Archive for the ‘Self-Help’ Category

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Tuesday, April 12th, 2016


When T.S. Elliot described April as “the cruelest month,” he wasn’t talking about taxes. But for many, doing taxes leads to cruel thoughts about the need to better understand finances, which is probably why the week of April 23 – 30, 2016 was designated “Money Smart Week.” A partnership between the ALA and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago since 2002, it is aimed at helping libraries create programs that teach people how to better manage their money.

This year, libraries have a new resource for the program, unlimited access for one month to several HarperCollins’ eBooks on finances, for a flat fee of $100, from April 15 through May 15, an outgrowth of meetings the the ALA’s Digital Content Working Group’s meetings with publishers in December.

Carolyn Anthony, co-chair of the group calls the promotion, “is a positive development and a clear indication that the relationship between ALA and publishers is moving in the right direction. We welcome experimentation with terms and pricing that will help libraries develop breadth in their digital collections.”

The books included in the program are listed below. Contact your vendors for further information.

Real Money Answers for Every Woman, Patrice C. Washington, (HarperCollins/Amistad, 2016)

The New Totally Awesome Money Book for Kids, Arthur Bochner and Rose Bochner, (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2007)

The Wall Street Journal Guide to the New Rules of Personal Finance, Dave Kansas, (HarperBusiness, 2010)

The Aspirational Investor, Ashvin B. Chhabra, (HarperBusiness, 2015)

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, Ron Lieber, (Harper, 2015)

The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham, (HarperBusiness, 2006)

The Truth About Money, Ric Edelman, (HarperBusiness, 2010)

On The Rise:

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

9780812993394_a6297Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times and author of the best selling The Power of Habit, follows up with a new book, this time with a focus on productivity, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business (Random House; BOT).

Using the approach that made his previous book accessible, Duhigg incorporates management science and personal stories designed to teach readers how to re-think their approach to being busy.

His book is soaring up the Amazon sales charts after a feature on the Today show, part of a planned series.

Even after the great success of The Power of Habit and the Today show push, holds are still modest on moderate orders for Duhigg’s newest. Like his previous book, we’re betting this one will be a slow build.

New Year, New Parenting

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

9780465048977_d5e1aA new book on parenting (or the lack of it) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings after CBS This Morning featured The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups by Leonard Sax (Perseus/Basic Books; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Dr. Sax, who has worked as a family physician for more than 20 years, blames parents, media of all sorts, and cell phones for much of the failure to raise respectful, healthy, and happy kids.

In his CBS interview he says kids used to be told to eat their vegetables but are now begged to eat three bites just three bites of broccoli before getting dessert. He also cites the explosion of kids on medication for behavioral reasons in the U.S., 90 times the number in Italy.

In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sax continues his call to re-vamp parenting and says parents should:

“Require respectful behavior at all times. It’s OK to disagree. It’s never OK to be disrespectful. Prioritize the family. The family meal at home is more important than piling on after-school extracurricular activities. Instead of boosting self-esteem, teach humility. Fight the cultural imperative to be ‘awesome.’ ”

Keying in the season, he suggests New Year’s as a good time to start parenting afresh, going cold turkey and telling kids flat out that things will be different from now on.

Amazon’s sales rankings show that readers are getting ready for New Year’s resolutions. New books on weight loss and regaining focus in a distracting world are doing well as are long-time favorites, such as StrengthsFinder and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Even the NYT Book Review is getting into the act, featuring self-help in the upcoming issue. The cover feature, “You, New and Improved,” offers reviews of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, titles we have covered in earlier “Titles to Know and Recommend” posts (here and here).

Order Alert: SPARK JOY

Monday, December 21st, 2015

9781607747307_9d11aOver a year after its initial publication, many libraries still have very long holds queues for Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (RH/Ten Speed Press) and those that have managed to work through the reserve list are still seeing copies rotate off the shelf in heavy circulation.

9781607749721_4090cAs we reported earlier, now comes the next book in the series, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (Ten Speed Press; RH Large Print; OverDrive Sample).

This version, according to EW (which gave it a C in their brief review), is “mainly a rehash,” but that is unlikely to matter to Kondo’s fan base.

The new book offers illustrations of how drawers, closets, and cabinets should look after tidying as well as step-by-step folding guides for various articles of clothing – each reason enough to get fans buzzing.

If you lost circ. on the first edition by buying low, this is a chance to get a head start on the new one.

Order Alert: F*CK FEELINGS

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 11.35.49 AMA different kind of self-help book raced up Amazon rankings to #21 over the weekend.

F*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems (S&S; Tantor Audio) by Michael Bennett MD and Sarah Bennett forthrightly tells readers life is unfair, pop psychology is bogus, and they should stop focusing so much on their feelings.

