This was light, cute satire, if a little over the top. Although it was a bit overdone at times, it was just what I needed right now -- a departure fro...moreThis was light, cute satire, if a little over the top. Although it was a bit overdone at times, it was just what I needed right now -- a departure from stolid, heavy books, especially Hebrew ones.(less)
Naava slept in today, and I chose to finish this book instead of waking her up for gan (hey, we temporarily single moms take our self-indulgence where...moreNaava slept in today, and I chose to finish this book instead of waking her up for gan (hey, we temporarily single moms take our self-indulgence where we can). Anyway, I basically liked it although it sometimes felt repetitive and too long. I believe it started as a series of blog entries, and that's what it read like, rather than a cohesive book.
It's a memoir of a tough, bitchy corporate executive and major overspender who gets laid off, can't find work, and ends up reprioritizing financially and ultimately committing to a less lucrative but more fulfilling career as a writer. I often chuckled while I read this, and actually laughed out loud when she described her experience picking up materials for a friend of hers who was running the Chicago marathon -- she had put on some weight after her layoff, and made several scenes as she dished it out to the skinny, health-crazed people surrounding her ("'Listen, you anorexic bitch, how dare you make fun of me for being chunky?...Shouldn't all those endorphins in your system make you happy to the point that you wouldn't attack a total stranger? And you know what? If our plane crashed in the Andes? You'd wish I was there because I guarantee you that all this extra fat would make me ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.'").
Yes, Jen Lancaster is a sharp, witty bitch who's not afraid to speak her mind to just about anyone. It was fun for a super-nice person like me to live vicariously through her; I always wondered what life would be like if I had both the guts and the sharp wit to tell people off when they deserved it.
Had this been shorter and tighter, I would have given it four stars rather than three. I also would have liked it better had her personal growth extended beyond deep epiphanies like maybe she really hadn't needed a closetful of designer bags, and that she could actually survive doing her own manicures. (less)
This was cute at times, but highly improbable -- talk about suspending disbelief! I've read better chick lit, but I've also read worse, hence the thre...moreThis was cute at times, but highly improbable -- talk about suspending disbelief! I've read better chick lit, but I've also read worse, hence the three stars. I will say that Sophie Kinsella's books are readable, and that once you adjust your expectations for chick lit, you still have to be forgiving of major plot holes but at least I can finish them.(less)
Although I eventually got impatient with the pace, there were many things I liked about this book. Our hero, Mario, a lustful 18-year-old, is smitten...moreAlthough I eventually got impatient with the pace, there were many things I liked about this book. Our hero, Mario, a lustful 18-year-old, is smitten with Julia, his uncle’s divorced 32-year-old sister-in-law (consistently referred to as “Aunt Julia,” reminding us of their age difference and relationship and cleverly highlighting the absurdity of the situation). The two of them embark on an impossible romance. Meanwhile, Mario is also developing an intellectual fascination with Pedro Camacho, the new scriptwriter at his radio station, an eccentric and manic writer taking Lima by storm with his captivating radio serials and slowly descending into madness in the process.
Camacho’s various cliffhanger serials are described in chapters which alternate with the chapters of Mario’s unfolding story. The romance with Julia and waning sanity of the scriptwriter grabbed me the way I imagined these increasingly bizarre serials grabbing the Lima radio audience. Would Mario and Julia’s infatuation last? Will the family find out? Will they get married? Will they break up? Will Camacho’s insanity finally destroy his stories and his career? The constant interruptions of Mario and Julia’s story effectively contributed to the escalating tension, making you feel as if you, too, were following a dramatic radio serial. I found this device very clever.
The tongue-in-cheek humor also got me immediately. Quotes like, “I had a job with a pompous-sounding title, a modest salary, duties as a plagiarist, and flexible working hours: News Director of Radio Panamerica” kept me chuckling inwardly as I read. This type of dry wit characterized a lot of the writing. I also got a kick out of Camacho’s quirks as reflected in his serials – his aquiline-nosed heroes, consistently described as “in his fifties, the prime of his life” (as Mario observes, Camacho is a bit defensive about his own quintogenarian age), and his constant gratuitous amusing slams at Argentinians (“…[the police report:] thus inadvertently attributed to the Huanca Salaverrias the habit, so common among inhabitants of Buenos Aires, of attending to their calls of nature in a bucket located in the same room in which they eat and sleep”), evoking blissfully ignored admonitions from Camacho’s superiors to make his heroes younger and to cut the Argentinian-bashing.
