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How to Be Fine

Cover: 'How to Be Fine'

Staff Review: "How to Be Fine" by Jolenta Greenberg, Kristen Meinzer


Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, co-hosts of the podcast "By the Book," decided to live by self-help books for two weeks each, to determine what personally 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 pure 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 when needed (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. For example, one book told its readers to to take full 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 Greenberg and Meinzer acknowledged these are definitely detrimental to self-worth, they don't agree with putting the blame solely on individuals and completely disregarding that these are actually 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 trauma. Greenburg and Meinzer also acknowledged that not everyone is able 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 very personal experiences, that explored some of the popular topics in self-help books and acknowledged where many were problematic.

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

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