Tag Archives: self-help

Review of The Gifted Storyteller: The Power Is in the Story You Tell, by Gregg Korrol

I won a copy of Gregg Korrol‘s The Gifted Storyteller through Goodreads:

What if a Genie popped out of a bottle and gave you the power to create your life as it happened?

Michael followed “the plan” and did everything he was supposed to for life to be successful; great job, money, dates, yet despite it all, everything wasn’t the dream he expected. One night after work, he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman named Jeannie, who introduces him to the Gifted Storyteller, and changes his life forever.

This isn’t so much a review as documenting I’ve read this book, because I just don’t like this sort of book. I knew that I didn’t like a certain sort of book, but didn’t know this would be a book of the sort I don’t like. By this sort of book, I mean the sort where someone meets a stranger who opts to impart sacred knowledge to some random sap and this is presented to the reader as ultimately enlightening. There’s a quote on page 91 that states, “What she is saying is mind blowing.” and that’s how the reader is meant to feel about the book and it’s lessons. Here’s the thing, I almost never feel that they are. I didn’t here either.

I could take that fact to mean this is a pointless self-help book, but maybe it’s just imparting lessons I don’t need—to be mindful of the reality you build yourself and be careful of the fictions you build in your head (very Deepak Chopra).

Some will likely call this a sexist generalization, but I think men are especially in danger of this. After all, how many women have died because they didn’t live up to the fantasy of some strange man? (Certainly Korrol uses his character’s relationship to the opposite sex to make this point.) So, maybe these are lessons some people actually need, while some of us had to learn them growing up or risk never making it to adulthood.

Review of The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen, by Taylor Marsh

The Sexual Education of a Beauty QueenI won a copy of Taylor Marsh‘s The Sexual Education of Beauty Queen through Goodreads.

Description from Goodreads:
“The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen” is at once memoir, commentary, enlightenment, and a little dose of self-help. Taylor Marsh was Miss Missouri and performed on Broadway, hosted a radio show, and starred in a one-woman show. She was also a relationship consultant for the nation’s largest newsweekly, edited the web’s first megasuccessful women-owned and -operated soft-core pornography site, worked as a phone-sex actress, and studied sexuality and relationships for years. She’s been single, a girlfriend, a mistress, and a wife. She has the inside track to what men want, what women need, and how we all tend to muck it up. As a political commentator and popular writer, Taylor is intelligent and inspiring. She blends personal experience, pop culture, and the politics of sex in an entertaining, engaging, and inspiring read.

This was not a big winner for me, for several reasons. This despite the fact that I actually agreed with a lot of her final conclusions, appreciated her take on feminism and thought some of what she had to say, especially about the church, was very brave. The problem for me was that I think she should have stuck with an academic argument and left out the autobiography. Because often the biographical sections just came across as braggy and cluttered up the message she was trying to convey. But let me break down a few of my more specific complaints.

Marsh tried to simultaneously hold onto her “I’m so innocent,” Midwestern beauty queen person and tell the reader about all the sexually liberated, kinky things she was doing. And it just didn’t work. They really are kind of mutually exclusive.

Further, despite presenting herself as ultra liberal and accepting—she talked to prostitutes like people, after all—the book is full of micro-aggressions against the same people and demographics she’s claiming to liberate. For example, stating that managing circus talent was the perfect previous experience for corralling the misfit strippers, models and XXX-raters who worked at a porn startup and denigrating the men who called the phone sex line for some of the more deviant fantasies. She seems to want to simultaneously be believed to be open and accepting of all fantasy, while also making it clear she maintains the moral and societal high ground. Again, it just doesn’t work.

Also, several events in the book feel very re-remembered. For example, she claims to have started working in a sex phone bank explicitly for the opportunity to talk to men about why they call for phone sex. I seriously doubt she was being that introspective at the time. Some of these re-remembrances go all the way back to childhood. This goes along with how grandiose she seems to feel her contributions to feminism have been, though the scale doesn’t seem to have been borne out in reality.

I get that this is an autobiography of sorts, but it’s also presented as a bit of a self-help, behind the curtain look at various aspects of the sex industry. But very little of that materializes. The author says over and over again, “I was…” or “I did” or some variation there of. She was the first editor of a soft porn internet site. She was the first person to introduce an alternative personals page to a syndicated newspaper. She interviewed dominatrixes and prostitutes. She worked for a sex phone bank. But she says very very little about these things other than that she did them and even less that I would consider particularly enlightening on the subject. The whole thing just comes across as a self-centered brag book. We learn about her boyfriends and her relationships and she dropped several references to her own previous publications, but I finished disappointed. I mean a whole chapter in the beginning is dedicated to what she watched on television growing up. And while some of the feminist critique of early Hollywood was interesting, I just didn’t care.

Worst of all, after telling the reader how bad rules on how to get a man are, even taking a website to task for swearing they wouldn’t and then doing it, she ended the book on a list of rules for how to get your man. She didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. Sure, it starts with know what you want, which is great and more female centric than a lot of lists, but it’s still a ‘what to do’ list!

Put simply, a whole lot of this is about Taylor Marsh, not sexual education or sexuality or sex. And while that might work for some, it wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I mean, where are all those “Relationship Secrets from the Trenches” we’re promised. We never take our gaze off the narrator long enough to even realize we’re in a trench, let alone learn anything from it.

Addendum: It’s not really relevant in the content review of the book, but for those looking to read the paperback, it’s worth noting that the font can’t be any bigger that 10pt (it’s notably  smaller than standard) and it’s single spaced. I found it hard to read and I don’t yet have age related eye constraints.

What I’m reading: Coffee with cream

Review of Jolene Stockman’s Total Blueprint for World Domination

Total Blueprint

So, this morning I asked my husband to choose a number, any number between 1-43. He looked at me a little funny, but humoured me and eventually chose 37. Now, he may not have realised it, but he had just decided my next read. I honestly couldn’t be arse to choose anything myself. It’s one of those days.  Book number 37 happened to be Total Blueprint for World Domination, by Jolene Stockman. I was sent this book by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Description from Goodreads:
Target big dreams and build a plan to achieve them! You’ve got one life, one shot, and all the power to make it happen. Get ready to dream big and live big. It’s all up to you. And it starts now. 

Total Blueprint for World Domination (17,000 words) is a powerful life-planning book for teens that will inspire. The book lets readers: 
*Explore hidden passions and find direction. 
*Create heart-pounding, toe-tingling goals. 
*Recruit an army for support. 
*Design a dream world and make it happen. 
*Achieve world domination step-by-step. 

Full of tips and tricks for tackling life’s challenges, Total Blueprint for World Domination is a book that will motivate readers to take their life to the next level. 

Anything is possible. And anything is possible for you. Believe it. Total Blueprint for World Domination takes you from this very second to your greatest dreams. So, are you ready?

This is WAY outside of my normal reading material, both because I don’t read a lot of self-help books and because I’m no longer a teenager. But I give all of the books sent to me consideration, so as the eminent book number 37 I chose to give it a go.

Total Blueprint for World Domination would make a great high school graduation present for a teenager…or maybe they need it the beginning of their senior year to give them time to implement its advice. Either way I can see it being very relevant in their lives. There has been some debate in psychological circles saying that modern western society tells youths to go out and find their place in the world, but doesn’t give them any instruction into how to identify it. Honestly, how helpful is telling a 17-year-old that they can be anything they want to be if they don’t know how to find what it is they want to be? It leaves them angsty and feeling anchor-less. Far smarter people than me have addressed this. They call it an identity crisis. Look up Erik Erikson if you’re interested. My point is that this book gives them a step-by-step blueprint of how to look into themselves and find what it is the world is telling them they should find. Contrary to the myth, it isn’t necessarily innate.

The book is written in an upbeat tone with a lot of modern media references. As a 35 year old woman I thought it sounded incredibly narcissistic and ‘kumbaya’, but I remember being a teenager and just how self-absorbed I was. It fits its audience. I can’t imagine any teenager having the forethought to pick this book up though. If they do, they probably don’t need it to start with. But all of you parents out there take heed. Many teenagers need advice like this.