Are We Done with Sweary Self-Help Books Yet?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely noticed the trend of sweary self-help books for the last few years, and I think it’s finally run its course. Hear me the fuck out.

I love self-help books and swearing as much as the next gal. Maybe even more! But, damn, I’ve come to a point where the shock value of a sweary book title makes me keep moving down the shelves to find something that isn’t so aggressive.

I like my self-help books to be a little gentle. I want them to soothe me when I’m anxious and feeling like a waste of space. I don’t want them screaming profanities at me because it’s the hip thing to do.

I’ve tried to trace the history, or growth, of this whole sweary book thing.

There was Bitch by Elizabeth Wurtzel in 1998. There was Skinny Bitch by by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin in 2005. And then Go the F*ck to Sleep by by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés (Illustrator) in 2011, which seems to have opened the floodgates of sweary self-help books.

Now so many self-help books have swears in the title.

F*ck Feelings. Zero F*cks Given. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck. F*cked. F*ck! I’m in My Twenties. F*ck Love. Get Your Sh*t Together. You Are a Badass. Unf*ck Your HabitatGood Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ckMoney Honey: A Simple 7-Step Guide for Getting Your Financial $hit TogetherThug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass LifeHow to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t. Unf*ck Yourself. Badass Self-Discipline. Unf*ckology. And so many more that keep coming out, I just can’t keep up with them.

Researchers at San Diego State University found that books have gotten more profane in the last 60 years, The Guardian reported in August. They searched for George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television, aka the best method of research I’ve ever heard. But profanity inside the pages is one thing. The profanity on the outside is bonkers.

Why? Are we afraid of reading sincere-sounding self-help books? Do we need them to look funny and cool on the outside so people don’t think we’re taking ourselves, and our desire for self-improvement, too seriously?

Maybe I’m just an asshole who is shitting all over the sweary self-help books party. But I am just over it. This is a tired trope. Many bookstores have a table of sweary book titles. It’s fun! But also, yikes. Last week I was browsing at a bookstore and was bombarded with at least 10 more sweary titles than I’d seen before. That’s…a lot of swearing. And a lot to have come out in a few months.

Let’s go back to our gentle self-help, okay?

What are your thoughts on the sweary self-help books trend? Are you into it or completely over it? Let us know in the comments!

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Ashley Holstrom: Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Blog: Crooked Prose. Twitter: @alholstrom.