Self Care

by Stein, Leigh
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Stein, Leigh Self Care
Stein, Leigh - Self Care

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The female cofounders of a wellness start-up struggle to find balance between being good people and doing good business, while trying to stay BFFs.

Maren Gelb is on a company-imposed digital detox. She tweeted something terrible about the President's daughter, and as the COO of Richual, "the most inclusive online community platform for women to cultivate the practice of self-care and change the world by changing ourselves," it's a PR nightmare. Not only is CEO Devin Avery counting on Maren to be fully present for their next round of funding, but indispensable employee Khadijah Walker has been keeping a secret that will reveal just how feminist Richual's values actually are, and former Bachelorette contestant and Richual board member Evan Wiley is about to be embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal that destroy the company forever.
Have you ever scrolled through Instagram and seen countless influencers who seem like experts at caring for themselves-from their yoga crop tops to their well-lit clean meals to their serumed skin and erudite-but-color-coded reading stack? Self Care delves into the lives and pscyhes of people working in the wellness industry and exposes the world behind the filter.


Stein, Leigh

Further information




By the time Devin found me, I'd been at the office for fourteen hours and was lying on a lavender velvet chaise, fortifying myself with room-temperature-staff-kitchen chardonnay that I'd poured into a "MALE TEARS" mug, scrolling through my various feeds, using multiple search terms, absorbing every abusive thing people were saying about me, @MarenGelb, M**en G**b, libtard, feminazi, stupid fucking cunt.


I wasn't crying. I felt pleasantly numb. With an insatiable hunger for knowing, I kept compulsively refreshing, in search of the worst. The infinite scroll prevented me from ever hitting bottom.


The elevator ding signaled her arrival. "Babe?"


I raised my mug in the air.


"You're here! People are worried about you. Your phone is off."


"I turned it on Do Not Disturb so I could OD on the internet in peace."


Devin tossed her coat over an ergonomic exercise ball chair. Her blond hair was still damp from showering after her exercise class, so I knew she wasn't too concerned about me, not so concerned that she'd miss an opportunity to burn six hundred calories. She was wearing her "Namaslay" T-shirt.


After a bottle of wine, I'd ditched my sweater and was down to my BreastNest, a garment I'd ordered online. It's a spongy beige sack you can wear for support if even the idea of clasping a bra is too much.


"Sit next to me," I said. "You smell good."


"What are you drinking?"


"Kombucha," I said.


I'd been working late, revising the competitive advantage slide for our pitch deck. Everyone else had gone home. The song of my inbox played at a slower tempo after dark-it was the only time of day I could get anything done. I took a break to check Twitter, and without asking anyone's permission or doing a SWOT analysis, I made a joke. Or I thought it was a joke. Definitely an anger-based joke, I can admit that now. It seemed more obviously funny at the time.


"What if you just deleted the tweet?" she said.


"Too late. They already showed it on Anderson Cooper."


I played the clip for her on my phone. Leading feminist Maren Gelb is causing waves tonight with what some on the right are calling a dog whistle to other activists about the president's daughter and her-I had to turn it off. I couldn't watch it again.


"Don't worry," Devin said. "No one watches Anderson Cooper."


"I watch Anderson Cooper."


"Well, you're my elder." Devin smiled and the highlighter around her eyes shimmered with optimism. "Give me the phone, Maren."


"Why, what are you going to do with it?"


"I'm just going to babysit it while you clean up."


"Wait," I snapped. My left hand was a claw that had evolved to grip this little screen until I died. "Can I show you just one?" We both knew I was stalling. "Look at this douche in Palo Alto with half a million followers, saying, '@MarenGelb is an example of the leadership principal when they go low, we go lower. Did I get that right? Hashtag AllLivesMatter.' He doesn't even know how to spell principle! 'All Lives Matter'? Seriously? Do you see this?"


Devin put my phone in her back pocket without even looking at the screen. I needed another drink.


"Well," I said, "the good news is I figured out what our competitive advantage is."


"Let me guess. Our badass cofounders?" She pointed at me and made her hands into a heart.




"Wait, don't tell me. Our seamless integration of sponsored content and organically sourced influencers?"


