Most self-help books make exhausting demands of their readers. The endless list-making and inventorying. The frequent deployment of the encomium “Yay, you!” The tacit assertion that “journey” has not been overexposed as a result of the “Don’t Stop Believin’” glut. It’s easy to conclude, why can’t someone just write a self-improvement book called “Canceling Lunch” and be done with it?
Cynics, take heart. A new literary genre, which might be called anti-self-help or anti-improvement, is upon us.
Granted, reading a book that coaches you on how to reject self-help is like downing a shot of Patrón to get the nerve to stop drinking. But it appears to be working. Both “A Counterintuitive Guide to Living a Good Life,” by Mark Manson, and Sarah Knight’s “How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” were best sellers. (Those are the subtitles. The titles use a pointedly vulgar phrase synonymous with “not caring one bit.”)
Now comes one of the better-written entries in the genre, “Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze,” which made its author, Svend Brinkmann, a psychology professor in Denmark, a media star there.
More here – The New York Times