Who the Heck Writes Reviews of Self-Help Books?
That would be me! I’m Anastasia, a 30-year-old USian woman who has a (quite possibly unhealthy) love of self-help or “personal development” books.
It all started when my parents got me The Gifted Kids Survival Guide as a young teen, followed swiftly by The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. I loved them both, read them obsessively, did all of the activities (I might have been the only kid in my high school with a personal mission statement), and…well, things progressed from there.
But Why Review Them?
Jokes aside, I do think I have a healthy attitude towards self-help books. I read them with curiosity but without obligation. In other words, I am looking for inspiring nuggets without feeling any need to make a particular book my Personal Guide In Everything. Which is good, because as you may have gathered, I read quite a few of them.
Now, I will grant that reading a whole lot of self-help books could be seen as a little weird. On the other hand, when you read enough to get a sense of the genre as a whole, you start to realize things! Things like: different self-help books are often making the same suggestions. They differentiate themselves (or try to) by having a particular tone, focus, or point of view, or by providing a specific system to follow.
Am I saying you should just pick up the first self-help book that is available and vaguely relates to your situation? Not at all. Similar ideas doesn’t mean similar quality; the usefulness of a self-help book varies enormously based on factors like the strength of its writing, the clarify of its explanations, and how thoughtfully the ideas are organized and presented.
If you’re thinking, “wow, that sounds kind of subjective”, it is! In some ways, self-help books are more like novels than non-fiction books; what really makes a self-help book effective is how the reader reacts to it.
But novels can be reviewed despite the subjectivity involved, so I figure that the same is true of self-help books. My reviews are less focused on the ‘objective’ quality of the advice being given. Instead, I talk about my reading experience, whether I enjoyed the book, if it got me excited to make changes in my life, and so on. I hope you find it helpful!
Based on Johannes Jansson/norden.org [CC BY 2.5 dk (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/dk/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. Fonts are Souci Sans and Party at Gatsby’s