Read Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone by Beth Lisick Erin Bennett Online


Grappling with her lifelong phobia of anything slick, cheesy, or remotely claiming to provide self-empowerment, Beth Lisick wakes up on New Year's Day 2006 with an unprecedented feeling. She is finally able to admit to herself that she's grown tired of embracing the same old set of nagging problems year after year. She has no savings account. Her house feels unorganized a Grappling with her lifelong phobia of anything slick, cheesy, or remotely claiming to provide self-empowerment, Beth Lisick wakes up on New Year's Day 2006 with an unprecedented feeling. She is finally able to admit to herself that she's grown tired of embracing the same old set of nagging problems year after year. She has no savings account. Her house feels unorganized and chaotic. She and her husband never hang out together. The last time she exercised regularly was as a member of her high school track team almost twenty years ago. Instead of turning to advice from the abundant pool of local life coaches, therapists, and healers readily available on her home turf of northern California, Beth confronts her fears head-on. She consults the multimillion-dollar-earning pros and national experts, not only reading their bestselling books but also attending their seminars and classes. In Chicago, she gets proactive with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In Atlanta, she tries to get a handle on exactly why "women are from Venus," and in a highly comedic bout on the high seas of the Caribbean, she gamely sweats to the oldies on a weeklong Cruise to Lose with Richard Simmons. Throughout this yearlong experiment, Beth tries extremely hard to maintain her wry sense of humor and easygoing nature, even as she starts to fall prey to some of the experts' ideas, ideas she thought she'd spent her whole life rejecting. Beth doesn't think of herself as the typical self-help victim. But is she? ...

Title : Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 25951702
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 9 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone Reviews

  • Lena
    2019-06-10 09:46

    I was a big fan of Beth Lisick’s first memoir, Everybody Into the Pool. She’s smart and funny, so I figured her new book about a year she spent trying to improve her life through doing various self-help programs would be pretty entertaining. And it is entertaining, in parts. It was also kind of painful for me to read.Lisick describes herself as someone who would sooner be found making fun of self-help than plunking down hard-earned cash for a self-help book or workshop, so her first transformational task was to suspend her knee-jerk snarkiness in order to give the various programs she explores a fair shot. She's more successful than some at this task, and genuinely tries to find the pearls of wisdom in the works of self-help pioneers ranging from Stephen Covey to John Gray to Deepak Chopra. But she also has no problem poking fun at them along the way as she does things like use Jack Canfield's advice to ask for what you want to ask Jack Canfield for free coaching, a request which Canfield's office respectfully declines. As Lisick continues her tour by forking over the big bucks to attend various seminars and programs, however, I found myself having painful flashbacks to my own days as a self-help addict. Lisick conveys all too well the feelings of self-doubt that can creep up when you spend a weekend in a hotel conference room with well-dressed go-getters whose lives suddenly look a lot more together than your own (especially since, in her case, a chunk of her meager income is derived from freelance work involving a giant banana costume). Though self-help is supposed to make one's life better, it very often does so by making people feel worse about themselves so they are motivated to buy the next book, tape, seminar or e-coaching program they need to take things "to the next level."There is no question that Lisick did find a few genuine benefits to her explorations here and there—she followed Suze Orman's advice to lower credit card rates and developed a surprising appreciation for Richard Simmons on a week-long exercise cruise—but I finished the book feeling kind of like there wasn't really a there there. The concept suffered from similar problems to Jennifer Niesslein's memoir on the same topic—Lisick undertook this project as a tourist, not a self-help true believer, so she often wasn't engaged enough in what she was doing to fully engage me as well. In addition, it's just not that easy to make writing about reading self-help books interesting no matter how funny you may happen to beUltimately, though, I think the real problem comes down to the fact that Lisick's book feels slight because self-help itself is lacking in genuine substance. Sure, it may make you feel inspired for a few days after the workshop, but sooner or later we all just have to get back to living our lives as best as we know how. Fortunately, it seems like that's a fact Beth Lisick understands pretty well by the end of the book.

