Sandra K. Dolby Ph.D.
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504 N Fess, Rm. 201



Self-Help Books
Why Americans Keep Reading Them

A timely analysis aimed at understanding instead of lamenting the popularity of self-help books

When I Wanted Warm
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Sandra K. Dolby

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              This album combines eight original songs with some classic folk and popular songs. It was originally created as a memorial gift in honor of her mother. The selection titled The First One is a song written about her mother and provides one incentive behind the album. Other songs, such as the title song, When I Wanted Warm, The Last Time, or Since I've Dreamed, reflect on life experiences, both good and bad.  

Sandra K. Dolby examines this remarkably popular genre to define "self-help" in a way that's compelling to academics and lay readers alike. Self-Help Books also offers an interpretation of why these books are so popular, arguing that they continue the well-established American penchant for self-education, they articulate problems of daily life and their supposed solutions, and that they present their content in a form and style that is accessible rather than arcane.

Using tools associated with folklore studies, Dolby then examines how the genre makes use of stories, aphorisms, and a worldview that is at once traditional and contemporary. The overarching premise of the study is that self-help books, much like fairy tales, take traditional materials, especially stories and ideas, and recast them into extended essays that people happily read, think about, try to apply, and then set aside when a new embodiment of the genre comes along.


1. When I Wanted Warm

2. Bring Me No Roses

3. No More Giving to the Wind

4. Daughter

5. The Last Time

6. Out of the Depths

7. The Rose

8. Take My Hand, Precious Lord


9. The First One

10. Motherless

11. What'll I Do?

12. Since I've Dreamed