Pointless Self-Help Books – These Are Ones to *AVOID*!!

It’s that time of the year again when we all fish out our gym kits and make endless lists of all the things we plan to improve about ourselves (only to abandon these plans halfway through February, because life’s busy enough as it is, thankyouverymuch!). Of course, if you’re getting in the mood to make those resolutions, you may be drawn to a few self-help guides and I’m here to tell you to STOP!! Hold up, because a helluva lot of them are not in the slightest bit, well, helpful. So I’m here as your helpful guide on which self-help books you should *definitely* avoid 😉

War of Art– I had a real battle with this book and I’m still feeling bruised over it. Not only does the author pull “facts” out his armpit, he oversimplifies *EVERYTHING* as Resistance (with a capital R, cos he’s a cool cat, dontchaknow). Going for a walk is Resistance. Reading a book is Resistance. Doing anything interesting at all is Resistance to this guy. I reckon it’d be awful to be friends with someone who’s constantly calling everything you do a waste of time. Also, I wouldn’t want to take my chances with any of his fiction- it’s not exactly gonna be informed by, you know, having a life.

Bird by Bird– please don’t get in a flap if you liked this book- it simply wasn’t for me! In fairness, I rarely jam with writing advice books- yet I genuinely found the advice in here to be particularly generic. Plus, I don’t find any reason to read YET ANOTHER book telling potential authors that writing is hard and they should pick another career. Even if that wasn’t pointlessly discouraging, it’s also a-done-to-death piece of advice. Try feathering your nest with some original thoughts- thanks.

The Art of Hygge– I honestly can’t believe I actually finished this book?! I mean, I am curious about the Danish practice of hygge- however I think the point of it is to be cosy not bored. Aside from that, this book is full of reallllly pointless advice. Unless you need to be told to put flowers in water. In which case, I don’t think this book is going to cover enough regular-old-life hacks for you.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up- Marie Kondo’s book on tidying up is a cleanly written self-help guide, informing us all that we should get rid of anything that’s cluttering up our lives and doesn’t “spark joy”. It’s not terrible advice to start with- but UNFORTUNATELY the principles aren’t that complicated- so you don’t need to read a whole book about it! It’s also a bit of a problem to encourage people to discard things this easily- if you’re prone to unhauling things, like I am, you’ll find you get rid of things that you need and you may come to regret it!! And in case that wasn’t enough to put me off, the advice to have just 30 books in your collection hurts my soul as a bookworm ☹ (let’s be real, I’d much rather read a book on how I can build my own personal library!)

Captivate– this is one of those pseudo-intellectual books that promises to teach you how to read body language. Now, I’m not saying there’s nothing to that- however I will say that a book going into tremendous detail about how raised eyebrows means you’re surprised may just be a waste of your time. Personally, I also don’t like the fact that this encourages people to read into “micro-expressions”. Considering the fact that in CBT (and other psychological practices) try to teach people out of mind reading, as its behaviours like this that may feed into depression or anxiety or other mental health problems, I’d say this is a pretty harmful message. But hey, this book isn’t written by an actual psychologist, it’s by a business major whose main expertise is parting people from their money…

Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck– I could not give a fuck about this book (see I can swear too). So much so that I couldn’t even finish it. Which I suppose means the book did its job, since it’s about not caring. Still, I think the only thing this book will make you not care about is its own content, considering advice like “just don’t give a shit about anything” is not only dumb, but will also have very little affect on you if you are bothered about things!! It’s about as helpful as someone telling you to “relax” when you’re stressed or “be happy” when you’re sad or “just do it” when you have a problem with procrastinating (got to take another shot at War of Art there 😉 ). Ultimately, this book is merely a pathetic attempt at being edgy.

And that’s all for now! Do you agree or disagree with this list? And do you have any other self-help books you think are a waste of time? Let me know in the comments!


24 thoughts on “Pointless Self-Help Books – These Are Ones to *AVOID*!!

