Until fairly recently us Brits were not into self-help. That was something for Oprah-loving Americans, people happy to talk about ‘feelings’ and their childhoods – but things have changed.
Recent figures show that UK book sales have dropped by 1 per cent since the recession but in that same period sales of self-help books have increased by 25 per cent.
It’s estimated that in Britain self-help has earned publishes £60 million in the past five years – while in the States, the self-improvement industry is wroth more than $10 billion (£6 billion a year).
Paul McKenna alone is his own industry – making £35 million out of telling us how to be thinner, happier, and more confident. In just seven days.
It seems that in times of insecurity – when banks, religions and communities are collapsing – many of us find comfort in the idea that somebody has all the answers, even if it’s an ex radio DJ/ hypnotist.
But do any of them actually work?
That’s what I want to find out. For the next year I will follow a different self-help book each month – to the letter. And I mean really, really follow the advice no matter how ridiculous, embarrassing, cringe-making it is.
The idea is that millions of us read these books but do nothing that they tell us to do. We buy them, read them, nod in agreement then promptly go back to life as usual. But what happens if we do what the gurus say?
What if we really did Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway? Dutifully copied the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?
Could the life of this broke, perpetually single, chronically anxious woman be transformed?