Other quotes touched me in other ways. At one point, Mario asks himself: “Were all those politicians, attorneys, professors who went by the name of poets, novelists, dramatists really writers, simply because, during brief parentheses in lives in which four fifths of their time was spent at activities having nothing to do with literature, they had produced one slim volume of verses or one niggardly collection of stories? Why should those persons who have used literature as an ornament or a pretext have any more right to be considered real writers than Pedro Camacho, who lived only to write? Because they had read (or at least knew that they should have read) Proust, Faulkner, Joyce, while Pedro Camacho was nearly illiterate?”
I actually ask myself this type of question a lot. When is writing an art, and when is it a craft? Does being a truly gifted writer (or any kind of creative artist) mean you are completely consumed and engulfed by the desire to write? Does it have to mean that? Can you write well if you are uneducated? Can writing effectively for the masses, as opposed to the elite, be a worthy art as well?
We also see Mario continually failing as he tries to compose his short stories, while Camacho’s serials enthrall the citizens of Lima. Why? What’s the difference? Why do Camacho’s succeed, and Mario’s fail? Is it talent? Marketability? Passion for, even obsession with, writing as opposed to dabbling? Admittedly, exploring the art of writing wasn’t an obvious focus of the novel; yet these questions stimulated me as I read.
As you can see, I enjoyed the book a lot. Initially, I alternated between feeling captivated by Mario and Julia’s romance and being equally drawn into the accounts of the tawdry, tabloid-esque radio serials despite myself. Every time I started a new chapter with its new focus, I actually wished the old one weren’t ending. This is a pretty impressive feat.
Despite this, I think the book should have been significantly shorter. Eventually, I started to get tired of being pulled into yet another serial and wished the story of Mario and Julia would just come to a head already. At that point, I still had 100-odd pages left ‘till the end. Interestingly enough, I felt this way (although proportionately more so) when I read One Hundred Years of Solitude, another South American novel. I found One Hundred Years of Solitude funny and engaging at first, and then at about the halfway point it suddenly got old. Aunt Julia, at least, kept me going about 2/3 of the way before I started skimming just to see what would happen, which I guess is an improvement. But 5 stars is not an option for a book that I found myself tiring of 2/3 of the way through.
As I wrote the above, about 50 pages from the end, I wavered between 3 and 4 stars and decided it would depend on the ending. Hence the 3 stars -- I found the ending rushed after a slow unfolding and extremely anticlimactic. I wish I could give it 3.5, though, because this book had some great moments and would have deserved at least 4 stars had Vargas-Llosa simply known when to stop.
This book, a memoir about working as a public librarian, was readable, often funny, and usually interesting though occasionally tedious and repetitive...moreThis book, a memoir about working as a public librarian, was readable, often funny, and usually interesting though occasionally tedious and repetitive. What was actually more interesting than reading this book, though, was reading the range of goodreads reviews. People loved it, hated it, and fell in the middle.
Reading the reviews of this book was actually reminiscent of reading the trails of comments following particularly snarky reviews of popular books on goodreads. I read a lot of these reviews and comments, and I often find these long, drawn-out arguments between commentors saying things like, “You go, girl – I hated this book too!” vs. other commentors saying things like, “You’re obviously one hell of a snob; you think you’re better than everyone else and how dare you insult this precious work of literature?” and then a few saying, “Lighten up, people – I didn’t think the book was that bad, but she’s entitled to her opinion.” Goodreads reviewers’ reactions to this book and its author spanned a similar spectrum.
