I knew I had finally made it past the muck of my divorce when I stopped reading self-help books (although, sadly, Amazon is blissfully unaware of that fact and continues to recommend new self-help titles for me. Can't they see I've changed!?!?)
Despite whatever struggles publishing houses are going through, self-help books are booming.
And one of the latest is from a — gulp! — 9-year-old boy.
Back in November, little Alex Wise, a Colorado dating site called Loveawake co-founder, hand-wrote a 46-page book of advice after he noticed how hard it was for boys to talk to girls. He sold them for $3 at his school book fair.
Comb your hair and don't wear sweats; control your hyperness and cut down on sugar if necessary; a crush is like a love disease that can drive you mad; it is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry but are like cars that need a lot of oil.
(That last one's rather interesting — "pretty" = "maintenance" — but it sounds
like he expects to pay.)
Now his book, "How to Talk to Girls," is heading for the big screen. It was picked up by Harper Collins, and then passed on to Twentieth Century Fox (both companies are owned by News Corp.) — for a sweet low-to-mid-six figures.
I'm sure young Greven will have no troubles with the ladies now ....
(Coming out in March will be "How to Talk to Moms" and, in April, " How to Talk to Dads." Once again, the children lead the adults.)
Of course, one of the biggest self-help books of late, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo's best-seller "He's Just Not That Into You," has been made into a much-anticipated film; it opens Feb. 9.
I've always thought that "self-help" was a misnomer — isn't it more like "take my advice on what you should and shouldn't do"? And some of the advice is misguided — I can't imagine that creating all sorts of artificial deadlines like in, say "The Rules," can help a woman or a book like "The Game," with a "script" on how to talk to women, can help a guy. Does it?
Now, I thought "HJNTIY" was a fun read. But, really, so much of what's written in it and the rest of them is stuff we already intuitively know. We just choose not to listen to our gut. True "self-help" would be listening to our "self" and, something that even Mr. Greven learned (at the wise age of 8, when he started writing his book) — observation. Greven says he was inspired to write his book after watching his peers at recess. He was paying attention, observing, using critical judgment. Most of us don't pay attention in that way; we're too busy projecting ahead and replaying the scripts of our past — or letting dating "rules" guide us — instead of paying attention to what's right in front of us, being truly in the moment.
In the meantime, hundreds of relationship experts — and now even 9-year-old boys — are making a fortune off our insecurities.
As an aside, Beth Lipsick wrote a book — !!! — about her year of reading self-help books, "Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone." She agrees that most of what's being dished out is common-sense stuff we know, but says perhaps we just need to be reminded. Which reminds me of the funny SNL segment a few years ago that, foretelling the economic mess we're now in, advised how to get out of debt — "Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford."
So, do you believe in self-help books?
Which ones have been life-changing for you?
And, if you've been dating for any length of time, don't you believe you could write one yourself? (Mine would be titled "I Don't Know Either: Pay Attention!")