As Jessica Lamb-Shapiro points out in this powerful blend of memoir, journalism, and social commentary, everyone is affected by self-help, an industry that generates a billion dollars a year by trading in the many aphorisms that we encounter every day in the media, on coffee mugs and t‑shirts, and in conversation with family and friends. Despite its stigma as a 1960s and ’70s phenomenon, self-help has fascinated readers for thousands of years, dating back to Ancient Egypt.
Raised by a child psychologist who is the author of numerous self-help books, Lamb-Shapiro found herself at once repelled and fascinated by the industry to which her father had contributed. Did all of these books, tapes, and weekend seminars really help anyone? In the name of research, she attempted to cure herself of phobias, followed “The Rules” to meet and date men, walked on hot coals, and attended a self-help seminar for writers of self-help books.
Promise Land is irreverent, fascinating, funny, and deeply personal — a work as quirky and surprising as the world it brilliantly profiles.