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Help!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done [Paperback]

Oliver Burkeman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 11.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Jan 2011
How do you solve the problem of human happiness? It's a subject that has occupied some of the greatest philosophers of all time, from Aristotle to Paul McKenna - but how do we sort the good ideas from the terrible ones? Over the past five years, Oliver Burkeman has travelled to some of the strangest outposts of the 'happiness industry' in an attempt to find out. In Help!, the first collection of his popular Guardian columns, Burkeman presents his findings. It's a witty and thought-provoking exploration that punctures many of self-help's most popular myths, while also offering clear-headed, practical and often counterintuitive advice on a range of subjects, from stress, procrastination and insomnia to wealth, laughter, time management and creativity. It doesn't claim to have solved the problem of human happiness. But it might just bring us one step closer.

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Help!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done + The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking + Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; First Edition edition (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857860259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857860255
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for The Guardian newspaper. He is a winner of the Foreign Press Association's Young Journalist of the Year award, and has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. He writes a popular weekly column on psychology, This Column Will Change Your Life, and has reported from London, Washington and New York.

For Oliver Burkeman's blog and a selection of his writing, visit www.oliverburkeman.com

Product Description

About the Author

Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for the Guardian. He is a winner of the Foreign Press Association's Young Journalist of the Year award, and has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. He writes a popular weekly column on psychology, This Column Will Change Your Life, and has reported from London, Washington, and New York. www.oliverburkeman.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book is culled from a series of Guardian newspaper columns, and represent one newspaper hack's attempts to use self-help materials to better his life. As such, it could easily have been an excuse for a truly British middle-class whinge, based on one of those mish-mash columns of semi-coherent ramblings that really tells us nothing at all, and that seems to exist between the gardening section and Sudoku in the pages of UK newspapers' weekend sections with the sole purpose of making the reader feeling slightly soiled and withered.

Thankfully, Oliver Burkeman keeps the cheap-shots largely in check, and whilst there is a little of the "woe is me that I sojourn in a national newspaper office and write for one of the biggest publications in the world, but I really am a disorganised slob", it soon becomes very clear that the author is genuinely interested in scrutinising this material and sifting for insights. His prose is quite informal and breezy, but he does a fine job of praising the authors that he feels are not snake-oil salesman (and so Cal Newport and David Allen emerge relatively unscathed), whereas others who seem to promise the earth receive something of a dressing down (Stephen Covey and Tony Robbins both come in for some criticism).
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Self-help for sceptics, but not cynics 9 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
I hate self-help books. Well, that's not quite true. I'm drawn to the idea of reading a book that will make me a better person, more compassionate and patient, more productive. Invariably, however, when I open the pages of one I'm put off by the zealotry, the patronising and trite aphorisms and the uncomfortable moral underpinnings of most self-help philosophies.

This book escapes those charges. It is fantastic for its critical but insightful survey of the self-help genre. It is sceptical, rather than cynical, and I mean that in the best possible way. The central message is not that self-improvement is impossible, rather that self-improvement is incremental. Reading it was like experiencing a series of miniature-epiphanies, rather than a road to Damascus conversion that has erased my messy, procrastinating, irritable former self.

This book might change your life, but - like the column - only a tiny bit at a time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 27 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback
This was very readable, thought provoking and informative. It covers a great deal of ground - but really is a summary of "what's out there". It offers gems of ideas to try out... though it is not a self-help book!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing and important 25 Jan 2011
By Dave
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm only about half way through this book, but I have found it to be very thought-provoking. Like many others, I've bought a few self-help books especially when work pressures build up, but the cynic in me has usually gone off these various best-selling 'secrets' books long before I reach the end. Some of them I've even considered to be dangerous. No amount of positive thinking will make life perfect. The result is that these books always tend to leave you at a lower point in the longer run, and I suspect that the higher a person gets lifted, the more painful the drop. This book is different. It doesn't set out to do anything revolutionary, it lays out some simple rules that may help, without false promise. Simple, but also extraordinary and surprising, observations, backed by facts and real studies. Some of it is actually quite uncomfortable to read, I've squirmed more than once, but I also recognised truth. Some of it is very funny, I laughed at the most common TLA associated with RAK (if you want to know, get the book). There's no smarmy salesman with perfect teeth on the cover, it's a book for real people, with real and complex lives, who just want things to be a bit better. You won't find any plans to think your way to wealth in here, well, none that aren't sliced open with surgical precision anyway. I think this is a very personally rewarding book, I'd recommend it very highly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jezza
Format:Paperback
I regularly read Oliver Burkeman's column in The Guardian, and I really like. I think he strikes exactly the right tone towards the 'self-help community' - he's sceptical and suspicious, but not totally dismissive. He leavens it nicely with some well-chosen and nicely written references to the academic literature on happiness and behaviour change.

If you have any interest in either and don't know the column, the book is well worth reading.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent round-up 21 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a collection of Oliver's column from the saturday Guardian, and as such, doesn't have a central theme as such. It is nevertheless jam-packed with enjoyable stories and theories, dismissing the many snake oil salesmen that abound in 'self help' areas. You'll definitely learn a thing or two about yourself, more about others, and perhaps understand a little better about how you fit into this world. Oliver has a brilliantly sardonic writing style, and is knowledgeable without ever sounding smug. A cracking read, which you'll refer to again and again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Serious points conveyed in an enjoyable read.
Published 19 hours ago by Kaz1250
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and funny. Burkeman's dry wit is perfect for an analysis ...
Engaging and funny. Burkeman's dry wit is perfect for an analysis of the self-help genre. This book stabs a pin into the inflated nonsense, whilst plucking out interesting bits of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alex Quigley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very good and useful read.
Published 1 month ago by A. du Plessis
5.0 out of 5 stars Irreverent but inspirational
Funny irreverent and full of good ideas. Have already recommended it to my husband and son. Easy to read and implement.
Published 2 months ago by narisachaki
2.0 out of 5 stars Help
Purchased this book by error really. I thought it might be humorous but it turned out to be more like a text book,.
Published 3 months ago by Jan
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Help' does what it says on the cover
An amusing and lightly learned study of the myriad of self help manuals available. A problem arises when one attempts to read chapter notes on a Kindle - flipping back and forth... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The most helpful self help book!
This was available on a Kindle Daily Deal and I love self help books so I bought it. Oliver Burkeman has read most of them and this is a round up of the best advice from these... Read more
Published 3 months ago by NF
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly refreshing
An engaging, amusing, highly refreshing realistic and useful analysis of the kind of self-help books that promise the hopeful reader big success.
Published 3 months ago by L. B. Stratmann
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny
Have enjoyed this book, if not quite as much as Oliver Burkeman's other study of happiness 'The Antidote'. Read more
Published 12 months ago by jasannu
5.0 out of 5 stars A self help book that finally makes some sense
l picked up this book at my brother's house and l am glad l did. Oliver makes a lot of good sense and uses humour to talk about every day lives and challenges and ways to look at... Read more
Published 12 months ago by amanda lee-smith
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