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About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



Lisick, Beth: Helping Me Help Myself

  Amazon  

4 stars

Beth Lisick spent 2006 improving herself. Or at least working her way through the bestselling advice of ten renowned self-help gurus. Her book is divided into twelve chapters, one per month, including two nominal, page-long chapters for July and August, during which she essentially took a vacation from the project. In most cases Lisick read a book of advice by her current month's guru: Jack Canfield of the Chicken Soup series, John Gray's Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In many cases, though, Lisick supplemented her reading by attending one of that author's seminars--events conducted by the spiritualist Sylvia Browne and by Deepak Chopra, for example; she has a two-hour phone consultation with an expert on organizing who is somehow associated with Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out.

Lisick's book is a light, fast, reasonably enjoyable read. It's the sort of book that one is apt to like or not depending on how much you enjoy the author's personality, because it's not just about the self-help: Lisick weaves anecdotes from her own life (which is happy enough but rather disorganized) into the narrative. I laughed aloud a few times while reading the book, twice during Lisick's chapter on organizing. Here she is describing her initial conversation with an organizing consultant:

"She listens in a way I imagine a top-notch therapist would, not even perceptibly cringing when I say that Eli parks his bike in the living room or that we need a place to store mustaches and wigs."

And during another conversation:

"When we get to the closet, I make a confession. Something I have never told anyone.

"'Our shoes are in a wine rack.' I say it breathlessly. Confessing, yes, but also hoping she'll ignore it.

"'I'm sorry. Your what?'

"'We keep most of our shoes in this wire wine rack thing that we got at a garage sale.'

"'Oh.' She sounds amused. 'And is that working for you?'

"'Well, no.'

"'Okay...'

"I feel reflective.

"'I think it's because a shoe and a bottle of wine are not really the same shape.'

"'Good.'"

But my favorite chapter is about Lisick's experiences on a Richard Simmons Carnival Cruise, which is absolutely fascinating.

"And then I see him. Actually, it's that voice I hear first. One flight below us, amid the rather pasty, confused mob, he absolutely glows. His skin doesn't look as orange in person, not as sprayed on. He simply exudes a healthy and natural-seeming bronzeness and is wearing his signature red-and-white-striped shorts with a red crystal-studded tank top. The best word for his hair is probably 'round.'

"We make eye contact. I see him spot our 'Cruise to Lose' name tags and then he rushes up the stairs. He's coming right for us. Thank God I pinned that thing on! He bounds straight to Jan, wrapping his arms around her, and plants a kiss on her cheek."

The experience is what you'd expect in a way--a mix of schmaltz and tears and preternatural pep and funny, but you come away from it thinking that Richard Simmons is simply a genius at what he does.

If Helping Me Help Myself sounds familiar, you may be thinking of a very similar title that was published not long before Lisick's, Jennifer Niesslein's Practically Perfect in Every Way (see my review). I can't imagine that either author was very happy at the coincidence, but sometimes ideas are just in the air. Of the two, Niesslein's is probably more informative, and I think she made more of an attempt to adopt the programs she was writing about, while Lisick's interest was often only half-hearted. But both books are quite readable. I wouldn't steer readers away from either.

Comments

1.

The Richard Simmons chapter was my favorite too. I thought she lost steam by the end.

http://ratherread.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/helping-me-help-myself-by-beth-lisick/

(Review posted to my alternate blog.)

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