Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Leigh Stein opens her novel with the question “When’s the last time you put yourself first?” What do you think of when you think of “self care”? Is taking care of yourself a necessity if you’re also taking care of others?
2. A lot of Self Care takes place on social media, where appearances don’t necessarily represent reality. Do you follow anyone online who reminds you of one of the three main characters? Or someone who would totally be a Richual user?
3. Devin and Maren are so different, and yet at the start of the novel they are very close friends and business partners. What do you think they each get out of the friendship?
4. The wellness industry is valued at $4.2 trillion globally. Why do you think there is so much money to be made off of consumers who want to feel better? How have you seen the diet and wellness industry change over time? In what ways do you see “self care” marketed to women as products and programs?
5. Why did Maren and Devin envision Richual as a women-only platform? Do you think it’s helpful to have places—both online and off—where women can gather and talk without men?
6. Maren says that the internet enables “the illusion of intimacy” and that there is “a fine line between authenticity and TMI.” What are the benefits and pitfalls of social media platforms that encourage unlimited communication and unlimited sharing? What are the upsides and downsides to being vulnerable in public?
7. At one point Maren refers to drinking as the “indulgence” she permits herself. What do you think Maren isn’t willing to admit to herself? How does our culture perpetuate the narrative that drinking fits into the practice of self care?
8. How would you define Evan and Devin’s relationship? What do you think Maren should have done when she learned they were together?
9. Khadijah has ideas for how to make Richual a more feminist workplace. Have you seen your own office make progressive changes (for example, in terms of culture, fair pay, parental leave, diversity and inclusion)? What changes would you still like to see at work?
10. How does the theme of ambition play out in the novel? Do all three main characters define success in the same way, or are they each chasing something different?