By the Book – help yourself with some self-help

Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer are the hosts of the podcast "By the Book" and have just written their own: How to Be Fine (subtitle: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books). In the podcast, which will soon wrap its sixth season, Meinzer and Greenberg both live by the edicts, rules, advice, &/or admonitions of a particular self-help book for two weeks, and then discuss how that went and whether it, in fact, helped them, with each of them providing their verdict on the book in question. Meinzer is a self-described self-help skeptic, while Greenberg is more prone to buy into the advice on offer. Their husbands (Dean and Brad) are brought along from the ride, and their reactions to the ever-changing rules of their households are captured and shared in audio diary snippets.

Books by which they have lived include The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up (it did not, over all, spark joy), Getting Things Done (the system worked, but not big fans of the book), Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics (Jolenta remains a skeptic, and Kristen enjoyed the co-author more than the author), The Nature Fix (overall calming, and enjoyed exploring the world through nature, but questioned some of the author's perspectives and mental health "diagnoses"), and A Girl's Guide to Joining the Resistance (both big fans, easy to read with concrete steps). We've created a list of the "By the Book" books that are available electronically, since this blog post was drafted during week one of Covid-19 lock-down - with the Library closed, access to physical books is not an option currently, but our electronic offerings are available 24/7 (if you don't have a library card but live, work, attend school, or own property in the City, St. Louis County, or St. Charles County, you can get an ecard which you can use to access the Library's digital resources remotely - click here to learn more). 




During the most recent season, Meinzer and Greenberg explored some self-help classics, starting with the original How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936, and picking a different self-help book from each subsequent decade, including Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking (1952), The Joy of Sex (1972), and Who Moved My Cheese? (1998). The hosts were shocked by some of the dated references, language, and attitudes, but were almost always able to find a nugget or two that applied to their modern 21st century lives.

And in case you are inspired to follow in their footsteps and want to learn more about the podcasting biz during your down time, Meinzer has also authored the book, So You Want to Start a Podcast, a step-by-step guide to creating your own successful podcast, which would pair very well with the recording facilities and editing tools at the Library's Creative Experience spaces, currently at our Central and Barr locations, once we reopen our doors.

Browsing the physical Library shelves around call number 158 (where "applied psychology," a/k/a self-help is concentrated), I almost always find something of interest and potential use. Here's hoping that this podcast and the books it explores can do the same for you virtually during these interesting, challenging, times. Peace, and may you be well. 

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