  • Imogen
    2019-06-03 07:01

    Okay. So. Firstly, if you read these book reviews I write, you know that Ithink I'm hilarious and interesting and want to talk about it all the time, right? And just have a theoretical reason ("my review") to do it? Well, Beth Lisick does that too! This book is ostensibly about her attempts to fix her life with self-help gurus, but really it's about how much of a mess she is and how funny she thinks that is. Which rules.Full disclosure: I have a crush on her. She came in with her son and signed some copies of this book at our store soon after it came out and I was like, oh! Well hello! Except that really I just didn't say anything to her. The specifics aren't really that important, except here are some weird coincidences: she writes about being grindingly, terrifyingly broke but still living like she's in the middle class; a trans woman; and Chuck Palahniuk, all of which have been things I've been interested in lately. AS WELL AS WRITING ABOUT COINCIDENCES. So... yeah. It would've been a four-star book, but it gets a bonus star for never really making fun of anybody. Like when she goes on the Richard Simmons cruise, she starts off by telling her friends to shut up about the fat white middle american idiot stereotype that comes with a Richard Simmons cruise, and THEN has nothing but nice things to say about him. Also Sylvia Browne and even Deepak Chopra. How great is that? This could've been 250 pages of cheap shots but instead it went someplace less obvious. I love that.

  • K
    2019-05-21 13:45

    Like many books I've read, the concept of this one was way better than its execution. In this memoir, Beth Lisick joins the ranks of Julie Powell, A.J. Jacobs, and others who take on a crazy one-year project and then write a memoir describing its influence on their day-to-day life and/or their long-term worldview. Lisick's project: to test out the self-help genre as well as the limits of her cynicism, and possibly even get her life on track, by trying to follow the guidelines of one self-help book every month for an entire year.A.J. Jacobs set the standard for this kind of memoir, and I suspect that had he written this, it would have been much funnier and more insightful as well. Unfortunately, while Beth Lisick's cynicism and snarkiness make her sound like a fun person to have coffee with, they didn't do justice to this project. I feel her cynicism prevented her from truly immersing herself in the various self-help projects she undertook, which detracted from the depth and quality of the book. And for all her cynicism, the book was not nearly as funny as it might have been. Perhaps a more earnest and genuine attempt to embrace the self-help guidelines would have made for a funnier book than this snarky perspective did. The book's quality was also limited by lack of focus. Aside from occasional irrelevant digressions about her family, the chapters tended to offer a lot of detail on Beth's experience of attending self-help conferences or lectures, particularly in terms of the other people she met there and her interactions with them as well as whether she was favorably or unfavorably impressed with the personality of the particular self-help guru. Less emphasized, to my disappointment, was her experience of learning and earnestly trying to adopt the particular self-help guidelines she was studying that month. She offered some summary statements about the self-help books themselves and a bit of her own commentary, but not much on what it was actually like to apply this advice and how it changed things for her, or didn't.Finally, I felt that many of the self-help books she chose did not offer a great deal of fodder. It would have been a lot more interesting to watch Beth try to follow the guidelines of The Surrendered Wife A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion, and Peace with Your Man, for example, or even "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk," than it was getting a vague sense of her attempts to unleash her creativity by writing down her dreams a la The Artist's Way A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.There are a lot of interesting things to ponder about the self-help genre and its popularity, and Beth occasionally offers up some insights in this regard, but those were few and far between. I will say, though, that this book inspired me to go out and read Sham How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, which my brother has been recommending for a while.

  • Morgan
    2019-06-04 09:07

    I really liked Beth's voice in this book--sounds like someone who I would love to be friends with. She's funny, self-deprecating, and has all manner of interesting insights. After reading the book, I wanted to look her up and invite her to have coffee so that the two of us could talk about parenting, lack of finances, and the problems of cleaning out our exploding closets.The book, though, is not that great. In fact, I'm just giving it a three because I like Beth the person so much. The book feels extremely half assed, like maybe she was just writing it because she needed the proceeds to fund a dishwasher or something. The idea is great, but Beth doesn't even see the year through, skipping two months all together and not exactly going in depth on a couple of the others. Part of me wants to do this experiment the way I felt it should be done the first time myself. But that's totally backseat driver of me. Anyway, I wouldn't exactly recommend this one, unless someone was just really interested in self help.

