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!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – All in for August 2022!

Hello all! That was a WILD month! Over here in the UK, it was feeling hot hot HOT!!! But even with the crazy temperatures, I managed to drag myself out the house and do some cool things 😊 Right away, my month was off to a great start when a friend treated me to Jerusalem:

With incredible performances and an amazing script, I felt so lucky that this was my first experience at the theatre in years. A complex play, the story follows Rooster, who is on the verge of being evicted from his caravan. For all the rough edges, this tells of a purity beneath the grime. I particularly liked how the humour threw the darkness into sharp relief and made the experience fly by. And, ultimately, it softened me up for the gut punch at the end!!

Then I was lucky enough to go to Madame Butterfly- which was yet another stunning and moving Royal Opera House performance. Even more tragic than La Boheme, Puccini’s opera felt more real because the ending was so twisted.

Finally, I found myself on a witchy hike in the woods of Surrey!

Also, I never would’ve noticed this post box if it wasn’t pointed out to me, but can you tell what’s special about it?

Don’t Make a Sound– I don’t have much to shout about with this book. It had some cool moments of tension and kept me up reading all night, but was probably a little dark for me. Plus there were some things that stretched credulity. For instance, why when a police officer goes missing ON A MISSING PERSON’S CASE does nobody check where he went last?!??! Also, how are they not suspicious of the jumpy, creepy, elderly couple? I dunno, a lot of the people in this book had to be extremely stupid for the plot to work. That said, it did have a stellar final twist.

Rating: 3/5 bananas  

Bird by Bird– ehh this didn’t really take off for me. I love the title of this book… and not much else. Writing advice books aren’t really my jam, but I’d heard this was one you simply *had to* read. Annnd I don’t know why people think that. I guess the author is very assertive at telling you how right she is about everything (from writing advice to freedom fighters always being right apparently). Yet for me, this is just another prescriptive writing manual, with vaguely encouraging ideas like don’t be a perfectionist told in an irritating way. I just don’t see what’s so special about another writer saying that making it in writing is hard and to focus on characters over plot. You’ll hear the same advice for free on the internet.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

Gilded– for me, this book was a rare and golden experience. When I first picked it up, over a year ago, I wasn’t in the mood and thought it wasn’t going to be for me. But, not being able to resist the pull of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, I decided to pick it up again and, lo and behold, it was absolutely magical! I simply loved how it wove the story, threading together the plot in an unusual way. Up close I could not see where the story was heading- and yet when I stood back the beautiful tapestry was clear. It’s one of my favourite Meyer books to date and I’m looking forward to the conclusion!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Dark Queens– this is real life game of thrones and I am here for it!! Exploring the forgotten and erased parts of the dark ages to life, Dark Queens is centred on the rivalry of two powerful queens during the Merovingian dynasty. While this was a time period I knew virtually nothing about, I found myself completely gripped by the political intrigue and inner workings of these kingdoms. More than that, the book centres on the memory of these now-mythical queens, who were written out of the history books for their gender. I found it fascinating to follow how they both seized and ceded their power, learning of the personal struggles at the heart of their rule. If I had one criticism of the book, I’d say that I do not share the author’s admiration for their ruthlessness and ambition, just as I would not for the male rulers at the time. That said, this is easily one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. Heck it’s one of the best books I’ve read! Even if it doesn’t have dragons 😉

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Why Did You Stay?- How do you follow up a great book like that? With great difficulty. While I appreciated the basic premise that women are often conditioned to accept shitty relationships for the sake of “romance” (see the likes of Beauty and the Beast to Grease), I was not as impressed by this book as I wanted to be. Unfortunately, Humphries’ jolty style and sloppy structure make it hard to focus on her unfolding epiphanies. I feel like the book would have benefited from cutting down- at the very least. And, as much as I liked that this raised some awareness of toxic relationships and people’s reaction to it (with that awful shaming question “why did you stay?” ringing in the ears of so many) I did not feel like this went nearly far enough. While this is just one story, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a missed opportunity to talk about why people get stuck and perhaps how to get unstuck (hint: that question doesn’t help anybody). Still, I did particularly like the epilogue and its summations.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!