If you ask Mr. Google about them, he’ll tell you they are books written to “instruct” people on how to manage life, solve problems and get through difficulties. Does that seem helpful at all? I think not.
As humans, we don’t enjoy being lectured, questioned and tested; it steps on our ego. Most of the books that go under the category of “Self Help” are written in statements, answers to questions reality isn’t giving us a break from and it’s all in a bold, sort of brutally realistic way. To be honest, I don’t think that this is what we look for when we go to a book for help. Whatever life shoots at us, problems, bad days, work struggles; we look for a way out, a doorway to another life, even for a few hours.
Your answers are in novels my friend, and here’s why.
“Most Self Help books don’t help at all; they make you feel like something is slightly wrong with you”
It’s a fact that we learn a lot from others’ experiences. Yet, don’t miss out on going through the experience yourself because you’ll learn a hell of a lot more. Reading novels, your life suddenly becomes the book’s scenery and you become its own hero; living their lives through the pages, and for a short time you experience whatever they go through. Now tell me, isn’t that the most amazing thing, to become a different person with every new book you read?
Most Self Help books don’t help at all; they make you feel like something is slightly wrong with you. I’ve personally tried, over and over again to read those types of books and I failed miserably to enjoy them. There’s no plot to figure out, you almost learn the moral from the title and throughout the entire book your brain goes into this examination mood, you block out each lesson. I kept wondering if I’m lacking something and some other times I felt bewildered at how simple and stupid the statements are. Ones that goes about you being happy is the key, thinking in the present is what you need and letting go of the past is what builds the future. Like we don’t know that already!
Life is already pushy and at times extremely hard to deal with. We always have this relationship drama, this friend we fought with or even that family member we always argue with. Out of experience I tell you that fiction, stories, fairytales – whatever you choose to call them – is always the solution to our realities, to an extent of, course.
“We learn from others’ mistakes, but we learn from ours the most. They’re the ones that leave a mark. Reading gives you that”
We learn from others’ mistakes, but we learn from ours the most. They’re the ones that leave a mark. Reading gives you that. It gives you answers to your problems in a creative, different way. It gives you an alternative perspective to look at life, and most of the time, that is exactly what you need. Characters can be the best life coaches and novels offer you life, they don’t just offer a blunt statement of an experience for the mind to calculate. They offer one for the heart and soul just like the mind.
Don’t go for the questions and answers books; go for the stories that will stay with you, such as the following.
- The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
“Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.”
- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before – you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”
- Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
“Mistakes. Trial and error. Same thing. Mistakes are how we learned to walk and run and that hot things burn when you touch them. You’ve made mistakes all your life and you’re going to keep making them.”
- The Book Thief by Markus Suzak
“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”
Noha Badawi: A mad bibliophile; a fan-girl you might say. One who was born with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Follow her on Instagram @thebookishword. And on Goodreads on nohabadawi