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Author Dolby, Sandra K., 1946-

Title Self-help books : why Americans keep reading them / Sandra K. Dolby
Published Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [2005]
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (xii, 192 pages)
Contents Introduction : Self-help books and American worldview -- American popular self-education -- The books, the writers, and metacommentary -- The critics, the simple self, and America's cultural cringe -- Giving advice and getting wisdom -- Memes, themes, and worldview -- Stories -- Proverbs, quotes, and insights -- Finding a use for self-help testimonies -- Epilogue
Summary "Based on a reading of more than three hundred self-help books, Sandra K. Dolby examines this remarkably popular genre to define "self-help" in a way that's compelling to academics and lay readers alike. Self-Help Books also offers an interpretation of why these books are so popular, arguing that they continue the well-established American penchant for self-education, they articulate problems of daily life and their supposed solutions, and they present their content in a form and style that is accessible rather than arcane." "Using tools associated with folklore studies, Dolby then examines how the genre makes use of stories, aphorisms, and a traditional yet contemporary worldview. The overarching premise of the study is that self-help books, much like fairy tales, take traditional materials, especially stories and ideals, and recast them into extended essays that people happily read, think about, try to apply, and then set aside when a new embodiment of the genre comes along."--Jacket
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 163-181) and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Psychological literature -- United States.
Self-help techniques -- United States.
Self Care.
United States.
Form Electronic book
LC no. 2005002017
ISBN 0252090993 (electronic bk.)
9780252090998 (electronic bk.)
(paperback; acid-free paper)
(paperback; acid-free paper)