Tips to Read Self-help Books

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

The world of self-help or self-improvement books is a league of its own. Whether you want guidance on an area of life that you would like to improve on or are simply looking for suggestions from those who have been there and done that, picking a self-help book can become cumbersome since you can easily search for suggestions on Google/Quora/YouTube etc. These books can cater to a range of interests—money, productivity, people skills, motivation, mindfulness, creativity, spirituality etc. Any book that claims to help you in improving or managing it better can be termed as a self-help book.

I have noticed people who usually do not read fiction books somehow like to dip their toes in reading a good self-help book. But while picking such a book, there are certain things that I would like to share so you don’t end up feeling that the recommendations put down by the author are all in the air. In my next post, I will share my list of six self-help books which I have read (or re-read) this year and would highly recommend it to you.


1. Choose what you would like to improve on first.
2. Not every suggestion made by the author has to be followed literally.
3. Following a suggestion does not guarantee change immediately after implementation.
4. Read a variety of books on the same topic.
5. Re-read the books for better understanding.

1. Choose what you would like to improve on first.

Sure, we all would like to make more money and could start by reading specific books on markets and business. However, the target of a self-help book is to work on your motivation—the word SELF implies that there are so many different kinds of people who can use this book to make it work in their own ways. Hence, the author tries to simmer down major concepts into bite-sized lessons for you to decide how to implement them in your life (or if you need to implement them at all) with real-life examples of people who have benefitted from the suggestion.

2. Not every suggestion made by the author has to be followed literally.

Understand that a book like this is written by authors who have distilled lessons from their experiences over the years to gather data and have presented it to you in the form of a book. Expecting overnight changes after reading this book is like trying to be fit without exercising, it does not work. You need to put in efforts and time if you want to improve yourself in any area or subject. I would recommend you to underline or highlight sentences while reading such books for quick review in future.

3. Following a suggestion does not guarantee change immediately after implementation.

What is written in the book may not apply to you in your current situation. Since the author writes from their own experiences and belongs to a different country, class, profession, gender etc., the suggestions might not be suitable for you. For example, in one of the books that I read, the author recommends you delete all social media apps with email apps from your phone to avoid distraction. It is great in theory but extremely tough to follow if you work majorly with social media. When it comes to self-help books, always take the advice with a pinch of salt.

4. Read a variety of books on the same topic.

If you want to read on productivity, read different books to gain insight on what tips can work for you best. Chances are over time, you will find the tips being repeated, revamped, or added on to the knowledge you already have and has been introduced to you in comprehensible sentences. I like to read on different subjects—and what I found was the tips are mostly great, but it only works if you put your efforts to work on it. Or else it ends up being another good book that you read and kept aside.

5. Re-read the books for better understanding.

I do not usually read a book twice (ardent book readers, please do not judge me harshly), but self-help books need time. Unlike a good mystery or a thriller fiction, you cannot read it once and expect to understand all the lessons that the author has described to you within X number of chapters. Hence, it is helpful if you re-read them after a while or take notes of the suggestions that stand out and you would like to work on. Also, you may have skipped many important parts in your first reading since there is so much information being introduced to you. So, reading it the second (or nth) time does give you the critical eye to retain that information systematically. You may also find it interesting that what may not work for you now will make sense after some years because of experience and ahem, adulting.

I hope that by reading this post, you can relate to the points if you are an ardent reader of this genre, or simply take this as my self-help post before you dive in to reading such books. Also, do let me know your experience with reading self-help books. Have they bought any changes to your life? Do they motivate you after reading? What are your favourites?

Thank you so much for reading this post. Cheers!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Published by


A closet writer with a knack for adding vivid, witty & personal details. I love coffee, books and food. Highly appreciate lo-fi music and illustrations. Borderline obsessed with stationery, productivity and organisation tools. Always in search of adventures & stories by travelling or being buried in books. Current Status ↠ Growing plants in my room. Life Goals ↠ Spark conversations, ideas & inspiration with a cup of mild roasted black coffee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s