Sweethearts, I've been in this industry for a long time and nothing makes me blush. When it comes to embarrassing book-related questions — Where do you keep the guides on do-it-yourself colonics? Do you sell Meatloaf's discography? I'm looking for Pokémon books... for my kid? — I've heard them all and lived to see another day. (And so have my erstwhile interlocutors.) Here are my favorite recent inquiries.
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Dear Aunt Paige,
Should I be offended that my friends keep giving me self-help books?
Yes. Either they're bad friends or you're just a total hot mess.
Kidding, sweetness, kidding. Obviously it should be taken on a case-by-case basis (if your friend keeps leaving copies of How to Not Die Alone
on your front porch, you might review what you know of their character before assuming they have your best interests at heart), but generally if someone gives you a book of advice, they're trying to be helpful.
In fact, I'd venture to say that even when they don't have your best interests at heart, they might be helpful, if you open yourself up to the message.
See, here's the thing. As a species, we love to offer each other advice, but we rarely take it. We think we're the open-minded ones and it's just our friends, family, or the other political party who are obstinate and short-sighted, but most of us are just as bad as everyone else at looking at ourselves with unbiased eyes. Do some of us need to learn How to Be an Adult in Relationships
? Yes. Would others of us benefit from a book on how to Unf*ck Your Brain
(excuse me!)? Yes. I don't know if it's simply our instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but land sakes, people, we have got to learn to be receptive and stop stagnating like moss-covered boulders in the river of life!
Sorry for the rant, petunia. But our capacity for avoiding the truths that could help us be better for ourselves and others is one of the biggest problems we're facing right now.
We're all flawed. We could all use a good self-help book once in a while. In my experience, the people who are most successful in life are those who are given the gift of good advice — and who are open enough to receive it.