Jessica discusses Promise Land on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross:
"Lamb-Shapiro, herself the loving daughter of an aspiring self-help guru, gives a funny yet surprisingly nuanced look at the legends and ideas of the self-help industry [ . . . ] she’s deeply sympathetic to the impulse that fuels the industry: I can be happy if I just change . . . something." –People (3.5 stars)
"A witty and enjoyably self-aware writer . . . Lamb-Shapiro's talent as a storyteller is undeniable." –New York Times Book Review
"[A] jaunty, cannily written memoir." –The Chicago Tribune
"Promise Land is one of the best pieces of self-actualizing literature that I’ve read in a while. In order to achieve our goals, it reminds us, we have to remember to believe in ourselves. It’s not self-help, per se, but it certainly helped this self." –Elle
"There’s no shortage of books featuring "cultural history" and other quasi-sociological surveys of this terrain, but Lamb-Shapiro’s take is different. Part experiential journalism, part memoir, Promise Land is both funnier and more searching than detached forms of social commentary could ever hope to be."
"Promise Land is very much a book of the publishing zeitgeist—the gimmicky premise, the mash-up of genres—and risks coming off as clichéd. But Lamb-Shapiro’s authorial presence rescues it from that fate. Her approach to the material is skeptical but not cynical; her personal disclosures feel generous rather than exhibitionistic; and she writes in a mordant, deadpan voice with impeccable economy and timing."
"Jessica Lamb-Shapiro has an unusual relationship to the self-help industry: her father is a child psychologist who has authored numerous books on the subject. Lamb-Shapiro’s inherent ambivalence is at the heart of Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture, in which the author immerses herself in the world of seminars, mantras, and self-improvement, all the while exploring the nation’s enduring fascination with perfection. By turns funny and sad, the book is, ultimately, a deeply personal story—and a really good read."
"A sincere and hilarious picture of the personalities and ideas found in this field of self-promotion and discovery. . . . Lamb-Shapiro’s journey through self-help culture fascinates and entertains, and as much as it also serves as a quasi-memoir, it excels."
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A brave, personal book in which the author discovers the best of the self-help industry, despite its many flaws."
"With mordant wit and spectacular bravado, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro deconstructs not only the ludicrous self-help industry, but also the infinite personal vulnerabilities that it exploits. This is a knowing, insightful, and delightful book."
–Andrew Solomon, New York Times bestselling author of The Noonday Demon and Far From the Tree
"Here are two important self-help rules. Buy this book. Read this book. You’ll feel better about yourself and the world. Promise Land is funny but not sneering. It’s poignant but not maudlin. It’s smart but not pretentious. This is gazpacho for the soul, which I much prefer to chicken soup."
–A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of Drop Dead Healthy
"Promise Land is not only a raucous, engaging account of all the hope, despair, faith, fear, falsity, and truth that comprises America’s centuries-old obsession with self-improvement. It is also a deeply felt personal story about family, secrecy, and grief. Read it and you might just find yourself improved."
–Daniel Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
"I can’t think of a nonfiction writer since David Foster Wallace as adept at pivoting from slapstick linguistic virtuosity to whip smart analysis to incomprehensible pathos—at times, all within the same paragraph! The druids of our contemporary self-help culture will need to write a new ‘Chicken Soup’ book to soothe their own souls if they accidentally read Jessica Lamb-Shapiro’s epic, hilarious Promise Land. Everyone else will just be delighted."
–Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City is the Place to Be