Suggest books that push the envelope of "self-help"?
October 21, 2009 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Can you suggest books that push the envelope of "self-help"? I record books for a library-owned radio station for the blind and visually impaired. One of our genres is Self-Help. We have no shortage of the usual sort of self-help book - I've been asked to come up with something a little wider-ranging or quirky.

It must be non-fiction, and it can't be religious. Other than this, the genre can be interpreted pretty liberally.

For example, three "quirky self-help" books I have already recorded for the station -

Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

These are self-help books we* have already done in the past year:

Apples are Square (Thinking Differently about Leadership) by Susan and Thomas Kuczmarski
Musicophilia (Tales of Music and the Brain) by Oliver Sacks
Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Human, The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique by Michael S. Gazzaniga
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
The Canon by Natalie Angier
Happy Without Being Perfect by Alice D. Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly
A Promise to Ourselves by Alec Baldwin
60 Seconds & You're Hired! by Robin Ryan
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Man vs. Weather by Dennis DiClaudio
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
How Successful People Think by John Maxwell
The Power of Four by Joseph M. Marshall III
What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis
Be The Hero by Noah Blumenthal
A Long Bright Future by Laura L. Carstensen

*I didn't record any of these. Our station has many volunteer readers. I sort of specialize in 'quirky.'
posted by tomboko to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

This might push the boundaries of self-help a bit too far (humour in the guise of a self-help book), but it's really great: The Will to Whatevs by Eugene Mirman.
posted by ripley_ at 7:59 PM on October 21, 2009

Well Kudos on Bird by Bird - great author, great book.

I'm reading this amazing book right now called The End of Overeating. The crux of it is an explanation about how to overcome an addiction to food. But he talks a lot about how food acts on the brain, and how the food industry plays on this to make food "hyperpalatable." It's insanely interesting. He posits conditioned overeating as a biological hurdle, not a result of simply lacking willpower.
posted by radioamy at 8:15 PM on October 21, 2009

Made to Stick: why some ideas/phenomena/stories "stick" to people's memories & travel. Helpful, if a bit business-oriented.
posted by knile at 8:18 PM on October 21, 2009

I really enjoyed How to Be Idle, which had a serious premise but was wonderfully fun and indulgent.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on October 21, 2009

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:53 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?

Words cannot describe how much fun it is to read passages of that book out loud.

"Besides shooting out a big blank from your buttock, you can feel as if your root chakra leaked sweet hot mucus."
posted by Jacqueline at 9:01 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Eat, Pray, Love probably falls into that category. I liked it and I can't stand self help books.
posted by fshgrl at 9:20 PM on October 21, 2009

How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain De Botton
posted by maishuno at 10:28 PM on October 21, 2009

Oh, and 50 Cent's self help book/guide to success:
The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene
posted by maishuno at 10:33 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Anything by Byron Katie, Melody Beattie and Louise Hay.
posted by watercarrier at 2:51 AM on October 22, 2009

Lost in the Cosmos.
posted by KMH at 7:01 AM on October 22, 2009

I seem to recommend If The Buddha Dated a hell of a lot, because it's the only self-help book I've actually liked -- no, not just liked, it's the only self-help book I actually grokked. Also by the same author: If The Buddha Got Married and If The Buddha Got Stuck. Despite the title, it's actually light on the religious subtext - it's more "here are techniques that Buddhists use to help themselves get in touch with their inner selves to attain enlightenment -- but fortunately they're also great for helping yourself calm the hell down and figure out whether you want to break up with this guy or not" or whatever.

There was a Peanuts tie-in some years back I saw: "Things I've Had To Learn Over And Over (Plus A Few Minor Discoveries)". All it really was, was a collection of some of the pithier or profound punch lines from selected past strips with single-panel illustrations, but they picked ones that if you took them out of context, often made you blink and say, ".....huh."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I recommend How to Pee Standing Up (tips for hip chicks).
And though I can't actually recommend it, maishuno's mention of 50 cent's book reminded me that Kanye West has an inspirational book called "Thank You and You're Welcome". Trite and self-congratulating do not even begin to describe it.
posted by soelo at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2009

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