There’s a scene in Sex and the City – a quick Google tells me it’s in Season Five, Episode Four – when Charlotte ventures into the self-help aisle of a bookstore with trepidation. She spots a distraught woman who tells her, sobbing, that the book Charlotte is looking at really helped her. Charlotte recoils in horror, instantly pretends she’s lost and looking for the travel section, and can’t get away from the genre fast enough.
Sixteen years later, the self-help book is no longer a source of shame. You don’t have to lurk in dark corners to read about depression or hide the cover of your book on body positivity under a high-brow work of fiction. In fact, Self Help is probably the most popular corner of Waterstone’s (other bookstores are available).
If that same scene was filmed now, Charlotte would have to push past a whole host of other women to get to the book she wanted, and she’d probably pick up an adult colouring book and guide on Lagom living while she was at it. She’d brandish her copy of the latest publication on mindfulness or self-care with pride and would share it straight on her Instagram stories, showing off her purchase to 600-or-so followers, prompting half of them to order it for themselves there and then.
This is the age of shame-free self-help.
And so, I present with you another lifestyle text to add to your probably already burgeoning self-help shelf (shelf-help?).
Laura Jane Williams’s second book is a smidgen different to her first, Becoming. This is not another memoir, but a text inspired by her career break, and a guide to living life freely, drawing inspiration from our childhood.
You all know how much I love Laura by now. She is possibly one of the most driven and talented writers I follow, but after she published her last book, she found herself battling her demons, and eventually ended up nannying children in between writing her life away.
What she might have at first considered a major stumbling block, became an open door, and the pathway to a whole new way of thinking for her.
Ice Cream for Breakfast explores how we can use the attitudes and concepts we had as children to lead a better, simpler, and more peaceful life.
Laura shares the lessons she learned from three under tens to shed light on tricky adult situations and the pickles we find ourselves in. She takes the problems we encounter as grownups and applies childlike logic to them, simplifying them and helping us to get to, and resolve, the core issues. It’s an exciting and easy way to explore our habits and problems.
This book is one which you can dip in and out of whenever you need. Short, to-the-point chapters are loaded with cute kiddy anecdotes, stern summaries and wise quotations which have been blown up in bold so they’re easy to spot.
Learning from children is a concept which isn’t completely new. As a creative, I often wonder how I used to be brimming over with story and poetry ideas when I was young, and my self-worth hung in the balance of my teacher’s comments. As a young, budding writer, I came up with endless tales, but with adulthood comes a closed mind and an imagination which has been flogged senseless with reason and logic.
If only I could get that imagination and wonder back, and stop limiting myself on what I could, or should, be writing.
This is exactly what Laura’s book is about.
Laura explores how we can live fulfilling and ambitious adult lives while remaining curious, excitable and self-assured. Simple things like asking for help is hard as an adult when we have learned to feel such things as pride; but did we have shame in needing a hand as a kiddy? Not at all; and we should maintain that attitude as grown-ups too.
We should be able to scream out loud, celebrate, turn dinner into an occasion, build a fort, jump in the sea and marvel at simple every-day magic.
Ice Cream for Breakfast gives us permission to do all that.
I loved reading this book. I won’t lie, I dipped in and out over the course of a few months, and that’s how I think it is made to be read; when most needed, and in delicious, bite-sized chunks – just as you would with your favourite tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
If you’re looking to add to your collection of self-help texts, want to feel inspired and free again, or are wondering when you became so…square, this is the book for you.
If you’re looking for something with some fantastic quotes to motivate you on your morning commute, this is the book for you.
If you need someone to give you permission to make every Friday ‘Mystic Pizza Day’ and to go for fancy, cream-laden hot chocolates on the first day of your period…this is the book for you.
Eight-year-old you would be proud.
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More book reviews:
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
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