What seems to have evoked a particularly strong reaction was Scott’s biting and irreverent tone – unexpected and kind of incongruous in a memoir about working as a public librarian. While some reviewers thought it was hysterical, lots of others felt it was overly cynical and bitter and that Scott was clearly in the wrong job. My personal reaction to his tone was that I enjoyed his humor overall, although it got old and repetitive at times. I disagree with the assumption that Scott hates his job; I was often touched by some of his anecdotes which emphasized the “love” aspect of Scott’s love-hate relationship with public service. Although a lot of weight is given to crazy library staff and crazier patrons, Scott also describes his personal growth in the job, and his actually (dare I say it?) idealistic and inspiring insights into the varied and sometimes surprising community needs that libraries try to fill. I did not feel that his reaction to his job was one-dimensional, which was one of the things that kept me reading.
I had mixed feelings about the frequent footnotes – that was a cute device at first which eventually became tiresome. I did enjoy the library history and other trivia asides. They broke up the book for me, and were often surprisingly interesting. The Acknowledgements section was also great.
With all its positive aspects, the book was a little too long for me which was why I came down on the side of 3 stars rather than 4. By p. 200 I was already a little tired of reading it and feeling like, okay, I got the point and I’m ready to move on to a different book. Unfortunately, I still had 120-odd pages to go at that point. Oddly, though, every time I sighed and picked the book up hoping to just finish it already, I found myself immediately immersed once again and turning pages rapidly.
All in all, I would recommend this book to most people seeking a light, funny, and interesting read about an unexpected but highly relevant topic. After all, presumably we goodreads readers love books, and what lover of books doesn’t love the library? (less)
The sequel to "The Eyre Affair" didn't disappoint. Thursday Next and Jasper Fforde's zany alternate 1985 are back -- a world where time travel can be...moreThe sequel to "The Eyre Affair" didn't disappoint. Thursday Next and Jasper Fforde's zany alternate 1985 are back -- a world where time travel can be used as a weapon, extinct species can be and are genetically engineered, and book characters live lives of their own. As you read, you are entering the world of Thursday Next, ironically a book character herself although she protests otherwise, and following along as she enters the worlds of various other book characters, who occasionally moonlight in other characters' books...it can make your head spin, and I wish I got all the literary allusions, but the books are insanely clever and fun, if sometimes over my head.
"Lost in a Good Book" picks up where "The Eyre Affair" left off. Having rescued the kidnapped Jane Eyre and killed the villain, Acheron Hades, in "The Eyre Affair," Thursday Next is now dealing with unwanted celebrity while trying to live a normal life. Unfortunately, a corrupt individual has used time travel to "eradicate" Thursday's husband (i.e., gone back in time to her husband's childhood near-death experience and reversed the outcome) so that no one except Thursday is aware that her husband ever existed. Her husband lives on in her memories and in her dreams, but nowhere else. To get him back, Thursday must rescue Jack Schitt (I know; if you think that's bad, try his half-brother Schitt-Hawse, or Thursday's lawyer Akrid Snell) from Poe's "The Raven" where she managed to imprison him in "The Eyre Affair." Although Thursday actually succeeds (thanks in part to Great Expectations' Miss Havisham's willingness to serve as a book-jumping mentor -- Miss Havisham is way more developed in this book than I remember in Great Expectations!), she then discovers that she's been duped and it will take more effort and clever plotting on her part to rescue her husband. Her time-traveling father, meanwhile, has warned her that the world is about to end, so Thursday really has a lot to deal with.
I loved many things about this book, including mental conversations taking place through footnotes (so that the text reflected what was actually heard on the outside while the footnotes supplemented by showing you the mental voices), satirizing the overuse of coincidences as a plot device, and the few literary allusions that I did get, although there were probably way more that I missed. Although I don't think I'm sufficiently well-read to fully appreciate these books, I enjoy them enough to keep reading them (plus my mother-in-law brought them for me from the library, and I need to finish them so she can return them!).(less)
Jasper Fforde bit off more than he could chew with this one. I feel like he had many creative ideas for bookworld (insider trading of plot devices, pl...moreJasper Fforde bit off more than he could chew with this one. I feel like he had many creative ideas for bookworld (insider trading of plot devices, plot smoothers and sewers of plot holes, bookworld awards, etc.) and basically constructed this book in part from loosely connected excuses to introduce these ideas. It often felt, as my seminary guests would say, random. I admired his creativity, but I had trouble even following the story at times, much less becoming immersed in it the way I would have liked.