  • Mary
    2019-06-08 10:42

    Beth Lisick’s book, while an enjoyable read, sort of drove me mad. I worked for the same employer as Beth when I lived in San Francisco in the mid-90’s. I’ve seen her perform and knew her casually; she’s a nice person. So while reading this book, I had a fairly clear picture in my mind of the author and her voice. I don’t know if that helped or harmed the reading.The premise of the book begins with Lisick’s revelation, on New Year’s Day, that she has no discernible goals in her life, because she has always ignored all the things that bug her instead of trying to fix them. And why can’t she try to fix them? Because she is a self-help skeptic. For the sake of having something to write a book about, however, she’s willing to try to overcome her skepticism and improve her life through the power of self-help books and gurus. Lisick’s idea is to go to only the “big guys” in the world of self-help; by avoiding fringe players and scams, she would get advice from “universally recognized experts.” And she’ll spend one month on each, for a year.Lisick writes in her typical conversational storytelling mode. The book is diary-like in it’s retelling of daily events. In the first chapters, she walks the reader through the details of how she chose her first guru, Jack Canfield, and the next one, Franklin Covey. She summarizes Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and attends a Covey Convention. With humor and candor, she lets the reader get to know her and some of her problems. Next she chooses John Gray’s Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.This is where it starts to feel overly contrived to me. Going to recognized experts is one thing; selecting the most generic and cheesy of the bunch is another. Her next guru, Richard Simmons, is downright ridiculous. Not because Richard Simmons is ridiculous, nor do I have anything against him. But she goes on a weight-loss cruise called “Cruise to Lose.” For me, all of her personal confessions in earlier chapters were wiped away by the image of this tall, attractive, and very thin woman on a weight-loss cruise, who ultimately spent several evenings on deck smoking cigarettes. At the outset, her choice to go on this cruise has to do with “dealing with being on a cruise ship with a bunch of fat people from middle America.” Huh.While the cruise does make for an entertaining story, the rest of the book starts to feel forced. It reminds me of the scenario in Fight Club when the main characters attend numerous therapy groups (AA, OA, cancer survivors) although they have no addictions and aren’t cancer survivors. Like those characters, Lisick is faking it. Each of her guru/book choices are either too arbitrary or too huge—something that would take months to fully explore. So she breezes through each one with aplomb, but she is obviously just filling a quota. I was left with the sense that any true need Lisick had for personal change was kept far from the pages of this book. I kept longing for something that would make me believe she was on a genuine search. Most people are, I think, genuinely searching when they turn to self-help books or gurus.It must be the fiction lover in me that wanted her to undergo a change or have a revelation. It is absurd to think that spending one month each on 10 different self-improvement projects (she skips two months) would be a serious endeavor, but she seems to present it as serious. While her disingenuousness is little hard to take, most readers can probably forgive Lisick for just being in it for the ride because she does get some really good stories out of it.

  • Joanna
    2019-05-24 12:06

    Beth Lisick is funny. She's someone I would want to be friends with. And, impressively, she's able to convey this in print in a way that comes across as genuine and endearing rather than presumptuous or annoying. She opens herself to the reader in this memoir as she discusses her own shortcomings.The book itself is a fun concept -- exploring different self help books (and even guru conferences and such) during the course of a year. But the project was executed lazily and haphazardly in a way that ended up interfering with my enjoyment of the project. It's funny though, because the way the book project goes is representative of Lisick's personality and part of what makes her personally so endearing. If she'd been more rigorous in her self-help exploration, it might well have made her less accessible as a person.In any event, I enjoyed the book in a light reading sort of way. I didn't really learn much or have deep insight here, but I'm not sorry to have spent the nine hours that the audiobook took to listen to.

  • Carole
    2019-06-07 07:59

    I admit it, I read Beth Lisick because she makes me feel better about my life. (A garbage bag covering MOLD on the bedroom wall? REALLY?) She's funny and personable and I totally enjoy the time I get to virtually hang out with her, reading about her life. Loved her take on Richard Simmons and the minefield that is disciplining your kid. Loved the ahead-of-the-zeitgeist observations about Suze Orman. She really nails the "How to Win Friends" cult. But I call bullshit on the non-chapters about fashion and sex. COME ON. You're wearing house dresses with pit stains from Salvation Army and you dress as a banana for money. You need fashion help. And if I were your editor and you handed in an outline that included a chapter about your search for self-help in the bedroom, you best believe I would not let you get away with two mealy-mouthed paragraphs about how you and your husband decided you didn't need any help in the bedroom. B.S.! I say!

