Monday, November 15, 2010

Abundant Self Help

Day 280 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and one guy is now reading either Charles Dickens or Stephen King because he found good copies of both on the half-price cart out on the sidewalk after the drizzle stopped and the sun came out.

He has also been reading William Slusher, if I heard him right, "because I couldn't put the book down," but I don't know which book it was, as he didn't mention the title.  I'll choose For Whom to Die: A Beautiful Story of a Terrible Time, a Vietnam story, because of its title, and it was the first one I found at Amazon, and because of the recent Veterans Day holiday.

Another fellow came in looking for 10 Steps to Abundant Health by somebody named Jackson.  I sent him to Health and to Self Help, but we didn't have it.  Later he revealed that he'd been overseas, troubled, and looked up to see this book in the rafters, and it turned his life around.  Now he wanted to find it for a friend in need.  He said somebody at Amazon had it for over $100.

Ah, yes.  It's called The Ten Secrets of Abundant Health: A Modern Parable that Will Turn Your Life Around, by Adam J. Jackson.  Indeed, it starts at $110 in the Amazon Marketplace, and I fear it is a self-help book in a series of self-help books, which sometimes, you know, are there to help you help yourself, and sometimes are there to help the author help hirself.

Sure enough, Adam J. Jackson has also written Ten Secrets of Abundant Wealth, subtitled Ancient Chinese Wisdom to Enhance Your Life.  Ancient wisdom that has probably enhanced Adam Jackson's life, and wealth.

But I sound cynical and judgmental and don't want to be.  The man seeking the book did find his life turned around, and does want to help a friend.  And, hey, I just read a sort of self-help version of Epictetus!  (But I blame J. D. Salinger for that.)

What I'm getting at, I hope, is that we read some books at just the right time.  There is a powerful story in Poetry East #47-48, They Say This by the poet Bruce Weigl.  He was 18, in Vietnam, sick in bed at base camp from bad water, and a man threw a book at him and said, "Read this."  It was Dostoevsky.  Crime and Punishment.  And it turned his life around.

Any book could do it.  A great one, like Crime and Punishment.  Ancient Chinese wisdom, updated.  Stoic philosophy, revisited.  A self-help book.  Such as The Ten Secrets of Abundant Happiness.  A mass market paperback for $64.99.

Or this version, used, starting at $58.31:

But if it will make you happy, read it.


Kim said...

Joel Osteen.

Kathleen said...

OK, I looked him up on Wikipedia. He preaches prosperity theology. The kind of thing Robin Meyers warns about in Saving Jesus from the Church. Right?!

So watch out for too much self help, you guys!!

And remember wealth does not equal health. Unless you have no health insurance.

Collagemama said...

Oh, Lordy, please save us from self-help books! Let's use them to build new levees.

Kathleen said...

Are you saying self-help books are all wet!? It would at least be a pretty levee!