The father-daughter writing team consists of a Harvard trained therapist and a comic. Their book is hitting a nerve and has received attention from The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, and Refinery29 with headlines such as “A New Book Gives the Middle Finger to the Self-Help Genre.”

Like a modern-day and iconoclastic version of Dear Abby, the Bennett’s also run a website where they answer reader questions such as how to “Recover After Getting Screwed” and not so subtly call out doctors who go by their first name, such as Phil and Drew.

Orders are light to nonexistent at libraries we checked.

MISS MANNERS for Academics

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Editors Note: We’re pleased and delighted to announce that EarlyWord Kids Correspondent Lisa Von Drasek will be serving on the 2017 Caldecott Award Selection Committee.

Unfortunately, this means that she will be on hiatus as our Kids Correspondent until her Caldecott duties are wrapped up.

She will still report on the occasional “grown-up” title she falls in love with, as she does below:

9780553419429_3ba86Flying under the radar is The Professor is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job (RH/Crown, original trade pbk.) by academic employment consultant and former tenured professor, Karen Kelsky, who gives a no-holds-barred look at the academic market. It should be required reading for PhD candidates, recent graduates, prospective PhDs, and recent-hires on the tenure track.

Although the majority of the books I review are children’s and Young Adult titles, I have a side interest in business particularly professional development and management, so when I spotted a DRC of this book, I downloaded it.

As one of the lucky few who landed a full time academic appointment in an R1 university, I had read Kelsky’s blog also titled The Professor is In as well as her columns in the Chronicle of Higher Education for her practical, snark-tinged advice.

Kelsky has no patience for readers who ignore the obvious. Tenure-track positions are few and far between. Bottom line: there is a glut of qualified graduates for the rare full-time positions. She dispenses tough-love advice laying out the cost (economic and emotional) of trying to land one. “Achieving financial, emotional AND intellectual well being in academia is somewhat akin to climbing Everest blind.” For those who insist on getting on the tenure track, she provides best-case scenarios and information on how to achieve academic and employment goals. For those who do not achieve their goal, she also provides suggestions for repositioning job skills.

A cross between Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy and Miss Manners, Kelsky is the faculty mentor we all wish was in the office next door.

I can attest that her ideas work. Kelsky makes the case for sucking it up, jumping through the hoops and not making excuses. No one has time to write. Write anyway. Are academic leaves available? Apply for them. This was exactly my problem. My teaching and the daily tasks of my department left no time. There was a leave that I could apply for but I hadn’t been in position very long. I thought that my projects weren’t “good enough,” “research oriented enough” or “what these leaves were for.” I went back to the call for proposals only to discover that I had just a 24-hour window before the deadline, so I sucked it up, jumped through the hoops, made no excuses and got my application in.

A month ago, I received a letter from our director that I am approved for a 6 week writing leave. Seriously, this book is life-changing.

SELP-HELF #1 Self Help Title

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.26.49 AMYouTube star Miranda Sing debuts at #1 on the NYT Advice, How-To, & Miscellaneous bestseller list with her first book, Selp-Helf (S&S/Gallery Books; OverDrive Sample).

It is #6 on the USA Today list, an even more impressive feat since that list does not divide titles by category, putting the social media author right behind:
1) Go Set a Watchman, 2) Grey,
3) Paper Towns, 4) To Kill a Mockingbird, and 5) Girl on the Train.

The NYT Sunday Book Review covers the book (actually, it’s more like a printed scrap book) in their “Inside the List” column, saying “YouTube star Miranda Sings — real name Colleen Ballinger — has become a comic sensation by milking the disconnect between her supreme confidence and her hopeless lack of ability in pretty much any human endeavor: can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t apply lipstick inside the lines. Now she’s taken that endearing incompetence into the book world with a parody advice guide.”

Sings is just one of the social media personalities charging into the old media world of books. As we reported earlier, there are dozens of others getting attention (see our collection of 17 new and forthcoming titles).

The book may have been propelled by the author’s appearance at VidCon which just wrapped and is shining old media attention on new media disruption. Founded by VlogBrothers John and Hank Green in 2010, it has grown exponentially.

In his lengthy report on the convention, Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair writes that “I have been to the high temple of digital video and I have seen its awesome, occasionally terrifying might. The revolution is not coming. It’s here.”

New York magazine signals their unease with the headline, “An Old Person’s Remote Recap of VidCon 2015.”

David Brooks Dives Deep

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.21.10 AMColumnist and commentator David Brooks’s new book, The Road to Character (Random House; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample) is a blend of self-examination and an exploration of what makes a richly fulfilling inner life.

