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How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books

  1. 5 out of 5

    sarah

    How to Be Fine is the perfect book for those wanting to gain insights and tips from self help- without having to sift through hundreds of books. After living by the rules of over 50 books, these authors share the best and worst advice they have been given. Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer are hosts of the podcast 'By the Book', where they live by the rules of a different self help book for two weeks and share what worked for them, and what didn't. I have recently really gotten into their po How to Be Fine is the perfect book for those wanting to gain insights and tips from self help- without having to sift through hundreds of books. After living by the rules of over 50 books, these authors share the best and worst advice they have been given. Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer are hosts of the podcast 'By the Book', where they live by the rules of a different self help book for two weeks and share what worked for them, and what didn't. I have recently really gotten into their podcast, so I was really excited to see how their voices would translate to written form. I was not disappointed! The book was organised into sections of - things that worked - things that didn't work - things we wish more books recommended The chapters were only a few pages, condensing 200+ pages of advice into little bite-sized chunks. The way it was organised made it easy to convince yourself 'just one more chapter!' which would turn into just another chapter. and another. At the same time, this book would work well as a few pages a day sort of book for whenever you need a little pick me up or motivation. I found that the structure worked really well to make the book digestible, filled with short snippets of information, humour, anecdotes and insightful observations. "How dare any book have the balls to give us a hard time for buying into the lies constructed by others and presented to us as truths? That's literally victim blaming. Telling people they are responsible for the social inequities and biases that hold them back in life is just another way of jeeping oppressed people down and in no way promotes self-care or living life to the fullest" I am always wary of 'celebrities' or people who use their fame to write a book without really knowing the craft. But after reading over 50 books for the podcast, I shouldn't have been surprised that this would not fall into that trap. The writing was well done, and their voices shone through in an honest and raw way that would not have been possible with a ghost-writer. If you have listened to the podcast, some of this might be repetitive to you, but there are a few new insights in here, as well as inner musings that might not have been included in the episode. If you have not listened to the podcast, I would still recommend it! I don't think being a listener is a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of this book. This is a good jumping off point if you want to get into self help, because even if you disagree with the opinions voiced in this book- you can get recommendations of books you might want to check out! Thanks to Harper Collins for the ARC Release date: 17 March 2020

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    Kristen and Jolenta's podcast By the Book is a winning combination of wise and fun: to make every episode, they commit to living strictly by the rules of one self-help book for two weeks, and then gather to discuss what worked, what didn't, and what they learned. In this new book, they share what they've learned over time from following the rules of more than fifty self-help books, two weeks at a time. Fun, funny, and insightful. Kristen and Jolenta's podcast By the Book is a winning combination of wise and fun: to make every episode, they commit to living strictly by the rules of one self-help book for two weeks, and then gather to discuss what worked, what didn't, and what they learned. In this new book, they share what they've learned over time from following the rules of more than fifty self-help books, two weeks at a time. Fun, funny, and insightful.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nada Elshabrawy

    very funny.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Well this title is surprisingly apropos of everything right now. The two hosts of the By the Book podcast have talked about putting self-help books into practice for a while - each episode of their podcast takes a specific self-help book, tries it out, and comes back to discuss the experience. This book pulls those experiences together like a review article, if you know academic writing. Rather than make each chapter a different book, they group concepts into two sections of what they found in t Well this title is surprisingly apropos of everything right now. The two hosts of the By the Book podcast have talked about putting self-help books into practice for a while - each episode of their podcast takes a specific self-help book, tries it out, and comes back to discuss the experience. This book pulls those experiences together like a review article, if you know academic writing. Rather than make each chapter a different book, they group concepts into two sections of what they found in the books (things that worked and things that didn't), and add an additional section with things they wished more books had recommended (basically their own mini self help book.) I think you could enjoy both the podcast and the book, I'll know soon as will consume them in reverse. I think also i wish I'd read this in audio if the podcasters narrate their own book, which I imagine they do! This came out March 17, 2020, into a world that could use a little help. Thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy through Edelweiss.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    As one who is addicted to bad self-help books, this book was an appealing project to me. The best part is the authors' taking to task the worst kind of self-helps by the Rachel Hollis and Jen Sicneros and the diet types. I also LOVE that they both could not get into meditation. I am right there with them. As one who is addicted to bad self-help books, this book was an appealing project to me. The best part is the authors' taking to task the worst kind of self-helps by the Rachel Hollis and Jen Sicneros and the diet types. I also LOVE that they both could not get into meditation. I am right there with them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Yesenia Cash