"No," I said. "The worse it gets-I mean the more women who are outraged and terrified and suffering-

Media Type:
Penguin LCC US
Biography Artist:
Leigh Stein is the author of the acclaimed 2012 novel The Fallback Plan, a poetry collection the same year, and the 2016 memoir Land of Enchantment. From 2014 2017, she ran a secret Facebook group of 40,000 women writers, in her role as cofounder and executive director of Out of the Binders/BinderCon, a feminist nonprofit organization. She s been called a leading feminist by the Washington Post and poet laureate of The Bachelor by The Cut.
"Though the turmoil at the center of [the novel] is entertaining, its twist ending a clawed swipe at the irony of the scarcity myth--the zero-sum foundation of capitalism--it's not the thing that kept me reading. Instead, it was Stein's deft navitagion of the shades of superficial feminism, the lexicon of start-up culture and the tone of a generation reckoning with how to be honest with itself."
Los Angeles Times

Leigh Stein's latest novel is as decadent and brutal as a vampire facial. It's an exposé of feel-good feminism, an indictment of contemporary capitalism, and an absolute treat to read. This book will make you laugh, gasp, and vow to get off social media for good and it'll understand when you can't help but log right back on.
Julia Phillips, National Book Award finalist for Disappearing Earth

"A darkly witty romp through corporate feminism."
Huffington Post

"Leigh Stein's novel might just be the hit of adrenaline you need to delete your apps permanently--or at the very least, leap off your couch and do something better with your time."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Self Care proves Leigh Stein's status as a great 'demolition expert' (Kenneth Tynan's term for Bernard Shaw) of the influencer era."
The New Republic

"Stein's sharp writing separates her from the pack in this exquisite, Machiavellian morality tale about the ethics of looking out for oneself."
Publishers Weekly *starred review*

"Just try not to snort your Moon Juice out your nose while laughing your ass off."

"A brutal dissection of 'Insta-Worthy' culture, the unconscionable capitalistic impulses behind wellness ventures, and the farce of forced community building."

"Brutal and brutally funny...Stein presents a punchy, bracing criticism of modern feminism's transformation into a commercialized hellscape of goat yoga, healing crystals, and 'girl bosses.'"

"Merciless and mordantly funny...Stein gives her ruthless romp through influencer culture an authenticity born from a genuine love of the internet...This is the self-aware callout culture novel that we need, but odn't deserve. Don't sleep on Self Care (unless you Fitbit tells you to sleep more--then do that, hydrate, and add 20 minutes of Headspace before reading)."

"A novel of manners for our 280-character era."

"Stein offers a look into the dark underbelly of these easily marketable spaces, the promise that a room full of women equals safety, and the egos and violence that sadly so often exist within them."
Bitch Media

"Self Care is the bitchy beach read for people who wear a 'Bitches Get Shit Done' T-shirt, but who are also well-versed in debates about reclaiming the word 'bitch.' Stein is the kind of writer who would be at home both in The New Yorker and on a Tumblr page devoted to writing poems about The Bachelor...At it's core, it's a very clever satire."
AV Club

Self Care is a skewering mockumentary about influencer culture, internet feminism, and the infinite ways that big tech capitalizes on our worst fears and insecurities. Utterly teeming with humor, this is exactly the sort of book that Dorothy Parker would have written if she d been reincarnated as an Instagram celebrity.
Catherine Lacey, author of The Answers and Certain American States: Stories

"A hyper-timely--and unexpectedly heartfelt--satire of #girlboss culture and the wellness industrial complex...Compulsively readable...Brilliant."
Kirkus Reviews

Wickedly talented Leigh Stein - for my money, one of our sharpest millennial writers - knows the internet, and she's used that intimate knowledge to write a pitch-perfect novel for our times. Self Care is a hilarious and sneakily moving send-up of what it means to try and live when every move you make is observed and dissected online, by a writer who sees the truth and says it with so much humor and heart you'll laugh (and maybe cry) out loud.
Julie Buntin, author of Marlena

"A titillating satire about our quest for validation and the lengths that some will go to for #selfactualization, Self Care is an intelligent, delightful read that will make your mind (and epidermis!) glow."
Courtney Maum, author of Touch and Costalegre

"Timely and playful...Offering a juicy glimpse into the pathos and ethos of the wellness industry and the influencers who make it all appear so shiny and bright."

"A smart criqique of the wellness industry...but also a very fun read."

It s not just that I found Self Care wildly entertaining, I found it deeply illuminating. So this is how the clickbait gets cooked up! I learned, I laughed, I loved every page. What I especially admired was Leigh Stein s rare ability to be hilariously wicked while remaining deeply empathetic. I say skip your next juice cleanse and read this brilliant and delightful novel.
Meghan Daum, author of The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through The New Culture Wars

"So damn good. i stared reading, kept reading, and didn't look up until I was done. There is so much to applaud about Stein's novel...A juicy, funny, smart read. Did I already say it was a smart read? Leigh Stein is so smart and so understanding of the internet I am in awe."
Alma, Favorite Books for Summer 2020
Number of Pages:

Master Data

Product Type:
Paperback book
Release date:
25 June 2020
Package Dimensions:
0.194 x 0.13 x 0.016 m; 0.16 kg
Manufacturer Part Number:
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