Who needs self help books when you have enemies

September 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 1 Comment
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I don’t read very often. I start writing this with a view of the Aegean Sea as we descend in the company of Thomas Cook to Paphos for 10 well earned days in the thirty degree heat for a fly and flop holiday. Well, as much as you can laze by the pool with a three year old water baby. We’ve bought a secret weapon with us though; another three year old.

So, the reason for mentioning our holiday. It’s been two years since our last overseas trip and that is the last time that I read a book. It was one from the villa book shelf – Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch someone (no Internet connection so please accept the distinct lack of links, factual information and the like). It was a small book and I enjoyed every page. I confess to not returning it to the book shelf as it took me an entire week including the flight home to reach the end.

I vowed to read more often. To find the time. To immerse myself in new worlds, learn about new cultures and aspire to be like the amazingly successful and charismatic women who seduce their handsome suitors without even realising it.

Then it all went drastically wrong. For my next read I chose what can only be classed as a self help book. I actually skim read several of these types of books and the result has been a severe phobia of reading. It’s totally put me off. Altogether.

You know the types; how to be a brilliant parent with effortless panache. Or, how to have a career, be a good mother AND be the doting wife (with a sky high sex drive). Finally, the worst type; how to have your cake and eat. Literally and metaphorically. Who writes this tosh?!

One such book was sent to me a few years ago and I promptly sent it back. It was a review copy so I politely explained my dislike for the content to the PR and posted it back. The PR promptly passed my feedback onto the author (who shall remain anonymous as I can’t guarantee that I have her name correct from memory). To my horror, I received a shouty email from her listing her accomplishments, status and defending her authority on parenting. Well excuuuuuse me, but anyone who suggests that keeping snacks in the glove box as a suitable alternative to breakfast on rushed mornings before school is not an expert on parenting. They’re lazy and need to get up earlier.

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that there are about four or five therapy type books on my shelf collecting dust. I may recycle them or use them for a paper mâché project on a rainy day. I’m doubtful whether I’d get any takers on eBay. If I took them to a car boot sale I’d have to cower away from the judging stares from buyers wondering how I’d managed to amount so many issues in my short life.

Self help books are bad for your health. It’s as simple as that. Despite the seducing titles that lead you to believe that you can be a better person; richer, calmer or more intelligent, all they succeed in doing is making you feel totally overwhelmed with the amount of changes you need to make in your life. And of course, there’s no time like the present and said book encourages you to take immediate action before you spontaneously implode.

They are so riddled with challenges that you could easily spend every day trying to become this greater person, that actually life just passes you by in the mean time.

A bedtime book should send you to sleep dreaming of beautiful far off lands, or imagining what the dashing hero will do next, not fill you with guilt for skipping bedtime stories from time to time, or full of dread at that prospect of adopting dome ridiculous mantra and telling three people that you love them the following day.

Books like these have their place; the odd handy hint or alternative perspective but really they just make us feel like crap. What parent has time for a ten step route to a better you plan, Daily assignments or log books to complete? Yes we sometimes feel we could be better people, but really, everyone hates Miss Perfect don’t they. We’re already great, because we’re us, and what’s the point in having a long life if we don’t learn from mistakes under our own steam?


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  1. Well said my dear! Now bin those awful books and pick up something decent 😉

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