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

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  996 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews

Beth Lisick has had a lifelong phobia of anything slick, cheesy, or that remotely claims to provide self-empowerment. But on New Year's Day 2006, she wakes up finally able to admit that something has to change. Determined to confront her fears head-on, Beth sets out to fix her life by consulting the multimillion-dollar-earning experts. In Chicago, she gets proactive with

Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 2nd 2008)
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Jul 08, 2008 Lena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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 transformati
Jun 22, 2008 Imogen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2009 K rated it it was ok
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 bo ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like self help, Richard Simmons fans
Recommended to Morgan by: Bust Magazine
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 fee
Dec 04, 2016 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 tha
Oct 19, 2009 Carole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
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 fas
Aug 05, 2008 jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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
Apr 15, 2008 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 attend ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 08, 2008 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-he ...more
Jamie Felton
Apr 13, 2008 Jamie Felton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hilarious, nonfiction
Beth Lisick spends a year trying to improve herself. She reads one self-help book a month for a year inclusing Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, The Artist's Way, and Other well known self-help guides. It is so so funny. She legitimately tries to follow the advice these books give, and while she does discover a lot of things that DO help, she also discovers a lot of things that are ridiculous. Lisick is extremely talented at describing the ridiculous and making even the most mundane in ...more
Jul 19, 2016 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 11, 2008 Sarah Giles rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Nov 01, 2007 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amusing spin on individuals who would never be caught in self-help, and what they might gain from it...
A humourous and engaging year she spent researching the self-help world. A light read.
Debbie Gunter
Nov 29, 2016 Debbie Gunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and fun!

I enjoyed reading this journey through the self-help world. Not cynical, but pleasantly skeptical, the author choses some interesting standards o f the self-help world and lets us tag along and listen to her insights.
Christine Zibas
Feb 12, 2016 Christine Zibas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 17, 2008 Trish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-read, memoir
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 j ...more
Deb Rudnick
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 i ...more
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 i
Jun 03, 2009 Phoebe rated it it was ok
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. ("Everybod
Apr 18, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 bo ...more
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
Jul 25, 2012 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
Leslie Kay
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 A
Sep 07, 2009 misha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 be
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 husban ...more
Michael Lipsey
Apr 25, 2008 Michael Lipsey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Katherine Rowland
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 lit
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Beth Lisick, author of the New York Times bestselling book Everybody into the Pool, is also a performer and odd-jobs enthusiast. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including Best American Poetry, the Christian Science Monitor, and Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Movement. She has contributed to public radio's This American Life and is the cofounder ...more
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