  • jess
    2019-06-03 11:47

    here are some of the reasons why i liked this book, presented to you as a numbered list:1. i like series. i appreciate the gesture towards applying the same technique or material in a multiplicity of ways. beth lisick tries on various self-help programs, each for one month, for the duration of one year. 2. this book is about setting aside irony & apathy. this is a matter of great interest to me.3. beth lisick is actually an entertaining writer. 4. there is a real effort to not be judgmental about the things that work for other people. 5. beth lisick describes sylvia browne as a seventy-year old courtney love. it was fascinating for me to watch beth lisick descend into the language and practice of the self-helpers. within a few chapters, she was "visualizing" and "affirming" like she had been doing it for years. i loved her wry sincerity and the efforts to actually be a better artist, more financially sound, life-affirming and successful. i loved loved loved the richard simmons stories, and the worshipful audiences of the gurus. there are constant reminders that these gurus are filthy rich, but there is examination of some of their human sides - canfield as a step-dad, simmons exhausted at the end of the week, sylvia browne's blond frizz. the tension between the two kept me engaged. lisick is pretty broke for much of the book, and spends time resenting these gurus & their millions. me too! framing chuck palahniuk as a self-help guru for the new generation -- a brilliant moment in journalism. if i could change anything, i would have made her write the self-help chapter on her sex life instead of copping out! that chapter needed to be written, dammit. beth lisick has history with sister spit, and i feel like this cultural anchor provided a specific viewpoint, which was apparent at every turn. i cannot imagine what it would have been to read this book if i didnt recognize her traveling-queer-spoken-word roots. aka you can tell she has hung out with michelle tea & company.all in all, a charming and quick read with a little tiny bit of insight into our own desire to be, or not to be, a better person. often clever, occasionally "laugh out loud" (LOL) quality humor.

  • Anne
    2019-06-02 07:51

    This is one woman's quest to become a better person through self-help guides and personal coaching gurus. Married in Berkeley with a 4-year old son, Lisick is a writer who moonlights as a banana and does various other odd jobs to barely pay the minimum on her bills every month. So, for one year she decides that each month she is going to pick one area of her life to focus on imporving - she will read the self-help books, but she will also, when possible, seek out the masters themselves by attending workshops. She flies to Chicago to attend a seminar for the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; focusing on her physical well-being, she takes a week-long cruise with Richard Simmons; she learns new parenting techniques; she draws financial advice fom Suze Ormon; and in my favorite month, she takes a photograph of every room in her house and consults a specialist in organization. Each month Lisick's self-help vocabulary grows, and while she abandons each project when her 30 days are up, she appears to carry small lessons from one month to the next. Lisick has a very good sense of humor, and while she is resistant to change, she is very aware of her personal problems. At times, she can be a bit crass, but this book actually provided me with a little motivation to organize my own closets and to be a little better about trying to make the changes I know I need to make in my own life.

  • Colleen
    2019-06-04 13:52

    Have you ever walked by the self help section of the bookstore and wondered, "would my life be better if I read some of this stuff instead of just scoffing at it? Are all those people really being helped by the secret?" The author of this book did with varying degrees of success. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about cruising the high seas with Richard Simmons. (I had just seen him on the Today show and I think that he sprayed his head with black stuff to make his hair seem fuller. Beside the point I know, but it was fascinating. That's what HDTV is made for.) I also loved the chapter about John Grey because what she discovers is exactly what I've always thought about him. The best part is that everyone keeps asking her if she's heard of the secret, and she doesn't want to spend $4.99 for it. We sell it for $29.99 and can't keep it in stock. Her story is interesting because she doesn't really buy into any of the ideas that she's trying, but she does them anyway. And, you don't have to read any of the books. She does it for you. A quick read that I really enjoyed.

  • Robin
    2019-05-31 11:57

    i suspect i would like beth lisek very much if i met her on the street...particularly if she were dressed in a banana costume. in fact, i have added her to my list of imaginary friends (a very select group of clever people which includes david sedaris, sarah vowell, ira glass, bill bryson, johnathan franzen, and nick hornby. that said, i was a little disappointed by this book. i like the premise, that ms. lisek would spend a year ernestly trying to improve herself through reading popular self-help books, but i was ultimately unconvinced that she truly dedicated herself to the task/for the whole year...and things really weren't sharp enough for me. it read like a watercolor rather than a snapshot and i was hoping for the latter. the exception to this was her Cruise to Lose, a richard simmons cruise. that such a thing exists amazed me. i want to go!!! the book had it's moments, and i would recommend it if you like self-depricating humor, but i wish she'd spent a little more time on it and taken the project further.

  • Angela
    2019-06-08 07:01

    After a self-loathing trip down the self-help book aisle, I've determined that focusing on interests outside of yourself is often the best help. This book pretty much takes the same stance and briefly analyzes the plethora of books in the self-help category and humorously chronicles Beth's adveture into that very same self-help aisle at the local bookstore. Overall, mostly comedy with a little bit of psychosocial wisdom thrown in...for good measure. It doesn't hurt that the author resides in SF so many references and points of interest are delightfully familiar. An outsider might miss some subtle nuances of references to SF quirks and locales, but doesn't take away from the material itself.

