Non-fiction and Humor Books by Merry Bloch Jones

Non-fiction

StepmothersSTEPMOTHERS: Keeping it together with your husband and his kids

(Birch Lane Press, 1992, with Jo Ann Schiller)

Stepmothers is for and about wives in today’s atypical families. Fifty-two women candidly share their experiences, unanimously admitting that their new roles brought them unexpected struggles and unanticipated frustrations. The private problems they face vary; for some, the births of their own children initiate jealousy in stepchildren. For others, their stepchildren seem determined to undermine their marriages. In recounting their experiences, these women lay out the facts of daily life as stepmothers, involving changes in routines and lifestyles, territorial squabbles, legal and financial issues, the often double-edged presence of the ex-wife, co-parenting problems, religious conflicts, discipline disputes and—diciest of all—her kids vs. his kids vs. their kids. This book compiles hard-won, homespun wisdom, and it encourages stepmothers and their blended families to abandon expectations, finding their own unique blend of happiness.

Merry’s comments: “This was my first book, inspired by my marriage to a man with two children from a previous marriage. I was overwhelmed by the complexity and contradictions of my new role, confused as to how to handle it, completely unprepared. Talking to another stepmom, I found out I wasn’t alone. We teamed up, connected with other women in similar situations, and the result—for better or worse--was this book.

Birthmothers
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BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who have relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories

(Chicago Review Press, 1993and 2000; an Authors Guild Backinprint.com edition, www.iuniverse.com)

Although most of know families who have adopted children or people who are adoptees, few of us know much about the third side of the adoption triad: the birthparents. BIRTHMOTHERS attempts to change that. Even today, fifteen years after its release, it remains one of the only published books devoted solely to the experiences of women who surrendered babies for adoption. It follows their lives from the discovery of the pregnancy through the subsequent decades—even sometimes through reunions, and it identifies The Birthmother Syndrome, a pattern of behavior and emotions resulting from surrender. With sincerity and heart-wrenching candor, it reveals the stories of the often invisible side of the adoption triangle, and it touches everyone involved in adoption, as well as anyone interested in motherhood, family and the roles of women in our society.

Merry’s comments: In many ways, I think this is the most important book I’ve written. Granted, most of the women who contributed gave birth in times when open adoption was not an option, and when secrecy and stigma were the rule. Even so, this book is still finding new readers, and I still get letters from adoptees who say they feel better informed, and from birthmothers who say they feel validated and less alone after reading this book.

Humor

I Love Him But...
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“I LOVE HIM, BUT…” The things men do that drive women crazy!

(Workman, NY, 1995 and 2005)

Juicy as gossip, this bestseller reveals the unexpected and invariably hilarious things men do that drive their wives or girlfriends crazy. Collected from hundreds of eager-to-share women (first-names only!) from around the country, the book contains one yummy detail after the next, and makes women realize that, however annoying their own partners may seem, they could have partners who are a lot worse.

“He growls at the dog just to make it clear who’s boss.”
Eleanor, New Haven, CT

“He stands at the mirror, practicing what he calls his ‘sexy look.’”
Sylvia, Evanston, IL

“He asks blunt questions. ‘Pregnant, Sue?’ ‘Dyed your hair, Wanda?’”
Randie, Waukegan, IL

“Sex depends on sports. We have our best sex after he’s been watching sports with his buddies all day…If the team wins, sex will be great. But if it was a bad game, forget it.
Patsy, Houston, TX

Merry’s comments: It was so much fun writing I LOVE HIM, BUT… If you ask a woman for a story, she’ll give you ten. Often, it was hard to get women to stop, and the interviews left us rocking with laughter, choking on our coffee.

I Love Her But...
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“I LOVE HER, BUT…” The things women do that drive their husbands crazy

(Written with her husband, Robert Llewellyn Jones, Workman, NY, 1996

From men around the country come a response to “I LOVE HIM, BUT…” This book is a warm collection of grievances about women’s quirks, foibles and idiosyncracies as perceived by the men who love them. It’s a funny, revealing take on women, marriage and human nature.

