To what extent should self help books be read? To me, it seems like authors are simply trying to make a killing exploiting the miseries of their readers. About 90% of the self help book industry is a load of crap, and the remaining 10% is not exactly helpful either. A good gauge of a self help book’s worth is the emphasis it has on action. Unless action is emphasized, it is rather useless.
Dealing with your demons is well and good. You may learn breathing techniques and go through exercises wherein you confront your fears and perhaps cast them away with mental images. That stuff is pretty run of the mill in self help books. But as long as solutions are only read about, as long as solutions remain on the page, then they have little relevance to actual living.
How many times, you must wonder, has a self help book actually helped someone? Actually improved their character and situation in life? What we usually get is feel good therapy, a kind of amnesia of one’s sorrows. Do you actually know anyone who has experienced a long term change in their being, their temperament or world view thanks to self help books?
A case in point is the popular Rick Warren bestseller ‘The Purpose Driven Life.’ The title says it all! In life, you need a purpose to drive you. But no, we are asked to read through 200 pages of drivel, basically rephrasing the title, and Rick Warren is all the richer for that.
Apart from Mr. Warren, we have other self help authors who basically recycle their one moneymaking idea, and turn these into ‘sequels.’ The proper name for these sequels, however, should be “books to continue paying for the author’s mortgage.” Sequels are, for the lack of a better word, scams.
Self help is all in paper, theoretical. Their writers are in their desks, playing the role of ‘experts’ who pretend to be all concerned about your well being. They may well be concerned, but they are merely going through the motions in a relaxed state, when preparing the tome that would supposedly make sense of your life, and give meaning to your suffering.
Ultimately, the help that one supposedly derives from books comes from their attitudes towards career and family. A book means nothing without a corresponding shift in the reader’s world view.
In closing, I suggest you to stop reading this thing and go out and learn stuff the old fashioned way, from experience.