“A surprisingly enjoyable read” – This Book Could Fix Your Life by Helen Thornton

IMG_20Dec2021at002612With the new year, the second year into a pandemic, and a culture of betterment, it is perhaps the perfect time for a new self-help book. Self-help books have boomed in popularity over recent years with experts, gurus, and instagrammers promising to change your life and make you the best you that you can be. The title suggests that This Book Could Fix Your Life fits into this mould, however the introduction quickly dispels that. Helen Thornton is a neuro linguist who works for New Scientist magazine. As a result, she has seen the best scientific research that can be classed as self-help, which she distils into this easy to read volume. With these credentials Thornton stands out from the off as someone offering something more scientific and down to earth.

One benefit of a book like this is being able to turn to the chapters that attract your interest. As our lives have changed over the past year and been made to fit behind a screen, it made sense to turn to the chapters on how to make friends and find true love; eternal wants that we have only approached online over the past few years. The science behind friendships and the benefits that human connections bring to our lives is intriguing, and provides a solid base for further reading on the subject. Thornton also looks into how to maintain friendships and relationships which is usually the hardest part of connecting with someone. Although Thornton does spend time discussing apps, social media and online networking, most of her top tips for making friends require in person interaction and depend upon a person already being able to make initial connections. It is challenging to turn the science into actionable top tips that the reader can take away and put into practice. Although worth including the top tips that closes each chapter, this is probably the books weak spot.

I was instantly drawn to the sections on how to stop procrastinating and how to improve concentration (and I am sure my editor would love to see this book turn me into someone who hands in work before he even has to ask for it). There is some useful information here on understanding why we procrastinate; the fear of failure, not being able to envision success. Understanding the science here can set off little lightbulbs that shine a light on our behaviour. As Thornton demonstrates throughout, it is only by understanding why we do the things that we do, that we can work to change them. Considering that while writing this paragraph I put on a new youtube video, looked at my email, and was about to scan the headlines before I checked myself and realised what I was doing, I can’t say that This Book Could Fix Your Life has fixed my procrastination problem. However, by becoming aware of what I am doing maybe I will start to see changes.

There is no doubt that Thornton has the insider knowledge and expertise to be the one to write a general, accessible, one stop shop self-help book. Should a self-help book give you the insights needed for further self evaluation, or should it give you everything that you might need? Your answer to this question will be a big decider in whether to go ahead and buy this book. Thornton is an accomplished writer and it is easy to dip in and out, picking the sections that are most relevant at that time. Although originally not intended to be released in the midst of a global pandemic that has forced many to restructure their lives, this is perhaps a positive, as Thornton’s knowledge and down to earth writing style are needed more than ever. For those working from home, struggling to compartmentalise and find ways to look after oneself and practise self-care, This Book Could Fix Your Life could be perfectly timed.

In the introduction Thornton writes: “I try to practise what I preach. The first change I consciously made to improve my life was to practise mindfulness regularly. It cropped up so many times that it was hard to ignore”. Despite her initial scepticism at something that had become a trend and a fashion, the science showed that it could be beneficial so she decided to give it a go. This attitude marks This Book Could Fix Your Life as different to other books in the genre and reading this was the first time that I have ever honestly considered trying mindfulness, despite it being touted as a cure for all life’s ills for several years now.

Any Cop?: This Book Could Fix Your Life is a timely reminder that we need to understand ourselves and our actions in order to make lasting changes – should we even decide to try to change. Although it will not help you to remake every part of your life, or go in depth on deep seated issues – which it doesn’t claim to – it is a surprisingly enjoyable read that makes the science behind our daily lives easy to understand and process. This is where This Book Could Fix Your Life comes into its own and even if you do not want to make changes or refresh your life, This Book Could Fix Your Life is still a satisfying and much recommended read.

Laura Marriott

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