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on 18 March 2017
Comprehensive, enlightening and a good read to boot. A must read if you cant get enough of self help. Funny too.
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on 28 March 2017
entertaining and informative
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on 5 December 2011
I'm normally very sceptical of popular psychology books, having been exposed to the full range of them working in the self-help section of a bookshop. Burkeman, heroically, seems to have read the entirety of this section and the resulting book is a very funny and wise look at ways in which we can indeed become slightly happier and get a bit more done.

"Help!" is based on Burkeman's column in the Guardian and so each chapter (on social life, work life, productivity, etc.) is composed of mini-essays containing a summary of research on a particular aspect of psychology and some thoughts or tips on how we can use these findings to improve our own lives.

During the time I was reading "Help!" I was bearing in mind Burkeman's words and I do think that the book has made me feel less stressed about various aspects of everyday life. It also had me laughing out loud at points which must also be good for one's general wellbeing.

I read the Kindle edition of this book which was all in italics. Having read the comments on another review I deleted the book and re-sent it, which fixed the problem.
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on 25 January 2011
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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on 13 February 2011
Having read just about every self help book that's ever been written over the last thirty years or so, I'd realised eventually that none of them had "the" or even "an" answer. A good sort out and a trip to Oxfam left me with the very few that I would need to "dip into" or read again with care. I'd resolved to buy no more.

However, Oliver Burkeman's "Help" was irresistible. I always read his column in the Guardian Magazine and find it amusing, wise, and helpful in a practical way. He isn't cynical or pretentious but he is clear sighted and able to see to the heart of the matter.

I've learned a great deal from all the self help books I've read. Whether I agreed, or disagreed with them they've helped me find a way through 65 years of living and many have had insights that have stood the test of time. I think Burkeman's book is crammed with these and, unlike many of the others, will remain on my shelf. It's a keeper
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on 6 August 2013
The fact that this is a collection of newspaper columns accounts for breezy, sometimes a bit clever-stick (but often laugh-out-loud) comments but the substance is serious and worth serious attention, especially given the collective malaise in our society combined with the increase in quick-fix solutions whether drugs or self-help.

I've had this out of the library for a very long time (having just picked up after spotting it on a returns trolley) and am about to return it but also order my own copy as I keep going back to it. I have a professional interest in health and well-being and what's great about this book are the suggestions for further reading and the proper bibliography - which you seldom get with a typical self-help book.

Loved it.
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on 5 February 2012
This book feels more like a collection of magazine articles than a book but is a fun and informative read.
It provides a light hearted, sometimes very skeptical, but pretty thorough overview of the most useful lessons one can learn from the self help literature (according to the author).
I have applied some of these nuggets to real life situations a number of times since reading this book - for example, managing to reduce background anxiety levels by making "closed" to-do lists which don't keep growing as the day progresses.
Recommended.
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on 22 February 2011
Burkeman sorts the self-help wheat from the chaff, highlighting genuinely helpful ideas while spooning acerbic scorn onto those writers who have fooled a lot of the people for a lot of the time. A collection of articles that mix psychology with philosophy, economics and history to challenge and entertain. A great compendium, with a myriad of links and references. Only the stupidly cocksure would find nothing in here of benefit.
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on 16 January 2011
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).

I think this brings up an important point- if, like me, you have been influenced by various self-help gurus over the years it might be easy to get defensive if your particular favourite life-coach or guru comes in for some flak from Burkeman, but it is important to realise that he is not the 'Richard Dawkins' of self-help scepticism and he isn't trying to debunk the whole field, although he does appeal substantially to contemporary sociological/psychological research (in this, he often parallels the equally interesting 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot). Consequently, this is a useful book for for the self-help aficionado looking to contextualise their own thinking, and also for the individual new to a field that even the most diehard self-help consumer must admit has its share of charlatans.

On a final note, I really like the design of this book by Keenan, complete with its faux-dust-jacket, and it is a nicely put together book to browse and read.
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on 10 January 2011
If you're familiar with Oliver Burkeman's writing in the Guardian you will be familiar with the warm, witty and practical advice Oliver routinely brings us. If you aren't, well you're in for a treat. This is highly recommended reading for anyone who wants to become, well, slightly happier and to get a bit more done.

It's also easy to read, thought provoking and in my view, reflective of the very latest in psychological research.
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