The world of self-help books is growing at approximately 5% per year and in 2014 the industry was worth $11 billion in the US alone. It proved to be recession proof with sales showing no abating either in the UK or US during the bank crashes or the turbulent times thereafter, but probably this is when they were needed the most. Not unlike what has occurred over the past few weeks and I’m sure there will be another spike in sales to marry up with Trump Presidency fiasco.
They cover many categories and whilst dysfunctional relationships are the bread and butter of self-help they are by no means the preserve of the sad single female looking to draw Mr Mediocre into her web of white wedding and ordinary ever after.
The titles are as varied as the advice they offer Women Who Think Too Much, It’s called a break-up because it’s broken, Ignore the Guy; Get the Guy, Who Moved My Cheese, How to poo on a date, How to get a nun into bed (is this guy for real, self published naturally), Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and my personal favourite How to Manage Your Dick and its Destructive impulses; a kindle favourite I would imagine, not one for Waterstones.
There is no shortage on how to find your inner happy whether it’s by controlling comfort eating, putting away the bottle, saying NO, saying YES, healing your life or getting the life you really want to live. The advice flows in torrents as it appears that there is no ailment or relationship that doesn’t have a self-help book to accompany it. If you’re a lover, parent, husband or wife, sibling or child there is danger and damage highlighted at every turn, every conversation to be analysed in-depth or regurgitated for a future misery memoir, no act of kindness or otherwise to go without dissection – quite frankly it scares the hell out of me.
And whilst I like to believe all these books are well-intentioned they do come along with a mind-boggling amount of instructions that need to be followed in order to unveil your happy and successful inner self. They usually start with filling out lists, analysing key words and committing to the guidelines on a daily basis. I say guidelines but swap it with doctrine and it wouldn’t be out of place, disobey at your peril. Here I am back at Trump Presidency again…
Take The Rules for example this self helper guaranteed women true love and a marriage proposal in 12 months if followed exactly or your virginity back. As you can imagine it caused a lot of controversy not least because it appeared to put back the women’s movement back by about 50 years, by advising against returning phone calls and not talking too much – that’s me screwed!
Despite their ongoing popularity self-help books do not offer an instant remedy or impeachment to your particular problem and in order for them to be objective you need to work at it. But in today’s world of chaotic lifestyles and instant gratification it feels like we need a book telling us how to even begin a programme of self-improvement.
And if you’re wondering if such a book exists, it does. It’s called ‘Get Your Shit Together’ and is selling like hot cakes!