I am reading Jon Acuff‘s book “Do Over”. It is a long book. Nothing wrong about wanting to write a longer book than necessary. But wanting to write is one thing and reading it is another. Why so many wisecracks? We get it. You are smart. And, truth be told, your book is a good reminder to build character, skills, network and work ethics. Thank you for that. The Take Home Message is a good one. It is a good premise. But why distract the reader with your random diversions just to show how good you are with words?
Is it just me who thinks most self help books are like a monolog by people with huge egos? “I have it figured out. Here are some tips for you suckers.” Even in the sections where the author criticizes himself, it sounds like he is trying to show off.
I did not use the pronoun “he” to refer to Jon Acuff nor to the general pronoun. I am referring to the male writer. The male writer who knows it all. The male writer who will mansplain this complex issue to us. On the other hand, most self help books written by women do not make big claims. When they should!!! (Gift of Failure.)
For most self help books, by page 50, I start to resent the time I spend on the book. One self help (if it can be called that) book that I read without feeling any resentment was Stephen King’s book “On Writing”. King is a pretty grandiose character, too. That does come across in the book. But a. He is Stephen King b. He practices what he preaches, namely, he cuts out 10% at each edit. I wish most self help books could be written with a “tighter” control of language. This “Do Over” book certainly needed that.
My biggest help during my PhD was Mr. Rogers. I still come back to him saying “I’m not very good at drawing. But it doesn’t matter.” when I am feeling incompetent. In fact, this bit by Mr. Rogers is a fantastic summary of most self help books.
I am always surprised to read these self help books written with such confidence and certitude. How do they do that? When all of science is about curiosity and questions, how can these people make statements as if they are facts. How come all scientists suffer from imposter syndrome and the non-scientists (or even pseudoscientists) feel so free to take the mic?
In any case, the book Do Over is a good one but it is long, and overreaching. I will finish it. And then I plan to read “Finish”. I thought I would ramble on about this book first. I won’t even edit this post to cut down superfluous words. Why should I?