Picador Books June 2019
Marianne Power was stuck in a rut. Then one day she wondered could self-help books help her find the elusive perfect life?
She decided to test one book a month for a year, following their advice to the letter. What would happen if she followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Really felt The Power of Now? Could she unearth The Secret to making her dreams come true?
What begins as a clever experiment becomes an achingly poignant story. Because self – help can change your life – but not necessarily for the better…
Help Me! is an irresistibly funny and very moving book about a wild and ultimately redemptive journey that will resonate with anyone who’s ever dreamed of finding happiness.
Honestly, I don’t mind the odd Self Help Book so when The Tandem Collective were looking for readers to join in a readalong I quickly put my hand up. And what an eye opening read this was. I thought Self Help books were relatively harmless guides on self improvement, mostly with similar messages and I suppose they usually are but when Marianne Power decided to read 1 Self Help book a month and adhere to its messages the results were highly entertaining but also often chaotic and at times very sad.
Most chapters are dedicated to the corresponding Self Help book for the month but things do go a little off track and Power writes freely about her journey. The book is a strange mix of hope and despair as each book is embraced as a new start only for the promised level of self improvement to not materialise. Some of the messages were contrary and in my opinion overemphasised the power of positive thought as a vessel of significant change which seemed unhelpful for someone seeking self improvement. Predominantly the messages were similar though, focus on positives, being clear what your aspirations are, taking risks…
What emerged as the book progressed was some very entertaining moments – mostly related to Power’s risk taking – including stand up comedy, naked yoga and nude modelling for a drawing class. I was continually impressed with how brave she was and her willingness to take risks, although I also agreed with many of her friends when they questioned the purpose of risk taking for risk taking sake.
Power was left depressed and despairing part way through her year and I was interested to read about the value of seeking talking therapy with another, and the risk of ‘poking around’ too much in the unconscious. But Power completed her challenge and shared it with us in a fun way and I was left feeling she definitely had gained from the whole experience and while some aspects of Self Help were clearly more beneficial than others I found the book to be an inspirational read that left me motivated to push myself out of my comfort zone for the purpose of self development.
Thank you to Tandem Collective for organising the Instagram readalong and to Picador Books for providing me with a copy of the book to read.
Marianne Power is a writer and journalist who lives in London. Help Me! is her first book