IT'S that time of year again when we all believe we can be better people -- we just have to find the right book.
Four times as many self-help titles are sold in the first week of January compared to any other week in the year, a survey by Eason showed.
And book retailers elsewhere confirmed that their customers were heading straight for the motivational titles in a bid to shift those few pounds, give up the cigarettes or even turn their life around.
Maria Dickenson, head of purchasing at Eason, said: "Given the current economic climate, I'd imagine that lots of people will be looking at ways to help themselves -- be it emotionally, financially or spiritually."
Ms Dickenson said that every year a new range of titles offered fresh guidance, while other classic titles sold well from one year to the next.
Rob Brown, assistant manager at Chapters, Parnell Street, Dublin, said books on dieting and quitting smoking were always popular in January but this year, he had also noticed strong sales in books on saving and improving personal finances. And while women are usually more avid book buyers than men, when it comes to the January self-help binge, the split is 50:50.
Most of the demand is for introductory titles, such as 'how to get fit' books, while there is an annual spike in sales of Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking' every January, Mr Brown said.
Anne Hadnett of O'Mahony's bookshop in Limerick said the store had experienced a near doubling of interest in self-help titles over the past year and a half. Among the bestsellers in this range were 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle and Rhonda Byrne's 'The Secret'.
"That had phenomenally big sales," Ms Hadnett said, adding that sales of such books were noticeably increased after an appearance by the author on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'.
Another book about improving how you live your life, 'Eat Pray Love', received a boost after the screening of the movie with Julia Roberts, Ms Hadnett said.
For Eason, self-help titles that have been selling well throughout 2010 included 'The Power' by Rhonda Byrne, 'What Women Know' by Michelle Jackson and Juliet Breslin, and spiritual autobiographies such as 'Soul Song' by The Priests, and 'Stairways to Heaven' by Lorna Byrne.
Tough love is also a theme -- thanks to all the boot camps and military training courses around the country -- titles such as 'The Para Fitness Guide', a no-nonsense get-fit guide, and the book to accompany the UK version of the US show, 'The Biggest Loser', are expected to sell well.
In addition, personal finance titles such as 'Money Doctor Annual' are always very popular and will probably be at the forefront of everyone's minds in 2011. From tomorrow until February 13, Eason will be offering 20pc off a range of more than 90 self-help titles.