Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review: "Helping Me Help Myself" Beth Lisick

I've wanted to read this book since I read a glowing (and intriguing) review on Ragdoll's Blog. That was a long time ago. Once I figured out that simply wishing to read a copy would not make it magically appear, I ordered myself one from Chapters and finally got a chance to do some extra reading during the "great computer breakdown".

Basically, "Helping Me Help Myself" begins as the author, Beth Lisick, wakes up one New Year's Day morning and decides that she has nothing in particular to aspire to for the entire year (unless you count the fact that she wants to learn to do the splits by the next New Year's Eve). A little daunted by this, and knowing that there must be something that she can improve herself on, she decides to spend the next year following various self-help programs. It doesn't help that Lisick doesn't particularly like self-help gurus: she finds them slick and cheesy (don't we all, Beth, don't we all?) What follows is a hilarious summary of what happens when you put yourself in a different expert's hands each month for a year.

I loved this book. It was so funny, yet there were serious parts, and it seems that even Beth learned a little about herself and about others along the way. I loved the hilarious scenes when she goes on Richard Simmons' cruise, and I loved that her final chapter includes a section on Sylvia Browne, who I happen to believe is the real deal. I think what made this book resonate with me personally was that I found some similarities between Beth's year of discovery and myself. For one thing, I constantly try to improve myself (it's always something different, though- my attention span is short!) I'm always trying this new diet, or this new exercise program, or this new method to quit smoking. Although I haven't really accomplished that much, I have learned a lot about myself along the way. Even though I don't read a ton of self-help books (I've read a handful on parenting and a few that I could file under "miscellaneous"), I do find something that I can take from every one that I've read. In the end, I think that is the conclusion that Beth comes to: they may be slick, they may be cheesy, but every one of them has at least one good point. Thoroughly enjoyable, this would make a great summer read for anyone who's ever thought of improving themself even a little.

Up Next: Following on the heels of a book about self-help books, I read a self- help book! I've just started Chris Gardner's "Start Where You Are".


  1. This concept sounds very interesting! (And the Richard Simmons cruise sounds, frankly, hilarious.) I go through phases on the self-help thing, myself, so I can see why others do, too. There's something magical about thinking someone else can give us the perfect advice to transform our lives. J.J. Smith has writte a great self-help book, so to speak, on dating and relationships that chick lit lovers should enjoy -- it's "Why I Love Men: The Joys of Dating." And don't we all want relationship advice? It's very readable and straightfoward. It helps you not change for some guy, but celebrate who you already area, and thus get the best guy for you. Simple concept, isn't it? Maybe it would help our heroine of Helping Me Help Myself. (I can't tell from the review if she's single...)

  2. Beth Lisick is married to her hubby Eli, and has a four-year-old son. I'm with you, though, in the sense that I would love to see her do another book- another year of self-help! There are so many programs out there (Bikini Boot Camp anyone?) that I would love to hear more about. Thanks for stopping by, Liz!

  3. If a single woman wrote a funny book about a year spent following the advice in dating advice books, that's the sort of thing publishers would really go for.