Oh, well. I'll try the next one, because it's sitting on my nighttable and has to go back to the library in NY after Pesach. We'll see how it goes...(less)
Well, I liked this better than The Well of Lost Plots, though not quite as much as The Eyre Affair or Lost in a Good Book. In this book, Thursday retu...moreWell, I liked this better than The Well of Lost Plots, though not quite as much as The Eyre Affair or Lost in a Good Book. In this book, Thursday returns to the real world, now with a two-year-old son, hoping to finally recover her husband and defeat Yorrick Kaine. There were some funny moments, and I loved the ending. I still debated whether to continue with the series, but having bought the last book and read all the others now, I may as well. MAP recommended it, so hopefully it will be enjoyable.(less)
I finished it, and I didn't finish it, which is typical of the strange paradoxes running through this book which I didn't car...moreBronx cheer to this one.
I finished it, and I didn't finish it, which is typical of the strange paradoxes running through this book which I didn't care enough to invest myself in figuring out. The whole time travel paradox lost me, and I guess I could have sat and tried to wrap my mind around it but by page 50 I was already skimming and the skimming grew increasingly careless and superficial as I plowed through the rest of the book (hence the finished/unfinished dichotomy).
I give Jasper Fforde a lot of credit. He's incredibly creative, literate, clever, funny, etc., and was able to keep me reading for more than four books -- longer than many other series authors. I really don't know why I bothered to finish this one, though. I highly recommend the first two books in this series; it goes downhill from there and I wish I could have that time back.(less)
This is the story of Ruth, a large, clumsy, ugly woman, married to unappreciative and philandering Bobbo and living as a suburban housewife. When Bobb...moreThis is the story of Ruth, a large, clumsy, ugly woman, married to unappreciative and philandering Bobbo and living as a suburban housewife. When Bobbo leaves Ruth for his mistress, Mary Fisher, a delicate-looking and wealthy writer of romance novels, Ruth begins her transformation from docile, long-suffering hausfrau to diabolical and courageous "she-devil," stopping at nothing to get her elaborately plotted revenge on her husband's mistress and to eventually take over her life.
Initially, Ruth's exploits and creative evil doings are really funny, and Faye Weldon's clever writing style enhances the effect. Nice girls like me can really appreciate the vicarious thrills of reading about an underdog getting her revenge on those who've wronged her. Somehow, Ruth manages to invade Bobbo and Mary's love nest with Ruth's two bratty children and Mary's demanding aging mother, frame Bobbo for fraud, and get Mary to stop writing romance novels.
After a while, though, the plot gets repetitive as Ruth uses yet another alias to obtain yet another caretaker position in some unsuspecting household, form a relationship (often sexual) with her employer, and then abruptly leave once her latest revenge goal has been achieved. And then, the whole plastic surgery thing irritated me and was, aside from being a cliche for this type of story, a betrayal of Weldon's feminist ideals in my opinion. Why couldn't she simply find happiness and fulfillment as an ugly woman, or learn to feel better about the looks she had?
Luckily, it was a fast and easy read and clever enough to earn 3 stars despite my other complaints.(less)
Imagine if I told you the story of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” in the following way:
Chapter 1 – the birth of Thing One and Thing Two Chapter 2 – a...moreImagine if I told you the story of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” in the following way:
Chapter 1 – the birth of Thing One and Thing Two Chapter 2 – after the children’s mother comes home at the end Chapter 3 – the cat’s early childhood years Chapter 4 – the fish’s perspective as the cat wrecks the house
And so on, and so forth, for 400 pages. Reading this book was a similar experience.
