Why Do Men Love Self-Help Books?
Why Have Men Begun To Dig Self-Help Books?

We stumbled upon some really interesting findings btw

Browse through the ‘Philosophy’ section at your favourite bookstore, chances are you will come across a plethora of self-help books that promise to serve as quick fixes to heal your ruptured life, or to make you smarter than the average Joe.


Truth be told, the ambit of the ‘self-help’ genre is vast, as it covers just about everything—financial literacy to scaling your business and emotional intelligence to following your bliss.


From upscale bookstores at the airport lounges to the non-descript ones at railway stations, these books are everywhere, and they sell like hotcakes. International best-sellers like James Clear’s Atomic Habits, Rhonda Bryne’s The Secret, and Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari continue to dominate the market. Closer home, a new generation of entrepreneurs with massive internet presence have also embraced this literary trope. Ankur Warikoo’s Do Epic Shit & Ashneer Grover’s Doglapan have quickly reached best-seller status. Taking a cue from the immense success of Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, self-help authors have readily adopted provocative titles to catch the attention of the readers.


“It’s a combination of creative insights of how an author wants to present their books, and publishers wanting to reach out to a wide readership who might respond to such catchy titles more readily,” says Mita Kapur, founder, and chief executive officer of Jaipur-based literary consultancy agency Siyahi.



The Rise Of Self-Helps In India: It’s A Big Business


When it comes to business, the self-help industry easily dwarfs all other genres. It is rising at a bludgeoning pace, clocking a sale figure of over $11 billion per year in the US alone. As per some estimates, almost one crore self-help books are sold annually in India, accounting for almost 20% of the market. It’s also one of the few industries that has shown great immunity against the recession. During the pandemic, when the whole world came to a screeching halt, the multi-billion dollar industry showed no signs of slowing down. These self-help gurus took their practice to digital space, selling webinars, conducting online coaching, and so on. So, what explains the immense popularity of this multi-billion dollar industry?


It’s the very nature of the fast-paced but atomised life in the neoliberal world, where people are learning and growing very fast, but also dealing with complexities that weren’t there, say, a decade ago. Thus everyone wants to get a reaffirmation of certain basic life lessons, tells Kapur. “Earlier these needs were fulfilled by the family, where you had people around you to give emotional and professional support. But with the rise in the nuclear family, the emotional sucker that was provided from within is fast disappearing. These self-help books have now occupied that space,” adds Kapur.


When delving into the self-help genre, one is confronted with an intriguing gender disparity: an overwhelming majority of these works are authored by men. A cursory glance at the Amazon Best Sellers in the self-help catalogue unveils no more than a handful of female voices in the top fifty. In his highly influential paper on gender differences in learning through self-help books, Scott Mclean notes that men are more inclined towards reading books that they think will help them gain upward mobility and reach their true potential. 



Effective, yes?


The rise of the self-help industry can be understood as a clear symptom of the hustle culture. There’s always more to strive for, which is impossible if you’re not operating at optimal efficiency. The majority of the books in self-help books promise exactly that: helping you catch the will-o’-the-wisp with their simple and persuasive language that keeps you hooked.


“There is a feel-good factor that comes with reading such books,” says Alaokika Motwane, a Mumbai-based psychotherapist with over a decade of experience in this field. “There’s a reason diet books are so popular, even though they have been dishing out the same knowledge for years. It promises to give you the path forward, whether you follow or not is a different thing.”


Motwane believes that self-help books can be detrimental if you just read them for instant gratification. The dopamine boost that you get after reading such stuff can be very addictive, but there’s no point if you don’t execute it in real life.


In the absence of any regulations, anyone can write about anything without proper qualifications and experience. Moreover, the lack of expertise also leads such authors to trivialise serious mental and behavioural issues. Such trivialisation is pretty rampant on Instagram, where pages with huge chunks of followers often churn out bullet points to cure depression and other mental illnesses. “Such issues are not as simplistic as these Instagram creators make out to be. It’s far more complex and complicated, and even for experts, it takes very long to properly understand the root of problems.”


The onus is on readers to choose wisely, says Motwane. “If you are going to take advice without checking whether the person is qualified and has certain years of experience, it could be of some harm,” she quips.  

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