Do self-help books actually help?

A GUEST POST from a friend I admire, Ruchir.

Reading is a good habit but to expect that reading a certain sort of books will take you places is completely a wrong notion.

I have witnessed people trying to dig a mine of information to succeed in life. To succeed at work places, to be successful in relationships, to be a positive person and become better human beings.

These so called self-help books are misnomers in my opinion. The other day, I was talking to a person who is a fan of such books. He can discuss theoretical philosophy and psychology in one breath. He can talk of ailments bugging human mind without a pause. Why relationships crumble and he theorizes all he would have ever seen in holy pages of a self-help book. Alas! He is unable to sow those fine seeds of wisdom in his own case. He just happens to be one of many self afflicted victims of a new disease.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all fine with looking for specific information about issues bugging humans. At best self-help books appear to be a treatise on certain aspect of life for dummies and when they aren’t so good they can leave you on wild goose hunt.

In my opinion self-help books narrow our horizon, it attempts to drill “it will work for you” in our minds and sad enough “one size never fits all”.

Wish they can publish a dynamic self-help book, whose paths can be changed on run time based on inputs provided by us. If we can put those right variables (read our aptitude and strengths) in that much wished dynamic book, perhaps we can find out a path which will suit us based on our abilities. A path dependent book will be so much fun and will so much appeal to our palate, until that’s done I won’t find self-help books really shaping us up.

4 thoughts on “Do self-help books actually help?

  1. @Inspire99 Thanks for your comment. I agree books can goad you to a certain extent and then you are all left alone. Books can show you the way, but whether that road suits you or not who else but you can tell. Feel good factor reminds me of particular sort of soupy books. I remember there was a chemistry paper and before the exam a harried student reached a bookstore. He asked the storekeeper “which will be the best book for him to pass exams with good marks”. Storekeeper replied “Depends on what kind of student you are”.


    1. I completely agree with the thought Richy. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to these books. At the same time, I do believe that generalization has a very strong message associated, kinda gives in a lot to relate to and tailor make individual solutions.


  2. I think it is an interesting take Ruchir. It probably is a misnomer about self help books, they are at best pointers as to what can be done better, at time they also help in identifying what might be the exact cause. Also it depends on what book one has read, there are a few which goad people into action and the results are phenomenal. There are others which literally give no solution but focus mostly on feel good factor!

    Either ways, it all finally boils down to the person, they can be amazing if someone using them identifies the practicality of the books and works in that direction. As for the dynamic self help, that is going to be very interesting 🙂


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