September 12, 2009

Helping Me Help Myself, by Beth Lisick

I don't like gimmicky books: ones that take a conceit like, "I'm going to do this one thing for this period of time and write a book about it." A.J. Jacobs is the king of this. He's written one book about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica for a year, another about following the rules of the Bible for a year, and has a new one out about being a human guinea pig, no time period specified. So when I picked up this book that Brie recommended and saw that it was about following self-help gurus for a year, I was a bit apprehensive.

Beth Lisick has some good things going for her: she has a happy marriage and a great kid, she's a published writer, and she owns a house. But the house is a mess and falling apart, she never sees her husband, and their finances are extremely dire. So maybe some self-help coaching is called for. The plan was to spend each month of the year focusing on one area of her life and one self-help expert, but she skips the summer, giving 2 months a page each; a bit of a cop-out, I felt.

The book never dragged, and I laughed out loud in places, particularly when she took a weight-loss cruise with Richard Simmons. Lisick is commendably open about her life, and she's a good writer, but I didn't totally fall for this book. I'm open to reading her earlier non-fiction work, Everybody into the Pool, though.


brie said...

As you know I loved this book. I'll admit that part of why I loved this book was that I really related to Beth Lisick in a number of ways, so maybe I was projecting some weird type of pseudo-self-love! I dunno.

Thought I would let you know that Beth and a bunch of other ladies will be performing/reading live at Rhizome on October 10th. I wish I could be there!

Lydia said...

Oh man, I would totally go to that, but I'll be in New York.

brie said...

I just finished "Everybody into the Pool" and it was also great. It's different though, more memoir-ish and less gimmicky.