I was biased against self help books
In the early days of my clinical practice I had a decided bias against self help books. I thought “you can’t get therapy from a book.” True, but my clients schooled me that you could still get some real help from a book. Over the years I couldn’t ignore their requests for well-written self help books that addressed their struggles and offered information, resources, and step-by-step guidance through some rough patches.
But I still had my doubts. Aren’t a lot of self help books junk? Bad advice, misleading information, self-serving calling cards for the author’s ambitions. It’s certainly true. How could I help my clients sort through the myriad of self help books out there?
There are hundreds of thousands of self help titles. A bookstore owner told me the inventory of the self help section of her store turned over more than twice as fast as most of the other sections! How could anyone possibly stay on top of that to be able to recommend the best, most useful self help books?
Searching for the best self help books
I like challenges! I began to talk to fellow therapists about the self help books they recommended to their clients. I read book reviews. When clients mentioned a book they found helpful, I took note. Soon it became clear there were some long-standing classics of self help, books that stayed in print in new editions year after year. There were publishers with impeccable standards for vetting the manuscripts for new publications. There were books recommended by the book review sections of the New York Times, the Washington Post, LA Times, and other top newspapers. I learned to navigate Amazon from a known high-quality book, searching out related books, toggling between publisher hype and reader reviews. Of course, I read plenty of self help books myself.
The Guide to Self Help Books (2005 –)
Gradually I posted the results online, calling the site The Guide to Self Help Books. The Guide grew as I found and added new books and new features like The Fifty Greatest Self Help Books and Top Ten Self Help Books and Short List of Best Self Help Books – all with an eye to helping people quickly and easily locate just the right book for their situation. The Self Esteem Blog offered short self help pieces addressing that important topic.
It’s been more than ten years for the Guide to Self Help Books. It now offers over 900 brief reviews of recommended books, in 46 categories of Mental Health, Challenges in Living, and Personal Growth. For about five years we were consistently #1 in a Google search for “self help books,” then got passed up in the rankings by Amazon. Go figure.
We’re still out there looking for the best new self help books! Stay tuned. Visit The Guide to Self Help Books when you’re looking for the perfect self help book.