It's hard to begrudge Beth Lisick the book deal that led to the publication of the mediocre Helping Me Help Myself. She had an idea, and while she didn't strike precisely while the personality-driven "Dare me to do something wacky for a year?" iron was red hot, she managed to smack it before it had cooled entirely.
Helping Me details Lisick's attempt to suspend her (perfectly natural, understandable, healthy) skepticism toward the self-help world, and to devote a year to fixing the problems in her life by following the advice laid out by "experts" in the fields where her problems lie. And Lisick has problems—loads of 'em (for the purposes of this book, anyway)—which she tackles at the rate of one per month. She hires a professional organizer to help clean her house, attends a Seven Habits of Highly Effective People workshop, seeks parenting and budgeting advice, gets in touch with her creative side, and finds a better interest rate on her credit card.
The problem is that when Lisick unleashes her inner snark, she's laugh-out-loud funny (as in the chapter where she is unable to suppress her disdain for Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus); when she toes the book's tagline and earnestly tries to "fix" herself, she's boring, kind of annoying, and—this probably goes without saying—self-indulgent. Her account of Richard Simmons' fitness cruise is perceptive and hilarious, probably because Lisick can't seem to take the idea of getting in shape very seriously (she's already skinny, thanks to one of those freak metabolisms). The chapter on parenting, concerning the antics of her bratty four-year-old, is equally sharp, proving that Lisick is an entertaining writer, so long as her subject is something other than the interior of her own neurotic little head.
Most of the book, though, finds Lisick describing her experiences with various gurus, and it's hard to say what the reader is supposed to get from it all. As a primer to some of the bigger concepts in self-help, it's vaguely useful (I just might just check out Seven Habits) but as a work of pop-nonfiction, it's far too self-obsessed and cloying to be anything more than just passably entertaining.