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Mentors and friends

STEPHEN'S SERMON Self-improvement books sell well Photo: K. Ananthan

STEPHEN'S SERMON Self-improvement books sell well Photo: K. Ananthan  

Feeling lost? Try these books

Are you accused of being spineless, of coming a cropper at work, often bamboozled for words after the mandatory `hello' or simply feeling low? The panacea is just a book away!

From parenting to mending broken relationships, to becoming a master salesman and losing flab, self-help books seem to offer a remedy to every problem in your life. The self-help book boom, which held America spellbound in the 1970s, is making waves here with nearly 5,000 titles being churned out every year.

"Self-help books are the number one sellers now," says a salesman from a bookstore. "Though it is mainly those in the 25-30 age group who read these books, there is an emerging market among other age groups too. Grandparents pick them up as gifts for grandchildren," he adds.

"Self-help books show a new perspective in which a situation can be seen. It is impractical to put into use whatever these books say, but they can give you some valuable inputs," says Ramesh, who works in the field of advertising.

He says books such as Philip Khan-Panni's `Blank Page to First Draft in 15 Minutes' help him immensely if he has to prepare for presentations at short-notice.

"These books are full of positive energy. They give you immense confidence and help know yourself better," says Gayathri, a lecturer.

Sample the tips a bestseller, Stephen R Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", gives — `be proactive', `put first things first', `begin with the end in mind' and so on.

"These books don't tell you anything that you already don't know. But when you read them, they become a revelation. I feel a lot better after reading one," says 50-year-old Shanta.

But psychiatrists feel these books don't do any good, except maybe tell you that you cannot do anything on your own.

The dependence on self-help books is reflective of the stress in everybody's life. Almost 90 per cent of the population is stressed out but the ability to take stress has come down. .

Many realise these books are not going to change their lives, but are like a mentor who assures you, you are right.

According to a news report, there are plans to prescribe self-help books to people with mental health problems in parts of the U.K. They can at times play the role of a counsellor and help people overcome disappointment and depression.

ANIMA BALAKRISHNAN

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