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Self Care

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,752 ratings  ·  475 reviews
The female cofounders of a wellness start-up struggle to find balance between being good people and doing good business, while trying to stay BFFs.

Maren Gelb is on a company-imposed digital detox. She tweeted something terrible about the President’s daughter, and as the COO of Richual, “the most inclusive online community platform for women to cultivate the practice of sel
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 30th 2020 by Penguin
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Average rating 3.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,752 ratings  ·  475 reviews

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Sigrid A
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: covid-19
I need a cleanse of my own after reading this. I can see from other reviews that I'm in a minority on this one, but I really did not enjoy this novel. The character development was very cliched, it lacked depth, and the structure of the novel felt like it needed more editing. Bringing in sexual assault charges and childhood trauma at the end doesn't add depth in this case, but rather feels like an attempt to tug at emotions. And I'm not at all sure what to make of the ending. What am I supposed ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
A parody of the self-help and wellness industry, "Self Care" (2020) is a light entertaining novel complete with catchy one liners written by Leigh Stein. In addition to her novels with feminist themes, Srein has written her memoir: "Land of Enchantment" (2016) and a book of poetry. This is her seventh book.

This novel opens in 2017, with the health and wellness free website "Richual" dedicated to improving, enhancing and empowering the lives of all women followers and subscribers--the sale of (co
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Wait, what? That was my reaction at the end, which felt more like the half-way point. A satirical look at the online wellness movement, at being ‘woke,’ at white fragility, at influencers; a comprehensive list of all the ridiculous products women fall for in their attempt to be whole and empowered and healthy; a poke at how men still control everything no matter how far women think they’ve come — all of this would’ve been bearable in a sort of uncomfortable hahaha sort of way, had there only bee ...more
Jess Barron
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While living through this global health pandemic, I'm still trying to unpack and recover from the daily traumas and minute-to-minute dramas of the previous 6 years spent toiling 24/7 in the blindingly contradictory world of women's wellness. Too soon? Maybe. That said, I was drawn to this book like bougie basic betches are drawn to The Class by Taryn Toomey. Leigh Stein’s "Self Care" was just the darkly comedic celery juice and organic gin craft cocktail I needed to toss back to process the mixt ...more
Genevieve Padalecki
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Leigh Stein was prescient in writing this book. How timely to write a book titled Self Care not only because we could all use a little—or a lot—of self care these days, but we are all living online right now being hit from every direction with what to buy, breaking news, and viral videos. I know that I for one am overstimulated. This book couldn’t have come and spoken to a better time. I was giddy at the satirical lens in which Leigh wrote about self care in the lifestyle space. I got totally wr ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
okay so this one time i went to an event at the wing before the wing got canceled and i was like there is something so psychically amiss about those 25 year old employees with minimalist avocado line drawing tattoos and vaguely yonic decorative sculptures that i feel like i'm the protagonist of a "get out" spin-off for ladies. and then like three months later amanda hess did that semi investigative piece about the insane racism behind the scenes and audrey gelman resigned, and i was like holy sh ...more
Laura Peden
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Thank goodness this was short because it’s a hot mess.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I feel seen af. I haven't loved a book this much since "Daisy Jones." Stein's nickname as the poet laureate of The Bachelor displays her perfection to write about the exact intersection of wellness influencers and do-good millennial brands where so many people of a certain age and background spend their internet lives. How many of these companies have I watched implode-Gawker, Away, Decium, Uber, etc etc etc. However, Stein lowers the knives into us, the enablers and viewers, just as sharply as ...more
Becca Freeman
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure if it was my quarantine mood, or this book, or some combination. But this book was TOO MUCH. Even though the portrayal of startup culture was so spot on, all the characters were so hateable that I found it hard to read. ...more
Emily Polson
Mar 09, 2020 added it
Shelves: arc, adult-fic
Things I loved about this book:

-Maren's ironic, yet self-aware obsession with work as COO of a wellness startup
-Devin's ridiculously specific self-care practices
-Khadijah's tendency to channel her stress into blog titles
-The seamless integration of blogs, texts, press releases, and chatroom conversations into and between three distinctive first-person POVs
-Its uncanny portrayal of both shine theory and toxicity in female friendships, the double-edged sword that is the wellness industry, and the
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
A fun little bonbon that I blew through, but it felt like it never really made a point. Enjoyable enough for a vacation read but I wouldn't recommend it otherwise. ...more
Jennifer Wright
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulously biting satire of the "self care" industry aimed at women, and a wonderful look at the way women's very real pain and insecurities are exploited and used to make a profit (usually for the male VCs at the head of those empires). Though frankly, I'd give it five stars just for the one line where one character tells another, "you don't work hard enough to be burnt out." ...more
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Whether you read this book or not, please just go read Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism instead or in addition to. You’ll learn way more by reading that book than this one.

