Forget Hilary Mantel… I'm hooked on self-help book

From red carpet to real life…SUSANNA REID: Forget Hilary Mantel… I’m hooked on self-help book

  • Susanna Reid has almost 50 self-help books, in addition to those on her Kindle
  • She plans to add Mrs Hinch’s The Little Book Of Lists to her collection 
  • British presenter says her addiction to self-help guides started in the Seventies

The bookcase in my living room appears to reflect a well-read woman with a broad taste in classic and modern literature.

The shelves advertise the intelligence of their owner, with Dickens, Orwell and Austen proudly sitting alongside Booker Prize winners.

But I have a confession: the books sit under a layer of undisturbed dust, their spines largely unbroken.

The reason? In another, less public room sits my secret bookcase, and it isn’t literary at all. It is packed, wall to wall, with self-help books.

The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle is there with Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up.

Susann Reid (pictured) who has almost 50 self-help books, revealed how the tomes have benefited her career

Love, Care, Trust & Respect demands my attention next to last year’s must-read Indistractable, which provides tips for getting off your mobile phone.

I must have almost 50 of these life manuals, with a few more on my Kindle e-reader. Inside each well-loved tome, pages are folded over so I can find my way back to key sections, and I’m not afraid to scribble notes in the margins.

For any problem that crops up, I have a book that provides the solution. Except that, instead of fixing my problems, these have created another one — I’m addicted to self-help books.

Intellectual snobs like to sneer at them, but I don’t care. They provide truths I find soothing, and techniques that have been genuinely helpful in both my career and my personal life.

I’ve had only one proper failure, and that’s Marie Kondo. I read her decluttering book cover to cover, but it hasn’t transformed my messy house — I gave up when I couldn’t get my head round her T-shirt folding method.

Yet I’ll still grab a copy of the next instalment of life-affirming domestic self-help — housekeeping guru Mrs Hinch’s The Little Book Of Lists. She uses cleaning to control her anxiety (and make her home picture-perfect) and I can’t wait to wallow in her advice.

Is it any wonder her book has racked up double the pre-orders of The Mirror & The Light, the long-awaited final novel in Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy? I’ll buy both for my shelves, but there’s no prizes for guessing which is more likely to gather dust.

Susanna claims her interest in self-help began in the Seventies, as she recalls her mother reading Passages by Gail Sheehy. Pictured: Susanna’s secret shelf

Last year, sales of the self-help genre rose 20 per cent, probably because we are all looking for reassurance in turbulent times.

My interest in self-help began when I was a child in the Seventies. My mum had a book she would consult regularly: Passages by Gail Sheehy, which deals with the challenging stages of growing up. Susan Jeffers’s Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway stood me in great stead when I applied to be the first female editor of the student newspaper at university — something I may not have had the guts to do without it.

Dr Steve Peters’s The Chimp Paradox helped me through tough times on Strictly. There was a tricky week where I messed up a dance and Dr Steve’s advice of not listening to my own self-criticism kept me on track.

Five years ago, reading Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes made me think twice about saying no too quickly, and resulted in me taking on extra work and even going to more parties, while Ten To Zen by Owen O’Kane taught me how to control my reactions when I’m on live television.

I really do love them all. Needless to say, I don’t agree with new research that suggests I’m looking at the wrong bookcase.

Professor Philip Davis says that — gasp — self-help books are not effective. His findings suggest the challenging language of writers such as Dickens sends rocket boosters to the brain, which improves our mental health.

Susanna (pictured) admits she’s amazed by the complexity of the language used in Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

‘Great’ literature shifts our thinking into a higher gear, relieving depression, chronic pain and even dementia. Hmm.

I did recently read a ‘great’ novel because my son is studying it for his GCSE exams: Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde.

I was amazed by how much I enjoyed cracking the complexity of the language.

To be honest, I felt a bit sorry for the teenagers who have to wade through it, accustomed as they are to the short captions of Snapchat and Instagram.

After an hour of reading, I genuinely felt I had nourished parts of my brain that hadn’t been activated for a while.

But I’ll still turn to my secret shelf for reassurance when things go wrong — the knowledge in there has helped millions of people to control their stress, find love, boost their self-confidence, give up smoking, get a promotion and get off their phones.

You won’t convince me Robert Louis Stevenson can do all that.

Forget Venice, I’ll stick with Streatham, Emma

Emma Thompson (pictured) and her husband Greg Wise, have become citizens of Venice

Emma Thompson and her husband, Greg Wise, have become citizens of Venice. I’m not sure whether it’s just laziness, or fear of one of life’s most stressful events — moving house — but you won’t budge me from South London.

Born in Croydon, I’ve always stuck to my roots (apart from a brief foray into the exotic north of Crouch End).

I’ve lived in my house for 20 years and, while I love to travel, I don’t dream of moving abroad. Give me home comforts and shops, schools and friends’ welcoming kitchens within walking distance any day. Venice is gorgeous, but you couldn’t drag me much further than Streatham.

Name my favourite child? I can’t even tell my three boys apart!

Can you believe one in ten parents admits to having a favourite child? Are they mad?

Imagine if the survey had been done the other way round and you discovered your children had a favourite parent and it wasn’t you.

More than half of those surveyed picked the youngest, a quarter the eldest, and the poor middle child was only the favourite with 18 per cent of the parents.

The number of mums and dads who have a favourite could be even higher, because many are too embarrassed to confess to it. There’s also the astonishing fact that daughters are more likely to be picked as favourites than sons — that is never going to be a issue with me as I only have boys.

My problem at home is quite different: I struggle to say the right names for each of my boys and regularly use each interchangeably, much to their annoyance.

I once asked a memory expert why that is, and he told me it’s because I love them all equally, so there’s nothing in my instant recall to tell them apart.

Excellent scientific evidence to let me off the hook — and prove there are no favourites in my house.

Susanna revealed that a bright spark at GMB made a DIY vodka sanitiser (pictured), after discovering the recipe on Twitter

My recipe for sanitiser 

When a GP recently told me that hand sanitiser is effective against the new coronavirus, COVID-19, only if it is at least 60 per cent alcohol, I joked that I might as well wash my hands with vodka.

Well, a Twitter user then sent me a recipe for DIY vodka sanitiser that a bright spark at GMB made up overnight as ‘Susanitiser’.

It requires 2 tbsp vodka (60 per cent to 70 per cent ABV), 3 tbsp aloe vera gel and 15 drops of essential oils.

I have no idea if it works, but it smells lovely and, in my teetotal days, uses up unwanted booze.

Source: Read Full Article