish and reread at some point.
We tend to think that the future happens later, but we’re creating it in our minds everyday. When the present falls apart, so does the future we had associated with it. And having the future taken away if the mother of all plot twists. But if we spend the present trying to fix the past or control the future, we remain stuck in place, in perpetual regret.
In summary, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a book about therapy but it is also about life. It is about understanding ourselves, getting through personal struggles, and healing. Not only does it show the lives of other people, it also gives us advice on how we can heal, grow and make our lives better.
I highly recommend this book to everybody. Especially if you’re a fiction lover who wants to start with non-fiction. This is a good book to start with because of the way it’s written.
quotes from Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
I know that I included a few above but there are so many good quotes in this book. There’s a reason it is one of my best books of 2023. And these might get you to pick up the book too.
If you go through life picking and choosing, if you don’t realize that “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” you may deprive yourself of joy.
Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible, steps we take along the way.
People want to be understood and to understand, but for most of us, our biggest problem is that we don’t know what our problem is. We keep stepping in the same puddle.
Part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.
It’s only in silence the people can truly hear themselves. Talking can keep people in their heads and safely away from their emotions. Being silent is like emptying the trash. When you stop tossing junk into the void—words, words, and more words—something important rises to the surface.
At some point, being a fulfilled adult means taking responsibility for the course of your own life and accepting the fact that you’re in charge of your choices.