The 7 Common Points in Self-Help Books

“There’s always room for one more self-help book” said every publisher ever. On the other hand, there are too many books and not enough time to read them all (especially if you read self-help books). Having never read one, I was interested in what all the fuss is about then I saw Forbes’ article on the core tenets of the genre.

Save yourself some time and check out this short list of seven things to think about.

7. Human needs: Accept your inherent irrationality and learn to fight it.

Human beings are neither robots nor computers – and as it turns out, we’re not even all that rational. Many great self-help books put forth the idea of a divided inner self: In Carrots and Sticks, they’re Homer Simpson and Mr. Spock. In Predictably Irrational, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The inner elephant and its rider represent the two selves in Switch, and in Thinking, Fast and Slow, the scientific terms System 1 and System 2 are used. While your rational side might be able to make a decision about what’s best for you, such as quitting cigarettes, eating healthier, or abstaining from social media, the impetuous irrational self who favors short-term gratification – smokes, booze, and endless hours on facebook – can derail you. To combat your inner Homer, set up disincentives for irrational behavior. The example that Carrots and Sticks offers is the following: if you promise to give 1,000 dollars to Scientology for every cigarette you smoke, you give Mr. Spock (Rational System 2), far more power than if the only motivation is a fleeting New Year’s resolution.

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Bookstores are Still Places for Change

In Beijing there stands a bookstore that does more than just sell books – it’s bringing more culture and more discourse to the city. Books are an invaluable way to share ideas and as a result bookstores tend to create a culture around them that encourages critical thinking.

However, the Bookworm is more than just a bookshop with a library, bar and restaurant: it’s a hot house of discussion, creativity and ideas in one of the world’s most happening cities.

Its big book-lined rooms, free Wi-Fi, hip music and good food have made it a magnet for expats and young, English-speaking Chinese alike.

But it’s the Bookworm International Literary Festival that has put it on the map for top international authors curious about China: Americans Dave Eggers and David Sedaris were here for events in January. This month, Toronto’s Emma Donoghue and 70 other writers from 19 different countries celebrated the festival’s fifth year, which wraps up Friday.

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