Scathing Book Reviews of The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman isn’t exactly Airport Reading, but that’s where I bought my copy.  Unfortunately, while I found the back cover blurb interesting and the introduction well written, I found that I couldn’t dig into the book the way I expected.  I attributed this to the environment of the Airport, but even at home, I find it to be pretty dry reading, and not particularly enlightening.

When I do read it, I tend to skip around within it, sort of like I do with The Discoverers.  I know that there are hundreds of glowing reviews, but even though I’ve read many books and articles discussing the same topic, I just find Friedman’s tough to get through, and less convinced than he is about what his “findings” mean.  Perhaps its becaus I lack his perspective, but he seems to be awfully sure of his positions.  These Scathing Book Reviews of The World is Flat think it lacks fizz:

This book will be a revelation to anyone who has been without access to newspapers or cable TV for the past 10 years.

…and:

…As each longwinded chapter unfolded more and more evidence presented itself as proof that this book is all filler. It reads like the publisher paid by the word alone.

..and:

I’ve always hated Friedman. He writes with a manic quality that dodges left and right around inconvenient details or moral evaluations. He simultaneously believes that history has a purpose AND that those who oppose anything that happens in the world are being head-in-the-sanders and obstructionists. He’s an ‘anti-normativist’–if something in the world happens, then, according to Friedman, it was clearly meant to happen and is surely for the best.
 

…and:

I’m not sure how the author can possibly be so fascinated by technology and yet know absolutely nothing about it at the same time, but his endless diatribes about the miracles of PayPal and Microsoft Word are beyond laughable, and I was pretty much in shock when he started citing howstuffworks-dot-com as a technical reference on fiber optics and SOAP.

…and:

Friedman is a quack. He’s made a cottage industry of describing the obvious. There’s nothing serious about his work, whether it’s professional, academic or other.

…and:

It is a mark of Friedman’s approach and personality that he dates the beginning of “Flat World”  phenomena to a few years ago, when he discovered them.

…and:

Outsource Punditry Now. The average call center worker in Bangalore can write a better book than this.

…and:

Horrible book and a waste of money that could have been better spent on some worth while. Maybe the “National Enquirer.”

Scathing Book Reviews of The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren

If you’re like me, the first time you heard of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was during that hostage situation where the woman shared the book with her captor, eventually resulting in him releasing her.  Later on, we found out that she also shared some Meth with the guy.  I think Jesus had another Rock in mind when he founded his Church, but the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways… 

Anyway, what with the hoopla over the “pre-debate” at Saddleback Church, it seems like Rick Warren is quickly becoming “America’s Most Famous Protestant Pastor”, so maybe the worth is worth a look.  Life is awfully complicated, and most of us could use some advice on how to best live it.  However, these Scathing Book Reviews of The Purpose Driven Life say the book is beyond saving:  

Please Lord, stop the endless flow of Purpose Drivel© merchandise. This is NOT about honoring you, it’s about making Rick Warren rich. Warren is to mass marketing what Tammy Fae was to makeup.

…and:

The modern professional who has no time for deep thinking wants a streamlined road to heaven and Rick Warren delivers. In place of commandments, sin, redemption and the cross there are business motivational lectures.

…and:

After reading this book, I had had a strong urge to find another religion. Something has got to be wrong with that.

…and:

I don’t recall anything in the book being ouright heretical. That is about the highest compliment I can pay Mr. Warren’s work.

…and:

The book itself is smug, dictatorial and frankly dodgy in some of its use of scripture. For example, to illustrate a point, we are given a quote from Job 5:2 – a quote from the mouth of Eliphaz – one of Job’s inept counsellors!

…and:

Great book if you’re looking for a way to give up responsibility for your life and your choices. I can’t quite decide if it is hopelessly misguided, or frighteningly maniuplative.

…and the Devil is in the Details:

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that this book has major flaws when Zondervan’s parent company, Harper Collins publishes the Satanic bible.

…and this reviewers says just go to the Source:

If you are searching for meaning for your life, read the Bible instead

Scathing Book Reviews of Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis is a book that is as emblematic of the 1980s, just like the Bridges of Madison County is emblematic of the 1990s. OK, not “just like” it, but they’re definitely two sides of the same coin. They also share in common an obscure author with 3 names, who wrote two hit books, saw a book made into a movie and then found their early success hard to repeat.