The basic plot of “Solomon Gursky was Here” focuses on the rise and exploits of the notoriously wealthy and powerful (and of course, highly dysfunctional) Gursky family, and on the self-destructive alcoholic would-be scholar, Moses Berger, who has become obsessed with documenting their story. Moses is particularly fixated on Solomon, the middle brother, whose alleged death is shrouded in mystery and may have been caused by Solomon’s older brother Bernard.
Several reviewers described this ambitious book as “Dickensian” and I agree – the basic story becomes a far-reaching saga with tangential episodes focusing on all sorts of peripheral characters. The problem is, I never much liked Dickens. In my opinion, Dickens’s novels reflected the fact that they had started out as magazine serials where he was paid by the word, and that he profited by drawing out the story as long as he possibly could. Writing long, sprawling epics rather than tight, focused stories may have worked for Dickens financially, but it doesn’t work artistically, at least for me.
I really appreciate Mordecai Richler as a writer, and it kills me to give him just two stars. For me, though, this was not one of his better books although it was certainly more ambitious and far-reaching than his others. The story was simply too long, dense, and convoluted for me. Richler constantly went back and forth between a multitude of characters (often peripheral to the story) and time periods, and it was difficult to keep everything straight. There were constant vague references to climactic events which I only started to get 2-300 pages later, when I no longer remembered the references or how they came in. I started to get into the story about halfway through, which is a little late for a 400+ page book. Even once I got into it, I never found the book particularly compelling.
As an aside, I suspect this book had a strong role in inspiring Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.” I had a strong sense of déjà vu as I read about tough Arctic Jews consorting with Eskimos. I give Richler credit, though, for knowing his Yiddish and his Jewish rituals and lifestyle way better than Chabon did. (less)
Desmond Bates is a retired linguistics professor in his 60s who is losing his hearing, which creates all kinds of difficulties for him. His wife Winif...moreDesmond Bates is a retired linguistics professor in his 60s who is losing his hearing, which creates all kinds of difficulties for him. His wife Winifred (Fred), in contrast, is experiencing a midlife career surge which is leaving Desmond in the dust. Desmond is also struggling to convince his aging father (also hearing-impaired) to enter a home for his own safety, which is increasingly at risk as his father continues to deteriorate. Enter Alex, a young, attractive doctoral student studying the linguistic qualities of suicide notes, who meets Desmond at a party and gets him to unwittingly agree (his hearing aid was off, and he was trying to smile and nod and humor) to help her with her research. Alex immediately begins flirting aggressively with Desmond in all sorts of bizarre ways and managing to get him into potentially compromising situations despite his resistance. That there is clearly something strange about Alex (aside from her chosen dissertation topic) becomes increasingly apparent, and curiosity about her and what she would do next was probably the main thing that kept me reading.
Although the writing was decent, if overdone, and the plot was not uninteresting (clichéd on the surface, perhaps, but I liked the suicide notes angle and found Alex interesting to read about), the book got off to an extremely slow start with lots of unnecessary detail and little dialogue or action. For about the first third of the book, Lodge waxed poetic about the difficulties of hearing loss for pages and pages before we moved into plot or even started getting to know the other characters. Even once the action picked up, there were unnecessary digressions which should not have been there in the first place, much less taken up so many sentences. I was also annoyed with the occasional shifting between the first and third person. It was a bit distracting and confusing, and I wasn’t sure why Lodge was doing this.
In the middle, I was going to give this book three stars despite my complaints for its excellent characterization. I thought Alex, Fred, and Desmond’s father were very well-drawn and easy to visualize without being clichéd (okay, Desmond’s father may have been a little clichéd in certain ways but I still found him refreshingly three-dimensional). At the end, though, I just got tired of all the verbosity and found myself skimming a great deal which took it out of the 3-star category for me. (less)
While this book wasn't quite as good as Behind the Scenes at the Museum A Novel, it had many of its strong points -- excellent writing and characteriz...moreWhile this book wasn't quite as good as Behind the Scenes at the Museum A Novel, it had many of its strong points -- excellent writing and characterization, acerbic wit, good pacing, etc. It was also more creative and postmodern, which I found to be both a strength and a weakness.