“She leaves the seat down.”
Mark, Vail, CO

“She wakes me up at night to tell me her dreams.”
Lew, Concord, NH

“She’s obsessed with thigh flab. She measures her thighs with a tape.”
Ari, New York, NY

Merry’s comments: The publisher insisted that my husband work with me on this one; he didn’t believe that men would be candid about their girlfriends and wives if they were talking to a woman. It had to be guy to guy. So, my husband helped me gather a lot of the material, but, frankly, much of the time, I didn’t see the humor. I mean, poor lady with thigh flab. And of COURSE she wakes him up to tell him her dreams. Who else is she going to tell? And the toilet seat SHOULD be down. I mean, right?

Bus Stop“PLEASE DON’T KISS ME AT THE BUS STOP!” Over 700 things parents do that drive their kids crazy

(Andrews McMeel, Kansas City, 1997)

A collection chockfull of kids’ candid, often insightful thoughts on the ridiculous rules, bothersome behaviors and mortifying moments they endure at the hands of their clueless and well-intentioned parents.

“My mom trims my dad’s nose hairs. Right in front of us.”
Tory, 9, Tallahassee, FL

“Whenever company comes over, they want me to play the violin for them. I don’t know who hates this more, me or the company.”
Sue, 11, Rochester, NY

“They’re Trekkies.”
Carson, 17, Des Moines, IA

Merry’s comments: I love this little book. There is so much honesty and insight in it. And, often, kids know much more than their parents suspect. It was fun talking to the young people who contributed, even if it was sometimes mortifying to see life from their points of view.

Best Friend“IF SHE WEREN’T MY BEST FRIEND, I’D KILL HER!” Almost 600 ways women drive their girlfriends crazy

(Andrews McMeel, 1998)

In this painfully honest paperback, women confess that, even though they love their best same gender friends, sometimes those same dear friends make them want to tear their hair out. In priceless, often laugh-out-loud quips, women speak candidly about the grating behavior of their pals, revealing the good, the bad, and the funny of female relationships.

“Every time she passes a mirror, she poses. Puckers the lips, sticks out the chest. Fluffs the hair. Not that she’s vain or anything."
Sally, 22, Phoenix, AZ

“Erika’s a vegetarian, but not for health reasons. It’s because she believes in reincarnation. I can’t eat a cheeseburger or a pork chop without her wondering aloud if I’m chewing on Grandma Sylvia.”
Andrea, 25, Ft. Wayne, IN

“She tells me I’m wasting electricity and turns off my lights. She walks through the house, shutting off the radio, the TV, the coffee pot. Whatever’s on. She leaves and there I am, in a dark silent apartment. With cold coffee."
Peggy, 31, San Francisco, CA

Merry’s comments: This is another book that is painfully honest, and it unapologetically reveals the flip side of friendship. The friends who know us best also know our faults. And sometimes they have trouble tolerating them. Apparently, love isn’t always blind.

America's Dumbest DatesAMERICA’S DUMBEST DATES, Over 500 tales of fumbled flirtations

(Andrews McMeel, 1998)

Five hundred of the most moronic moments, blockheaded blunders and clumsy catastrophes that have occurred during attempted courtships.

“Over cocktails, he declared that he was still only separated, not divorced, that he had herpes and had had a vasectomy. Then he said, ‘Now tell me about you.’”
Vera, 31, Annapolis, MD

“George stared at me all through dinner. Then, all of a sudden, splat—he plopped forward, smack into his enchiladas, dead drunk. When the waiter sat him up, there were refried beans hanging from his nose and his glasses were still in the enchiladas.”
Faye, 27, Boulder, CO

“I was nervous and felt awkward. I turned to scratch my nose and his kiss landed on my eye.”
Iris, 47, Naples, FL

Merry’s comments: A book like this explains why so many of us are married.

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