Archive for the ‘Self-Help’ Category

Technically a Best Seller

Monday, May 15th, 2017

9780735211322_f4e1cPresidential aide Ivanka Trump’s Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, (PRH/Portfolio; Penguin Audio/BOT) is technically a #1 best seller, having hit that number on the Wall Street Journal‘s Business Book list. Other numbers are not so sunny. It debuts on the USA Today general list at #53.

The Huffington Post reveals just how bad the sales are, reporting “In the book’s first five days on the market, Trump sold 10,445 print copies,” comparing that to Sheryl Sandberg’s book on female empowerment, Lean In(PRH/Knopf) which sold 74,176 print copies in its first week, going on to sell many more and become a recognized catch phrase as well as a movement.

Reviews have been universally scathing. In this case, negative press may not be better than no press at all.

Best Selling Advice:

Friday, April 14th, 2017

9781455570249_48b56A book aimed at graduates landed at #1 on the  newest NYT Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous Best Sellers list, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven (Hachette/Grand Central; Grand Central Audio; OverDrive Sample).

In it, McRaven, a four star admiral who is credited with overseeing the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, offers surprisingly simple advice, based on his training as a Navy SEAL, such as make your bed, never give up, stand up to bullies, and offer hope to others. The author also includes stories of his time in the SEALs and in Special Operations leadership.

Although it’s a best seller, few libraries are showing heavy holds ratios, indicating most copies are being bought as graduation gifts.

A media draw, the book was a topic on FOX & Friends, USA Today calls it a “powerful book,” The Washington Post says it “is ostensibly about leadership, but it’s full of captivating personal anecdotes from inside the national security vault,” and The Wall Street Journal has featured it several times, including in a video interview.

The entire speech is on YouTube:

The Happiness Equation

Monday, April 10th, 2017

9781501157554_42160A feature story on Good Morning America has given a sales boost to Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat (S&S/North Star Way; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The mix of memoir and self-help by the Chief Business Officer for Google’s innovation department, Project X. jumped onto Amazon’s Top 100 list and is currently at #27.

Gawdat wrote the book after a major set back to his own happiness, the death of his son. He details his 12-year experience of decoding happiness, treating that quest as an engineer would, looking for an equation.

As Parade puts it in an interview, the happiness formula he found is “’You’re happy when life behaves the way you want it to.‘ Or more precisely, when your perception of events is equal to your expectations.”

Google features him in their talk series. The whole interview runs over an hour, but the first few minutes is enough to give a sense of his story and approach.

#GIRLBOSS To Netflix

Thursday, April 6th, 2017


Fashion entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso received media attention in 2014 for her book #GirlBoss (PRH/Portfolio; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

She is set to get more from a Netflix series “inspired” by the book, which begins airing on April 21. The just released trailer already has people talking. Jezebel says “if the first trailer is any indication, it’s going to be quick-witted, irreverent, and wildly multi-chromatic.” Elle writes “it looks good.”

Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect 2, New Girl, 30 Rock) created the series and serves as showrunner. Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) plays Sophia. Amoruso is an executive producer alongside fellow EP, Charlize Theron.

The Washington Post called #GIRLBOSS, a mix of memoir and business advice, “Lean In for misfits, it offers young women a candid guide to starting a business and going after what they want.” The NYT called fashion-powerhouse Amoruso the “Cinderella of tech” for the way she leveraged her interest in clothes and an eBay presence into a multi-million dollar business.

In recent years the shine has fallen off the company and it filed for bankruptcy. Vanity Fair writes “But from this fashionable mess, Netflix is hoping its new comedy series … will rise, like a Doc Marten-clad phoenix.”

9780143131977_9e6f1There is no tie-in but a new spin off, non-library friendly, book comes out in October: The Girlboss Workbook: An Interactive Journal for Winning at Life, Sophia Amoruso (PRH/Portfolio).

The publisher describes it as “the attitude of #GIRLBOSS with the hands-on spirit of WRECK THIS JOURNAL … A graphic and whimsical guide filled with exercises, illustrations, and plenty of scribble room.”

Clearly, it’s not suitable for circulation.

Going to Extremes

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

9780062456151_e2b96After a wave of PR, including the author’s appearance on CBS This Morning, Sarah Robb O’Hagan’s Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat, (HC/HarperBusiness; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) jumped into the Top 100 on  Amazon’s sales rankings, currently at #37.

O’Hagan, who made a name for herself by rebranding companies such as Nike, Virgin Atlantic, and Equinox, writes that average people can succeed by creating the most extreme version of their best traits. She tells the hosts at CBS This Morning she’s experienced epic fails including getting fired and believes that perfection is overrated and successful people should share their failures to inspire others.

The book is getting attention from a number of other media outlets including Fox, Marie Claire, Shape, and Inc., which includes it on a list of “9 Business Books of 2017 That Will Change How America Does Business.”

