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.