Do Self Help Books Help

I was recently asked by a person doing a PH D research project to complete a questionaire about my use of Self Help books.  I realized that I have bought and read many.  I think I have bought more than I have read but still I have read many on many subjects.

I was asked what makes a good self help book.  My first answer is when the advice is sensible and practical.  Something I can use myself to deal with some issue I am concerned about.  Many of the books are too complex and impractical.  One book I really loved was "The Power of Now" by Tolle.  However I could not apply his great ideas.  I love his ideas but I did not know where to start.  Then I read "The Presence Process" by Brown and I found a practical process I could follow.

My first self help book I recall reading was "Children The Challenge" by Driekurs.  It was a very practical book about dealing with children's behavior in a family.  I found incredibly profound but practical at the same time.  The book had a very sane underpining of psychology.  I recall that "iron clad logic of social living is cooperation."   

I have read books on positive thinking, golf, spirituality, yoga, Tai Chi, and lots of other things.  I have listened to tapes and CD's in my car when I commuted to work about two hours a day.  

I have kept an open mind on most subjects and I am looking for new ideas.  Those that are practical and sensible I will use and the others I dismiss.  

I suspect some people think self help books are a waste of time but for me they represent an important part of my learning. 


  1. Jim Hayward Reply

    Dennis, I must give Tolle a little more time. Michael Brown’s Presence Process really helped and maybe I am more ready for Tolle.
    Graham, thanks for you note. Your comments are so encouraging for me.

  2. Graham Reply

    Jim, you introduced me to all three of the books you reference. And while I had (may still have) fundamental differences with all of them, I derive great value from your insights. So keep reading and suggesting.

  3. Dennis Martini Reply

    Don’t give up on Tolle yet! Try to find his audio recording of “The Art of Presence”, which is several hours recorded at a retreat in Europe. It is much more informal and his sense of humour and messages come thru with more practicality.

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