    That was fast, it’s ok...a vague summary of several self help books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I haven't listened to the podcast from which this book is developed, but now I really want to. A fascinating look at self-help books, what works from within them, as well as what they all seem to be lacking or suggesting. As someone who loves self-help/self-improvement and yet finds so many so frustrating, this was totally up my alley. The authors, being podcasters, are natural audiobook performers, too. I haven't listened to the podcast from which this book is developed, but now I really want to. A fascinating look at self-help books, what works from within them, as well as what they all seem to be lacking or suggesting. As someone who loves self-help/self-improvement and yet finds so many so frustrating, this was totally up my alley. The authors, being podcasters, are natural audiobook performers, too.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melora

    Qualifying my two stars with the disclaimer that I've not listened to the podcast and I'm not a self-help book person. BUT... not being a self-help book person might, generally, be a plus with this book because, for the most part, the authors aren't fans of the genre either. Okay, maybe they are, since they choose to spend a lot of time reading and discussing self-help books, but vastly more of this book is about what they thought was Wrong with the advice they got than about what was useful. And Qualifying my two stars with the disclaimer that I've not listened to the podcast and I'm not a self-help book person. BUT... not being a self-help book person might, generally, be a plus with this book because, for the most part, the authors aren't fans of the genre either. Okay, maybe they are, since they choose to spend a lot of time reading and discussing self-help books, but vastly more of this book is about what they thought was Wrong with the advice they got than about what was useful. And I'm pretty sure I'd agree 100% with their assessments if I were to read the books they discuss. The "name it/claim it," "men are from Mars," "anti-depressants are for weaklings" stuff, not to mention the "magical" time management, diet, and wealth creation schemes mostly seem just self-evidently dumb or fatally flawed. And I agree that the ideas they liked -- things like increasing one's happiness by being kind to others, and boosting self-confidence through recognizing and trying to change negative patterns of thought -- are useful and reasonable. What I didn't enjoy was the amount of time spent ranting about how dumb/damaging the bad stuff was. I got bored. And sometimes their personal disclosures got a little too personal. Such as when one the authors, in describing how she and her husband are a perfect couple because they are both "disgusting" people, talked about being so desperate to deflate a facial blemish on her husband's face, because she loves deflating such things, that she offered to perform an intimate act for him (I believe they were eating breakfast at the time) if he would allow her this. Anyway. Just SO much more than I signed on for. I can imagine this idea working better as a podcast than a book. The rants, the personal stories, all the things that became so repetitive in the book, are all probably less noticeable in shorter weekly segments.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ric

    This was a short and fun book to read, because it summed up a lot of thoughts on various self help books into a neat train of thought. They were broken down by their concepts and what worked/didn’t work for the authors. There wasn’t a whole lot said about the individual works themselves, so if you’re looking for more of that the book probably isn’t for you. But if you want quick tips and general concepts that stretch across various books in the genre, then this isn’t a bad read at all. 3.5 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Two friends with very different approaches to life take on a series of two week challenges, each based on a self-help book. Each of the two friends evaluates the success of the challenge upon each person’s sense of happiness. This book is a venue to share the challenges that worked best and least well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beatriz

    This is a gift for the fans of the show and the amazing women behind it. It’s a treat to listeners and it is what it is: a summary of what the show brought to their lives (and to ours). It was a delight to read as much as much as it is to listen to the podcast.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    These two have a podcast that's pretty popular so I listened to this on audio and I highly recommend that format. Their alternating voices and just the way they tell their own experiences in living "by the book" was pretty great. This book is exactly what I wanted it to be: it's like listening to two friends of yours share their highs and lows from the world of self-help books over cocktails. I also appreciated their counterpoints to the whole self help book culture (as in: they're mostly writte These two have a podcast that's pretty popular so I listened to this on audio and I highly recommend that format. Their alternating voices and just the way they tell their own experiences in living "by the book" was pretty great. This book is exactly what I wanted it to be: it's like listening to two friends of yours share their highs and lows from the world of self-help books over cocktails. I also appreciated their counterpoints to the whole self help book culture (as in: they're mostly written by white males with dope marketing skills but little in-depth knowledge about what they're hawking). Highly amusing, sometimes poignant, and definitely a worth-while read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    2.5 stars. What I liked about this book: 1-it was short; 2- it summarized the basic premises of 50 self-books and what that looked like in their lives; and 3-I really liked their message on body image. What I did not like about this book: 1-their voice and personality were too much for me, they were crass at times, and spoke like they had a chip on their shoulders and a very apparent agenda; 2-I have read a few of the books they reviewed and felt like they unfairly twisted some of the messages. O 2.5 stars. What I liked about this book: 1-it was short; 2- it summarized the basic premises of 50 self-books and what that looked like in their lives; and 3-I really liked their message on body image. What I did not like about this book: 1-their voice and personality were too much for me, they were crass at times, and spoke like they had a chip on their shoulders and a very apparent agenda; 2-I have read a few of the books they reviewed and felt like they unfairly twisted some of the messages. Overall it was a good reminder that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for all people, but the right self-help message can truly change lives for the better.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lori C

