Too much Chicken Soup?

Chicken Soup for the American Idol SoulChicken Soup for the American Idol Soul
Canfield, Hansen, and Poneman

According to the Chicken Soup website, the first Chicken Soup book was published in 1993. I started library work in late 1998. These books were popular at my library. They were life lessons in easy little stories. They were also popular with a wide spectrum of people. Fair enough. This was collection no-brainer purchase.

But more kept coming. I actually remember unpacking this particular Chicken Soup book and thinking,”well I guess they are starting to run out of souls…” I was starting to think up other types of ultra specific chicken soup books:

  • Chicken soup for the evil dictator’s soul
  • Chicken soup for the serial killer’s soul
  • Chicken soup for drivers that leave the turn signal on all the time soul
  • Chicken soup for librarians that can’t get the copy machine un-jammed soul
  • Chicken soup for the guys who like to look at porn at the library’s soul

You get the picture. Seriously, I couldn’t believe the variety of “souls” that needed chicken soup. What started out as a nice little book with inspirational stories from some inspirational speakers, morphed into a giant behemoth of over 250 books and a website. I started keeping an eye out around 2010 of how these books were circulating, and they really did start fading in popularity in my library. I finally weeded the last of the remaining in 2014, but whenever I see these books I keep thinking they will rise up and collectively steal my soul, along with all the James Patterson and Nora Roberts books.

Not making any more Chicken Soup,



Chicken Soup back cover

Youngest Idol Fan


  1. My library, for preK-8th grade, has a PILE of these that are never checked out. 😛

    As for future titles, how about Chicken Soup for the Nosepicker-in-Traffic Soul?

  2. Why stop there? The next logical step is to market each book to an actual individual: Chicken Soup For Aaron A. Aaronson’s (Falmouth, NH) Soul; Chicken Soup For Aaron A. Aaronson’s (Stone Arabia, NY) Soul; Chicken Soup For Aaron B. Aaronson’s (Brainerd, MN) Soul…

  3. I worked at a bookstore during the Chicken Soup phenomenon. At one point, it took up several bookcases in the Self-Help Section. During my time there, the odd one that stood out to us was “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul”. Which technically isn’t that odd, but seems to be such a limited market. We sold a few to people sending care packages to convicts (in Louisiana at least, you could only send books to prisoners if they were A) shipped directly from a bookstore, and B) weren’t hardcovers, so these fit the bill), but that hardly seems worth the investment for a publisher.

    As I look over a Wikipedia page, though, I see things got much more esoteric after I left. Chicken Soup for the Ocean Lover’s Soul? The Indian Teenage Soul? The Woman Golfer’s Soul? Those are all actual titles.

    1. The late Olivia Goldsmith wrote a novel called “Pen Pals” about inmates in a women’s prison (one character is obviously based on the late Jean Harris, of the Scarsdale diet doctor murder case) who hatch a plan to buy the prison and implement institutional reforms. In an afterword, Goldsmith says she wanted to send copies to women’s prison libraries but could only send paperbacks because it would be too easy to use hardcovers to smuggle contraband

      1. That, and more than one customer told me that it could also be considered a weapon. I guess I can see the reasoning, but if that were the case, I’d imagine there are countless everyday items around a prison that could also be wielded as such. I think i’d feel safer around a convict with a book that one with a toothbrush, fork, cup, etc.

      2. Gee, the only time I ever smuggled contraband I used a hollowed-out paperback :-).

  4. The timeless art of finding a good concept and then wringing every last drop of life out of it.

    1. It’s called ‘Cash Cow’ Syndrome, J. One of my favourite old tv shows – Star Trek – suffers from the same phenomenon. 🙁

  5. Honestly, I’d say keep the original, maybe 2nd Helping, and one or two of the ones For The Teenage Soul and For The Kids’ Soul, if they’re still there, because growing up presents a different set of challenges than what adults face. Weed all the rest. No matter how many different categories one falls under, one can only handle so much chicken soup, and I’d guess that’s why the series isn’t in demand anymore.

    They had a great idea, but as J points out, they overdid it by a mile. If they’d kept it down to a dozen or so books, they could update once a decade and keep milking that cash cow for AGES, but they had to go the “quickly, let’s saturate the market and max out our short-term profits!” route.

  6. On the chicken for the soul website, the american idol book is not listed in their 250+ collection.

  7. That kid that’s so good at picking the season winners – maybe they should take him to the horse races?
    They could sing the names of the horses to him and see which ones he likes…

  8. Ooo, this gets addictive!
    … for the Black Lives Matter Soul
    … for the Pokemon Go Player Soul
    … for the Gender-Nonconforming Soul
    … for the People Who Live in Tiny Houses Soul (available on e-reader only, to save space)

    1. Just to make clear, I made all those titles up (same with the American Ninja Warrior one), but judging from the ACTUAL titles Chris Wuchte mentions, if the Chicken Soup people are still in biz, anybody wanna bet against those titles coming soon to a bookshop near you ?

  9. Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul
    Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul
    Chicken Soup for the Chiropractic Soul

    Once again, those are all actual titles, and I’m just looking at the “C’s” on the Wikipedia page.

  10. TBH this book isn’t *that* bad, in that whole slightly-cheesy-but-sweet-inspirational stories way…but I do doubt the average library does need to carry it. (maybe hold a few to sell on eBay now that the show’s over?)

  11. When I first saw this book in the donation pile, I laughed out loud and declared it the most vacant book ever written. It narrowly edges out Chicken Soup for the Scrapbooker’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Shopper’s Soul. The series now just repeats itself with multiple versions of Dog Lover’s, Mothers, Veteran’s, Teens, etc. We NEVER buy these; they are always being donated.

  12. I find it interesting that the cover says they have stories from every season, yet they don’t list Kelly Clarkson, the original winner, on the cover. She is definitely one of the most successful Idol winners. It makes me wonder how “important” some of the story contributors were to their respective seasons. Not being a fan of the show, I don’t even recognize some of the names on the cover. Can any fans weigh in on what they think?

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