50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life, From Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus
Tom Butler-Bowdon is an author who can do something few writers can do well — write in a way that captures someone else’s salient points, and expands upon them. He summarizes, clarifies, and in the end, leaves you with a feeling that you learned more than you had ever intended. 50 Self-Help Classics is a thinking-person’s guide to self-help books, providing the reader with clear guidance about what to take away from each book, and giving you a roadmap in your own journey of self-discovery.
Sometimes an author can say what another author has said, but say it clearer and better than the original author. Tom has done that in these pages. He often gets across the message of the original book with far more clarity and punch than the original ever had.
Each classic has its own chapter and each chapter is wonderfully short. There is never a dull moment. The book has a lot of nice features too: pithy quotes from the original book, a summary of the main point of each classic, and recommended books in a similar vein. At the end of each chapter is a short biography of the author.
I have already read most of the fifty books, and it was wonderful to have the meat of those books extracted and laid bare. With Tom’s book in my possession, I can now review one of these classics quickly and easily. Repetition is vital to learning, and yet I often don’t re-read books because it is so time-consuming, even though I know I could be helped by a review of the material. Now I can review them without investing a lot of time.
Tom clearly didn’t choose these fifty books based on popularity. This is an excellent selection. The fifty classics are well-chosen and represent a balanced coverage of the field. Tom includes many of my favorite books of all time: Flow, Feeling Good, How to Win Friends, The Art of Happiness, Self-Reliance, Learned Optimism, Man’s Search For Meaning, and on and on. This book also introduced me to some material I would never have picked up off the shelf, but I’m glad I have been introduced to it. I loved the chapter on Beothius.
You could think of this book as Cliffs Notes for self-help books. Reading it would be a great way to shop for just the right book to read next.
The author does not talk down to the reader, doesn’t write at a fourth grade level, and yet this is clear and easy reading. And even so, the writing is penetrating, insightful, and intelligent. If you want to learn how to change your thoughts, how to find your best direction in life and accomplish it, how to become happier, how to change your perspective, if you want to explore yourself and make a difference in the world, you’ll find more than enough juicy nuggets here to satisfy.
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Bressert, S. (2007). 50 Self-Help Classics. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/50-self-help-classics/000796
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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