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27 May 2008

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My reaction to this whole post is basically: "Amen!" To all of it---I'm cool with his taking whatever approach he wants, but yeah, pretty much all that has been said before, and sometimes it's only complaining (or outrage, or whatever you want to call it) that can make people get up off their butts and make things right. Sounds like the beginning part is pretty neat, though!

I've updated my nonanon link to citizen reader. Looking forward to more of your posts as always!

Bummer. I can know that one off the reading list!

Knock, not know. Still on holiday.

Heather!
I got an amen from the choir! All right! The beginning part was kind of interesting, so yeah, maybe it's still worth a look. Whatever works.

Thanks for the link--I've got to add Errant Dreams back in too.

Susan:
Yeah, it wasn't for me. Maybe just not right now. Next time you're in a bookstore or a library leaf through it--you'll be able to see if it's for you or not pretty quickly. No prob on the knocking, not knowing. Let's hear it for being on holiday.

I saw the PowerPoint presentation on YouTube and it works well as a presentation because he is an entertaining speaker, but I can see where it would fall dramatically short, like all the other self help books do. By trying to reduce the mammoth problem of How to Live to a few simple maxims they have to ignore the huge range of human behavior and culture.

I did not like any part of this book, the beginning, the middle, or the end. I felt like the title should have been "Look at me and how great I am, and other stories about how great I am".

this sounds suspiciously like Tuesdays with Morrie or the other Mitch Albom drivel. Life is way too complicated to be broken down into one sentence axioms that change your whole world. I will be recommending this to those that need something for a graduation gift...send 'em into the world pumped with positivity so they can take life's cynical beating. Am I bitter? No, just realistic.

Hi,

Worst Book Ever? I'd have to read it to know for sure, but since I too have limited time, I am willing to make snap judgements. I like citizen readers bad person disclaimer, every conversation in this day and age seems to require a disclaimer to be PC. But not this time, not for me. Neither I, nor the author have time, this time.

So you're struggling with death? Yup, most do. Once in awhile, old people are ready to go because all of their friends and family have died, but most everyone else feels the pain.

When the author is gone, his family will be sad and then someone else will achieve tenure. It's called survivorship bias, and it is so perfectly applied here, you know, considering the surviving requirement.

I heard about the part where he doesn't argue about the double credit card charge. Yup, most things we do in life, we do predicated on the fact we plan to be here tomorrow. If you don't plan on being here tomorrow, that kind of changes rational action into "shit I am almost dead, keep the 16 bucks". It really isn't that profound. Plus when he is dead, the credit card company will settle for half anyways, thus rendering his anecdote "not that good".

Tripp,
Hmm, the YouTube video. I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps because I use YouTube exclusively for fan videos of BBC stars and British sitcoms I can't get here? I do always like to see good speakers so I might have to look into that, although I might not listen very long.

M,
Hey, how do you really feel? Don't hold back, now. :) In all fairness, "Look at How Great I Am" may not have sold as well.

Katharine!
You've hit it exactly. Very Mitch Albomesque. I can't say that all this positive bullshit does much for me, but it sure does seem to be a moneymaker.

Yours in shared cynicism!

MCSt,
Yeah, it's close enough to call: worst book ever. The credit card anecdote was stupid. Mainly I was annoyed because the Computer Science prof can't figure out that running his credit card through the machine again (just in search of a receipt) is going to charge him a second time? I coulda told you that and I am neither a prof nor made profound because I am dying.

He ran his credit card through twice? Stop it. You're killing me.

MCSt,
Yes he did. (He didn't get a receipt the first time.) I knew you'd enjoy that.
Am I killing you? Write a book about it!

There was not much new and earth-shattering in the book - the life lessons were recycled and not terribly original but what really got me was the relationship with his wife and kids. My biggest fear? Losing one of my children. Second biggest? Dying before they reach adulthood. His attempt to leave a legacy for his children shone through the entire book. We all try to teach those lessons to our kids in our day-to-day interactions. I'm sure if any of us wrote them down they would seem banal and pedantic.

And you can't help but love his mother for pointing out to him that yes, getting a PhD is hard but do keep in mind that your father was fighting the Germans at that age. Love it!

Rhonda,
I've got no problem with his leaving a legacy for his kids, and he can of course do that in whatever format he wants. Likewise with the speaking venue. But to publish it? I just don't know. I can also forgive the banality, I mean really, how many different "life lessons" can there be? I probably just had no business picking this book up; I read and find a lot to use in a lot of self-help, but the overtly "just be positive" ones are useless to me.

I liked that his mother tried to bring him back to earth but I sure wish there had been a different way for his father to prove adulthood than killing other people. See why I shouldn't pick this sort of thing up?

Also, as Tripp noted, the lecture is available at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo. Might save some time for people who are curious but don't have time to read it.

I abhor positivity. But I seem to have found a nice medium between cheerfulness and negativity. Yeah, the we're all going to hell, and there's nothing we can do about it, and humanity is positively depressing, much like the AIDS virus is depressing. I'm the kind of guy who wonders why extending someone's life unnecessarily can be considered a good thing. I laugh at the irony of being a "good" person, then getting stiffed with incurable cancer.

As for complaining? I'm not the complaining type. I'll suffer through a cheeseburger with onions rather than bitching to the person who made it. I mean, I'm going to shit those onions out in a few hours anyway. I'm perfectly content with humankind's (particularly America's) mistaken belief that we're the greatest fucking thing since God said, "Let there be light." Believe what you want, preach what you want--but don't expect me to agree, or to be changed over the course of a few hundred pages. I love to disagree, if only because I can get a quick reaction out of you (usually disgust, sometimes barely-controlled rage) If there's anything we can learn from these books, is that they don't do jack shit for the unconverted.

If Mitch fucking Albom ever publishes another piece of his feel-good drivel, I won't scream or anything. But I'll likely be prompted to sit down and write a manifesto of my own--call it "Wednesdays with Brandon"--that, I hope, will put a sense of melancholy back into this country. "Hey, kiddo, you're not that important--in fact, the only legacy you'll really leave behind is a tombstone and some unforgivably rotten children."

Have a lovely fucking day.

Brandon, oh Brandon,
You had me at "I abhor positivity."

I would like to pre-order one copy of Wednesdays with Brandon, please.

Also: may I quote you (liberally) the next time someone asks for an Albom book at the library? "Why yes, I believe we have some Mitch fucking Albom over here. Have a lovely fucking day."

God. So funny. I am dying over here. No pun intended! Really!

For some reason, this discussion makes me want to reread the Hunter S. Thompson books I've read. What comes to mind is: "It's sort of a wild goose chase, more or less, but personally, we're dead serious" from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or "Fuck those people" from Kingdom of Fear. I think what I mean is that there are some maxims that are useful, just not always the obvious ones.

Jon,
Hey, if this discussion gets you to read other things, I think we done good work.

I think you're right about some maxims being useful, but I would amend it to "certain maxims are useful to certain individuals." Some people might enjoy "Earnest is Better than Hip" (or "fuck those people"). I personally am going to stick with "I abhor positivity."

Hmm. I think I'll immortalize that comment in a post. I don't feel insired (or inspirational) today.

One of these comes out every year - and people lick it up. That's the part I don't get. Not as bad as Eckhard Tolle and Oprah though...I am here now and the now is here.

This is my all-time favorite book ever. I first read it my fahremsn year in high school, three years ago, during a very rough time in my life and I absolutely fell in love with it. I loved the style, I LOVED the characters, I loved the story. I'm using part of the first page as my senior quote and making my book club read it this month. I'm super excited for all the activities in this program!

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