real life

Self help books: therapy or paperweight?

On holiday recently, after 15 days of rain, I thought it may be handy to revisit Buddhism for Mothers, one of the many self help books languishing on my bedside table.  But then I got into a panic that reading the book would possibly take me away from being the calm, zen mother that I was going to be and maybe I should be reading a book about “how to play with your children while stuck in rain for 15 days”.

So I read Twitter.

Self help book are the ultimate lying-on-the-couch therapy (if you read your books on the couch). Former Idol contestant,  7pm Project and Mamamia contributor, Em Rusciano writes:


“On Saturday mornings my husband goes out riding with a group. Yes, I VERY generously allow him out of the dungeon once a week for some fresh air and sunlight.

He and the rest of the bike nerd brigade head out in their tres un-flattering and ridiculously expensive skin tight red lycra jumpsuits into the Dandenongs and do manly things. (Spitting, farting, weeing out the side of their nicks you get the idea)

When he gets home he is usually so tired and grateful I can get him to do pretty much whatever I want. Cleaning, cooking, child rearing he is but compliant putty in my hands. It’s a win win for both of us!

So when he got home from his ride 3 Saturdays ago and announced he needed to go into the city to “pick something up” I then found myself getting all Angela Lansbury on his arse. (if you’re under 30 here’s her wiki page)

Em-“What do you mean? You’ve been gone all morning, it’s family time now” (Note to reader “family time” usually consists of me escaping from the house to get a coffee and read the paper)

Scotty- “I’ll only be an hour or so, I have to go into the city to pick something I ordered up and then I’ll come straight home.”

Em- “SOMETHING?! What is this mysterious package? Are you some sort of a drug mule now?” (I always go to worse case scenario to throw him off.)

Scotty- “Yes Emy, I’ve joined an international drug cartel. See you soon.”


He totes did.

So I waited, I waited HARD. When I heard the front gate open his hands were empty.. I tried to pretend I was faffing with something near the front door so he didn’t feel completely ambushed when he walked in, it was a VERY weak attempt.

Emy: “So WHERE’S the package Scott?”

Scotty: “Inside my jacket”

Emy: “Let’s have it then”

Scotty: “What? No! It’s none of your business” (Red flag, bull.)

I’ll spare you the rest of this particular argument. It ended with him producing a (da da da daaaaa)

brown paper bag….

Of course my first thought was PORN. What else comes in brown paper bags? Liquor? Cigars? Nope it had the shape and weight of porn. I was relieved, I have no issue with porn. I’m not all that into it but I get that it’s pretty much the sole reason for the Internet being invented.

He took the reading material out of the brown paper bag and I totally expected to see “Revenge of the Slutty McSlut Sluts 3” or something along those lines.

My friends, what he took out was far worse…. Twas a book…. Entitle:


“The way of the Superior Man” – A spiritual guide to MASTERING the challenges of WOMEN, work and sexual desire”

He’d bought a SELF HELP BOOK.

I of course read the above title as “The way of the MASSIVE WANKER who wants to MASTER his woman, Em Rusciano”

Disclaimer: I have nothing against those who turn to self help books. I guess as someone who has suffered from a severe mental illness I scoff at those who turn to books instead of hard drugs (prescription kind) and therapy. HOWEVER, I also know sometimes you just gotta do what ever gets you through and gives you a bit of hope. So if you are reading a self helper now and loving it sick, carry on with my blessing.

I also feel there are a lot of opportunistic chirpy morons out there who write these books filled with empty, new age bullshit promises that prey on the overweight, sad, lonely, clinically depressed and the divorced and often deliver nothing. Also, these same chirpy morons are CASHING IN.

According to “Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs–13.6% more than they did back in 2005, according to Marketdata Enterprises, Latest forecast: 6.2% annual growth through 2012.

The other thing is- my husband is a high performance coach. He helps dissatisfied executives, elite athletes and everyday people find balance in their lives. He is essentially a walking self helper, he’s the best there is. Why was he now turning to a BOOK? I thought I knew why. Obviously he had a problem with the one thing he couldn’t life coach his way out of, ME!

I was irrationally upset and felt very threatened by the whole situation. Every time I would catch him reading it I would make a big point of sighing and shaking my head, To his credit – DID NOT BAT AN EYELID.

He read the thing in a week. He said it was a great and I should think about reading it. HA! As if I would give him the satisfaction and AS IF I would EVER stoop to the “self help” level of pathetic.

I started reading it yesterday. In secret. It’s good. It has some wanky language but the overall message can only BENEFIT our marriage. He was doing a positive thing for us, I had managed to build it up in my mind as an attack on me. It wasn’t. Damn him and his evolving self.

I knew it was going to be ok when I read the last line of the intro..

“Stop waiting.Feel everything.Love achingly.Give impeccably.Let go.”

My husband loves me in his own quiet, reserved way. Sometimes, I want FIREWORKS and ROSES…

If this book can deliver something close to that then I’m OK with it.

Be kind to yourself – That’s for free!”


Do you read self-help books?

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