Help Me! by Marianne Power: do self-help books really work?

cover of Help Me! by Marianne Power

Marianne Power, a freelance journalist, spent a year devoting herself to following the advice in self-help books. Help Me! is her account of that year of self-discovery, including hilarious highs, terrible lows and everything in between.

Power delivered a TED talk about her experiences that she writes about in her book:

And here, she briefly goes through three of the self-help books that she lived by during her experiment of self-discovery:

I really enjoyed this book! It was fun to find out about a range of self-help books, some of which I’d heard of and none that I’ve ever read, and to see how effective (or not) they were when Power attempted to follow their rules.

The only self-help books I’ve ever really read are Ruby Wax‘s books about mindfulness, which I thought were pretty good (and very funny) but even those didn’t change my life. I definitely wouldn’t have the stamina to devote a whole year to not only reading twelve different self-help books, but to live my life by them.

Help Me! is surprisingly moving, especially when Power shares her slide into depression, which is partly fuelled by her obsession with self-help books. The way she jumps right into living her life by these extreme self-help books is at times inspiring, often courageous, but sometimes a bit silly.

The book is a rollercoaster of a ride, but like many scary fairground rides, perhaps Power’s self-help story is best observed from the safety of the sidelines rather than lived out for yourself.

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