Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Aunt Erma's Cope Book

By Erma Bombeck

Written in the 1970s, Erma Bombeck takes on the self-help industry as she pretend tries to live her life according to the advice given in several popular books of the time.
Some of the books she lampoons, as near as I can figure out, are:
  • The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan (Erma's version is The Sub-Total Woman by Clarabelle Sweet)
  • Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples by Nema & George O'Neill (Erma's: Is There a Draft in Your Open Marriage by Pam & Richard McMeal)
  • Passages by Gail Sheehy (Packages by Gayle Teehee)
  • Astrology books by Jean Dixon (Get Off Your Cusp and Live! by Jeanne Vixon)
  • Meditation books by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Far Out and Far East by Edith Marishna)
  • The Complete Book of Running by Jim Fixx (The Complete Book of Jogging by Jim Fixit)
  • Looking Out for #1 by Robert Ringer (Looking Out for You-Know-Who by Robby Winner)
She also takes on books that analyze shoppers' buying habits, books on understanding body language, books on getting organized, books on living cheaply, books on dealing with guilt and, of course, weight loss advice.
Needless to say, these various self-help programs accomplish very little in her life and she reverts to her old ways, comfortable in her own skin at the conclusion. And she gives a nod to the Gail Sheehy book, Passages,  with a quote from the book on self-respect:
"Would that there were an award for people who come to understand the concept of enough. Good enough. Successful enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Socially responsible enough. When you have self-respect you have enough, and when you have enough, you have self-respect."
 It was fun reading Erma Bombeck's take on the self-help industry and the havoc it can wreak on your life and relationships. I had a slight familiarity with the various books, having heard of them, but never having read any of them. Not that I haven't read self-help books, I have, Just not any of those lampooned by Bombeck in this book. I certainly heard of them, especially The Total Woman, Passages, The Complete Book of Running and Looking Out for #1. 
One of the things Bombeck points out is missing in the self-help industry of her day is a lack of humor:
"After reading sixty-two books and articles on how to deal with oneself, I realized something was missing . . . a sense of humor. I cannot believe that people look into the mirror that reflects their actions and behavior and keep a straight face."
This was an enjoyable read, and even though published in 1979, is very much relevant today.

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