Author: Tom Connellan
Genre: non-fiction, self help
First Published: 2013
Pages: 160 (advance ebook version)
If you’re anything like me you might look at self-help books lining the shelves in a bookshop with a sceptical eye. While I have nothing against them, I am somewhat reluctant to believe that a book can tell me how to live my life. However, if your anything like me you may have also discovered that there are times when you do need to reassess the way you are living as it isn’t working for you. I have found this recently with the stress of university and the need to start thinking about what I want to do when I leave education. Since I had nothing to lose when I was offered the chance of reviewing this book, I thought I might as well see if my perception of self-help books was wrong.
The book is divided into seventeen chapters, which are written more like a novel than a self help book. You observe ‘Jack’ and his daily life, and you get an insight into his thoughts and anxieties. This first impression of the book was completely unexpected as my impression of a self help book was a ‘step-by-step’ instruction manual of what to do over the next 71 days to help you make the prescriptive changes it expected but this book is nothing like that. It also keeps an open mind, instead of narrowing down Jack’s problems to work or fitness, it simply says that he is feeling “off” and cannot place what is wrong. This one rings true for me at the moment as one thing just has to be knocked slightly to throw your whole self off balance and I’m finding it tricky at the moment to really nail what it is that needs straightening up to get me back on track.
The basis of the book is to get you to think differently about the problems you are having, whether it is in relationships, work or weightloss. It encourages you not to look at the problem, but what is stopping you from getting there. I’m guessing that this is the core of many self-help books but I like the way it is set out as a fictional story, creating the impression that it is more of a moral tale than the self-help preaching I had anticipated.
Once you have identified the problem, the book encourages you to improve by 1% – a nice small percentage for anyone’s ability, however, it doesn’t sound like much. Well the book then displays a table of percentages which shows that by the 71st time you improve 1%, you will have doubled your original ability. My explanation may sound complex but the book explains it really well and is aided with a diagram to help you get it clear in your head.
The rest of the book continues looking at Jack and those close to him and how the method helps to improve their troubles, presenting the reader with a wide range of problems that it can help to solve. The short chapters and fictional set up of the book make it easy reading and you take on the information without feeling overwhelmed.
While I’m not convinced the book has the ability to completely convert me to buying into self help books, the idea of increasing your ability 1% a day does sound intriguing. While I’m not expecting dramatic alterations in my life, I am intrigued to see what affect the snowball effect can have. I think the set up of the book as a fictional account of Jack’s life was really interesting and wasn’t at all patronising as I had imagined self help books to be. So if you’re like me and feel stuck in a rut but you can’t quite find the faith to trust a self help book then I would recommend giving this one a go. The ebook is available for less than £1 so you really haven’t got anything to lose.
I received this book as a free Advanced E-Reader Copy from NetGalley. This book is available to buy now in both the US and the UK.