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Why do people read self-help books?

In our research, we found that 71 (53%) of our participants read their self-help book directly due to a transition that happened in their life. Of those who read as a direct result of a transition, there were four different types of transitions that we identified: Career, relationships, health or well-being, and a combination of the above types. The following chart shows the breakdown of these transitions and some examples of each type.

Type of Transition Frequency (Percentage) Illustrations of the types of transitions
Career 12 (17%) "When I was reading this book I just started a new career and was hoping that this book would give me advice and provide some useful tools I could bring to the workplace." "I was working for a year, then unfortunately myself and a few colleagues were laid off." "I had just started a new job, after many years at same company, and was feeling a bit anxious about how to make a good impression."
Relationship 16 (23%) "I had just left my husband of five years and I was seeking a way to come to peace with how that relationship ended and what I could do to keep myself from making the same mistakes." "I read the book during a time when a relationship with a friend ended on an ugly note." "I had, a year ago, a traumatic event, where I had a bad breakup."
Health or Well-being 30 (42%) "I had a major health scare these past few months." ""I am having health issues and was looking for some treatment for my symptoms in addition to the treatment my GP was giving me." "I have been struggling with peri-menopause."
Combination 13 (18%) "I am recently married and we have moved to a new community because my husband received an exciting job opportunity. I have been working in a busy academic career for the past 3 years, but following the move, I have quit my full time position and now work part time from a distance." "I decided to read it because I was feeling a lot of stress and worry about planning my wedding and about having to move unexpectedly." "I wanted to change my eating habits, I wanted to find the courage to break out of my job rut, and I was getting married again for the second time and just looking at different ways to not make the same mistakes."
Total 71 (100%)  

In contrast, 63 participants (47%) read for other reasons. The table below highlights some of the key other reasons for why people in our study read their self-help books:

Why read Frequency (Percentage) Illustrations of other reasons for reading
Recommendation by family/friend/other 27 (43%) "When my sister explained the plot to me and how much she enjoyed it, I wanted to read it."
"It was recommended by a good friend who is also on a personal growth journey."
Requested/recommended to read for work 4 (6%) "While I was working for a company with low morale we were requested to read it."
"I didn't really expect anything, just that it was the recommended reading material for my work."
Came across by chance/browsing 14 (22%) "On the internet I was researching for books and based on the reviews I decided to go for this one."
"I saw it at the bookstore when looking for books on relaxation/meditation."
Fame of author/book 7 (11%) "Just knew about it as it is very well-known."
"The reason why I decided to read it was because it has a catchy sounding title, also I have heard people mention the title before."
Heard about it in a workshop/seminar 4 (6%) "A vision board workshop at a local holistic clinic. The facilitator of the workshop was about to run a course on the artists way."
"I heard about this book at a Gottman workshop for couples."
Read/heard previous work by the author 7 (11%) "I watch Joel Osteen's sermons live online every week and I have read his other books as well.  I really enjoy both his sermons and his books, so when I heard a new one was coming out, I set a reminder to go and buy it on its release date."
"I have read lots of John Gray's books.  I do believe in the authority of the author in this topic."
Total 63 (99%)