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The Best Non-Cheesy Self-Help Books To Read During Quarantine

The cover of the book, "How to be Fine," by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer (Courtesy Harper Collins)
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Sick of jigsaw puzzles and video conferencing? This weekend, I have some advice: work on becoming a better you.

For tips, I turned to my friends Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, hosts of the podcast, “By the Book,” and authors of the new book, “How to be Fine.”

“I love being thankful,” said Meinzer, referencing the many books that recommend focusing on gratitude. “I know some of us aren't feeling especially fortunate, but there are still things to be thankful for and it reminds us that, as hard as life feels right now, there are so many people we have to be grateful for.”

Greenberg suggested a dive deep into comedienne Phyllis Diller’s 1966 book, “Phyllis Diller Housekeeping Hints.”

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“My favorite advice is how to hide a dirty sink – keep it full of dirty dishes!” laughed Greenberg. “It's just full of fun tips where it's like, oh right, maybe I don't need to take myself that seriously. [It's helpful to] have a fun, jokey spirit when it comes to housework, because it can feel like the center of the universe right now.”

Personally, I’ve wanted to learn how to better stay connected with my friends and family (even before these stay-at-home orders). Greenberg pulled some advice for me from the e-book, “Pantsdrunk: (Kalsarikanni) The Finnish Path to Relaxation.”

“I was a few apple cider rosés in my own pantsdrunk experience, and I came up with a way to stay connected with friends,” she said, “If I want to tell someone I love them, but I'm not feeling creative or articulate, I'll find a stupid or very silly or maybe a sentimental GIF and just text it to them.”

Meinzer said a similar strategy came out of the book, “Bored and Brilliant,” by Manoush Zomorodi.

“Just write one sentence to people,” she said. “You don't have to worry about the greeting, the conclusion or the ‘how are you’s.’”

The conversation might not be deep, but it can take the pressure off of trying to think of something meaningful to say, in favor of simply staying connected.

Ultimately with any self-help book, though, trust your gut on whether the advice works best for you.

"Approximately two-thirds of self-help authors are men, and two-thirds of the readers are women," said Meinzer, "so not everybody is writing with somebody like you in mind."

Listen to the full interview below.

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