Self-help books popular at library

Special to the HeraldSeptember 8, 2013 

Working with the Dewey decimal system, librarians tend to memorize the most popular subjects by their number. New Year's resolutions send folks to the 613 area, and when we see corners of books have been chewed, we know someone probably has a new 636.7 at home. But I think the books I am asked for the most can be found in the 158 area of nonfiction where many of the self-help books are shelved. The self-help genre existed long before Dr. Phil or even Dale Carnegie. In 1859, Scottish physician Samuel Smiles published the simply titled "Self Help," stressing that individual reform was as important as political reform for a happy, productive society.

Self-help books remain extremely popular and we have hundreds to choose from in the library. Here is just a small sample of some recent titles.

"Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)" was written by Chade-Meng Tan, one of Google's first engineers. Blending ancient wisdom and modern concepts like emotional intelligence, Tan's book will help you maintain focus, be more productive, and actually make you laugh out loud. This book has been praised by CEOs, former heads of state, and even The Dalai Lama! The author's mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course is in high demand among Google staff.

Author Gretchen Rubin's first career was law, and at one time she was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. One day while riding a city bus, feeling what she describes as "midlife malaise," she wondered if she could let go of every day annoyances, feel grateful for ordinary days, and just be happy. She then devoted an entire year to her "happiness project." The book that evolved from this project is "The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun." Rubin's blog gained a wide following, and happiness projects have sprung up around the world. The book is organized by month, and I was pleased to find that in September's chapter 'Pursue a Passion,' the author rediscovers her local library.

Rubin's newest release is "Happier at Home." This book focuses on creating simplicity and happiness in the home. Rubin's home project spans the course of a school year, beginning in September and ending in May.

If you're looking for relationship advice you will find over 200 titles in the library catalog. The most recent is "Making Marriage Simple: 10 Truths for Changing the Relationship You Have into the One You Want" written by husband and wife, Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D.

There are also self-help titles in the business section of nonfiction such as the humorously-titled new release, "Kiss Your BUT Goodbye: How to Get Beyond the One Word that Stands Between You and Success," written by brothers, Joe and Bob Azelby.

If you prefer eBooks, check out "Real Meditation in Minutes a Day: Enhancing Your Performance, Relationships, Spirituality, and Health" by Joseph Arpaia. You can download this book to your e-reader or tablet using our OverDrive system. Look for the link on our web page at

The library offers monthly e-mail newsletters, called NextReads, with a selection of genres to choose from; each lists several books, new and classics, as well as library events. Sign up from the library website.

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at Mary Lysaght is the Assistant Supervisor at the Rocky Bluff Branch.

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