    A Fair Education "I’ve started being able to see my life as a series of brave choices to try new things. And if trying new things usually leaves me feeling like I’ve got a list of badass accomplishments in my wake, then I guess I’m pretty into trying new things". This book was a fantastic idea. As someone who isn't a fan of this podcast, or podcast in general, and has never had the patience to read an entire self-help book, I was able to absorb a lot of information here. In all honesty, I didn't A Fair Education "I’ve started being able to see my life as a series of brave choices to try new things. And if trying new things usually leaves me feeling like I’ve got a list of badass accomplishments in my wake, then I guess I’m pretty into trying new things". This book was a fantastic idea. As someone who isn't a fan of this podcast, or podcast in general, and has never had the patience to read an entire self-help book, I was able to absorb a lot of information here. In all honesty, I didn't love it all. I disagreed with the authors on more than a few points and found myself even skipping entire chapters. But that's still way more self-help than I've ever read and true honesty is rarely entirely understood by anyone other than oneself.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    I am a self help book junkie! I can’t get enough so when I found out there was a book about self help books, I was in. I enjoyed the first part of the book best which covered which parts of which self help books worked best for the two authors. This was a fun read and I’m looking forward to checking out the podcast!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    "And it's superhard to be a feminist and also ask your parents to spend thousands of dollars so you can publicly declare the fact that you're going to try your hardest to bone only one person for the rest of your life. But I wanted to have it all, and that meant making this promise to bone this one guy forever while dressed like a pretty, pretty princess." HOW TO BE FINE is self-help book guide to reading self-help books. But also just a self-help book for the modern world. Jolenta Greenberg and "And it's superhard to be a feminist and also ask your parents to spend thousands of dollars so you can publicly declare the fact that you're going to try your hardest to bone only one person for the rest of your life. But I wanted to have it all, and that meant making this promise to bone this one guy forever while dressed like a pretty, pretty princess." HOW TO BE FINE is self-help book guide to reading self-help books. But also just a self-help book for the modern world. Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer have done the heavy lifting of reading and living by popular self-help books and then distilled them down into what worked, what didn't, and what they wished would be addressed more. Readers can use this as a stand alone self-help or a guide to finding more, but anyone with a desire to better themselves will be served by giving this a read. The authors frequently emphasize that "Only you are an expert in you," and that is a message we can all stand to hear more often. Thank you to William Morrow for providing an egalley of this book for review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna H.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. So many repeated ultra liberal mantras 🤦🏼‍♀️

  18. 4 out of 5

    Esther King

    A very quick read (that I just didn’t review earlier because I’m a lazy sod) that essentially summarises a number of self help books and gives readers...another self help book. It’s not bad, and it certainly bears with it some interesting points, but with so much saturation of self help, you have to wonder if this approach is the best one. Some books I found particularly difficult to stomach when they were summarised within, so that made for interesting reading. Some books were just absurd. I th A very quick read (that I just didn’t review earlier because I’m a lazy sod) that essentially summarises a number of self help books and gives readers...another self help book. It’s not bad, and it certainly bears with it some interesting points, but with so much saturation of self help, you have to wonder if this approach is the best one. Some books I found particularly difficult to stomach when they were summarised within, so that made for interesting reading. Some books were just absurd. I think the authors provided some solid points too, but in the end, I just felt it was a little bit of a ‘meh’ read. Generic and feel good, it didn’t really offer me much- but maybe it will be one others find a lot of value in!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Simone