DNF’d this book with less than 100 pages to go. I was hate reading it by that point. I understand what this book was trying to do but I don’t think it succeeded. I’m all for skewering the white feminism and fake empowerment of companies/brands that crumbles under any scrutiny but this book just ended up being the thing it was try
Sherry Cooper
Why Did I Read This

Because it was so highly recommended in Cosmo? What a waste of time. This book was stupid and annoying. I get that it’s a satire, mocking women for their self-absorption and vanity. Regardless, it is tiring and poorly written. Surely, this should not be the hot summer beach read it is promoted to be.
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My Q&A with Leigh Stein for Brooklyn Rail:

According to its most basic dictionary definition, “self-care” means simply “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” But moving past its denotation and into its many—and frequently ambivalent—connotations, self-care becomes a more fraught and considerably less straightforward term. Leigh Stein’s second novel, Self Care, examines the ambiguities inherent in its title concept, deliver
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
To the Athenian bookseller or writer who left this ARC in the Little Lending Library on Prince, you are my quarantine angel. I don’t remember the last time I devoured a book so quickly.
Christy Clark
Don’t bother

I wanted to like this book but there was nothing redeeming in it. The characters were unlikable, and unsympathetic and the plot was all over the place. Don’t waste your money.
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved the voice in this book so much, it truly felt familiar in that way that makes me cringe. But then we got to Khadija and it just felt so vague, like there wasn't enough time to do research on what she would sound like and be like, not even a cursory mention that black women are much more likely to die in child birth than anyone else? It just felt surface-level and the issues that cropped up later also felt surface level, which I guess it's par for the course with these shallow start-up fo ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
Oh my God, I almost didn't finish this one. I didn't get the point, so what was this all about? I got the impression that we have a couple of loose stories here to, well, I don't know what this novel wanted to actually tell me. I was pretty bored and yes, maybe I would have had more fun with it if I got all the pop culture references.
The novel lacked a real plot and a meaning.
I knew that Self Care wanted to deal with Social Media, but this was just too much. Furthermore, this was ought to be a
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A punchy and important novel that explores the ways in which the commercialization of modern feminism and the "self care" industry masquerades as wellness for women, but really just makes us feel inadequate and promotes bullying and tear-down culture. Stein has a sharp wit and a talent for writing believable characters (we all know exactly who these people are!) and uses the power of fiction to call attention to the nefarious influence of social media and #girlboss culture on millennials. I love ...more
Lauren Horvath
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I almost never laugh while I'm reading a book...I thought something might be wrong with me, but now I know I just needed to read THIS BOOK! Witty, snarky, outrageous--this book is just so much fun, but not without an undercurrent of mild trepidation, especially because Leigh Stein does an amazing job of holding up the mirror to our current culture. Girls all over the world who have suffered through hours of Fab Fit Fun ads and hot yoga will absolutely DIE OVER (that means LOVE) this book. ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
3.5 rounded down
Jessica Klahr
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was a little hesitant to read this one at first because influencer/wellness social media culture in general makes my brain feel mushy. My worries were unfounded, however, due to the self-awareness this book had. The narration had a biting wit and it never felt like the author wasn’t in on the joke. This was an interesting take on startup culture as well, since you got to see how the founders met and the inner workings of their dynamic as real life friends and partners. Khadijah was also a stro ...more
Caiti S
Jul 12, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. A glossy satire of the health and wellness industry, #girlboss life, corporate feminism, influencers, social media, and the lack of diversity in startups. Fun and fast-reading--almost to a fault; it felt rushed and likely *was* rushed by publishers given how of-the-moment the subject matters is. It'd probably make for a great book club read for Gen Z/millenial ladies. It touched on almost too many buzzy topics, so I felt that it would have benefitted from being at least 10% longer. I ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think this book is wildly misunderstood. It's supposed to be satirical. You hate the characters because you're kind of supposed to. This book is short but packs a HUGE punch because it essentially calls out an industry that monetizes something that can be done for free or at least a lot cheaper than what brands charge these days. Also, I think it shows how competitive women can be, even when they claim to just want to build each other up in the workplace. The cover is this wonderful and pretty ...more
Ashley Holstrom
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maren and Devin are best friends and cofounders of Richual, an online community of well-meaning women looking for the ultimate in self-care and wellness. When Maren tweets something awful about the U.S. president’s daughter, she’s sent on a company-mandated detox, where she discovers some unsavory secrets about one of her board members. Meanwhile, her best employee is keeping a growing secret of her own. Complete with comments from the Richual message board and press releases to try to save face ...more
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am #allin on satire about self care culture, Instagram influencers, and white feminism, but this was unfortunately all over the place. Khadijah's story felt as tacked on in the book as her role at Richual; character shifts toward the end weren't really earned or justified. Some of the satire re: performative social justice warrioring (a personal internet pet peeve of mine) and "girl boss" behavior cliches (another one) was entertaining, but the story feels lost among all the accouterments. ...more
I'm in this book and I don't like it.

Self Care is nothing but references. Ready Player One readers might disagree, but references are not enough to carry a novel. They're not. There's really nothing to this novel, there's barely even a plot and I can't believe I'm giving it a four star review but boy, oh, boy does Leigh Stein know her pop culture. And it's fun, it's really fun to just get destroyed by her calculated lambasting of every single object and person in my white, female, millennial li
Yukari Watanabe
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
You wouldn't want to spend your precious time to get to this ending. ...more
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Leigh Stein writes about what the internet is doing to us. Her fourth book, SELF CARE, is a satire of the wellness industry and girlboss feminism. From 2014–2017, she ran a secret Facebook group of 40,000 women writers, in her role as cofounder and executive director of Out of the Binders/BinderCon, a feminist nonprofit organization. She’s been called a “leading feminist” by the Washington Post an ...more

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“Leaving New York was always a reminder of the millions of people who would never choose your life or your lifestyle, the one you fought so hard to have, to prove how special you were.” 0 likes
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