There’s no denying it — the self-help book business is booming. Recently, we read a fascinating article in New York magazine that argues that part of the reason the industry is doing well is that publishers have changed the way we think about self-help — no longer just how-tos, but memoirs, narrative nonfiction, business writing, and yes, even novels are making their way onto that once-scoffed-at shelf. Indeed, why relegate yourself to cheesy self-help books proper when you could clear that paranoia/codependency/narcissism right up with a good novel? A novel, you say? Which novel? Never fear, sufferers: after the jump, we prescribe (though take our comments with a grain of salt, we’re nerds, not doctors) a few books to cure whatever ails you. Have some prescriptions of your own? Be a good Samaritan and leave them in the comments.
Oblomov, Ivan Goncharov
The title character of Goncharov’s satirical novel famously refuses to leave his bed for the first 150 pages of the novel — something that may be familiar to you if you are suffering from unrepentant laziness. Although, let’s be fair: you can’t get much lazier than Oblomov. When contemplating Hamlet’s eternal question, “To be or not to be,” Oblomov “rose from his chair, but, failing at once to insert his foot into a slipper, sat down again.” Eventually, Oblomov’s laziness starts to gnaw — he loses the girl he loves because he can’t bring himself to organize his life enough for marriage, then weds the landlady out of sheer convenience, and eventually dies of — what did he call it? — “Oblomovitis.” If that fate doesn’t get you out of bed, we don’t know what will.