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April 5, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Some problems just can’t be solved by a phone call to mom or drinks with a friend. That’s where these books step in. This year the self-help trend has spawned a handful of books that are changing the genre. With the use of pop culture, literary references and scientific discussion, these books are revolutionizing the self-help realm with new approaches to advice. According to Bookmarkradio.com, self-help is projected to be the most popular genre of 2012, and these four reads accept that challenge with fresh takes on old problems.
So, if you’re looking for self-improvement, help these books help you.
FOR THE LOVESTRUCK AND LOST
Much Ado About Loving by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Price: $19.99 (Barnes & Noble)
Publication date: Jan. 3, 2012
Finding the right partner, recognizing common mistakes and understanding seduction can be tough. Much Ado About Loving offers literary love lessons that at first glance might not be obvious. The “Bride and Prejudice” chapter instructs women on the lesson learned by the protagonist in the Jane Austen novel: Ignore the arrogant attitudes of the Mr. Darcys in the world. “Overly Great Expectations” instructs readers to avoid relationships as solutions to insecurities, based on Dickens’ character, Pip. People search for the moral of the story in works of literature, but Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly point directly to the lessons these novels offer.
FOR THOSE ON A DIGITAL DIET
The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption by Clay A. Johnson
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Price: $22.99 (Barnes & Noble)
Publication date: Jan. 18, 2012
According to The Information Diet, you’re likely spending 11 hours a day consuming information perusing Facebook pages or reading newspapers. Clay A. Johnson advises readers to regulate their intake of status updates, tweets, videos or anything that enhances our technology addictions. Finding a balance between staying updated with the world and maintaining a healthy relationship with technology helps to avoid information obesity. It provides symptoms of this digital-world disease and how to follow the information diet with all the necessary ingredients: willpower, filtering of information and synthesis of the best sources.
FOR THE CAREER-CHALLENGED
The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Price: $26.00 (Barnes & Noble)
Publication date: Feb. 14, 2012
Instead of the same old business advice, Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha, author of My Start-Up Life, map out how to adapt to the changing business world. The book discusses three puzzle pieces — assets, aspirations and market realities — to increase readers’ competitive advantage. Another chapter focuses on building relationships to create networks. It’s like dating: Look for someone likeable who will help build your personal assets. Hoffman and Casnocha want readers to be prepared for the business world and advise readers on how to take some risks in an intelligent manner. As business changes, this book helps the business-challenged.
FOR THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY MEMBER
They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life by Oliver James
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Price: $15.95 (Barnes & Noble)
Publication date: Jan. 1, 2012
Everyone has those few family members who seem to make life difficult. Whether it’s parents, spouses or extended family, how do you put up with them? They F*** You Up uses pop culture and science to explain the complicated web of family life and advises readers on how to stay sane. Schizophrenia, the nature-nurture debate and twin studies are explored to illustrate why families are the way they are. The book includes celebrity references to Michael Jackson’s childhood and Prince Charles’ role as the firstborn to show how everyone has family issues.