Within the past few years, the $10-billion dollars-a-year self-help book industry in the United States has continued to grow. Some people consider them truly life-changing, while others consider them rightfully criticized.  

What drives an author to write a self-help book? Once it’s written, who publishes it, and how do they know whether the author is qualified to write one in the first place? All of these issues come to mind when one considers the culture of self-help books. Perhaps authors write self-help books as a coping mechanism for themselves, or perhaps they feel they have knowledge to share with others. Perhaps it is just a means to make money, or perhaps it is a guide to self-empowerment. In any case, how are these books viewed by the psychologists in the field? Do self-books help everyone in the same way, or are there cultural differences that make them affect people differently? Do they even work? Some would say self-help books are helping to make our lives better; some would say that it is a purely American phenomenon that is misleading us into believing that it can be used as a guide to living “the American Dream” and finding “the Pursuit of Happiness.”   

I hope to find research on the history of self-help books, as well how they are currently perceived in society in order to help answer these questions.

Any advice on this topic is greatly appreciated – especially any ideas on how to further narrow down the topic and how to formulate an argument towards it! Thanks!


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