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Some people swear by self-help books. Some people swear at them. And sometimes the fine line between calling BS or calling them bedtime reading comes down to the title.
As a genre, self-help is rarely viewed with open arms. We don’t talk about self-love, and that involves an orgasm. So we’re hardly inclined to rave about a psychological reference book when the most we think we’ll get out of it is a mantra.
But it could be time for a rethink. Because, at its core, self-help is literature that has your back. It’s all about you – helping you, empowering you, educating you. Sure, its title might have come from the cheese factory, but when have we ever said no to a little Parmesan?
Open minds at the ready, these are our tried, tested and genuinely converted-to picks:
1. The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris
10/10 good if you suffer from anxiety, Dr Russ Harris is a GP-turned-therapist who looks at evolution to suss out why we have a tendency to think the worst and compare ourselves to others. It’s completely devoid of naff ‘think positive’ affirmations. Instead, he uses a mindfulness model called ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) to get you to accept what’s out of your control and live in the moment. He won’t say, ‘Don’t think bad thoughts’ – which is like asking you to look at a piece of chocolate and not salivate – he’ll tell you how to work with negativity so it bothers you less. Realistic and practical.
2. Textbook Romance: A Step-By-Step Guide To Getting The Guy by Zoë Foster and Hamish Blake
A bit like The Rules, if The Rules lost its sexist clichés and game-playing torture games and was actually really funny. You get a male and a female take on all the issues a woman with a vagina goes through in love – from making excuses about why a guy hasn’t texted (dead?) to when to move in with someone. Proof that there must be something in it? Ex-Cosmo writer Zoë and comedian Hamish were just friends when they wrote this book. Now they’re married with a baby.