Self-help books

January 20, 2007

The plethora of self-help books for the misguided that plague the shelves of my otherwise rather pleasant, proficient and airy local book store have driven me to provide some opposition to these “celebrations of the mentally incapable, for the benefit of the psychologically feeble, as transcribed by the mentally unable.”These are books that openly boast that they are compiled specifically for ‘idiots’, ‘dummies’ and, had I stayed in the section and continued to pay attention, probably for ‘porn stars’, ‘television producers’, ‘pop and sports stars’, ‘Chicken McNuggets’ and ‘parliamentarians.’ Listed here in decreasing order of intelligence. They prey on people at their most confused and vulnerable, much like orange robed Hare-Krishnas at international airports.

Of the few people I know who have ever flirted dangerously with ownership of one of these books none denies that the handing over of a sum of money, representing as it did even a minute of their working lives, for one of these travesties of the publishing community was, by far, their lowest point.

These books are capable of causing great harm not only to those of us with intelligence who find ourselves, in desperate moments, allowing our egoes to be destroyed by this pornography. They are actually most dangerous in the hands of those who do not realise that the books are, quite simply, beyond their level of understanding.

In famous circles the less-than great Jeffrey Archer was seen procuring the first edition print of ‘The Idiots Guide to Writing.’ in late 1975 for just a penny less than a pound. An act that was doomed to cause widespread suffering in the English speaking world as the ‘Idiot’s Guide’ was unquestionably aimed far above his head.

The ‘parliamentarians guide to comprehendable short memos,’ released only three months later would have been much more Mr. Archer’s style and would not have resulted in the British government having to jail him on trumped-up charges. These charges fabricated to stop the nation all consuming their own feet in protest should he be allowed to release another novel.

More recently another political figure by the name of George W. Bush was seen in late 2000 carrying ‘The Middle East for Dummies’ into a White House meeting. A book that could, possibly, have done a lot of good in the hands of a person of the calibre of a daytime talk-show host or school janitor but was quite patently too advanced for the alcoholic, Texan, ex-‘Oil Farmer’.

These are books that are insulting to most of the human population yet dangerous in the hands of those who do not realise that upgrading of their intelligence to ‘idiot’ or ‘dummy’ would require the expansion of their vocabulary to over 55 words, abstinence from ‘Baywatch’ reruns and at least six months of intensive eloctroshock therapy.

Other innocents recently harmed by these books are: George Michael seen purchasing ‘the porn star’s guide to positive publicity’; Freddie Flintoff with ‘The Dummies Guide to winning the Ashes’; Michael Jackson, in 1996, seen buying the audio book of ‘The Idiot’s guide to Reliving Your Childhood’ and, in the same genre and the ‘mother of all self-help tat’ (so worth a mention in context), Jacob Zuma** (our next Winnie Mandela***) with ‘How to win friends and influence people.’

My response to this self-help invasion, my small stand against an invading tide of feckless hot air, my Alamo, My Rourke’s Drift, my crumbling gesture as I hear of Jeffrey Archer’s new book deal, will be a series of ‘not how to’ articles.

Written by someone who refuses bluntly to read up on imminent tasks no matter how complex, dangerous, intricate, difficult, embarrasingly public or obtuse. One who trusts to improvisation and innovation and that “things probably don’t hurt when you’re dead.”

In this series I intend to cover, “how not to climb a mountain”, “how not to ride an ostrich”, “how not to sink yourself and a ‘rowing eight’ on the Thames River in the middle of winter” and “how not to time a fourteen day video recorder to record Gillmore Girls for your intemperate other half”. Amongst others.

That way others may learn from my fortitude, courage, pain and outright ineptitude without having to endure the suspect vagaries that are the result of the self-help book.

* Cricket. If you don’t know, don’t find out. Cricket can be addictive and unlike cocaine and crystal meth a fix takes up to 5 days.

** Jacob Zuma is a less than charming, intelligent gentleman currently ‘absolutely not running to be the next President of South Africa’. You have been warned.

*** Winnie Mandela was the last militant idiot who struck fear into every paranoid white person in South Africa as a “Possible Next President” and thought she could run against the tide of the old-school moderates in the ANC. She is now living somewhere in the wilderness shielded by 3 bodyguards and 5279 criminally large hats.


3 Responses to “Self-help books”

  1. Kenny Love Says:

    One question…in Paragraph 1/Sentence 1, were you being nice when referencing the phrase “mentally unable,” yet, truly meaning “mentally unstable?”

  2. Kenny,

    I was being sardonic: I despise political correctness. It leads to prissy, condescending behaviour far more offensive than words could ever be and, even more unforgivably, very dull and unsexy fashions.

    So, yes, it was meant to be “mentally unable” but no, it wasn’t meant to be nice.


  3. Miss A Says:

    After searching all day through hundreds of websites trying to find evidence that self-help books dont “help” for a college essay your page was a breath of fresh air. I’m glad someone else shares similar opinions.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your “Not how to” books lol.

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