Living in More Than One World,

The Blog of Bruce Rosenstein

300 Words With Tom Butler-Bowdon

A new, semi-regular feature begins on my blog today: “300 Words With…” I’ll be interviewing people I admire, especially those who exemplify the spirit of living in more than one world. Their responses will be (in the range of) 300 words. The first person is Tom Butler-Bowdon, who has written the excellent 50 Classics series of books; on self-help, success, psychology, spirituality and prosperity. In the past, I wrote about and interviewed him for USA TODAY.

1.    In what ways (day-to-day and otherwise) has your life changed in the years since your first book was published?

It was important because I could start to see myself as a proper writer, and work towards writing full time, which didn’t happen until a couple of years after.

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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).…

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150 Years of Self-Help

Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species was not the only groundbreaking book of 1859 that celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The BBC’s Kate Williams points out in Self help Victorian style that 1859 was also the year of Samuel Smiles’ book Self-Help, which gave rise to the now multi-million selling genre. In fact, Williams says it was published on the same day as Darwin’s.  Smiles’ book was a huge best-seller in its time, and continues to sell well. Her piece sets up an interesting, somewhat tongue-in-cheek premise: it speculates on what Smiles, with his Victorian perspective, would say about modern (though fictionalized) self-help dilemmas, and how they might be solved by current popular self-help authors, such as Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and Paul Wilson (author of the Little Book of Calm and related titles).…

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Thoughts and Labyrinths: the Spirit of Napoleon Hill in 2009

It’s always interesting when a person’s legacy is carried on long after his or her death. That’s the case with Napoleon Hill, perhaps best known for Think and Grow Rich. Despite its title, the book is not just a guide to financial wealth but to all-around success and personal development. He wrote it on the personal suggestion of Andrew Carnegie, to intensively study the success secrets of some of the major figures of his era, including Thomas Edison and John D.  Rockefeller.  It and other books by Hill, (1883-1970), remain popular in libraries and bookstores worldwide. Sue Ellen Ross of The Post-Tribune in Gary, Ind., recently did a feature story, Top motivator continues to inspire, about the field trip of a high school band to an open house at the Napoleon Hill Foundation’s World Learning Center at Purdue University Calumet.…

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Finding Direction From the New Self-Help Books

For an easy-to-follow roundup of eight new self-help books, see Megan K. Scott’s AP story, New Self-Help Books Inspire in Our Troubled Times. It includes capsule descriptions and sample advice from such authors as Judith Orloff, M. J. Ryan, Alan Lurie and the financial journalist Jean Chatzky. Lurie seems to be an embodiment of living in more than one world: he is an executive at Grubb & Ellis, an ordained rabbi and a former architect. Learn more about him and his book Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace and Fulfillment at Work, in the recent New York Post feature, Divine and Conquer: Rabbi Exec Preaches Higher Path to Profit.…

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This ( column will change your life…according to Oliver Burkeman

How can you resist a column called This Column Will Change Your Life? The latest from Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian (where he is also a reporter), deals with positives and negatives regarding habits and routines. Sometimes the regularity of the routines causes the benefits derived to be diminished. “But there is one way,” Burkeman writes, “to get the best of both worlds: develop habits and routines that are designed to disrupt your habits and routines, and keep things fresh.” This could entail weekly self-reviews of your work, which even though being another form of routine, still gets you out of your daily routine for awhile.…

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