Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It is that time of year for me again. The time I usually buy a new Self-Help book. My oldest daughter, now 19 dreads bookstore visits at this time of year. I remember a few years ago when I bought the diet book of the season. She was in her mid teens and said, "Do you not realize you do this every year?" Of course I realized it. Well, sort of. Last year, I knew that it was time to reflect on my self-help book issue. When I went to the New Year's self-help book table at Borders, I realized that I owned and had read 90 percent of the books on the table. I am not sure what that says about me or whether I should be admitting it here, but it is what it is.

As I was weeding out my bookshelves this week--working toward the goal of decluttering--I found a few of my favorite self-help books. Books that I don't use any more but they are a bit of my history. One of the first self-help book that I purchased as an adult was THE BEARDSTOWN LADIES COMMON SENSE INVESTMENT GUIDE. It did not make me a millionaire, but I picked up lots of little money tips that I've used ever since.

Since I have been buying self-help books rather regularly for 20ish years, I do notice some patterns--diet, exercise, money and organizing. It is interesting--when I read these books, I seem to find a few things that live with me and life gets a little better.

This year, I decided not to spend money on a new book. Instead, I decided to revisit some of my old favorites--the few I decided not to get rid of. So, this week, I've spent a bit of time with LIVING ORGANIZED by Sandra Felton and THE COURAGE TO START by John Bingham. I figured that these two books helped a bit the first time I read them and there might be some new nuggets to learn if I reread them.

If you are someone who is weeding books, cleaning the office, reorganizing closets, etc. this week, you probably know Sandra Felton. I am an organized person but one who has to see everything I am working on at once. So I don't appear to be organized. I make piles and then I clean piles. Over and over and over again. Sandra Felton's book caught my eye one year when I was stuck delayed at an airport. She really gets into the minds of people who she calls "messies" and helps with strategies to help us stay organized so we never have to spend a whole weekend cleaning our offices. Just flipping through the book has already helped me remember some of the strategies I'd forgotten. (I must confess that I did buy a $3.99 audiobook by Felton for our trip to visit relatives so I had something to listen to in the car.)

And, since my exercise routine has been pathetic for the last two years, I am going back to THE COURAGE TO START by John "The Penguin" Bingham. His story about how he began his life as a runner in his 40s is a great one and he has great tips that make it doable.

So, I have weeded out many, many of my self help books this week while trying to make space for any new books that I may buy this year. And even though I will probably rely on the authors' blogs to keep me focused on my goals this year, these two will stay on my shelves for easy reference over the next few months.


  1. I read this just after over-sleeping and missing my walk with a friend. A little ironic, don't you think? :)

    Would the running book would applicable to getting back into a pattern of any type of exercise?

  2. I love this. I used to make a short list of resolutions every year, a reasonable list that I could stick to until at least March, maybe April. I've not had any desire to do so this year.

    But self-help books could be a whole new reading genre. I may give them a look at my local bookstore.

  3. I have a heck of a lot of parenting books and cook books that are not gluten free. Maybe we should start some kind of a trade thing going.... I love self help books too but I don't have many!


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