Just think about it – Robert James Waller Bret Easton Ellis One is famous for what his critics would call sentimental pap. The other is famous for what his critics would call nihilistic pap.

I feel like I need Bret Easton Ellis’ stuff just to relive a little 80’s nostalgia, but perhaps it’d be more fulfilling to watch the Robert Downey Jr. version of the Less than Zero movieinstead, which has quite an 80’s cast. James Spader AND Robert Downey AND Andrew McCarthy AND Jami Gertz? I feel strangely compelled to rent it. Anyway, these Scathing Book Reviews of Less than Zero would prefer to give it Less than Zero stars:

208 pages of aimless drivel. About 3 over worked metaphors that stick through a vapid juvenile vocabulary like the ribs of a starved street dog.

…and:

Somehow I never noticed that the city I live in is populated entirely by blond-haired coke freaks. Thank you, Bret Easton Ellis. You’ve really opened my eyes….

…and from the same review:

This book makes Jay McInerney’s “Bright Lights, Big City” (which shares much in common with the present tome) seem like Dostoevsky.

…and:

Less than Zero is less than bad. It’s tenth-generation derivative California noir by a silly trust-fund amateur with great connections and no talent… It’s Didion writ dumb, Chandler without corpses–unless you count the readers.

…and:

I ordered this book from Amazon, after seeing such comments as “the Catcher in the Rye” for this generation. Who are they kidding? Ellis is a one-note writer, who can’t even play his one note well.

…and:

It’s not a book; it’s words on a page, and even more they’re the wrong words awkwardly strung together.

…and some harshness for Andrew McCarthy:

Rarely does a movie improve upon a story told in a book; especially when the movie stars people like Andrew McCarthy.

…and:

If this is supposed to be literature, I’d hate to see what bad prose is like.

…and finally a review that makes me wonder if Less than Zero’s alternate title should have been “A Night in the Life of Tucker Max”:

Maybe i’m missing the point, but the entire book consists of this: I went to a club, snorted some coke, went to another club, snorted some coke, went home and slept, snorted some coke.

Scathing Book Reviews of Stuff White People Like, by Christian Lander

I first heard of Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander on, I admit it, NPR.  (So sue me!  At least I’m not a fan of David Searis).  So I guess I’m in part the target and the target market for this kind of book.  I also have a blog and wear shorts when its just barely warm enough to put them on, I admit. 

These and dozens of other entries are covered in the Stuff White People Like Blog, from which this book sprang.  I admit its clever and good marketing too – a certain kind of person revels in irony, and the idea of embracing something which mocks your taste in Starbucks, Chinese food, and etc. is right up that demographic’s alley. 

HOWEVER, its not just “Stuff White People Like”, as I know from sharing this with friends that “go beyond the pale”, lets say.   A more accurate title of the book would be “Stuff that Middle and Upper Class Metropolitan Area People Like”, as I know for a fact that where I grew up, there’s one Starbucks in the entire county.

Anyway, these Scathing Book Reviews of Stuff White People Like think the book lacks color:

This book is the most offensive piece of dribble that I have ever had the misfortune of purchasing.

…and from the “missing the point” department:

This book is in the humor section, but it did not even make me smile, let alone chuckle. Organic food? Farmer’s Markets? Nonprofit organizations? Adopting children from third world countries? Barack Obama? This is supposed to be satire? Seems to me that supporting these things make for a better world. If he had gone after typical Republican or white trash stuff then maybe he could have squeezed out some humor, but that has all been done before.
 
…and a fairly shocking review (I didn’t write it – you’ll either laugh or cry):

The book was written by a white person and it’s the hallmark of elitist whites to say they’re not elitist and distance themselves from being white. Their “above the fray” attitude indicates that they’re better than all other people who engage in whatever attitudes and behaviors they’ve pointed out to us with their super keen senses. I’ve noted this behavior in English and Jewish people.

…and:

Worthy of sitting next to the toilet so it gets peed on, you know, since it’s not flushable.

…and:

There’s some acute perception and witty writing here. It’s sufficient to carry the reader along in a state of amusement until that inevitable point, otherwise recognizable in a too-prolonged diet of NPR listening, when finally the tone becomes insufferabl

…and, you know, the truth hurts:

I’ve got another thing that white people like: Reviewing books on Amazon and trying to come across as savy and intellectual. (Even on the books that don’t require either of those talents.)

