Self-help books

Alice: Hello! I’m Alice and this is 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by
Abdu. Hi Abdu.
Abdu: Hi Alice.
Alice: Today we’re talking about self-improvement – and in particular selfhelp
Books. Do you think you can improve yourself by reading a book Abdu?
Abdu: I can try! There are hundreds of these books for sale – and some of
Them are very popular. They’ve sold millions around the world. The
Titles are often very impressive and inspirational!
Alice: Before we look at the language of self-help and self-improvement,
I’ve got a question. Which of these are real titles of self-help books?
1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
2. 5 simple steps to emotional healing
3. How to lose friends and alienate people
Abdu: They all sound interesting – but I’m guessing number 3 isn’t real.
‘How to lose friends and alienate people’.
Alice: We’ll

find out at the end of the programme. Now let’s hear from bestselling
Author Michael Heppell who writes self-help books. His most
Recent title is ‘Flip It: How to get the Best out of Everything!’
6 Minute English © bbclearningenglish. com 2010
Page 2 of 5
He tells us about the kind of people who buy his books:
Extract 1:
I think there are three types of people who would read a book like “Flip It” – people
Who are having real challenges in their lives, maybe they’re at a low-point and they
Really do need some quick help. Then you’ve got another group of people who are the
Self-help junkies, who will read lots and lots of books and they have library shelves
Bulging with them, and then there’s a group in the middle which I think are the largest
Group, which are people who are generally just getting on with their lives – they’re great
People, happy people but they just want to be that little bit better and they want some
Tools and some techniques and probably a little bit of coaching from a book that would
Help them.
Alice: Michael Heppell said there are three kinds of people who buy his
Books. The first group he describes as people with real challenges in
Their lives.
Abdu: Real challenges – difficulties, problems
Alice: He says they’re at a low-point in their lives – they are having a
Difficult time – they need help and turn to his books for advice.
Abdu: The next group he calls self-help junkies
Alice: A junkie is a slang word for an addict – usually a drug addict – but it’s
Used here to mean people who are addicted to reading self-help books.
He says people like this may read lots of self-help books for fun.
Abdu: The third group he says is the largest group. People in the middle.
6 Minute English © bbclearningenglish. com 2010
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Alice: People who are getting on with their lives – they’re happy
But they want their lives to be a bit better. He says they want some
Tools and techniques and a little bit of coaching.
Abdu: Coaching – like a sports coach training a team to work or perform
Better. You may have heard of a new profession – a life coach –
Somebody who can be hired to try and help organise and improve
The lives of others.
Alice: Some people think that self-help books aren’t always good for the
People who read them. Writer Joan Smith, for example,
Thinks they can be wildly optimistic which means they give
People unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve.
She says that some books can be like religion without the bad bits:
Extract 2
My problem with these books – and there are lots of different types of self-help books of



Self-help books