Self Help Books: Do they really help?
Updated: Apr 26
By Lisa Fant
Let's talk about self-help books. Self-help books are meant to help you get the most you can out of life. Whether you're struggling with self-confidence, looking for guidance in your friendships or relationships, or you need to become more consistent in your daily habits, there's a self-help book out there just for you!
There's no shortage of self-help books by far. According to the NPD group, as of January 2020, there were 17.6 million sales of self-help books in the United States-- an 11 percent increase annually since 2013 (Pierce). With such a diverse array of content that promises resolutions and resources for virtually any human matter, the self-help industry is far from lacking. While such a limitless genre may be the key to learning new life skills, eliminating negative thinking, or just giving you the kick you need to galvanize into action, self-help tends to get a bad rap.
One of the principal issues with the self-help genre is that it has the potential to reinforce the notion that something is "wrong" with its reader. While self-help books do embrace readers who may just want to brush up on their verbal communication skills or learn how to become a better listener, there's a wider audience who turns to the genre with more complex circumstances and the need for more extensive support-- some of which require more than a one-size-fits-all approach. The lack of personalization can be harmful; a vulnerable person who trusts the "experts" may walk away from a book with the feeling that they cannot be improved. It's most vital to recognize that countless self-help books on the market utilize the susceptibility of their readers, capitalizing on their insecurities with shallow answers from unqualified "gurus" and in many cases, selling a conspicuous solution. This is not to say that all self-help books are ill-disposed, but it poses a caution to potential consumers to beware of books selling false hope, unrealistic expectations or lifestyles, and most importantly, don't make them feel good about the person they are now.
Books are an escape from the real world. There is much to be learned and explored, and there are still a considerable number of self-help books on shelves that can help readers feel optimistic, inspired, and even entertained. There is no cookie-cutter approach to becoming a better person-- and ultimately, each person has their own, very personal circumstances, abilities, passions, and goals.