Sixteen-year-old Isobel is a member of the Fairfax family, a long line of cursed individuals. And Isobel's life, like that of her predecessors certainly is miserable. Her mother disappeared permanently when she was young, and she continues to hope for her return as she struggles with becoming a woman and fantasizes about having a mother's guidance. Her father disappeared shortly after her mother, leaving young Isobel and her brother Charles to be raised by a crabby divorced aunt. Her father does return seven years later, but with an unlikeable wife who is becoming increasingly eccentric. In short, none of the adults in Isobel's life seem particularly invested in her, with the exception of her neighbor Mrs. Baxter, who has serious problems of her own. Isobel's older brother Charles leads a dead-end life and frequently retreats into a fantasy world. And then there's Isobel herself, struggling with adolescent unrequited love on top of everything else as she tries to make sense of her life, an effort which is hampered by a disturbing tendency to find herself going back in time unexpectedly and discovering alternate versions of her past, and even her present.
I usually hate postmodern stuff, so I was pleasantly surprised when the constant alternate realities didn't bother me. There's still that stick-in-the-mud part of me that would have preferred a more coherent story, but I didn't feel nearly as strongly about that as I usually do. I actually enjoyed reading the book a lot. I did find parts of the story line overly dark, though, which I've come to expect from Atkinson but still found disturbing -- way too much incest, adultery, and Machiavellianism for my tastes. That's why, despite its great qualities, I could only give this four stars. But if you like Atkinson, you'll definitely like this one.(less)
Okay, full disclosure: what happened to Julie Powell is a fantasy I didn’t even know I could have. I love to write and I love to cook, so much so that...moreOkay, full disclosure: what happened to Julie Powell is a fantasy I didn’t even know I could have. I love to write and I love to cook, so much so that I once compiled not one, but two cookbooks of my favorite recipes (nothing original in there, I’m afraid, but for the reader, it takes the guesswork and expense out of buying the zillion cookbooks I own) complete with blog-like anecdotes connected to the recipes, and distributed them to family and friends. So I guess I’m like Julie Powell in not having much of a life at the time and turning to cooking and writing for stimulation. But it never occurred to me that I could: a) spend my year determinedly cooking through a classic cookbook! b) blog about it, and actually have interested people reading my blog! c) have said blog turn into not only a book deal but a movie deal! My fantasy (not even), Julie Powell’s reality.
The humbler fantasy that I did consciously have was that “Julie & Julia” would afford me all sorts of free Julia Child recipes without my having to get ahold of Child’s book. Okay, so I’m a cheap Jew. Well, no dice on that score which I should have predicted, given copyright laws and our litigious society. But I think it was reasonable to predict that I’d hear more about the cooking itself than I did.*
Is that a criticism of the book? I’m not sure, because I did enjoy Julie’s writing and humor and found her book highly readable for the most part, even when cooking wasn’t the focus (which was much of the time). I do think, though, that I might have enjoyed this more as a blog in installments rather than as a steady read. It suffers from many blog-into-book hallmarks, namely lack of overall focus, a sense of repetitiveness, and excessive lengthiness; not that the number of pages was so high, but that the book went on way too long for what it was. There’s only so much patience I have for reading what is, in essence, someone’s rambling diary, as opposed to a novel with plot and characterization or a non-fiction work that’s actually teaching me something. Even memoirs, that is, traditional ones that didn’t originate as blogs, usually have more of a narrative arc than “Julie & Julia” did.
That said, this book was largely a fun read and, unlike many other goodreads reviewers, I’m not grumbling about wishing I had the time back. Thanks to all the goodreads reviews I read, I didn’t go in with great expectations and, as such, was able to simply enjoy the book for what it was.
*Incidentally, I did learn from the more detailed cooking anecdotes that "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" is one cookbook I will probably never buy, my serious cookbook addiction notwithstanding -- from what I could tell, the recipes sound fussy, expensive, and not at all kid-friendly, not to mention difficult or impossible to adapt to a kosher lifestyle. (less)
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...moreLike 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.
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.(less)