by Angela Kubinec

Dear Editor,

Regardless of one’s culture, religion, tradition, belief or custom, many of us exist with a slightly empty feeling. Physicians have tried to fill this emptiness for us with anti-depressants and other medications. But look in any bookstore. You will see the evidence of what I call “widespread anti-depressant failure.” The shelves resemble a stone wall full of books that target self-improvement and enlightenment, such as:

Breathing Your Way to Bliss Without Hyperventilating

One Foot in Front of the Other: Walking Affirmations (with a complimentary treadmill bookstand, also available as an MP3)

Angel Kisses and More Unusual Things They Do

The Bible: Another Even More Even Newer Look for Today’s World and Tomorrow’s

Confronting Idiocy (no mirror required)

A New Kind of Rush Hour Expletive: Exploring the Strength and Creativity of Swearing

The Quiet Scream; a journal of prompts for the persistently ignored

The selections are exhaustive, and without assistance readers can easily buy a title that does not fully meet their needs. Book jacket descriptions for these works are too frequently obtuse. For example, here is a typically helpful sounding but confusing excerpt from the jacket of The Labyrinth of Hope:

“They say “hope springs eternal,” but the phrase will gain a new importance after reading this book. You will find a way to bring your life’s bucket and prime your internal pump of hope. [The author] shows us that the water of hope is not only something you drink into your spirit. It is something that lives inside you that you must always seek in this puzzling world, and it must be tapped daily. Let [the author] show you how to walk with a refreshed spirit always, even when caught in the hedges of despair.”

How do readers determine if the contents of a specific book will meet their needs? Not by book jacket description (as illustrated above), nor by scratching their heads in confusion. That is why I have written The Self-Help Seeker’s Guide for the Self-Help Seeker: a manual for analyzing book jacket jargon. It is a small volume, and I envision it marketed somewhat like a Spark’s or Cliff’s Notes publication, displayed on the shelf one first sees when entering the self-help and New Age book display aisle.

At first, this was a difficult book to compile, considering the many book jackets I had to read with their clichés and overly extended metaphors. Eventually, I noticed the commonality I that I suspected, and my work flowed more smoothly because of it. I think it is the ultimate self-help book of our time.

The Guide is not intended to discourage book sales. I urge you to reference any self-help or New Age volume on your personal shelf. You will find that if you had used my Guide, you would probably have picked an additional title to better address your needs. That is why you (along with everyone else) still feel so lousy. Attempts at self-help are never complete, but they can be more focused.

Yours, Helpfully,
Neo Puscaglia


Angela Kubinec is a native of South Carolina who holds a Physics degree from the College of Charleston, and taught Mathematics for eighteen years. Her work has appeared in Carve Magazine and elsewhere.