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16 April 2010


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I am currently reading this book and feel the same way. Exposing the “Positive Thinking” industry as a scam is the type of snarky subject matter I usually can’t get enough of, but Ehrenreich isn’t pulling it off. I am half-way through and other than her analysis of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (a book I’ve never managed to finish) I keep thinking I’m bored, I don’t like how the book is organized and I just can’t connect with her. I am going to finish it though and review it myself, but what a disappointment.

I, too, was very interested in this book when it came out, but I saw a couple of interviews with Ehrenreich, and she only discussed her experiences with breast cancer and trying to be positive about it. I didn't even know there were other sections of the book. The Osteen story is a hoot. I may just read that chapter.

by the way, I can't count the number of times after a meeting I've had to say, "I wasn't trying to be negative about..." I probably was but it seems as if an apology is always in order or I'm not being a team player who during the meeting was asked to do something that doesn't make sense or to do more work.

SWG, Venta,
I was just so crushed that I didn't love this book. Savvy, I had the exact same reaction as you. Maybe the book wasn't organized at all? I can't understand it, because Ehrenreich is a skillful enough writer. Maybe it was written too quickly, and too angrily, without enough reasoning to work out a logical framework. It just seemed to wander from history to topic to personal story with no particular overarching theme. I'll look forward to your review, but man, "disappointment" is the perfect world.

I think you'd get a real charge out of the Osteen/megachurch chapter. Actually, there's a megachurch very near me and I'm actually considering going one day to see if the service is like the ones she describes! (Just for giggles. I know. How boring is my life?)

I know you know what I mean about "negativity" at work. Ehrenreich tried to get at this too, that maybe a bit of realism or planning or question-asking or dissatisfaction is necessary sometimes to work out a better answer. I never even minded doing more work! I just wanted to know it was necessary for a reason, or would better the workplace or our service. But boom, if you ask any of those questions--not a team player! Sigh. Thankfully my latest co-worker, the cat, never gets down on me for negativity. She does ask a lot of questions about when feeding time is, though.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to meet and shake the hand of the flight attendant who had the chutzpah to sue the Osteens and cite hemorrhoids as her injury."

Me, too!

Ok, the part about the hemorrhoids and the Osteens was just hilarious! I don't think I would read the book just for that part though (after all, you've already told us the good stuff). :)

Really? I loved the book...it finally gave me something to fight back with when I get the 'negativity talk.' And confirmed, for me, why it is okay to hate (okay, maybe just really dislike and feel hugely sarcastic about) inspirational/motivational speakers.

I believe what you say, but I feel like I've got to give this book a go if it crosses my path.
LOL about the Osteens and the flight attendant. How could Victoria Osteen have given her hemorrhoids? Who cares!? It's funny!

We should track her down to congratulate her. I'm sorry she didn't win something for her troubles in the lawsuit, I must say.

There were other moments in the book--I did have four or five bookmarks stuck in it when I was done--but I still just don't know if I can tell you to read it. At least it is short...

I'm glad you liked it. I did think some of the research she shared (particularly about the health benefits of being positive) was interesting, and no one can skewer businesses for hiring motivational speakers and career coaches like Ehrenreich can (she did that in "Bait and Switch" too), but I still feel like no one edited this book, and someone should have.

Hey, at 200 pages, you've got nothing to lose by trying this one. You may like it, and as noted previously, there are some wonderful tidbits in it.

I too tried to work out the hemorrhoids connection. Maybe the stress, or Osteen's demands kept her from going to the bathroom when she should have gone? Poor gal. Add "flight attendant" to the list of jobs I never want to work.

Geez Louise, if anyone else had attempted to enter the cockpit of an aircraft after 9/11, they wouuld have never been seen again. Ms. Osteen got off lightly with a $3000 fine.

The word "critical" (and criticism etc) is supposed to be neutral; one can give criticism or a critical reading, but we take it to be a negative thing. We end up apologizing for being analytical. It's not NICE.

Oh, and the "asking pretty simple workflow questions" - that was the problem. You are assuming that the answer was known.

Bah! Will we ever like the same books? (I'm trying to practice being more negative, but man, is it tiring!)

Actually, that's EXACTLY the thought I had about the cockpit. I actually had to double-check the date of the incident (2005) because I couldn't believe how lightly they got off.

I do think "criticism" gets a bad rap. It shouldn't, really. With all the stuff we can produce these days (including culture, like the millions of books published every year), I think it's more important than ever. Interesting how we're all so worried about being nice in criticism but not really in taking care of our fellow human beings. Non-universal health care and war aren't NICE either but I don't see either of those subjects taking a lot of heat.

Ha, workflow questions. Freelancing doesn't pay and the benefits are terrible but at least you can take charge of your own workflow (pretty much, not always) without being branded the staff naysayer.

Oh, Jessica,
I think it's fun that we never like the same books. I feel the same way about being positive--it's exhausting, unnatural, and it just never takes. :)

It takes more muscles to frown than to smile! (I read that one on a poster on my dentist's ceiling. I think it had a kitten on it).

My mentor teacher had this saying posted in her locker:

"It takes more muscles to smile than to give someone the finger and tell them to bite you."

Oh, Jessica, Bybee,

I appreciate both sentiments, really, but I have to admit that the one Bybee quotes speaks more to my soul. It's the genius addition of "and tell them to bite you" that makes me very, very happy.

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