O’Hagen gives a taste of the book in the following video:

Sandberg Leans In to OPTION B

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

9781524732684_e51e2Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer and bestselling author of Lean In, is set to publish s new title next month, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT), co-written with Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

The book is based on personal experience, as Sandberg writes on Facebook:

“A few weeks after my husband Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil Deutch about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan for someone to fill in so my son would not have to miss out. I cried, ‘But I want Dave.’ Phil put his arm around me and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.’ That became my mantra, and for the past two years I’ve tried hard to find meaning and happiness in the wake of our despair.”

On the strength of that post, picked up by Bustle and InStyle, which headlines their story, “You’ll Definitely Want to Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Empowering New Book,” it soared up Amazon’s sales rankings, and is currently at #9.

Thus far, library holds queues are light. Keep in mind, however, that Lean In got off to a slow start.


Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

9781101875322_3da0eThe book version of the most popular class at Stanford tops the latest NYT‘s Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) applies the principles of design thinking to the career planning/self-help movement, teaching readers how to solve problems in creative ways and craft a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

The book has received media attention including coverage in the NYT, WSJ, [subscription maybe required], and Forbes. Fast Company offers the most exhaustive report, highlighting the point of view and processes of Burnett (the executive director of Stanford’s design program) and Evans (who has worked at Apple and is a co-founded Electronic Arts).

The magazine reports the goal is to change higher education, as Evans puts it, of “forming you into the person that will go out into the world, effect change, and be a leader. … [inviting ] people to live intentionally, in a generative, thoughtful way, and we give them a bunch of tools.”

Burnett says that class fits the anxiety of our current times very well, “The thing that’s true about design problems is that you don’t know what the solution is going to look like … You can’t know the future, but you can know what’s available and you can prototype different versions of the you that you might become.”

The class is so difficult to get into and so transformational that Evans says “We’ve had students literally teach the class on the side to their friends who weren’t enrolled.”

The same approach seems to be fueling library demand where holds have skyrocketed in some systems, topping 6:1 ratios.

Below is the book trailer:

But the following discussion gives more insight into the authors’ process and thinking:

TED, New NYT Best Seller

Monday, May 16th, 2016

9780544634497_4fc66Books on public speaking rarely hit best seller lists, but TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson (HMH; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample) is not your usual how-to, drawing on lessons from the popular series of dynamic speeches. It debuts on the NYT‘s Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous, landing at #3.

Written by the organization’s president, the book details how to give a talk worth listening to. It got a push from Forbes which called it “extraordinary reading.”

Anderson, who knows how to promote his work, features the title on the TED site and has published a summary piece in The Wall Street Journal [subscription might be required]. He recently appeared on the Diane Rehm Show and has a new post up on YouTube:

Holds are strong but not yet topping a 3:1 ratio. The title, however, is bound to become a go-to choice for anyone who has to give a speech, an activity that remains our #1 fear.

9781501129087_cc48c9781401947538_90f2cTwo other titles hit the list for the first time this week, Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice, Baron Baptiste (Hay House; OverDrive Sample) at #9 and Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing, Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp (North Star Way; OverDrive Sample) at #10.

The three titles that got knocked off the the main list were Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, which fell to #11 on the extended list after 17 weeks in the top 10; Fascinate: Revised and Updated by Sally Hogshead; and The Startup Checklist, David S. Rose,  both of which fell out of the top 15 completely.

Hey Kids: Game On

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

9780374160012_b5555A string of articles, led by The Wall Street Journal, has helped a parenting book zoom up the Amazon charts.

The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting: How the Science of Strategic Thinking Can Help You Deal with the Toughest Negotiators You Know–Your Kids by Paul Raeburn and Kevin Zollman (Macmillan/Scientific American/ FSG; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) combines the insight of a father of five with the expertise of an academic to offer ways to help parents game their kid’s most common and exasperating behaviors, such a lying, fighting, and not doing what they were told.

The WSJ piece [subscription might be required] leads a diverse pack of stories, including coverage in Scientific American, Slate, Live Science, and Fast Company.

9781594206276_19101Slate notes this is another example of academics pairing with writers to “create a true crossover offering, one that marries rigorous research and real scholarship with a compelling style and narrative arc that human beings actually want to read on purpose,” citing Jonathan Franzen’s book on Karl Kraus, as well as better example,   Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (PRH/Penguin, 2015), proving once again the “Three Examples Is a Trend” theory of journalism,

Cleaning Sweeps Up

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

9781601427960_b52b8Currently in the #12 spot on Amazon’s sales rankings, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker (PRH/WaterBrook) appeals to fans of the surprise hit, now a trend-setter, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Becker has a ready audience. He runs a heavily trafficked website, Becoming Minimalist. His book appeals to two currently hot topics, decluttering and learning to live with less, but with a spiritual element. Becker describes his approach by saying, “There’s a better way to live life—one that recognizes the empty promises of consumerism and champions the pursuit of living simply, Scripturally, and Jesus-centered.”

Holds in several libraries we checked were running far over a 3:1 ratio on very light ordering while other systems have yet to buy.

Smart Money Week Adds
Unlimited Access to eBooks

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.