Self-Help Books

Summary: A look at the many self-help books we’ve accumulated over the years, in attempt to prove there’s some value in them to justifying buying more.

Our bookshelves are crammed with them. Brightly coloured with long (and often absurd) titles designed to catch the eye of whichever flavoured jaded soul happens to be passing by. Whether it’s feeling fear, being an urban warrior, healing courageously, being highly effective or not petting the sweaty things (or something) we have a heaving bookshelf waiting to cater to our needs.

But are any of them any good?

There is an awful lot of pap out there. Books written from the perspective of "I’m great, and this is how you can be just like me!", or written by vacuous former celebrities who foolishly think anybody cares about what they think. There are books written to fit the issue du jour. There are books which are no more than brochures for whatever religion they happen to be selling.

But there are some good ones out there, and listed below are the books that I’ve found especially useful.

The Courage To Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

The Courage To Heal has been called "The Survivor’s Bible" and really is essential reading for anyone who experienced childhood sexual abuse. It covers all that’s needed for a survivor to get through their healing process, from acknowledging the abuse to trusting the person you are now and moving on with your life. It helped me deal with a lot of doubt, anger and self esteem issues, and has got me to a place where I can move on without dragging the baggage of my teens behind me.

When You Eat At The Refrigerator, Pull Up A Chair by Geneen Roth

Anyone who has been on more than three diets should read this book. "Fridge Chair" as I took to calling it, shows that there is an alternative to the diet-binge cycle. There’s *gasp!* not dieting at all and embracing who you are. Absolutely essential reading for those who have been trying to lose that annoying 10lbs for years. For those of us with more to shift, I’d recommend reading it along with…

Conquering Obesity by Dr. Lance Levy

Practical advice for the very overweight. Doesn’t talk to you like a second class person! Dispenses sensible advice without being remotely fattist ("I think you’re fattest" – ©Jimmy Carr).

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

The only self-help book here to have the dubious honour of featuring in pikey BBC sitcom Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, Feel The Fear is *the* classic self-help book. It’s one to keep at the side of the bed and refer to again and again. I especially identified the chapter acknowledging the existence of, and advising how to deal with, the nagging inner voice we all have that stops us from taking risks or making decisions. I haven’t quite got to grips with affirmations yet, but I will. I will get to grips with affirmations. I will get to grips with affirmations. I will…

Anything by the Barefoot Doctor

The Barefoot Doctor rocks. You can’t fault a self-help author who writes a chapter called "Just say ‘Fuck ’em!’". His books are uplifting and empowering but, most importantly, they’re very entertaining reads. His album, "Om, Baby!" ain’t bad either. And his smellies are quite nice too.

Thing is with self-help books is you have to approach them knowing that not every word on every page in every book is going to apply to you. Some need a few reads before they ‘hit’, others get you straight away while others never will and are best off being donated to your local charity shop, where someone else might pick it up and find it really, well, helpful