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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What have you bought self-help books for, if at all?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (39017points) July 5th, 2009

Also an interesting new study shows that self-help doesn’t help those that need it most, apparently

Did you ever buy a self-help book? What was it about? Do you think self-help books are awful or useful?

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34 Answers

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I never buy self help books, because if I need help, I check with a few trusted friends, talk to my wife, ask my doctors, and come to a decision based on the above.

Which reminds me of the joke: A guy walks into a bookstore and asks the clerk where the self-help books are located. The clerk replies “Well, now that would defeating the purpose for you, wouldn’t it?”

Sariperana's avatar

The only one I have ever bought wad ‘the easy way’ by Allen carr. It’s a book on how to give up smoking. It’s a wonderful book and certainly puts things into a new perspective! However, most self help books are mind over matter, if want to do something to help yourself, you need to believe in yourself and have confidence to make that change. A book can only do so much, it’s you who has the make the journey!

Jude's avatar

I’m terrible. I’ve bought a few. Read a chapter (if that) and then I lose interest. Then I try to pawn them off to someone else.

kevbo's avatar

It’s a good question, @Simone_De_Beauvoir, but the article seems to conflate all self help with the practice of reciting affirmations. Maybe I’m buying the wrong books, but I can’t think of any that rely solely on repeating affirmations, if at all.

That being said, I find it troubling that people with low self esteem feel better after making negative affirmations. While it validates many of my experiences with myself and others, I find that a little scary.

Jack79's avatar

I bought 2 language books that never helped much, ad my dad bought me Alan Carr’s “quit smoking” book which I guess worked, since I don’t smoke anymore.

SuperMouse's avatar

I have bought several self-help books over the years – when problems strike I buy a book – that’s just what I do. I have only read a couple of them though, usually I buy them, thumb through them then end up donating them to the library. I have bought and utilized parenting books over the years. If it wasn’t for The Fussy Baby Book by Dr. Sears, I’m pretty sure I would not have survived my oldest son’s first couple of years. The most recent self-help book I read all the way through was The Breaking Point. I have never utilized a self-help book the recommended mantras, well except for I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone it People Like Me!.

Deepness's avatar

@jmah I do the same. Purchase them. Thumb through them. Lose interest. If I don’t sell it used on Amazon marketplace, then it just sits on my bookshelf.

Hambayuti's avatar

I’ve bought a few Chicken Soup books and Mothers Have Angel Wings (that still need to be read) because of the inspirational stories. I bought One Size Fits All and Other Fables when I was a teenager (I had weight issues then) but had actually finished reading the book not because of the topic it explored but because it had a lot of humor in it.

now back to ”♪♫ tra-la-la ♪♫ ”...


Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Hambayuti i’ve read a lot of the Chicken soup books when I was younger…are they considered self-help?

Hambayuti's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think it’s more inspirational than self-help, really. But more often than not, it’s where this book is categorized – at least from our local bookstore (and internet searches).

bezdomnaya's avatar

I’ve bought books on career help and law school admission help, but never the ‘mantra of the day’ type books. By the way, never, ever read Should You Really Be a Lawyer? unless you really want to be an editor for a poorly, poorly written book for a while.

YARNLADY's avatar

In the 1960’s when I was sorely in need of help, I bought, read, and benefited from all the popular psychology book that were all the rage then. I didn’t rely on a single I’m OK, You’re OK (’m_OK,You’re_OK) book but rather read at least a dozen Games People Play(book)type book. I also read many of the criticisms of the entire self-help movement, including George Carlin’s Complaints and Grievances

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t think I’ve ever even picked up a self-help book, other than parenting books. Even those have been few and far between over the ten-plus years I’ve been a parent. I think the trick with parenting books is to use what feels right to you, adapt as needed to your own parenting style, and throw in some common sense. The only book I would strongly suggest to all parents today is Free Range Kids. It’s the ideal antidote to the parental paranoia brought on by the evening news and too many episodes of Law and Order SVU. It’s also hysterically funny.

