Help Me! One Woman’s Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Really Can Change Your Life

Marianne Power. Grove, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2906-2

In this frank, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking debut, journalist Power ably lays bare her yearlong quest to live by the tenets of a different self-help book every month. Power reads Rhonda Burns’s The Secret, Get the Guy by Matthew Hussey, and Tony Robbins’s Unleash the Power Within. Taking a retreat based on John C. Parkin’s F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way, Power travels to Italy with other self-help junkies. None of the ideas changed her life, but Power’s book itself becomes her key to self-help. She ruminates on the endless quest to be the best person possible, and the many detours it has inspired. She believes that continually setting the bar higher has made her feel like a failure, and that “perfection comes not from getting what you think you want but from opening your eyes and recognizing that you have everything you could possibly need right now.” Already a bestseller in Power’s native England, the book will surely find a welcoming American readership. Power’s total honesty and openness will make readers realize that, at heart, everyone has similar secret fears and insecurities. Agent: Rachel Mills, Furniss Lawton. (Jan.)