So I’m currently trawling through ‘The Right Way to Keep Chickens’ to the section on ‘Food’ for the 18th time this week. I am checking quantities as I’m fairly sure after 3 weeks with us our new ex-battery hens have almost doubled in size and I’m just checking that’s perfectly normal. They were my first ever pet and I didn’t have the first idea as to how to look after them. So the moment I had come up with the plan I instantly logged on and found a book that promised to tell me everything I needed to know about keeping chickens. Because that is what I do when I don’t know what to do – I reach for a book that does (don’t feel sad for me, sometimes I ask friends but in this case they were as clueless as I was – one friend thought an ex-battery hen meant it had once been powered by a battery - quite).
I own a lot of books that all aim to improve my writing (How to Write/How Not to Write/How to Write well/Nailing your Novel/Selling your Script etc, etc...) and have always religiously studied their pages knowing I am taking that step closer to publication. I have always placed my trust in manuals and guides. I was a good school girl, swatted up and got the A grades I was aiming for. But my writing books are a manual to help me achieve something specific and I have never really believed in a book that can tell you how to live your life. It seems this is not the case for others however as self-help books are everywhere. Recently we’ve been seeing a wave of celebrities walking around clutching these guides (Emma Watson was spotted clutching ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ and Lindsay Lohan was famously caught holding ‘Toxic Friends’ moments before she served time in prison). But are they suitable for normal people? Everyday common folk like us? As I said I don’t read them. Neither do any friends I have quizzed. My sister swore by Allen Carr’s ‘Easy way to Stop Smoking’ book but then started smoking again and my memories of reading ‘Men are from Mars Women are From Venus’ as a teenager seem to revolve around vague images of caves and elastic. I always found these books too simplistic. It is surely all just common-sense?
But is that really right? Surely it is good to be focused in this way? Perhaps Emma Watson, dazzled by her millions, fed up with the shallow world of celebrity, upset at all the distracting wads of cash (am I going too far?) needed a reminder of her priorities? And maybe Lindsay Lohan is now making less ‘Toxic’ friends (so no Britney Spears then... boom boom)? Bringing up children is an intimidating task and seems to be a very popular source of self help books and the ‘Mumsnet Rules’ appear to be hugely successful. So it can’t all be tosh. And I’m sitting here learning all about my chickens and thinking about other ways of getting my life in order.
So I am wondering if you can recommend any decent self-help books or whether you just want to tell me it’s all just a load of guff. Go!