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Self-Help Books

A help in Need, or Just a Good Read?

We all want to live better lives, and be better people. That can range from dreams of losing ten pounds, to being a better parent, to climbing the career ladder so high you’re almost in orbit. Sometimes it seems like there’s someone out there every minute offering to sell you a book that will direct you to your dreams. The truth is self-help books are a mixed bag. Some are solid, helpful manuals offering sound advice – advice that will help someone, even if not you. Other books are little more than flash and gimmick. Finding the best choices for your own needs is difficult.

The ocean of self-help books:

More Books than People?

Sometimes when you go to the bookstore, or explore in Amazon, it seems like there are more self-help books than there can possibly be people to buy them. No matter what the topic, someone has written a book to help you find your way. In many cases, there are not just one or two books, but hundreds per year; thousands per decade. How many diet books do you think have been published over the past century?

People buy self-help books because they promise to help all the things we think stand between us and happiness, or between us and success. Unfortunately, the wrong book, sold to the wrong customer, can do little good. If self-help books worked as reliably for all purchasers as they hint they will, we would all be thin, beautiful, rich executives with perfect children with high grades and great social lives. Our refrigerators would be well-stocked and clean, and every window of our homes, cars and offices would sparkle.

Are There Good Self-Help Books?

Absolutely. The truth is that most self-help books offer at least some degree of useful information. It is worth serious care to ensure you have doctors and other specialists as safety nets when you attempt to use advice from a self-help book.

Many people have found strength and inspiration in self-help writing. Unfortunately, while groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous can point to studies and statistics showing the success/failure ratio of their methods, few self-help books can offer the same support for their own effectiveness.

When you purchase a self-help book, take the time to review the credentials of the author: training, years of practice, and recognition and respect from their peers is not a guarantee of high quality, but it is a good beginning. Perform some research online for citations and for professional articles referring to the author and his or her work. Find out if there are testimonials, and see if it’s possible to determine the authority of the sources, and their competence to review an author’s work.

More Self-Help Options

There’s no reason to stop reading self-help books, so long as you continue to take the right precautions. However, you may want to look into other self-help choices at the same time. They can help flesh out a personal regimen in ways print alone can’t manage.

In the meantime, if you have life issues challenging you, consider hiring a counselor or coach, or entering a program to help carry you through the challenges facing you. By making use of referral agencies and health and counseling resources, you can find a good match for you and your needs.


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