    I wasn't familiar with Jolenta and Kristen's podcast, "By the Book," but I liked that this book recapped the salient points of what they have found without there needing to be much of a deep dive. I listened to this as an audiobook and it was a great quick book to listen to while I was cooking over the weekend. The book is divided up into three sections: things that worked, things that didn't, and things we wish people talked more about. I loved that "become a morning person" was under things th I wasn't familiar with Jolenta and Kristen's podcast, "By the Book," but I liked that this book recapped the salient points of what they have found without there needing to be much of a deep dive. I listened to this as an audiobook and it was a great quick book to listen to while I was cooking over the weekend. The book is divided up into three sections: things that worked, things that didn't, and things we wish people talked more about. I loved that "become a morning person" was under things that didn't! Also I love that Jolenta and Kristen are committed intersectional feminists not afraid to call out self help book authors and culture for sexist nonsense. Would recommend!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    Another pretty poor book. Some of the books they summarized I've read, but a lot of them I wouldn't have read. Still some good points, but generally - I'd just recommend reading the 50 books over this, as it didn't really accurately summarise them. 1.8/5 Another pretty poor book. Some of the books they summarized I've read, but a lot of them I wouldn't have read. Still some good points, but generally - I'd just recommend reading the 50 books over this, as it didn't really accurately summarise them. 1.8/5

  21. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    This was an interesting look at some of the self-help books that have been published and two women's experiences with reading them and living "by the book". The commentary is sometimes funny, often vulnerable as Jolenta and Kristen shared parts of their lives. The authors present a podcast called By the Book, but you don't need to be a listener of the podcast to understand what's happening in the book (I have never listened to their podcast). I think this could be a fun read for anyone fascinate This was an interesting look at some of the self-help books that have been published and two women's experiences with reading them and living "by the book". The commentary is sometimes funny, often vulnerable as Jolenta and Kristen shared parts of their lives. The authors present a podcast called By the Book, but you don't need to be a listener of the podcast to understand what's happening in the book (I have never listened to their podcast). I think this could be a fun read for anyone fascinated by the extreme popularity of books like Girl Wash Your Face or Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus. As a former bookseller and a current librarian, I am definitely fascinated by the popularity of self-help titles and this was an enjoyable listen for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jill Furedy

    I liked this book the whole time I was reading it. The set up was not at all what I expected - I sort of thought they would go through all 50 books one at a time and tell us a summary of their podcast. I thought the podcast sounded fun when I heard ads for it but I have such a backlog of unlistened to podcasts already that I never got around to downloading any episodes of this one. So the books set up of basically: What Worked, What Didn't and Things We Wished They'd Said, was suprising to me bu I liked this book the whole time I was reading it. The set up was not at all what I expected - I sort of thought they would go through all 50 books one at a time and tell us a summary of their podcast. I thought the podcast sounded fun when I heard ads for it but I have such a backlog of unlistened to podcasts already that I never got around to downloading any episodes of this one. So the books set up of basically: What Worked, What Didn't and Things We Wished They'd Said, was suprising to me but did make it very readable and conversational. It was a quick light read, despite there being some delving into emotional issues and traumas. And the end of many chapters included a 'listener question' basically arguing whatever point the authors were making and they address that. Which I did like from a practical standpoint. They are pretty insistent that just because something worked for them doesn't mean it will work for everyone (which is a main problem they have with the self help books they read). But now that I've set it down and it's been a week - I cannot remember much of anything they talked about. A little summary in the end of which ones they liked or didn't like, or a sentence or two about what they got out of the book would have helped cement it for me. I remember they read Marie Kondo and something about Gratitude and Rachel Hollis and Men are from Mars. I remember recognizing some books they mentioned. I cannot remember if anything they read sounded worth reading. But I know each of them got something out of a few of the books. So I enjoyed the book, I liked the authors and their stories, but it turns out I didn't gain much out of the whole thing other than being entertained for a couple of days. That's not a bad thing in itself, but I was sort of hoping for some take aways of books I should pick up, or ideas worth trying. Sometime I will try to listen to at least one episode of the podcast though, so I guess it did confirm that I might enjoy that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I'm not familiar with the podcast, but I read my fair share of self help books and after hearing about this book on NPR I knew I had to check it out. I loved Kristen & Jolenta's take down of self help advice that is unhelpful, and often sexist, racist, classist, and/or ableist. I appreciated the authors differing views based on their different lives and personal experiences. The book has three sections: things that worked, things that didn't work, and things they wish more books recommended. I t I'm not familiar with the podcast, but I read my fair share of self help books and after hearing about this book on NPR I knew I had to check it out. I loved Kristen & Jolenta's take down of self help advice that is unhelpful, and often sexist, racist, classist, and/or ableist. I appreciated the authors differing views based on their different lives and personal experiences. The book has three sections: things that worked, things that didn't work, and things they wish more books recommended. I think there are truths shared here that I wish more people were willing to say/hear! The diet industry is a racket, meditation isn't for everyone, the virginity ideal is harmful, forgiveness for all is not always helpful, "manifesting" success is privileged garbage, kindness and gratitude really do go a long way, and helping others in the areas that you yourself needed help is truly fulfilling.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    I quite enjoy the By the Book podcast. Greenberg and Meinzer take two weeks and live strictly (sometimes not so strictly) by various self-help books. For those people who aren't avid self-help readers, they might wonder if there are really that many books out there. Oh yes, there are. Books that range from really useful to downright ridiculous and the authors of this book have read over 50 at this point. If you have ever wondered about self-help books, listening to the podcast is definitely wort I quite enjoy the By the Book podcast. Greenberg and Meinzer take two weeks and live strictly (sometimes not so strictly) by various self-help books. For those people who aren't avid self-help readers, they might wonder if there are really that many books out there. Oh yes, there are. Books that range from really useful to downright ridiculous and the authors of this book have read over 50 at this point. If you have ever wondered about self-help books, listening to the podcast is definitely worth it. If you have ever wondered more about the authors, this is a great book. In alternating chapters, Greenberg and Meinzer talk about the books that they have read and what has really helped them. They also answer letters that listeners of the podcast have sent regarding particular episodes, books, and whether the authors were "right" in their assessments of books. A lot of this was information that I had already heard on the podcast but it was fun to relearn a lot of it. I liked the honesty about the things that worked and the things that didn't. And both authors are up front about why things worked for them and why they might not work for other people.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katya

