I am the kind of person who loves to motivate people to read. When I meet someone who says “Oh, I don’t read”, my standard response is “That’s because you haven’t found the right book yet.” And then I spend the rest of the conversation trying to find books that I think would suit them.
This is exactly what I was doing with my lab mate. I asked him what kind of books he liked to read, and he told me he really liked reading books that are thought-provoking and about changing one’s habits to become a more successful individual.
And I had to pause there.
See, these are the kinds of books that I typically avoid. I’ve seen them around a lot but every time I think about reading it, I just run away to my fiction corner and cuddle with the latest fantasy/thriller/horror/sci-fi book. I’m serious: I actively try to avoid self-improvement books.
For one thing, I do a lot of reading for school that is heavy on literature. As someone who reads scientific papers all day, I use my personal reading time for something lighter, something that isn’t going to be directly applicable to my real life. And it’s not like fiction can’t be deep and thought-provoking; books like Sing, Unburied, Sing or Little Fires Everywhere are not light and fluffy at all! But while they are stimulating, there is no need for me to work on myself and try to implement any changes proposed in the book.
The other reason I don’t like reading books that fall into the self-help/motivational category is because they really don’t motivate me. I know I’m flawed and there are definitely things I want to improve (a lot of things, if I’m being honest) but whenever I read a book that is supposed to “fix” my bad habits, I end up feeling bad for having the habits in the first place. Instead of motivating me, it brings me down. It also tends to make me feel overwhelmed. There are so many different things I need to do, and I have to do them everyday and actively focus on it … and when I already have so much going on in my life, it just feels like one more added stress.
I know a lot of people who love these books and find them inspirational. They swear by the tenets of the books and how it has helped them become more effective and better and whatnot. And that’s great! I’m happy that others have found these books helpful! But I’m going to stick to my fictional novels for now. I like that they give me the opportunity to relax, to forget my problems in my real-life and jump into the problems of the characters in the book.
Have any of you read these self-help/motivational books? What did you think of them? Did they work? And what is your take on reading for pleasure vs reading for improvement?