In my early sixties I still look for self help books whenever I visit a bookshop. Having played a vital role in my life during my thirties, forties and fifties I cannot dismiss them as some chance encounter.
It has been my past time and passion to browse through these books during my visits to the bookstores. In my examinations I have come to certain conclusions which I would like to share with you.
Most self help books that you see today are written by American authors- probably due to the need felt most in that country. They are written in simple, easy to understand language. They form a good percentage of nonfiction writing. The authors in common believe in the same philosophy of loving and helping one another as a means to developing good relationships. In short, these books are only versions of the old classics- that dealt with morals and ethics- which have been presented in a more palatable form.
If you do not take classics in this group, the earliest of self help writing that has come my way is Franklin’s Autobiography. In his book, Franklin admits how naïve and foolish he had been during his childhood and adulthood. Yet he became an admired diplomat during later years.
Franklin listed thirteen habits he set upon to conquer. They were virtues like temperance, silence, order, resolution and the like. To each one of these, he added a precept. To temperance he added “Eat not to dullness; Drink not to elevation and to Silence, “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; Avoid trifling conversation.” He worked on each one of these habits for a week before moving on to the next.
One of the later writers who during the turn of the century became famous as a self help author was Dale Carnegie. His classic How to win friends and influence people became an all time favorite. Carnegie’s language with his capacity to narrate anecdotes in an interesting manner won lot of admiration for his writing.
I have not only read Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people but studied it with diligence in my attempt to deal with others in a more pleasing way. Carnegie’s book set me on my journey towards self improvement. I have bought scores of self help books by other authors since then and benefitted greatly from them.
Having said so much let me offer a piece of advice. When you buy a book by a modern self help author buy only one book at a time. Often the first work is the best. Due to the nature of publishing, authors do not get sufficient time to reflect before they can bring fresh ideas before his next work. But this is not to state that all series are to be ignored. If you are convinced that a series of books by an author can be helpful to you please do not hesitate to invest in them. Search and you are sure to find. I wish you good luck in your attempt to find the right book.