  • Amanda
    2019-05-28 08:38

    The writing was amusing at times and the anecdotes surrounding some of the gurus were entertaining. I take umbrage with the skeptic claim. Questioning some of the advice is not the same as being a skeptic. Skeptics research claims and provide support or refute. Nothing like this happened in the book.

  • Sarah Giles
    2019-06-15 07:39

    Written by cynic who had no intention of really implementing and taking to heart any of the programs she "tried". I truly felt like I took very little from the experience of reading this book. And its too bad, because the concept seemed like a great one!

  • Priscilla
    2019-06-07 11:01

    A humourous and engaging year she spent researching the self-help world. A light read.

  • Andrea
    2019-05-30 10:59

    Amusing spin on individuals who would never be caught in self-help, and what they might gain from it...

  • Laura
    2019-05-27 13:51

    A retelling of her journey though various self-help books and seminars, I enjoyed her dry, sarcastic wit. However I put it down after a large chunk where she poked fun at various religions, once is fine, but every paragraph felt like she was counting on the sensationalism to sell the book and it really put me off. Too bad, it seemed good through the first bit.

  • Christine Zibas
    2019-05-22 12:07

    Author Beth Lisick deals a serious blow to the self-help world in her hilarious new book, Helping Me Help Myself. With a slightly jaded eye, Lisick was never one taken in by gurus claiming to solve their followers' problems, despite her own home setting of San Francisco (a land abundant with life coaches and spiritual guides). Still, her own disorganized, slightly manic life had reached fever pitch, and in 2006, Lisick decided to try and conquer her problems (maybe even come up with a whole new life) by tackling a new problem (and self-help solution) each month.From her marriage to her messy house to her lack of exercise, Lisick brings along the ability to laugh at herself, even as she attempts one self-help program after another. From the best sellers of the business to their sponsored seminars, she takes on the most famous in the self-help business. From Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus to The Artist's Way to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, she reads and follows the self-help advice on offer. She exercises to the oldies with Richard Simmons aboard his Caribbean cruise, she has a personal consultation with organizing expert Julie Morgenstern, and she meets Jack Canfield on his home turf. Each encounter is funnier than the next.Although she thought she could remain above her experiment, Lisick finds herself succumbing to the experts' advice...well, at least some of the time. If nothing else, she determines that her problems may be even worse than she imagined before she started on this journey. Readers will find a sympathetic friend in Lisick and thank their lucky stars they don't have to go through such rigors themselves.Instead, readers get to sit back and enjoy the follies resulting from this self-help journey through the year. Lisick is the perfect foil: She can laugh at her own absurd steps to self-improvement, even while taking a gentler approach with the proponents of these methods. She opens up her dysfunctional life for her readers, and bares the messy basement any self-conscious reader would hide from the company. In the end, we get to know and like Lisick, and find that she's pretty great just the way she started out. Still, we wouldn't have missed the fun!

  • Trish
    2019-06-05 09:37

    I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't really it. I guess I thought it would be funnier, more mocking of the self-help stuff, since I think the attitude of the author is the same as mine and most people I know who were raised in a certain era, in a certian geography. Basically, Beth is a hipper version of myself, but I would have been way more judgey and sarcastic than she is. She makes such an earnest effort to keep an open mind in each area, which is laudable, but most of the sections just come down to her summerizing the philosophy of whatever she's doing that month. Kind of helpful if I was looking for a guide into which self-help guru I should try, but not totally successful as entertainment. By the end, I felt involved, because by then it seemed she was exposing a little more of her personal journey, and it did seem like she had learned something over the year. The best chapter was the cruise with Richard Simmons, which is funny because it makes me wonder if cruises are just so ripe for the picking that anything written about them is going to be entertaining and funny. And now I totally want to meet Richard Simmons, who seems like such a great person. Of course the gold standard there is David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" which is fall off your chair funny, and depressing and totally descriptive of the sarcastic, jaded, cynical attitude of mine alluded to above. The author knows her cruise bit will be compared to his, and waves the white flag right away by siting Wallace's essay in her chapter. Although I appreciate her attempt to not be mocking or mean, a lot of the power was lost by trying to just state the facts. I mean, I think it's OK to say viewing everyone you meet is a blessing IS better than viewing everyone you meet as an opportunity to get ahead. And maybe taping a $100,000 bill over your bed to look at every morning might take away focus from some of the better things of life. See, there I go being judgey....

