What I do like, though, are stunt journalism books, where the author pursues a self-imposed, all-consuming mission: Julia Powell cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in Julie & Julia, A.J. Jacobs reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica in The Know-It-All, Gretchen Rubin methodically working towards happiness in The Happiness Project. And that’s what we have here: Marianne Power, a British freelance journalist, makes a New Year’s resolution to read and follow the instructions of one self-help book per month for a year.
These include many of the classics: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. She ends up posing naked for an art class, doing standup comedy, actively seeking out rejection, and walking on hot coals. You can already see where this is headed—things don’t go as planned, and she learns some important lessons. But they’re poignant and funny, I promise! The author’s voice is key to the success of this book—I agree with other reviewers about it being Bridget Jones-esque, and I’ve also seen comparisons to Fleabag.
So, if you’re feeling a January vibe of self-improvement but don’t want something mawkish and saccharine, this is the New Year’s book for you.