If you have that one best friend, that delightfully close confidante who always gives you the best advice about everything from lifting your spirit out of the doldrums, to navigating today’s fraught dating scene, then you’ll know what I’m saying about my new best friend. Except, instead of being a person, my new go-to source about living life, is my (actual, real-life) friend Nathan Hale Williams' latest book, which is a compendium of his popular columns in Essence Magazine. Entitled The Girl's Best Friend: A Collection of Essays On Love, Life, and Sharing Your Light, this insightful tome had me turning its pages all through a long holiday weekend last month. Nathan, who is an accomplished writer, advocate, and filmmaker, was especially diligent about getting the manuscript out to me, and as I delved into the work, I was intrigued by the repository of practical knowledge he’d built up over the years. Of course, this book is also a fine follow-on to Nathan’s whimsical, but captivating, Ladies Who Lunch And Love, which was released a couple of summers ago. Both books examine the complicated dance we all must attempt in our interpersonal dealings, with our families, lovers, and most importantly, with ourselves.
Where Ladies is fictional, however, Girl’s Best Friend couldn’t be more real. It’s straightforward, provocative, yet written with an underlying tone of kindness and understanding which, by the way, also characterizes its author. But, I digress. Nathan has made the most of a long successful career as an entertainment-industry lawyer, and he’s produced some memorable works along the way, including the films Love For Passion and The Ski Trip, among many other notable movies and TV productions. In the pages of The Girl’s Best Friend, Nathan discusses self-care (“What are you doing for you?”), reminding me why I (and you) should get out of the “people-pleasing business”, dating (“we all know love can be a blinding thing”…**TRUTH**), relationships (he even notes what I think should be a cardinal rule—“don’t go to bed mad”), and that bugaboo we all must face around the Christmas or Chanukah table, our families.
As I took my diversion through Nathan’s writings, little snippets of my own life jumped out at me, as I should have expected. Without being preachy, Girl’s Best Friend is a gentle nudge in the ribs, reminding the reader of their own worth, and commiserating over life’s social hurdles, while also offering a kind of sensible, homespun guide to dealing with them. Borne of Nathan’s own journeys, including his on-camera exploits, such as the Sundance series Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, this book reaches out to engage your uncertainty about life’s core engagements, speaking to everyone, regardless of background.
Each of the Essence columns you find in the book, says Nathan, are based on his “experiences with [his] fabulous female friends”, and so give the volume a different flavor than other books in the self-help genre. While Nathan freely admits “the term ‘relationship expert’ scares me”, I got the overwhelming impression while perusing the collection, that he’s amassed an encyclopedic understanding of his topic. Aided by his “brother-friends” and “sister-friends”, Nathan imparts to us a new perspective on the care and steering of one’s own being, and gives us plenty to think about. If you’re looking for a unique holiday gift for a friend, relative, colleague, or even yourself (imagine that!), you can pick up this lovely read on Amazon, or at your favorite bookseller. Just tell ‘em it’s the other Nathan’s (me!) new best friend.