Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A few nonfiction self-help books

I've read a few books of advice recently that I started, not knowing if I'd finish, skimmed bits, but then ended up reading most of. So here's a rundown!

Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring For Your Mental Health by Kati Morton (2018)

Written by a marriage and family therapist, this is a basic guide to mental health, knowing when to get help from a professional, what kind of help is available, and what it's like to see a therapist. There are also a few chapters on particular issues like toxic relationships and communication problems, which honestly felt a little out of place. It would have made sense if they were in their own section. I suspect this guide was written for young people as it mentions seeing your school counselor, but that was the only indication and I think it's probably helpful to anyone. I haven't seen this sort of guide before and some of the most helpful bits were about seeing a therapist, how that might work with insurance, why you always have to leave a message when you call, and what it's like when you go for an appointment. Practical, useful advice.

A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (2018)

At my workplace we've got at least three non-binary staff members, and recently every department was given a copy of this book because people have been struggling with pronoun usage. This is a very short quick comic-style guide to what it all means, why it's important to use the pronouns people tell you to use for them, and tips for practicing using the pronouns and recovering when you make a mistake. Fun, friendly, informative guide!

Your Best Year Yet!: A Proven Method for Making the Next Twelve Months the Most Successful Ever by Jinny Ditzler (1994)

I just heard a quick mention of this book somewhere - possibly in the Facebook group for the By the Book podcast? - and since it's December and I'm thinking about goals and setting up my new planner and whatnot, I thought I'd check it out. I wasn't planning to necessarily read it all, but I ended up doing so and completing the exercises by answering questions about my past year and what I accomplished as well as disappointments, and using this to formulate goals for the new year. I don't know if the goals are different than they would have been anyhow, to be honest, but I found it useful and heartening to look over the past year at everything that happened. (It was a better year than I had thought.) Each chapter was about one of the questions and explained what it meant, why it was important to answer, and how to answer it, sometimes with other helpful exercises included. At the end is a Best Year Yet Workshop section, which confused me because it seemed to just be a shortened, more concise version of the whole thing. I wondered if I was meant to read the chapters but not answer the questions yet and then do it all at the end? Yet the chapters seemed to be telling me to do the exercises as I went along. I also found that, like most self-help books, there was a pretty heavy focus on money. It was just in the examples, so it didn't really affect my experiences, but it bugged me. As I worked through, I sometimes felt like it would have worked better had I answered previous questions differently. But I *always* have that experience in any exercise where you answer a question and then use that answer for something else. The examples are so neat and tidy! But my life and experiences aren't. Anyhow, it was still helpful.

Whew! That's a lot of advice! And generally just a lot of nonfiction to be reading basically all at the same time. But I got something of value out of each of them. I really like getting advice about things and then just taking what I need and find useful, and not worrying about the rest.

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