  • Deb Rudnick
    2019-06-09 14:44

    I enjoyed this book, perhaps mostly because I really like the writer, she seems like the kind of person I'd like to be friends with. Funny, self-effacing, honest, and not taken in very much by BS, Lisick has a good personality to write about what is often the snake-oil-salesmanship of the self help arena. Self help is a genre which I usually give a wide berth, but I liked getting a brief survey of the landscape in one short, funny, and easy to read book. I don't think there is much to be found in here that is profound day insightful- because, as Beth herself points out, much of the help she got really is not that profound or insightful, it's pretty basic. What seems to be common to the world of self help gurus is the cult of personality. The folks who write these books and charge thousands for their seminars are, as the book I just finished, Quiet, would say, "extreme extroverts". And as Lisick shows us. it often feels like it is their wit and charm that's convincing folks to buy their products- not the fact that their products have profound truths or even sometimes much in the way of useful guidance to share. That being said, I think Lisick does a good job of finding a few nuggets of wisdom, and honesty, hidden within the marketing. Plus, she makes things funny in a genre where the leaders and often followers can take themselves way too seriously. My primary issue with this book is that it, like its topic, is fairly shallow. I wish the author had done some research into the origins of the self help movement, it's history, and the effectiveness of the claims its authors make. Does self help really help? That's what i was wondering in going into this book, and I'm not sure I got any answers, even about the author herself. I think my criticisms are definitely my own bias- I tend to prefer more analytic and deep treatments of subjects, and there is no way in which Lisick is claiming this book is that. I just kind of wished it was.

  • Jacqueline
    2019-06-15 10:03

    I read a lot of this currently hip genre - doing some project each month for a year and then writing about it. It is, apparently, what GenX slackers like myself like to do and then write about. I am totally drawn to this - it fits me perfectly with my project driven life.Beth Lisick tries a new self help thing each month for a year - she thinks that it might be a better resolution then learning how to do the splits. Seriously, that is her thinking. She has never bought a self help book and she is really skeptical of the journey.Her first steps are with Jack Canfield, who is the father of a friend of her husbands, Stephan Covey, then John Gray (Venus Mars guy), Suzy Orman, and so on - the top of the field and yet not really cutting edge in the world of self help. Kind of like that A list from 1990 - which as a GenX might be where she felt comfortable.She goes to seminars, tries an organization session, writes morning pages, samples a parenting theory, goes on a cruise with Richard Simmons - but what is missing is that although she is testing all these things out she is so skeptical. She doesn't dive in fully, in fact she can't put a name badge on to say she belongs with the group until month 4 and even then it is a stretch.So, why do this? Why try to work with the top players without deciding to fully immerse yourself. Ok, I am jealous. Totally. I would have done this with total immersion like I was trying to learn Spanish. I would have done every exercise, jumped in with both feet, and knelt at the feet of these gurus... if I wanted to really do it. And that she didn't do that is a story, but not the story I really wanted to read. I wanted her to drop her cool, aloof skepticism and her narrative of why she couldn't do that and just do it.It was fun like taffy is fun, but it wasn't rich like cheesecake is rich - and I guess after reading so many of this genre I want more.

  • Phoebe
    2019-05-26 15:01

    I read Lisick's book "Everybody into the Pool" and it was really funny. She lives around the corner from me and often references life in South Berkeley in her writing, which makes it even more fun to read. I couldn't wait for more Lisick humor when I picked up this book from the library."Helping me Help Myself" didn't deliver. It sounds like it will be a funny and informative romp through the self-help movement, made all the more hilarious because Lisick's life is so crazy and unique. ("Everybody into the Pool" has an awesome story about a period of time when Lisick lived in a total wreck of an apartment that flooded with sewage. Not the person you picture reading "Men are from Mars".) However, Lisick has hardly done her homework. She barely scrapes the surface of the self-help legends she's investigating -- probably because she spent most of her book advance on late bills instead of actual research. So instead of really diving into the different movements, she reads their books and maybe goes to one lecture. Come on! Put in a little effort! A lot of "Helping Me Help Myself" reads like a book report. The chapter on Richard Simmons is by far the best because she actually spent a whole week on a workout cruise and managed to get some good anecdotes from it. Even then, her focus was more on Richard Simmons as a personality than fitness as a movement in American society.I love this recently popular genre of non-fiction where someone writes a funny account of a year spent doing something unique. ("Not Buying It" and "Self-Made Man") Usually there's some actual research involved, and you learn a little more about the phenomenon that the writer is exploring. Lisick doesn't bother to do any research, even the most minimal. The result is shallow and boring.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-22 09:57

