mini-review · stuff I read

How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer

52436930._SX318_SY475_Summary from Goodreads:
A humorous and insightful look into what advice works, what doesn’t, and what it means to transform yourself, by the co-hosts of the popular By the Book podcast.

In each episode of their podcast By the Book, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer take a deep dive into a different self-help book, following its specific instructions, rules, and advice to the letter. From diet and productivity to decorating to social interactions, they try it all, record themselves along the way, then share what they’ve learned with their devoted and growing audience of fans who tune in.

In How to Be Fine, Jolenta and Kristen synthesize the lessons and insights they’ve learned and share their experiences with everyone. How to Be Fine is a thoughtful look at the books and practices that have worked, real talk on those that didn’t, and a list of philosophies they want to see explored in-depth. The topics they cover include:

Getting off your device
Engaging in positive self-talk
Downsizing
Admitting you’re a liar
Meditation
Going outside
Getting in touch with your emotions
Seeing a therapist

Before they began their podcast, Jolenta wanted to believe the promises of self-help books, while Kristen was very much the skeptic. They embraced their differences of opinion, hoping they’d be good for laughs and downloads. But in the years since launching the By the Book, they’ve come to realize their show is about much more than humor. In fact, reading and following each book’s advice has actually changed and improved their lives. Thanks to the show, Kristen penned the Amish romance novel she’d always joked about writing, traveled back to her past lives, and she broached some difficult conversations with her husband about their marriage. Jolenta finally memorized her husband’s phone number, began tracking her finances, and fell in love with cutting clutter.

Part memoir, part prescriptive handbook, this honest, funny, and heartfelt guide is like a warm soul-baring conversation with your closest and smartest friends.

How to Be Fine is a  book I somehow got from William Morrow for review (not sure if I requested it or if it just came with something else? oh well). I hadn’t listened to the podcast this is based on, though I did know about it. I was dreading this would be a fifty-chapter summary of each book they read, like a mini-podcast, and was delighted to see that this isn’t it. The authors divided up their work into a section of “advice that worked”, a section of “advice that didn’t work”, and a section of “advice we wish people would recommend more often.” So this makes for a good discussion about the self-help “industry” and the ways that it assumes a classist/racist/misogynistic/homophobic stance and can actively promote harmful viewpoints.

A quick read.

Dear FTC: I read a review copy sent to me by the publisher.

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