If I ever go on Mastermind (unlikely I know, but bear with me), my specialist subject my well be ‘the drivel written in self-help books’. Like so many women of may age, oh and a few million other men and women of all ages come to think of it, I’ve paid good money to read utter rubbish. My husband tuts whenever he sees a new title appear at the side of the bed. But what started as a cry for help, has by now developed into a major critical study and just occasionally into an excellent good laugh.
As you may well know, my biggest grudge is with the so-called ‘life-coaches’ who try to tell you how you can have it all. I once did some thorough searching into one author’s background and discovered that they were actually selling an online course at a not inconsiderable price, which included details of how to exploit people’s most desperate needs.
Now I have long understood that many of these authors are in fact living their own dreams of celebrity and riches because of their ability to tap into the fears and needs of we poor unfulfilled souls, self-help book sales are astronomic, and of course there’s always the additional workshops and private counselling to ‘add value’, but to see the core principle flaunted in black and white was quite something even to an old cynic like me.
From time to time I find a book that does help me in some form or another. It isn’t always in ways that perhaps the author would have imagined, but nevertheless I wouldn’t actually want to tar them all with the same brush. Now just yesterday, having quite a lot of credits available on my Audible account, and not having anything much better to do, I ended up browsing their self-help section. I spotted Felix Dennis’s How to Get Rich and it sent all my finely tuned alarm bells clanging.
So imagine my surprise when I read the reviews (on Amazon – that’s the sort of preparation I like to do) and discovered that it was well received – OK, I thought, I see the issue here, all these reviews are clearly written by sad men. No woman would give it the time of day, after all it’s not a title that’s going to slide seductively into the usually repressed English woman’s Mulberry is it?
But yesterday I was in a bit of a mood. Not exactly what you could call a “Help me I want to get rich” kind of mood, more a ‘Good Lord, what can all the fuss be about, and what sort of tripe is this joker selling’ kind of mood. So, cutting to the chase, I downloaded the audiobook.
Well, I’m still listening to it (I’m a slow listener), and I just wanted to say, ‘Thank you Felix, I haven’t enjoyed anything so much for ages” No, don’t worry, I’m not suddenly going off to make mega millions, because as Felix so wittily explains, there’s danger in confusing desire for compulsion, and anyway, for quite a lot of the time I feel as if I have pretty much all I want already. No, the truth is, this is a fabulous, entertaining, witty, clever and engaging listen. It probably reads well too, but as I mentioned, I’m just listening to it.
I will certainly suggest that one or two other people I know read it too, and I love being able to read some of my own prejudices being expounded by someone who’s actually made it big. I’d quite like to have some of his quotes made into badges or T-shirts.
So well done Felix (not that you need me to say that I’m sure), you don’t go on my list of people destined for the new ring of purgatory which I have reserved for the usual purveyors of self-help tripe, no indeed, you go into the much more illustrious, and far more comfortable realm of the ‘actually pretty entertaining and even quite helpful’authors. Praise indeed.