    I think fans of the authors’ podcast will probably really enjoy this book because they will better understand, going into it, what to expect. I didn’t personally connect with How To Be Fine, because I was looking for something a bit more substantive. More examples from the actual books the authors examined would have gone a long way for me. As it is, once a reader, not already a fan, starts disagreeing with a number of their general takeaways, it’s simply too easy to lose interest. I guess that’ I think fans of the authors’ podcast will probably really enjoy this book because they will better understand, going into it, what to expect. I didn’t personally connect with How To Be Fine, because I was looking for something a bit more substantive. More examples from the actual books the authors examined would have gone a long way for me. As it is, once a reader, not already a fan, starts disagreeing with a number of their general takeaways, it’s simply too easy to lose interest. I guess that’s the inherent risk with critique.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    The first part of this book was ok. It was things that they learned from the self help books. The other two parts, especially the last part (things they wish self help books would cover) were torturous. I nearly put the book down at several points. I wish that women would realize that you can be hilarious without being crass. One of these writers in particular sucked at that. Also, “funnest” is not a word. Any book that uses that “word” gets bumped down a star automatically. It’s not cool or hip The first part of this book was ok. It was things that they learned from the self help books. The other two parts, especially the last part (things they wish self help books would cover) were torturous. I nearly put the book down at several points. I wish that women would realize that you can be hilarious without being crass. One of these writers in particular sucked at that. Also, “funnest” is not a word. Any book that uses that “word” gets bumped down a star automatically. It’s not cool or hip or funny, it is just grammatically incorrect.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, cohosts of the podcast By the Book, decided to live by self-help books for two weeks each, to determine what worked for them and what didn’t. This book is the result of that experiment, and as the authors say, readers can try some of the tips along with the authors, or just read along for some entertainment. The book was split into three parts: things that worked for them, things that didn’t work for them, and things they wished more books would recommend. Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, cohosts of the podcast By the Book, decided to live by self-help books for two weeks each, to determine what worked for them and what didn’t. This book is the result of that experiment, and as the authors say, readers can try some of the tips along with the authors, or just read along for some entertainment. The book was split into three parts: things that worked for them, things that didn’t work for them, and things they wished more books would recommend. The 29 topics included practicing positive self-talk and gratitude (things that worked), meditation and the law of attraction (things that didn’t work), and not comparing yourself to others and seeking therapy (things they wished more books would mention), among many others. During the course of recounting their very personal experiences living by these books for a short while, I appreciated that they had no problem calling out problematic themes in some of them, like one that told its readers to take responsibility for lies they told themselves that were preventing them from being truly happy (“Happiness comes from outside factors...I won’t be worthy of love until my body is the right size....”). While the authors acknowledged these are definitely detrimental to self worth, they don’t agree with putting the blame on individuals and completely disregarding how these are instilled on us by society. Other books they talked about completely disregarded social and racial inequities, were not gender inclusive, or told people to take nothing personally and forgive everyone completely even in instances of abuse and trauma. Greenberg and Meinzer also acknowledged that not everyone has the privilege and ability to try everything in self help books, like living below your means or getting rid of anything that doesn’t give you joy. Overall, I thought this was an interesting read about the women’s personal experiences, that explored some of the popular topics in self-help books and acknowledged where many were problematic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    As a person who does not read self-help books, I’m surprised how much I LOVED this book, which is a collection of two women’s reflections on living by the rules of 50 self-help books (I’ve read two of the 50, one of which was over a decade ago). The book is conveniently categorized by 1) things that worked, 2) things that didn’t work, and 3) things they wish more self-help books would recommend. I had never heard of their podcast, By the Book, until I heard about this book on NPR’s Code Switch p As a person who does not read self-help books, I’m surprised how much I LOVED this book, which is a collection of two women’s reflections on living by the rules of 50 self-help books (I’ve read two of the 50, one of which was over a decade ago). The book is conveniently categorized by 1) things that worked, 2) things that didn’t work, and 3) things they wish more self-help books would recommend. I had never heard of their podcast, By the Book, until I heard about this book on NPR’s Code Switch podcast. Anyway, highly recommend this read of the concept interests you!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Juanita