In an interview yesterday on NPR’s All Things Considered, he says he began this journey after meeting a group of people who tutor immigrants and realizing that they “radiated gratitude for life,” a quality he found missing in his own life, despite his outward successes.

The Guardian calls the book “a powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin.”

It rose to #2 on Amazon’s sales rankings today, possibly benefiting not only from people on the search for their own roads to character, but from those on the search for interesting (if pointed) graduation gifts. As The Washington Post‘s Ron Charles points out in a story satirizing printed version of famous graduation speeches aimed at that market, it is the season for such books.

Stays At #1

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

9781607747307_6b486When The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, (Ten Speed Press; Tantor Audio) was first published, we thought it sounded downright silly. In a story in the NYT “Home and Garden” section in late October, Penelope Green tried the author’s odd methods (you are asked to assess each item in your home for whether it “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t pass the test, you discard it, first thanking it for its service). A design theorist quoted in the story says such anthropomorphism is familiar in Japanese culture, but not in Western. “Fat chance Americans will go for this,” we thought.

Then it appeared on the Nov. 16 NYT Advice Best Seller list at #4. “Just a blip,” we thought, people buying it as an amusing Christmas gift. We felt justified when it slid down to #10 the next week.

Now, deep into the new year when gift-buying season is long past, the book is at #1, where it’s been for the last month, except for one week when Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet pushed it to #2.

Never underestimate American’s desire to organize their stuff, especially if doing so promises to change their lives.


Monday, December 15th, 2014

Anderson Cooper talked about discovering mindfulness on 60 Minutes last night (it’s a long segment, so we haven’t embedded the video here). He was introduced to the practice by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is called  “the man who’s largely responsible for mindfulness gaining traction.” One of his ten books,  Mindfulness for Beginners rose to #2 on Amazon sales rankings as a result.

It was published in 2011 by Sounds True, a Colorado publisher focused on spirituality, and is available through wholesalers.

2070Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–And Your Life
Jon Kabat-Zinn
Sounds True
Hardcover, 9781604076585, $ 21.95
Audio, 9781591794646, $ 19.95


Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

With her book, Lean In still  on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list after 53 weeks, Sheryl Sandberg has geared her message to a younger generation with Lean In: For Graduates (RH/Knopf; RH Audio). She appeared on the Today Show this morning.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

He’s Back!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

No-Slam-Cover-smaller-198x300Jon Stewart is back from spring break, with a full roster of shows this week, two of them featuring authors.

Last night he interviewed media maven Arianna Huffington about her new book, Thrive, (RH/Harmony; RH Audio) which has already been moving up Amazon’s sales rankings following her appearance on Ellen. Degeneres exhibited none of Stewart’s skepticism about some of Huffington’s pronouncements, (it’s worth watching the Daily Show segment just for Stewart’s facial expressions. Huffington remained unfazed). The book is now at #20 and rising.

Tomorrow night brings the authors of a book on a subject closer to Stewart’s heart, No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes, an oral history of a NJ dive bar where he once work. The book is self-published by the authors and is currently only available in paperback.

A 76-Year-Old On Teen Sexuality

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Being A TeenThe following video is worth watching just to hear Matt Lauer bark at Jane Fonda, “Let’s talk about sex.”

Fonda’s new book, released yesterday, is the trade paperback, Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know about Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More, (Random House).

One simple piece of advice: “If you can’t talk about sex, you shouldn’t be having it.”

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Cracking the SAT Code

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

9780307956675_e313cThe latest book for Alpha parents to obsess over  is The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT by Debbie Stier (RH/Harmony; RH Audio).

In an effort to help her son do better on the SAT’s, Stier took the exam herself seven times.

Featured on the Today Show, the book is unsurprisingly climbing Amazon’s sales rankings (currently at #56).

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This Year’s Commencement Hit

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts’ 2012 graduating class became a viral hit. Released in book form (HarperCollins/Morrow) this week, it is rising on Amazon.

John Green’s speech to the graduating class of Butler University may not be far behind.

Predating both of them is David Foster Wallace’s speech to Kenyon College in 2005, a viral success later released in book form, This Is Water(Hachette/Little,Brown). Recently, a short film based on the original was posted to YouTube and has been viewed nearly 5 million times in just ten days.



The “raining-on-the-parade” genre may have begun with a speech that wasn’t actually a speech. It was column by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune in 1997 about what she would say if she had been asked to give a commencement address (which she hadn’t). An urban legend grew up that this was actually a speech given by Kurt Vonnegut at an MIT graduation. Vonnegut ruefully said he wished that were true, but it wasn’t. The column ended up being published as a gift book by Andrews and McMeel as Wear Sunscreen (the one piece of advice that Shmich found irrefutable) and re-released in a 10th anniversay edition in 2008. Baz Lurhmann turned it into a music video “Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen.”