Samuel Smiles, a Victorian, wrote a book called 'Self Help'. Although we can criticise this work from the standpoint of our 21st century viewpoint and knowledge, nevertheless like many self-help books it holds kernels of truth that are still relevant today.
The main point of a 'self-help' book is to give hope to the individual reading it. Perhaps the suggestions therein are a little impractical for our particular situation, maybe the cultural background of the book doesn't match our own, and possibly there are historical mind-sets that we can't really penetrate.
Nevertheless, a good self-help book will have a universal underlying theme - i.e. that we can all reach beyond our present seemingly hopeless situation. Samuel Smiles book 'Self Help' deserves to be read even today because, despite the prejudices of its period, it does have a belief in the ability of the human spirit to rise above its situation.
That isn't to say that we can't recognise that it has its limitations.