    Not life changing but i liked it.. it was short , made me laugh and made me think. The authors have a podcasts about their attempts to live by the advice of various self-help books for about two weeks each. This book doesn't go over all 50 of them one by one but instead groups them into categories like meditation or being outdoors and summarizes what they learned and what they thought of the books that touched on the topic. The authors often had very different responses to the books they read. S Not life changing but i liked it.. it was short , made me laugh and made me think. The authors have a podcasts about their attempts to live by the advice of various self-help books for about two weeks each. This book doesn't go over all 50 of them one by one but instead groups them into categories like meditation or being outdoors and summarizes what they learned and what they thought of the books that touched on the topic. The authors often had very different responses to the books they read. Sometimes with self-help books its easy to feel like you should be able to take this very good advice and have life changing results( which rarely to never happens)..it was nice to be reminded that some advice sucks or the advice is fine but it just doesn't work for everyone. I've read/listened to about 9 of the 50 and it was interesting to hear sometimes a completely different reaction or interpretation. There were 3 or 4 books they reviewed that i'd abandoned and hearing their take reconfirmed those books are not a good fit for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Keely

    In How to Be Fine, co-authors Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer revisit what they've learned from living by the rules of fifty self-help books for their podcast By the Book. The books they've lived by range from magical get-rich guides, to diet books, to home organization manifestos and books on the benefits of meditation. Kristen and Jolenta organize How to Be Fine in three sections: 13 things that worked, 8 things that didn't work, and 8 things they wish more self-help books would recommen In How to Be Fine, co-authors Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer revisit what they've learned from living by the rules of fifty self-help books for their podcast By the Book. The books they've lived by range from magical get-rich guides, to diet books, to home organization manifestos and books on the benefits of meditation. Kristen and Jolenta organize How to Be Fine in three sections: 13 things that worked, 8 things that didn't work, and 8 things they wish more self-help books would recommend. Like the podcast, this book casts a critical eye on the money-making juggernaut that is the self-help publishing industry. In general, Kristen and Jolenta emphasize that not all self-help practices are going to work for all readers--and that's okay. In particular, they point out that two-thirds of self-help authors are men, mostly white, and many of them seem completely oblivious to the reality that they are very particular individuals, coming from a very particular place of privilege, with a particular kind of lived experience, and therefore, their self-help suggestions are not as universally applicable as they seem to think. Also like the podcast, How to Be Fine is laugh-out-loud funny, as well as embracing of those self-help practices that do seem to be broadly applicable and generally helpful. These include committing acts of kindness, engaging in positive self-talk, practicing gratitude, getting off your devices, and going outside, among others.

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