Home of Dr. Christine B. Whelan

The Virtues of Self-Help

After six years of studying self-help books, and three years after graduating with a doctorate based on that research I’ve finally landed a publishing deal to translate all that academese into something that people will (hopefully) want to read.

THE VIRTUES OF SELF HELP (working title) will be published by the Templeton Foundation Press. The aim of the book will be to look back to history to uncover useful lessons for today. After a brief examination of the role of advice literature in American culture, this book will examine four core virtues explained in some of the best self-help books of the last 150 years: honesty, thrift, perseverance and self-control. This book will ask two questions: First, does self-help have useful lessons that can guide us through tough financial and personal times ahead? And second, how can self-help virtues of yesteryear apply to the generation coming of age, the Millennials in college right now?

My argument will be based on a synthesis of the best (and worst) of American self-help books. In particular, I’ll cull through hundreds of books to find the best advice relating to the four core virtues – honesty, thrift, perseverance and self-control – and boil it down for readers. While this won’t be a self-help book per say, readers will come away with a greater understanding of how to improve their lives based on these core principles.

THE VIRTUES OF SELF-HELP will remind readers of the core values that we learned as children but may not think about as often as we should. It will at once criticize the advice genre for failing us on many of these virtues and provide examples of how good self-help can inspire us to live better. As Samuel Johnson wrote, “Man needs more to be reminded than instructed.”

No small feat, but hey, that’s the plan for the book.

Stay tuned for more as I research: The goal is to write this puppy by June/July for a January 2010 publication date.

December 23, 2008 - Posted by | Self-Help

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