Advice from books

27 07 2009

Books offer much to readers – entertainment, knowledge, information and advice among other things.  The genre “Self-help” specifically deals with advice: advice on varied topics such as relationships, behavioral issues, success etc. The question is, how effective such books are. Can people really benefit from them?

I’ve heard many opinions in the line of “they are impractical”, “it’s all bookish knowledge” etc. I know people who believe that one can’t really follow all that advice, in fact it’s not possible to do so. Some think that all those tips will not lead to the projected results. While some decide that the contexts offered by the book do not reflect their unique situation. I even know people who dismiss the wise knowledge right away.

Sure there are some bad books out there, but I’m here concerned with the good, authentic ones.  I usually depend on two criteria to identify the later ones:

  • Bestseller (there must be some reason for it, and it’s usually that it is good)
  • The profile of the author (his/her field of expertise and accomplishments)

I truly believe that we can benefit from a well-written, relevant self-help book. In my opinion, the effectiveness of the book depends on the reader’s:

  • Awareness of his or her own need
  • Openness to ideas and advice
  • Willingness to change
  • Commitment and effort

A person may pick up a self-help book for a number of reasons:

  • Just curious
  • Because a friend has recommended it
  • Because everyone else is reading it
  • To judge the book and/or author
  • Hoping to find answers to his problems

In order to get and benefit most from the book, one should approach it with a genuine need. Only when a person is aware of his/her need will he/she be open to advice.  And what would mere knowledge count for, if the person doesn’t act on it? Often, one may not like what one learns from such books. One may be required to accept one’s own faults or deficiencies. Realizing and accepting them is the next step. It requires lots of will-power and determination to bring a change in one’s behavior or thinking – most solutions to problems demand it. And being ready and determined to put the effort needed in order to bring out that change is the crucial step. Incorporating those tips into day-to-day life and/or problem situations is the final step.

If one happens to gain nothing even after all this, I accept and agree with one’s remarks that self-help books are impractical and/or useless. I like to think that all those who doubt the helpfulness of self-help books are those who haven’t tried enough to use them.

Most of the times, one may not be able to relate to everything mentioned or discussed in a book, because it is meant for wider public. In those cases, I just absorb what is relevant to me, leaving out the rest instead of rejecting the book as a whole. I feel that there is always something good and useful in every book. In fact it’s true for everything, not just for books. 🙂

As I think about it, I realize that the way we react to self-help books isn’t much different from our response to advice from people: friends and well-wishers. It’s a well-known fact that one seldom follows the advice one receives. Here, the advice we receive may be customized and personalized, but still we often end up dismissing it. I think this reflects our general attitude towards any advice. But if we compare advice from books and people, there is no doubt as to which we’ll prefer.  May be this lack of direct human contact is what makes us skeptical about and less receptive of the advice from the books.

I admit that most of the times, I too lack the determination to follow all that good advice to the word. Nonetheless, I try to as much as I can. In my case, even if my conscious effort sometimes doesn’t measure up, the insights gained act subconsciously and make a difference.

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2 responses

2 08 2009
suneetha

hi sireesha,
i just saw ur blog….its amazing…..keep going ….
the information provided in this post is really useful for me as starter.thanku

2 08 2009
sireeshaavvari

Thanks yaar! I’m glad you found it useful.

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