The self-help guru’s book You Are a Badass is a bestseller in the US and making waves in the UK. But can her brand of straight-talking positive thinking really help you escape your ‘sucky life’?
Fifteen minutes before my interview with inspirational guru Jen Sincero, I nip into a chic boutique in downtown Manhattan, where I am drawn to a pair of conch shell-pink sandals. Exquisite as they are, I can think of no possible justification for buying them. Yet for the past few days I have been steeped in the work of Sincero, who in her bestselling You Are a Badass books, urges readers to stop accepting anything short of their wildest dreams. According to Sincero, it is necessary to live courageously and to “align” one’s actions with one’s deepest desires. That could mean quitting a humdrum job, buying a fancy car or investing in assistants to free up the time to devote to big-picture concerns. I visualise a more successful version of myself, writing Vanity Fair cover stories and turning down assignments while wearing the pale pink clogs, and hand over my credit card.
Sincero’s books aren’t the sort of thing you hear about at dinner parties. Yet even in New York City, where image-conscious subway riders tend to listen to podcasts unless they have a Sheila Heti or Rachel Cusk volume to flaunt, candy-colored Badass volumes have become a mainstay, filling the void the Twilight books left. Initially published in 2013 to little fanfare, the first Badass instalment has gone on to sell millions of copies. It holds the No 3 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, after 121 weeks on the chart. Sincero’s British publisher, John Murray Press, has sold more than 150,000 copies, with a quarter of those sales in audiobook format. “I call it the yellow snowball,” Sincero says of her lemon-coloured hit when we meet for tea at a swish hotel bar. “It keeps growing and growing.”