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The Ultimate Guide to Reading Self-Help Books The Correct Way

Self-help books are great. But if you have ever tried to read one, you know that it is not for everyone. Except, it is. The concept of self-help books is a debatable one.

Some people might benefit greatly from reading an amazing book, while others may fall deeper into the abyss of problems even after reading one. This might raise an inevitable question in your mind – should you rely on a self-help book?

Here is the answer. You can rely on self-help books all you want – provided you read it the correct way. Read on to know how you can read your self-help book to reap maximum benefit from the same.

Pick the right book

Pick the right bookSelf-help books work differently than literary fiction. You might choose any literary novel from the book store aisle. It is easy to do so, because most of the novels out there are different in plot, theme, or characterization. You can just turn the novel around, read the blurb and easily decide for yourself. Self-help books, however, are different.

Actually, not different, self-help books are almost the same. Most of the ‘how-to’ books out there have similar themes.

In one self-help aisle, you might find ten books on ‘how to talk so that people listen’, or fifteen books on ‘how to master your inner Zen’, or countless books on ‘how to start your own business’. So, the problem is, which one is the best one for you?

To read your self-help book the right way, you first need to pick the right one. To do that, ask yourself a simple question – At this exact moment, is this self-help book relevant to you?

If the self-help book in question answers your current question about anything in life, or if it solves your present crisis, then that self-help book is the perfect one for you.

Other titles might tempt you, but if they don’t serve your current purpose, you must resist the temptation and save yourself from wasting your time on the wrong book.

Read the index (the table of contents) carefully

Read the indexThere is a high probability that the self-help book that you are currently reading might be filled with only 3-4 relevant ideas which cater to your present situation. The best way to navigate your way through the self-help book is to identify those ideas and read them carefully.

If you think that doing so is like finding a needle in the haystack, then you are mistaken. Here is a simple way to navigate through the book easily. Just read the table of contents inside the book. Most self-help books have a very specified index – which segregates and lists various ideas in a clear way.

Simply look for the ideas or concepts that are relevant to you. Skip to that page and read the chapter. This process is called skimming. This will save your precious time and make it easier for you to read through the ideas that sound useful.

Set a timer and avoid distraction

avoid distractionA self-help book, as mentioned earlier, is very different from the usual novel. If you are reading this book for entertainment purposes and still expecting it to work out for you – you are treading on the wrong path.

While reading a self-help book, it is important that you refrain from any form of distraction. To fully grasp the concepts present in the book, you must read it without letting your attention waver for even one single minute.

When you read a self-help book, close your doors, put your phone away, and switch off your television set. If it helps, set a timer – for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or even more. Whatever floats your boat.

But to read the self-help book the correct way, you must sit down on your sofa, get rid of all possible distractions, and just read.

Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark

BookmarkBookmark the crucial points. Then bookmark the most interesting chapters. And finally, bookmark those ideas which you have seldom come across before. Once you are done, you will be left with the most unique and useful ideas from the self-help book.

This way, you will not get lost in the sea of mindless mumbo-jumbo that a lot of self-help books are filled with nowadays. You will get a sense of direction while reading, and eventually, your task of grabbing the best of the self-help book will just get easier.

You can use various bookmarks or sticky notes to accomplish this task. Or simply fold the corner of the pages you found worth your time. If nothing works, just click pictures of the pages you though were interesting enough.

The next time you will browse through your gallery, you will be bombarded with precious gems of wisdom.

Self-help is subjective

Self-help is subjectiveSelf-help books are subjective. Sorry to burst your bubble, but when it comes to self-help, what works for the author might not work for you. What might work for you might not work for everyone. And vice-versa might happen as well.

So, the best thing to do while reading your self-help book is to evaluate whatever you read. The author might be right in his own way, but his version of things might not be the universal truth.

The trick is to apply in life only those concepts that actually work for you. The idea is to not overload your mind with infinite ideas.

The best way to read self-help books is to understand that not everything written inside it will work for you. And that is okay.

Here is the point

reading self-help book Don’t miss out on the point of self-help books. These printed mini miracles work only if you allow them to. To allow this to happen, read them carefully. But remember, self-help books are not your modern day Bibles.

They are your guide to a better present and an even better future. But that’s all they are – guides. They will help you become the best version of yourself. Just read them correctly, responsibly and wisely.

That’s the key.


Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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