Book Review: S.H.A.M. (Expose on the world of Self-Help)

Yes, I own self-help books. I bought them because I found them intriguing and entertaining and not because I believed they will help me make better decisions in life.

I was on my way home from Hong Kong when I chanced upon this book titled, Sham (Self-Help & Actualization Movement): How the Gurus of the Self-Help Movement Makes Us Helpless by Steve Salerno.

A quick check on my library, I found that I owned the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Purpose Driven Life, 42 Laws of Power, and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love, among others. Of the three titles, I think I finished reading the 7 habits.

What this book has exposed is a booming and lucrative market for self-help books, which have been producing off-the-cuff solutions to life’s problems. They’ve created celebrities from people who have discovered 7 steps to (put any phrase here). Of course, not everyone was happy about the book’s arguments, as evidenced by reactions at Amazon. In fact, if you read Salerno’s blog, you’ll find that the SHAM industry is dissing him left and right.

It is really up to you to decide whether you’ll like this book or not. But it is just like reading Fastfood Nation. It is an eye-opener and a revelation. You’ll understand why American culture is now grappling for answers on many life’s questions, and these new-age gurus are now providing them the answers.

In the Philippines, self-help books are also getting bought and read, but I believe our culture is less likely to swallow every word they produce. We are often too busy working our butts off to pay for the next meal. As most Filipinos would says these days, “Isang kahig, isang tuka.”

Published by

Erwin Oliva

Putting a dent on the universe one day at a time