Monday, September 24, 2007

Practically Perfect in Every Way by Jennifer Niesslein

If you are amused and mildly disgusted by the self-help genre, Jennifer Niesslein's Practically Perfect in Every Way is the perfect book for you.

In Practically Perfect, Niesslein decides that something is missing from her life, and that self-help may hold the key to happiness. To make things more interesting, she decides to write a book chronicling her experiences. The result: lots of sarcastic humor, but also a good, quiet look at why self-help is overrated.

The book focuses mostly on self-help in the areas of the household, relationships, and parenting. (If you think Feng Shui is kind of silly, like I do, you'll especially like the commentary in the first chapter.) As you near the end of the book, Niesslein obviously starts losing steam. She is not as gung-ho in her experiments, but at the same time you start getting more down-to-earth, insightful observations about self-help.

The very last chapter of Practically Perfect is my kind of chapter: Niesslein deals with the issue of The Soul. In doing so, she delves into the world of religion, but she also talks a lot about why she isn't particularly religious — something I can totally understand. It is fitting that this is the last chapter, because by this point Niesslein has decided that taking every one else's advice is a really bad idea.

To conclude, I would like to post a quote from Niesslein's chapter on The Soul, one that pretty much exemplifies her humor and the way she came to view self-help:

Are my morals proof of the existence of God? If anything, they seem to me to be proof of the existence of my mother.

Truer words have never been spoken.

No comments: