THE BOOK OF HELP
A Memoir in Remedies
Written by: Megan Griswold
Read by: Megan Griswold
11 Hours and 14 Minutes
PRHA | Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Self-Help – Personal Growth – Happiness
Release Date: January 22, 2019
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
A hilarious and heartbreaking memoir-in-remedies by a self-described “professional soul-searcher” that details a journey of self-discovery through over 160 tonics, seminars, regimens, and transformative therapies.
From an early age, Megan Griswold was set on a path of looking outside herself to learn about herself. At birth her parents found a Christian Science practitioner for her, at age seven she asked Santa for a mantra, and at 12 she started taking workshops on personal growth. Her over-the-top existential curiosity eventually led her to outdoor leadership training in Patagonia where she met her husband. Their marriage was not without challenges, and after he was arrested, Megan’s world was shattered. Rather than let herself shatter, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery with renewed vigor.
The Book of Help is the story of the 15,000 hours and 160 different remedies, therapies, and modalities that Megan went through, poking and prodding herself to feel better and be better. She explores a past life family tree, gets trained in Five Element Acupuncture, becomes a doula, takes Ayahuasca, does a water fast, and sees psychics and a bevy of therapists. With a voice that is at once intimate and hilarious, Megan captures the openness and honesty necessary for people to take a new path in life. Readers will open the book with curiosity about all the different healing therapies that Megan tries, but leave with a new understanding of themselves. https://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/592246/the-book-of-help/
A post about a memoir is often, maybe always, going to seem like a judgement on the life described as much as it is about the writing, editing or design of the book. And, so, this one resonated with me — I think most everyone has been betrayed by someone they love, endured difficult familial issues, and/or sought out different ways of understanding themselves will find something relevant here.
It’s also funny with sections of irony so hard-edged and heart-breaking, but told with a sense of rear-view mirror humor that somehow makes it easier to bear. I went through a self-development phase and spent several years contemplating my navel. But, I admired how seriously Megan was in her quest.
In light off what her most difficult situations were, I think the programs pushed her towards acceptance and coping with things over which she had no control. That took time and a lot of thinking.
Megan’s family were instrumental in self-examination born of Christian Science but after leaving the religion. You can take the way Christian Science practitioners on problems in a contemplative way as Megan describes their approach. She talks about overhearing her parents “discussing” things. And how she asked for a mantra when she was a young child. Partly she was motivated by wanting to be with her parents and bask in their attention. Her participation in the many programs and self-development/help books set up an approach to life and its issues. Sometimes she learned something, sometimes it helped, and sometimes it made things worse.
Megan is devoted to family and education as she searches for love and an occupation. She is no slouch and I really admired her serious survival skills. One thing her psycho-spritual quest did was create a fluidity in her living spaces and occupation. She is compassionate and works hard at her life and attitude. And, it affected how she handles hard situations. And, at the end she is not developing or improving, but she has a handle on it and a sense of what matters to her.
And as the narrator she really sells her story. She is funny and vulnerable. All those workshops and expeditions gave her self-confidence and a great sense of humor. I also think she’s self-aware without rolling over other people. This is not a self-help book, it’s a book about one woman’s quest to find meaning in and understand life. I enjoyed it and found Megan’s story relevant.