Sunday, March 24, 2019

Why I fear reading self-help books by Nada Adel Sobhi

For a long while, I've wanted to read self-help and development books, particularly those on the writing craft. BUT I had a problem. And because of it, I kept postponing reading those books.

Eventually, I picked up one and then the other. Two years later, and not as many books as I would have liked done, I still have that fear.

So what is it?

Well… it's not just one problem. They're several and all linked together.

Self-help books contain lots of information and that freaks me out.

For starters, my memory isn't as good as I would have liked it to be. It's a little better than Dory's in Finding Nemo, but close enough, especially when it comes to things I 'really' need to remember. Even back in school, I couldn't get high grades in certain subjects because I couldn't memorise stuff.

Even if my memory were good – I won't say impeccable - it's hard to remember everything you read.

When you read fiction, you don't have to remember "everything." You can read 300 or 500 pages and come out with a plot, characters, a few events, and some ideas. Even if you forget that you read a novel, nothing happens, since you're often reading for your own leisure or for fun. But when you read a self-help book, for me, the situation is different.

I want to read this or that book so I can apply the content to my daily life or to my writing, or both.

The multitude of information simply scares me. How on earth would I remember all of this? And how would I begin to apply it if I can't remember it?


As I started reading, I realised that unless I had a photographic memory, I would never be able to remember everything and most likely a lot of people won't either.

So, I've resigned myself to the fact that there is no way what I read would stick, whether I read the book once or several times even.

Instead, I'll:

-        highlight the bits I think are important (and use different colours)
-    write notes whenever and where I need. These should help me remember what I was thinking when I read that particular comment or idea.
-   add bookmarks in places where I've written down notes or highlighted something important so I'd know where to go when I need something specific.

-       "maybe" write a summary and/or book review that can help as well. 

Another important thing I learnt is that with books on the writing craft, don't try to read more than a few pages in one sitting. You'll end up with a headache and whatever little might stick in your mind, won't.

I love to constantly develop myself but let's face it, being surrounded by a tonne of knowledge can be scary. So, baby steps and trying to avoid perfection are key. Something I'm trying to remind myself, while also making progress.

If this isn't enough, I'll be starting a new project - well actually job - that heavily relies on self-help books! Talk about facing one's fears, right? 

Below are some self-help writing-related books I've read

Currently reading and to-read

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner  
How to Write Your Book in a Flash by Dan Janal
The Emotion Thesaurus: Second Edition by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi


  1. A great piece of writing, Nada. Keep going :).

  2. Reading your work after a long time but amazing as always. Nadaness in motion forever and ever. God bless you.