  1. I have zero use for self-help books that don’t give me step by step lists. And those I tend to ignore because I either disagree with their steps OR I think they’re being too bossy 😉

    Lose lose, right? So I practice the time honored art of avoidance…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I avoid self-help books in general as much of the time the advice seems obvious, and the content drawn out. Many books could probably be a simple blog post or online article, but they add in five million anecdotes to illustrate the point, to make it book-length.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I say Marie Kondo is on to something. I read the manga version of her book and agree that clutter can leave to stress. Maybe we should think a little deeper in what we buy. That keep only 30 books thing is blown out of proportion. It doesn’t matter if it 30 books or a 100 books. As long as it speaks joy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I quite liked some of kondo’s advice to be fair… But then I also realised shortly after that I like doing clear outs, so had managed to take her advice too far (getting rid of things I actually needed! 😅) I think it could be useful for a hoarder. And I also think it would be better to read it in manga form!


  4. Kind of a fun post, thank you! I never read self-help books any way. The one I do recommend is Help! by Marianne Powers in which she tries all different ones because it’s partly memoir.


  5. Haha, great list! I would have to say that nearly all self-help books are a waste of time for most people most of the time. The only exception would be if you happen to pick up just the right one at just the right moment when you need it.

    When I was a young unmarried gal, I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to parent my kids and I devoured all kinds of parenting books. Then when I had kids, I found parenting books totally useless because they seemed to be filled with obvious, patronizing advice without addressing *what to do* in specific challenging situations. Many of them would also point out an example of egregious parenting, and then go, “Don’t do that,” which of course is not helpful at all because there are a million ways to mess it up and the only benefit (?) from this method is that we all momentarily get to look down our noses at this poor, bad mother in the example.

    As for the two writing books you mentioned, I enjoyed them both at different seasons. I do think the author of War of Art is on to something with the concept of resistance, but it’s not the only cause of problems in this world and he makes it sound like it is. (I mean, let’s face it, sometimes you *didn’t* subconsciously cause your own health problems or family drama.) As for Bird by Bird, a photocopy of the chapter The Sh*tty First Draft was given to me during a writing tutoring course, and it was glorious. Later, I enjoyed reading Bird by Bird, not so much as a how-to but more an entertaining introduction to a fellow writer and a reassurance that many successful writers continue to struggle with insecurity throughout their lives. When I returned to it, it came off more like just Lamott trying to impress us with how many issues she has. So, I think how much we enjoy a book has much to do with when we pick it up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. P.S. There are so many jokes about these books, too. Captivate reminds me of that really manipulative character in The Office who comes in trying to charm everybody by using mirroring body language and active listening and stuff like that … but his true personality soon becomes known.

    I’ve also heard “I’ve been getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. So far I’ve thrown out my bra and my power bill.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was recently looking into some self-help books and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck always shows up on the lists. But the negative reviews I’ve read are hilarious! They basically say the same things as you lol So I’ve steered clear of it!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. when I was younger and in a bad marriage I devoured New Age and self-help books. It made me feel like I was doing something. In the end I noticed a lot of them were really about blaming yourself for not having the right mindset. When we moved my brother saw all the boxes of self help books and asked me, “Are you fixed yet?” LOL

    Bird by Bird was given to me by my sister-in-law who died young and never got to follow her dreams for writing and having children. As an anxious young writer I felt reassured by her screw-ups. Now that Im older though I don’t love her politics.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I don’t really read self-help books. I feel like they either try to universalize their experiences to everyone else or spread low-key toxic positivity. I agree that mindset can help, but usually the advice is fairly cliche. And always keeping a positive “mindset” doesn’t always help you through certain situations. I won’t knock them for people they’ve helped. I think my major gripe with them is that they try to sum up life, when they’ve only had their experiences.


  10. I enjoyed this post. While I’m a fan of quality self-help books, I agree that it’s important to be selective. Some books simply offer globs of what I believe to be “common sense.” Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Haha, really enjoyed reading this! I’m surprised the Secret didn’t make the cut. I quit self-help books for over a decade because of it. That is until I came across Atomic Habits which made me give the genre another chance


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