Helping Me Help Myself, by Beth Lisick

The premise of this book is that Beth Lisick devotes a year to trying to following the advice of various self-help writers. She attends seminars by Stephen Covey, John Gray, Suze Orman, and Deepak Chopra, and even goes on a cruise with Richard Simmons — perhaps rather too easy a target for her.

While Lisick claims to be interested in improving herself, her interest never seems very genuine – it’s more as if she had a funny idea for a book proposal, then had to follow though on it. It comes across that globe-trotting gurus who dispense expensive self-help advice emanate a certain degree of cheesy phoniness. I believe Lisick attempted to learn something from them, but largely failed. Did she try hard enough? If not, was it because, like the light-bulb in the psychiatrist joke, she didn’t really want to change? I personally can’t understand why she’d want to — Beth Lisick, among other things a coorganizer of the Porchlight reading series, is much more of a role model to me personally than any of the self-help swamis she skewers.

After reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Lisick decides it’s less a book about how to be an artist than a book about how to feel like an artist without actually doing any art. This could be the problem with a lot of books in this category — they’re designed to help you feel successful, which may be counter-productive.

Henry Moore — β€œThe secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is – it must be something you cannot possibly do.”

Irrelevant factoid, courtesy of Liam Passmore: it was on this day in 1868 that the typewriter was patented, by Christopher Sholes in Milwaukee.
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