38 Beth Blum on Self-Help from Carnegie to Today (JP)

Beth Blum, Assistant Professor of English at Harvard, is the author of The Self-Help Compulsion (Columbia University Press 2019). Learn how self-help went from its Victorian roots (worship greatness!) to the ingratiating unctuous style prescribed by the other-directed Dale Carnegie (everyone loves the sound of their own name) before arriving at the “neo-stoical” self-help gurus of today, who preach male and female versions of “stop apologizing!” You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll either help yourself or learn how to stop caring.

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing (2019)

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k (2016)

Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…. (1997)

Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life (2012)

New Thought (philosophy? religious movement?)

Orison Swett Marden, How to Succeed (1896)

David Riesman et al. The Lonely Crowd (1950)

Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1945)

Helen Gurley Brown, Having It All (1982)

Micki McGee, Self-Help Inc. (2007; concept of”self-belabourment”)

Sarah Knight, The Life-Changing Magic Art of Not Giving a Fuck (2015)

Recallable books

Epictetus, Handbook (125 C.E.)

Sheil Heti, How Should a Person Be (2012)

Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)

Joseph Conrad Nostromo (1904)

Listen and Read Here:

Upcoming episodes: Books in Dark Times conversations with Carlo Rotella and Lorraine Daston. Hayal Akarsu speaks with us for the Turkey-focused second episode of Global Policing.

Author: plotznik

I teach English (mainly the novel and Victorian literature) at Brandeis University, and live in Brookline.

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