October 07, 2007

The Deepak Chopra Effect ?

How and why do readers get attracted to titles like ' The Power of Positive Thinking', 'How to Stop Worrying and Start Living', "How to Win Friends and Influence People", "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success"...!?

Recently, I came across Robin Sharma's inspirational novel The Monk who Sold His Ferrari , and that got me thinking. Why has this genre of inspirational writing become so popular and so hard to resist in the recent years? What makes the likes of Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, and Norman Vincent Peale into icons of the reader world overnight? Given that their writing does not have the lure of fiction, what is it about their writing that draws hordes of people to buy their books?

Not wanting to replace a novel on my 'to read' list by one of the aforementioned inspirational novels, I decided to read " Top 200 Secrets of Success and the Pillars of Self Mastery" a short piece in the same genre, and written by Robin Sharma, the author of The Monk who Sold His Ferrari. I could have put all of the 26 pages of the article here, but decided otherwise, since many among the 200 'secrets' are actually truths you already know, or else wisdom that you've heard often enough to be able to say it backwards; what is even worse is that some of those 'secrets' are repeated more than once in the 26 pages.

" Soak in a warm bath at the end of a productive day..." is one of the 'secrets' in this article, which makes me wonder whether these 'secrets of success' are aimed only at those who have the luxury of a tub in their bathrooms.

"Read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey..." is yet another secret Mr. Sharma shares with us, and that makes me wonder if this is how these writers promote and ensure the sales of each others books. There are a couple of others, like James Allen and Dennis Wholey, Mr. Sharma recommends you read, to ensure your 'success' and 'self mastery'.

There are many more of these 'secrets' that I'd like to draw your attention to, if only for some comic relief, but that would be attributing importance to a piece that doesn't inspire literary respect. In fact, a serious reader would be appalled at the sheer presumptuousness of the content of this piece, and at the audacity of the writer for having penned it.

I wonder whether to read The Monk who Sold his Ferrari...

9 comments:

Raza Rumi said...

Most amusing - effusive and echoes my issues with such titles as well
cheers
Raza

Anonymous said...

Yet, it isn't only the writers who are to blame. It's also the people who are buying these books. The reader is naive and/or needy that he needs such books to tell him how to lead productive lives? The money made by the sales of these books indicate an unthinking and ethically vacuous society that is floating rudderless on the waves created by the likes of these neo-icons posing as the guardians and mentors of our moral and spiritual beings.

D said...

You know III..and I have written this somewhere before...I met Robin Sharma once...I was one of the few 'lucky' audiences to have a one-o-one with him....lol. After that small 5 min interaction all I can understand was that the guy was more insecure than me. But this doesn't erode the fact that there are many who read these books just to get reminded of the old sayings which they sometimes lose. Some have a good affect on them and some like me, just give the book to the street guy who cld make some money out of it:)

starry nights said...

I think people are searching for answers and want a quick way of finding it, I have read Deepak Chopra's books and concluded that the same things are repeated with a lot of mumbo Jumbo added for a special effect.The same goes with the book"The secret" I think you find the same secrets in all the books.

crumbs said...

I really suggest you give the book a miss...i tried some 3 years ago, could not get past beyong the first few pages.

but I think we are being a little too harsh on the people who READ these books. I feel that more than look into these books for answers, what these people want is affirmation-that they too can achieve what these "highly effective and successful" people have achived. More than anything else, I guess its taking consolation in the fact that there IS a formula to success, not a complex combination of various factors, starting from hard work, to sheer dumb luck.
That probably explains why these books sell so much

eshuneutics said...

The alchemists always struggled to tell the real gold from the false. It is much easier these day. The false is what you find amidst bestseller lists and bookseller recommendations, especially in the area of How-to-change-your-life books.

Khakra said...

Surprising he's not asking us to floss to ensure the success of our teeth

Lotus Reads said...

Id, I have wondered at the success of self-help books too. People are seduced by a nicely-packaged book with neat and orderly titles like the "12 Steps to A Debt-Free Life". These books promise that the solutions to all our problems will be found within their pages and desperate people are willing to try anything. Most of these books say the same thing, but some books are just marketed and publicized better than others. Look at the phenomenal success of Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret". I don't know if she's saying anything new...I feel pretty certain Norman Vincent Peale, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, James Redfield and so on, have been saying these things for years. Rhonda Byrne's book was also helped, in no small way, by Oprah.

Anonymous said...

Actually- I LIKE Deepak Chopra. So what's so awful about refreshing yourself with a little positive pep talk from a self help book that's well written? It is not especially 'superior' you know, to knock anything you don't particularly want to read yourself. Who are you- the reading Nazi? Lighten up. (I have 3 university degrees and I most certainly still like to read mysteries, science fiction, biographies, AND Ekhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. Read whatever the hell you want for whatever reason you want- Jeeze).