Help Me! NPR coverage of Help Me!: One Women's Quest to Find Out If Self-help Really Can Change Your Life by Marianne Power. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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Help Me!

One Women's Quest to Find Out If Self-help Really Can Change Your Life

by Marianne Power

Hardcover, 364 pages, Grove Press, List Price: $26 |


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Help Me!
One Women's Quest to Find Out If Self-help Really Can Change Your Life
Marianne Power

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Book Summary

Offers a humorous and honest account of the author's year-long quest to remake her life using the advice from some of the best known and acclaimed self-help books.

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NPR stories about Help Me!

Feel The Fear — And Read It Anyway: 'Help Me!' Documents A Year Of Self-Help Books

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Help Me!

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

I started small on January 2nd – with a spot of parallel parking. Not exactly dramatic, but I hadn't tried it since my driver's test when I was seventeen.

At home my bold step into the world of fear-fighting was not greeted with excitement.

'I just did a parallel park!' I told mum, swinging the car keys on my fingers like a man of the road, an easy rider. She looked up from the sink full of dishes.

'Does your book tell you to park?'

'No, it's just about doing scary things. Confronting your fears. And parking is scary.'

Mum looked bewildered. She didn't find parking scary. She could fit a truck on a postage stamp and would make no big deal about it.

When she was my age she had three children and a house to run, she was not 'challenging' herself by parking or jumping into icy ponds.

She did not have time for self-discovery or, as she puts it, 'I was not brought up to contemplate my toenails.' Funnily enough, self-help wasn't big on the farm in rural Ireland, where she grew up, the eldest daughter of seven brothers and sisters. 

When I had told her about my idea at Christmas, she opened her mouth to say something, then closed it again. Then she opened it. And closed it.

'Most people would say your life is already very good, Marianne.'

'I know it is but what's wrong with wanting to be a bit happier?'

'Nobody can be happy all the time. It's just not the way life is.'

'Well that's miserable.'

'No, it's not. It's realistic. Maybe you would feel better if, instead of always looking for more, you were grateful for what you have.'