Star Trek Self-Help Books: A Thing?
The first time I came across a Star Trek-themed self-help book, I thought it was an interesting novelty. Perhaps something to review! Then I found a second one… then a third… and an honorable mention. So I read them all. For you, so you don’t have to do it yourself. Definitely not for my own enjoyment… Ahem.
Boldly Live as You’ve Never Lived Before: Unauthorized and Unexpected Life Lessons from Star Trek by Richard Raben (1995)
This book bills itself as a lesson on patterning yourself after heroic traits, as represented by Star Trek characters. It’s pretty generic, but if you want a pep talk with a Trek theme, here you go. It’s often simplistic, and while the four heroic types (Analysts, Leaders, Warriors, and Relaters) may line up with Trek to some extent, they don’t really match the full range of possible personalities in the real world. But I appreciated the lack of gender essentialism, and the open advocacy of taking fictional characters as mentors, not even just role models. Plus it spans the first four series, not just TOS or TNG.
Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation by Wess Roberts and Bill Ross (1995)
Two from 1995? Apparently the Nineties thought Trek was really inspiring? I have no idea. Anyway, this book is written entirely as Captain Picard’s retellings of episodes as he reminisces on his life and the leadership skills he’s learned as a starship captain. It’s an… interesting choice. Put another way: Who thought this was a good idea? They make Picard sound like someone’s grandmother in a cozy mystery, for one thing, but also, who’s going to sit and read all this just to get some leadership lessons you could find basically anywhere? The funniest part of the whole book is the authors thinking they might have readers who’ve never seen Star Trek.
Quotable Star Trek by Jill Sherwin (1999, republished 2010)
This one is the honorable mention, because it’s not really a self-help book, but ironically it’s the best book on this list. Sherwin went through the four Trek series and eight movies to collect the best quotes ever, sorting them into 32 categories (such as “The Human Condition,” “Humor,” “Technology,” and so on). I must’ve gotten my copy when the book had just been re-issued, and I actually picked it up on a regular basis to browse through and get a little inspired. I packed it in a box somewhere when I moved a couple of years ago, thinking I wouldn’t need it for a while, and I miss it ALL THE TIME, enough that I may just repurchase it if I don’t find it soon. Star Trek IS inspirational and motivational and philosophical, what better way to learn from it than in its own words?
What Would Captain Kirk Do? by Brandon T. Snider (2016)
I’m not actually super sure whether this is meant to be self-help, humor, or both. It’s nicely designed, full-page photographs with punchy typography on top, a different tip on each page. It’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, especially if you know some Trek background or you recognize the image Snider’s chosen as accompaniment to the advice. Some tips are very specific — “Have patience when a hostile Kelvan transforms your colleagues into porous cuboctahedron solids.” — and others are more general, as in “Boldly go, or don’t go at all.” Some things are more TOS tips than Kirk tips. But on the whole it’s oddly kind of inspiring? Not expensive, and a fun little book. The Picard version comes out in May!
So, it looks like Star Trek self-help books used to be kind of a thing, but not a very good one? Even so, if you know another title in this subgenre, let me know in the comments so I can read it! Um, for you…