Taking its name from the Victorian bestseller, Self Help, a self-help book is a type of book written to educate or instruct readers on various personal topics. The concept of self-help is also known or modernized as self-improvement. The basic goal of which is to enable individuals to become better without having to rely on others and using the inputs offered by a self-help book.
A self-help book usually comes in a format that answers how-to questions. Popular psychology and topics involving the mind and human behavior are staples in self-help publications. Some of the most frequently covered topics include dating, making friends, relationships, romance, personality development, etiquette, goal setting and achievement, fashion and grooming, public speaking, studying, the development of interpersonal skills, and personal organization.
Usually marketed as a resource that helps enable self-discovery, it is not uncommon for a self-help book to be promoted as an effective tool for increasing self-awareness and enhancing performance and satisfaction. Additionally, a self-help book has the advantage of being a handy material anyone can conveniently turn to for pastime reading. It is like a digest of tips, pieces of advice, and shared experiences for a specific subject that is made available in a form most readers would appreciate.
The credibility of a self help book greatly relies on its author. An author needs to have adequate—if not superior—knowledge, expertise, and experiences in what he or she is writing about. Readers of self help books do not only focus on the texts but also derive inspiration from the one writing them. That’s the reason why the names of celebrities who endorse or release self help books contribute to the success of the titles they recommend or offer. That also explains why unpopular authors are less likely to find success in selling their books.
A self-help book can be a good alternative for those who seek assistance with their self-improvement or other personal questions but are hesitating to consult with a coach or counselor. A self-help book can offer information and insights that are somewhat similar to what a real-life coach or counselor would provide. After all, several self-help authors themselves are also practicing life coaches and counselors. To some extent, self-help books can be very useful to an individual. Authoritative and well-written self-help books can help people in dealing with personal struggles on their own. The wide availability of and relatively easy access to self-help books provide people a chance to partake in the thoughts and wisdom of renowned life coaches and counselors—aside from promoting the coaches’ or counselors’ names.
Depending on the targeted audience, self-help books typically feature a writing style that is easy to understand and relate to. As such, books on coping with grief or loss are written with a personal and sympathetic but empowering tone. Books on relationships tend to be warm and rousing. Personality development books are expected to feature an enthusiastic and encouraging tone. Needless to say, the way a self-help book is written also matters.
Given its popularity, the idea of self-help books expectedly has its share of criticisms. While those who support the idea of self-help books consider them to be a way of self-education, critics dismiss most self-help books as devolved products of pop culture. It also does not help that commercialism is making the quality of published self-help books deteriorate.
Self-help books—quality self-help books are useful self-improvement tools and many of them certainly provide help. It’s just important to remember that not all of them are written by knowledgeable and credible authors. Finding a truly helpful self-help book could use the help of reviews and recommendations.
If you want to find something to read, be sure to use our database of books to find something similar to what you’ve already read and liked.