Frankie's avatar

I’m personally against most self-help books. The only self-help books I’ve ever bought were He’s Just Not That Into You, which was a nice read but not all that helpful (although I can see how it could be helpful for others), and It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken, written by Greg Behrendt, same guy who wrote He’s Just Not That Into You. I bought Breakup after going through my first MAJOR breakup, but it wasn’t all that helpful since I was the one who did the breaking. It did, however, come in very handy after the end of the relationship after that, in which I had my heart broken for the first time. The book wasn’t so much about how to get through a breakup, but more about building up self-esteem that tends to fall after a bad breakup. Plus there were some stories and exercises that were hilarious and made me laugh, which was nice.
Awhile ago my mom gave me copies of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and Mars and Venus on a Date, but I’ve never read those. It’s one thing to buy a couple Greg Behrendt books and have a laugh and maybe get something useful from them, but Mars and Venus stuff….no thanks.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Frankie believe me, those mars/venus books are terrible

benjaminlevi's avatar

For breaking my addiction to self-help books

mammal's avatar

don’t know if this will work in your region but was quite interesting : Samuel smiles the grandfather of self help

Blondesjon's avatar

You are buying a book that is written by someone other than yourself.

It is full of blanket statements and pop psychology.

It was never written with you in mind.

Doesn’t sound like self help to me at all.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mammal we’re watching it now

Frankie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Haha, I suspected as much, thank you for confirming that before I wasted any of my time!

YARNLADY's avatar

@Blondesjon That doesn’t make any sense to me, you say we all have to write our own books about how to get better (imagine a doctor writing his own book)in order to get better? To me, the act of reading ideas and tips on a better way to approach our issues is “self help” as opposed to working with a professional counselor.

Blondesjon's avatar

@YARNLADY . . .No. I’m saying you don’t need a complete stranger to convince you of the power of positive thinking or to make you aware that I’m all right and You’re all right, or point out that men and women are different.

If you are physically ill and looking in a book for help I would like to be the first to intervene and recommend an actual Doctor’s appointment.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Blondesjon Very few people who are in an emotional crisis will come up with the principles of the power of positive thinking or the techniques for finding their way out of it on their own,entirely out of thin air. They get help either through reading “self help” books written by professional phychologists, or by actually visiting one. For more proof, see the many, many questions right here on Fluther from people asking for help.

Blondesjon's avatar

@YARNLADY . . .Very few people who are in an emotional crisis will have an easy time concentrating on reading a book.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Blondesjon In my case, reading was the only thing that kept me sane. Of course, I was an avid reader my entire life, from the age of 4, so it was a refuge for me in my time of need.

maryleedy's avatar

Me too @YARNLADY, I’ve read books all my life but for the last 3 years delved heavily into transformational type books. In the books stores I can find what I like in the Self Help and the New Age section. Books by Wayne Dyer, Joe Vitale, Jack Canfield, James Arthur Ray. These authors are about positive/critical thinking and attracting what you want in life. I find these books very helpful and challenge my belief systems and feel better after having “Aha!” moments.

Self Help as in dealing with addictions and specific problems I haven’t read recently but a few years ago I did read a couple parenting ones which were good.

For those of you who bought books but didn’t read them, you can sell them back to Amazon or join a book swap type thing so you can share them with someone else who needs them. :-)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

There was a book called, “Who Moved My Cheese”, something like that. A company I once worked for handed them out to everyone and I did read it but don’t recall it much. Something tells me I should’ve paid more attention to who was moving my cheese.

maryleedy's avatar

Yes, I’ve heard of that book, I didn’t get a chance to read it yet. is that one about resisting change? I’ve always perceived change as being good, if not, there’s always a way around it. But I’m sure I could learn something from the book anyway.

mammal's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir ha, ha cool, glad the link worked, bbc is pretty decent for documentaries :)

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m surprised at how many people said they couldn’t finish a self-help book when they did buy one. If you don’t read the book then of course you aren’t going to be helped by it. Many people can not or will not understand what they read.

My Hubby makes a living teaching people how to read the instruction manuals that come with computer equipment, and my Grandson has a good little side business teaching people how to read them and understand them also.

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drpoop's avatar

does DJing for dummies count?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@drpoop i think so
an example of great self help books

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