    The note/over title on the cover reads, “one skeptic, ten self-help gurus, and a year on the bring on the comfort zone.” This book documents Lisick’s year of self-help including Jack Canfield (The Success Principles), Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits…), Richard Simmons, John Gray (Men are from Mars…), Julie Morgenstern (Organizing from the Inside Out), Thomas W. Phelan (123 Magic…), Suze Orman, Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way), Deepak Chopra and Sylvia Browne. (Did I miss anyone?) Lisick reads the books and sometimes attends seminars with the selected gurus. Interspersed in the account are details of Lisick’s life. I have bought some of these books and sometimes even read these self-help gurus (and others). Like Lisick, I sometimes take something away from the experience, but nothing really life changing. At first, I didn’t like this book, but the more I got into it, I appreciated Lisick’s attitude and ultimate conclusions. A couple of quotes: From Stephen Covey discussing personality vs. character ethic in regards to his children: “We decided to relax and get out of his way and let his own personality emerge. We saw our natural role as being to affirm, joy and value him. We also conscientiously worked on our motives and cultivated internal sources of security so that our own feelings of worth were not dependent on our children’s “acceptable” behavior.” And from Beth Lisick: “ It seems like, at its best, self-help is probably supposed to remind us that we can be strong and in control, that we can do anything. The problem with this is that we are human. All we’re ever going to do is stumble around. Sometimes we hit the sweet spot, and the rest of the time we spend trying to unravel the formula for how to hit the next one.”

  • Francoise
    2019-06-04 07:56

    Great concept: Beth devotes about one month to a series of famous self-helpers ... all the way from the illustrious Steven Covey and Deepak Chopra to good old Sylvia Browne, not bypassing the book's best encounter of all -- spending a week getting into shape on Richard Simmons' cruise. Each month, if finances allow (I think there's a book advance somewhere in this), she studies their work, signs up for their counseling, goes to their conferences, and tries out their ideas. She produces a sort of respectful tone, mixed with a that of a droll muckraker. Her delightfully sardonic views prevent her from truly immersing herself in the earnest hopefulness of the true self-help devotee. But, if advice is sound, it will work whatever one's attitude, and she does make the attempt to apply the advice, reserving the bulk of her social commentary for those afore-mentioned earnest followers. The Richard Simmons cruise chapter is the most fun since she clearly loves the man and has energizing adventures, perhpas due to all the exercise she's getting... Her views on the fellow travellers with whom she cannot relate are, however, just as depressing as the rest of the book becomes. Sardonic tones wear thin. I would say that this is more of a book to sample, perhaps leave in the waiting room so you can dip into it periodically, rather than a book to read straight through. The investigations are framed as a memoir of Beth's own life during that year, but it's an exhausting year, despite the fun synchronicities of the relevant guru arriving in the nick of time e.g. Suze Orman's chapter happens right when Beth and her also free-lancing husband are seriously broke)

  • Jessica
    2019-05-16 14:39

    This is one of those "do a thing for a year" books. Lisick decides to dive into the world of self help, and spend the next year learning how to change her life from the top self help gurus, like Deepak Chopra, Suze Ormon and Richard Simmons. I enjoyed it, but at first I wasn't completely convinced that I was going to. In her first chapter, she writes about what led her to the decision to do this...she wakes up bruised and groggy from her New Year's Eve party, and can't remember what happened to pull one muscle in her leg and bang up her knee until she sees a video of herself trying to do the splits. In another book, someone would see something like that and realize they were getting "too old for this shit" and decide to make some changes. Lisick sees it and wonders if she should learn to do the splits on both sides for her next New Year's Eve party. Then she feels guilty that she isn't making a better resolution. Um, really? It felt like she had an idea for this book, but had to make up an epiphany for why she wanted to write it.Eventually I got more into it, and I appreciate that Lisick delved into this world so that I don't have to. My favorite chapter was the Richard Simmons Cruise to Lose, in which she was legitimately excited to meet Richard Simmons, and he sounded like an absolute sweetheart. I also learned that although it has always been my dream to do what she a full time writer and have books doesn't guarantee a steady paycheck and sometimes you have to wear a giant banana suit to make ends meet.

  • Leslie Kay
    2019-06-04 09:45

    Funny and fun read, however, I don't think it deserves to be a book... reads more like a blog to me.I've never been one to like Self-help books or someone else telling me how to live my best life, but as Beth Lisick found, there are some good bits of wisdom out there for anyone willing to take a look.She quotes Henry Miller in the chapter on "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron stating that she finally found something that resonated with her in Julia's book - only the quote is a sidebar in "The Artist's Way" not anything that Julia Cameron said.Here's the quote:"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."I guess that's how I feel too... this quote resonates with me more than anything that was said in the book. Well, except maybe this passage,"My point is: most people would look at my friend and think he has severe issues from his childhood to deal with, but if he doesn't think he does, that's all that should matter. Likewise, if I don't want to treat myself like a precious object, if my creative life is going fine without coddling it like a baby, there's absolutely no reason to start, right? Even if a "creativity" expert tells me to. This seems like a linchpin of why so many people get sucked into self help and empowerment programs. They can't trust that what they're doing is the "right "way to be doing it."

