Listening for Self-Help
Beth Farrell of Library Journal has an extensive survey of self-help audiobooks in Mind, Body & Soul. Although the article is aimed at librarians, anyone interested in this genre will find it useful and informative. Referencing an article from Forbes earlier this year, she notes the billions spent in recent years on these types of books, CDs and related products and services. She also calls attention to LJ’s most recent ranking of most-borrowed audiobooks, in which 15 of 20 were in the self-help category. And not all the audiobooks that libraries offer come only in the traditional CD format; others are available through web-based digital downloads from companies such as Overdrive or Ingram Digital, and in the preloaded digital Playaway format (a new one to me). Farrell writes that her aim is to go beyond the likes of Stephen Covey, Rhonda Byrne and similar big names to worthy titles by lesser-known — but many recognizable — authors with titles worthy of being offered by libraries. And by extension, worthy of our attention as library patrons. She provides bibliographic information and to-the-point thumbnail descriptions for more than 20 titles. I particularly like her description of David Whyte’s 8 CD set The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship: “Yorkshire-born poet/business consultant Whyte’s rich, rumbling voice could turn the reading of an auto repair manual into poetry; his erudite, unique take on balancing work, self, and relationships is utterly compelling. Self-help for the literary set.” Other audiobooks worthy of careful listening include This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, a 5 CD set based on the NPR series and Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, also 5 CDs. Improving yourself for free with these and similar audiobooks at your public library sounds like a great deal.