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Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone Paperback – Bargain Price, January 20, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 Reprint edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061710733
  • ASIN: B0046LUF3G
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,089,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lisick has created a hilarious, knowing tale of a year of willing ridiculousness.” (San Francisco Chronicle )

“A witty, disarmingly earnest account of the year [Lisick] spent test-driving renowned self-help franchises.” (Entertainment Weekly )

not only hilarious but enlightening... Readers will be inspired: If a woman in a banana suit can clean her closet and pay off her credit card debt, surely you can, too.” (People )

“sweetly neurotic, funny and occasionally insightful.” (Los Angeles Times )

“wildly funny” and “a cross between David Sedaris and Susan Orlean.” (Seattle Times )

“Beth Lisick’s latest book is a wildly fun read that falls somewhere in between memoir and a Cliffs Notes guide to the self-help genre.” (Bust Magazine )

“A delightful, Plimptonesque exercise in immersive journalism...sharp, irreverent and endearingly screwed-up.” (Kirkus Reviews )

About the Author

Beth Lisick, author of the New York Times bestseller Everybody into the Pool, is also a performer and an odd-jobs enthusiast. She has contributed to public radio's This American Life and is the cofounder of the monthly Porchlight storytelling series in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

I understand that this is a personal account, not an expose, but really.
Ron Bassilian
Beth Lisick is an entertaining and very personal writer with a great sense of humor.
Adam Khan
Okay, she feels kind of weird about it, but she's going to try it anyway, kind of.
Rayna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By camille VINE VOICE on December 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wanted to like this book. I did. Being a skeptic of the self-help guru movement myself, I was eagerly anticipating the results -- hopefully acerbic! -- of a skeptic's indepth examination of ten different gurus from Richard Simmons to Suze Orman. The author promises to spend a year investigating ten different self-help programs to see if she can really change her life. The question is, does she really want to change her life? Or would she rather stay in her financially-painful, undisciplined comfort zone of a life?

The author was both less skeptical (drat! Not enough cynicism for me!) and not committed enough to actually trying to implement and test the gurus' advice. Her life is a mess both in terms of finance and focus, facts she cheerfully -- even defensively -- admits and also as she admits, ripe for some overhauling. Yet, she never fully commits to any of the (expensive) programs some of which not only might have helped her personally, but have made the book a better read. Her commitment to testing their theories was as vague as her focus in life. Her occasional forays into TMI territory (did we really need to know about her brief relationship with a pothead, every boring conversation and kiss included, while on a Richard Simmons cruise without her husband? How did that add to anything in the story? And worst of all, the incident wasn't even funny!) merely serve to distract us from the testing of the theories just as she uses these events in her life to distract her from actually accomplishing anything.

Some months the author's program report consists of a paragraph, but by the end of the year the author seems to lose interest in her investigation and in writing the story.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Quinley VINE VOICE on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My first reaction to seeing this book was that it was a rip-off - been there, read that, got the T-shirt. "Helping Me Help Myself" seemed to be a blatant copycat of Jennifer Niesslein's "Practically Perfect in Every Way." Both books involve young 30-ish married women in hip towns (Charlottesville, VA and Berkley, CA) with one little boy and husbands with unconventional jobs. Both take a month-by-month approach to improving their lives: financial, parenting, fitness, relationships, home organization, etc.

The kicker here is that Lisick decides to go straight to the gurus themselves, instead of just getting their books. Some of her "guru" choices are curious. For example, pursuing fitness by going on a cruise with Richard Simmons is like flying to Paris and eating a Big Mac at McDonalds. What? No Oprah, Dr. Phil or Dr. Ruth? A week in Tuscany to read a book about artistic creativity?? Come on!!

Incurring the costs of dabbling in each of these self-improvement ventures sounds like it darn near bankrupts her family financially. It's hard to afford these trips when one of your main jobs is wearing a banana suit, though maybe she could get a job with Fruit-of-the-Loom for future marketing efforts.

The result is a relatively entertaining, albeit somewhat self-absorbed, journey down the path of reputed self-improvement.

At one point, Lisick quotes Henry Miller,

"Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself."

Maybe she should ponder that quote a little more. "Forget yourself," indeed!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is thin material; it feels like a magazine article padded out to a (slender) book's length. And the approach bothered me. I would have appreciated a good, mean satire like Wendy Kaminer's I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help. Or I would have enjoyed a serious look at the various self-help fads. Instead, what we get is a paper-cup depth stand-up routine that is too timid to actually express a real opinion, or offend anybody. At the end we get a flaccid, "well, whatever gets you through the night" conclusion that left me feeling that as comedy or journalism this is pretty forgettable.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Molly P. on December 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On January 1, 2006, author Beth Lisick realized she wanted to make some life changes, so she set off on an inspiring and amusing year-long journey. In 'Helping Me Help Myself' she brings readers along for the ride. She is honest and doesn't mind poking fun at herself. (And she especially doesn't mind poking fun at others.)

The journey begins immediately and starts out slowly, and at times I wasn't sure what the author was going to learn or accomplish. But things start to get rolling around the "April" chapter, in which she goes on a "Cruise To Lose" and encounters the one and only Richard Simmons. The whole experience is fun to read about, and though I'm not sure how badly she needed Richard's help in the first place, it doesn't matter. How many of us have secretly wondered what happens on those cruises? It's like a tell-all, and it's fantastic. Richard Simmons has helped a lot of people, and maybe you can't afford to cruise with him, but you can afford to read this book.

Throughout the year (and the book), the author seeks help for various things, including disorderliness and hoarding, parenting, her financial situation, and success. She reads self-help books by leading gurus and attends seminars and conferences, then summarizes all the information she's gathered and puts it in simple terms for us readers, all the while adding her own insight and reactions. She is a funny writer, and while sometimes she goes off on tangents that don't seem relevant, she always comes back to the point.

'Helping Me Help Myself' was a worthwhile read, and after reading it once, I'm tempted to read it again. Several of the chapters didn't apply to me, but others did, and after reading those, I feel inspired to go out and make some changes in my own life. Thanks, Beth Lisick!
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More About the Author

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Beth currently lives in Brooklyn. In addition to writing books, she acts in independent films and occasionally performs in small theaters and comedy venues. She co-founded the Porchlight Storytelling Series in San Francisco, a monthly show that's been running since 2002.

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