  • misha
    2019-05-20 13:38

    When I saw this at the library I almost hopped up and down, I was so excited. I had read about this book, and was excited to read it, and there it was - I hadn't even reqeusted it. But sadly, this was one of those books where I thought- thank god I'm good at speed reading. I did want to finish it, but I didn't want to spend too much time doing it. I don't want to say too much bad about the book, because it looks like the author lives nearby and works with friends of friends of mine. She could beat me up or something. I think the thing that bugged me the most about the book is that I could probably write it myself. Project queen -check (My current project is reading a book about each president, in order, and knitting scarves using up all of my excess yarn that I built up over the years - next project is using up all of my fabric). Messy with money - check. Weirded out about self help - check. Love Richard Simmons - check. Make fun of relationship books ( I used to be the relationship shelf girl at the bookstore just for comic relief) - check. Yadda, yadda, I don't want to read a book that I could write, because - I'm boring. I hope the author the best, and I want to read her other book just because - I hope she does well. But, I didn't really love the book like I hoped I would.

  • Elaine Meszaros
    2019-06-12 13:54

    When I cracked open Helping Me Help Myself my first thought was "Oh, this is EXACTLY the same as Jennifer Niesslein's Practically Perfect in Every Way." While the premise is identical - woman decides to get her act together via self-help books and write a book about it - the voices of the two are very different. Equally as amusing and Niesslein, Lisick takes a crack at getting her finances together, clean up her house, exercise and stop her son's tantrums. Unlike Niesslein, Lisick and her husband have a much more precarious existence. She is mouthier, louder, ruder and much more likely to take the gurus' advice with a huge helping of skepticism and sarcasm. Unlike Niesslein, Lisick not just reads the books but also goes to many seminars hosted by the self-help authors. If anything, the chapter on going on the Richard Simmons cruise is worth a read:"Hi Ladies," he says as he approaches. "I'm just coming through to see if everything's all right." ...As he strolls around, he pauses next to me and Jan, leans in between us, and says slyly, and only to us, "Is this the hooker table?" Then he abruptly turns and walks away. Jan and I burst into laughter, and knowing we're still watching him, he flips up the flaps of his little shorts, flashing his butt cheeks without turning his head. The man is a genius.

  • Michael Lipsey
    2019-05-25 13:48

    Beth Lisick spent a year getting every kind of self-help. A great idea for a book, but the execution was flawed. For one thing, she is broke, and gurus cost, so she mostly goes to cheaper events or events she can get into without paying. Or she skips the guru and just reads the book. She is an acute observer, but she really doesn't have all that much to observe. And she pads her material with extraneous events like going to the opening of Bloomingdales.The best part of the book is something she really did splurge on: a cruise with Richard Simmons. And she is impressed by his manic energy, dedication and humor. She also finds that Covey, Gray, Deepak, and the psychic Sylvia Browne also project this tremendous energy.I don't mind profanity, but Beth uses too much of it, gratuitously, when it adds nothing to the story. Which make her seem like an uncharming, vulgar person. And she also loses credibility by writing so much about her and her husband's financial irresponsibility, her flirtations when she is away from him, her lack of control over her son, her terrible housekeeping, and so on. She is a hard case to like and identify with. That said, I do admire her courageous frankness about her life, she lets it all hang out.

  • Katherine Rowland
    2019-05-29 09:38

    Lisick is honest up-front about her feelings regarding self-help proponents: she's suspicious and somewhat antagonistic. Nevertheless, after taking stock of her life, she decides that it's worth investigating some of the big names in self-help. Most of my disappointment with the book stems from my expectation that it would be a book mostly about the self-help systems she tries, and whether or not they worked. Instead, these seemed to only serve as a framework for Lisick to be sarcastic, with little true introspection or assessment of results. While Lisick can be very funny, she is also acidic, which I found best in small doses. I was also disappointed at the frequent cheap shots she takes at Christianity, for no real reason other than possibly to show her disdain. Indeed, while Lisick frequently touches on the idea of not stereotyping people or regions, it appears to always be open season on stereotyping Christians. This wasn't unexpected, given how Lisick presents herself, but it was still a little annoying.