Self-Help vs. Shakespeare: Which Is Better Therapy?

Reading challenging passages of old-fashioned literature and poetry “light up” your brain more than reading the same concepts translated into simpler prose, British researchers announced this week. The Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, translates this research into the following headline: “How reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth offer better therapy than self-help books.” OK, maybe I’ve dulled my … Continued


Your 2013 Resolution: Help Yourself by Helping Others

For many of us, a new year brings lots of resolutions and hope for personal change in those early days of January. It also brings lots of interesting articles about self-help–whether any advice actually works–which is good, because by the time we settle down to read those articles in mid to late January, our resolutions … Continued

Books, Culture

Why Moms Love Mondays

by Christine B. Whelan I love Mondays. I’m slightly ashamed to admit it, but on Monday mornings when I switch from “mom-mode” to “professional-mode,” I feel both a burst of energy and a sense of a relief. The obligatory next sentence has to be: I love my daughter, and I spend a lot of time … Continued

Books, Culture, Parenting

Through the Eyes of a Twenty-Something

Recently my husband and I had dinner with two of my former students–one of whom has a job after graduate school, one who does not. We offered all sorts of traditional advice about perseverance in job searches, commitment in relationships, sacrifice in family life–and in the back of my mind, I wondered whether we were … Continued

Books, Culture

Why My Toddler Doesn’t Need an Award from Her Gym Class

A few weeks ago, my sixteen-month-old daughter received a “super star award” upon completion of her Gymkhana toddler gym class. In addition to a pale-pink ribbon, she was awarded a certificate that lauds her “abundance of energy” and her “positive approach to loving and learning through sensory motor experiences.” My daughter is terrific. She worked … Continued

Culture, Parenting

Self-Help for Recessionary Times

I’d never heard of Cheryl Strayed, a.k.a. Sugar, before I read this weekend’s piece in The, but anyone described as a “recession-era correction to Elizabeth Gilbert-style indulgence” is someone worth investigating. Writes Elizabeth Greenwood: Eat, Pray, Love’s undertone is that you deserve to be happy; Wild‘s is that you have to earn it. To … Continued


Is Pop-Neuroscience the New Self-Help?

In The New Statesman this week author and journalist Steven Poole argues that practical applications of brain research—from popular books by Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer to newer titles like Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain by Elaine Fox—are pseudoscientific ways to make ourselves feel better about our problematic lives. The recommendations of this genre, Poole argues, “boil … Continued


Q&A with Slate’s Advice Maven, Emily Yoffe

As the author of Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column, Emily Yoffe deals with moral dilemmas and human failings on a daily basis. There’s a lot of angst, confusion, outrage and betrayal conveyed in the hundreds of emails she receives each week, but Yoffe has mastered the art of creating entertaining, bite-sized resolvable dramas that we can read … Continued


Should We Love the Hated Video Game?

OK, I’ll come out and say it: I hate video games. Maybe it’s because I’m terrible at them. When I was a kid my parents wouldn’t let me have a Nintendo system, and I only played Super Mario Brothers occasionally at a friend’s house. Maybe it’s because my husband loves them and I want him … Continued

Culture, Tech