3-Minute Interview: Beth Lisick

The Bay Area author and poet, a fixture in San Francisco literary circles for more than a decade, just released her latest book, an immersion-based account of the self-help industry, titled, “Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone.” Lisick, who convenes monthly storytelling meetings at Café Du Nord, will be reading from her new book Thursday at Diesel, A Bookstore, in Oakland.

What prompted your yearlong study into the world of self-help gurus? I like to put myself into situations where I feel uncomfortable. I always ignored the entire self-help genre because I thought the advice was so basic, but I also thought it was a little adolescent of me to dismiss an industry that is so popular. Because it was so unlike anything I’d ever done, I found it very intriguing.

Any unifying themes you picked up on? Some of the stuff was pretty much common-sense advice, but there were some real enlightening things I discovered. I was worried that this could be an affront to my individuality, but there are some universal aspects to self-help that I think everyone can appreciate.

How has growing up in the Bay Area been reflective in your writing? It gives me a real sense of my self and where I come from. I definitely think I write as a NorCal native. Being from the Bay Area, where we’re so exposed to so many different elements of culture, kind of makes the mainstream exotic.

Your Bay Area book tour finishes Feb. 11. Do you have any big plans after that? I’m going to keep doing my storytelling series at Café Du Nord, and I’m working with my friend Tara [Jepsen] on a new stage show, and I’m helping to edit a book for another friend. I’m not sure what my next book is about, but I’m confident something interesting will come up. If you stay curious, I find there are endless sources of inspiration.

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