How many self-help books have you read? How much of their advice have you actually put into practice? Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer have just saved us the price of at least 50 self-help books by publishing their own book How to Be fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books (pub William Morrow).
We recommend that wherever possible you read summaries to get a good overview of what the text or subject is about. So we were attracted by what is effectively a summary.
And here’s a summary of their summary:
- ignore the books that tell you to want the life the author has – it’s about them, not you
- ignore books that make you feel bad or implies you’re to blame
- ignore books that give you ‘the secret to being happy all the time’ – life is way more complex and interesting than a single emotion
- be open to finding out new things about yourself – lots of books can be helpful, even if not in the way the author planned
- you are the judge of what’s best for you – choose the books you want to read
Our message about self-help books is that previewing a book (flicking through it for 2-5 minutes to find out what it’s about) can make sure you choose the right book according to those (or your own) criteria (and that it could also have given you the summary above). Once you’ve found the right book then the best way of getting the information is to give yourself 20 minutes to find and write down 6 things from the book you will actually put into practice.
Self-help is much easier and more effective if you speed read with a clear purpose.