Self-help books have been around for a very long time, but it was during the mid-twentieth century when the industry, a decidedly American one, truly flourished.
However, along the way, the idea of helping yourself morphed via New Thought philosophy. Instead of writers telling their readers to focus on hard work, self-discipline, and faith in God, using quasi-religious language, authors are telling their audience to think positive thoughts and because they desire something, it will happen.
But all's not lost.
"City Journal's" Laura Vanderkam relates that most of the people who read self-help books pick and choose the advice that they follow. They must not all be filled with hokum. Folklorist Sandra K. Dolby has tackled the subject in her artfully titled book, "Self-Help Books: Why Americans Keep Reading Them."
By the way, from the self-help books Vanderkam listed, I can pick at least two that I've read. How about you?