Self-help is certainly more noble than the dreaded Cult of Self-Esteem.
Personally, I can't stand self-help books and gurus. I hate the whole genre.
However, I didn't know until I read this book that self-help was initially meant to inspire men to industry, to productivity in a capitalistic nature. So I like the concept MUCH better now.
This is a great essay from City Journal-The Paperback Quest for Joy.
Do read it all.
This is a nice nugget:
"While it has a long history as a legal term,
“self-help” was first used in the context of personal development in
Samuel Smiles’s 1859 book of that name. Smiles, a Scottish author, urged
readers to imitate self-made men of industry."
“The spirit of self-help
is the root of all genuine growth in the individual,” he wrote. In
societies where “men are subjected to over-guidance and
over-government,” by contrast, “the inevitable tendency is to render
"Believing in his own message, Smiles self-published the
book after a conventional publisher rejected it. It sold a quarter of a