Scathing Book Reviews of How Starbucks Saved My Life, by

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill certainly has a catchy title, and Starbucks has saved my life many a morning by getting my heart started with a jolt of caffeine.  I’ve skimmed the book at my local bookstore, but have been hesitant to buy it, because I’m still employed, and it just seems like you’re asking for bad luck if you buy a book about a guy who lost his job.  However, when the Tom Hanks Movie Adaptation comes out I might be tempted to rent it.

In the book, Michael Gill Gates discusses how he, a laid off executive, was able to find new meaning and dignity in life by working at the local Starbucks and doing a lot of cleaning.  I like Starbucks, but as someone once said, the book wouldn’t have sold nearly as well if it was title “How Wendy’s Saved My Life”, and now that the book’s been published and the movie is in development, I don’t think you’re going to see Gates making a Frap anytime soon.  The Scathing Book Reviews of How Starbucks Saved My Life think its a Decaf Americano:

Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times writes:

Some critics will no doubt dismiss “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else” as promotional pap masquerading as a memoir. This critic, though, views it as one of the most scathing indictments of the advertising business to appear in a long time.

…and from Amazon reviewers:

The fact that the author was an advertising copywriter is way too obvious in this, the longest infomercial I’ve been through.

…and:

…This guy got on my nerves…Everything is so new to him, it’s ridiculous. “Once you get to know them, black people are okay.” “You get 30 minutes for lunch, and it’s really important to be back on time, because the next person is waiting to go to lunch.” He’s never even been in a Wal-mart. There’s something kind of fishy about this guy. Nobody 63 years old living in the U.S., is that naive. His stories about his great advertising and writing skills are not believable. He really doesn’t come across as very bright.

…and:

Although the book is short, I had to skip through much of it, because life is short too.

…and:

If you really like Starbucks, save your money and buy some coffee…not this book.

…and:

How this book wasted an hour of my life…The biggest problem is that the author seems to be writing at an elementary level. He clearly has an interesting story, but nothing that couldn’t be written in a two-page essay.

…and:

The writing and the story are so sugar-coated and sickening sweet I could almost feel the cavities growing in my teeth.

…and:

Actually it’s the perfect book for the whining generation. Everyone else should treat it like the toxic waste it is. I ordered it by accident and didn’t cancel the order in time. Then I made the mistake of actually opening it instead of giving it to someone I really don’t like. Serious error. Don’t you make the same mistake.

…and this review is so scathing, I have to find out what else this guy has read:

This slight memoir of having gone from being El Exigente to a lowly ten-buck-an-hour barrista at a Starbucks–entitled, with only skim irony, “How Starbucks Saved My Life”–is insipid; filled with the sort of hard-won wisdom most of us have learned by the the time we’re half its protagonist’s age, even if we didn’t happen to leave Yale eighteen credits shy of an undergraduate degree. As they no doubt never said in the Gill household, “Oy!”

Scathing Book Reviews of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, by Tucker Max

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max is a book I’m not planning to read.  Why?  Well, if you’re familiar with the Tucker Max Blog, you don’t need more of the same on dead trees, and further, I already know enough Assholes, and have acted similiarly on enough occassions, to read about adventures in Assholery. 

It’s interesting that some people are able to make careers from a public persona of being an Asshole.  For all I know, Tucker Max may in his “real” life be a good guy.  But when he’s “working” or at least writing about what supposedly has happened, his job is to be an Asshole.  I know of at least one person who got into the Tucker Max blog a few years back, and his characterization of her was fairly spot on, so I guess at least some of the time he’s telling the truth and not making it up for his blog. 

Being an Asshole at bars and public places is fun enough for awhile, but I hope for his sake he slows down one day and contains his Asshole behavior to his neighbors and in-laws.  The Scathing Book Reviews of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell seem to wish Tucker Max would stick the book up his – oh you know what I mean:

 

I’m ashamed I even spent money on this junk. The only redeeming quality was that no one I knew saw me reading it on the airplane.

 …and:

Tucker Max is like Van Wilder: completely unentertaining and hasn’t figured out that what’s really cool when you’re 20 becomes really pathetic when you’re 30.

…and:

Anyone that would think this book is cute or funny should probably have a character assessment

…and:

If you’re more than a year out of community college, don’t bother.

…and:

The book is a lot like a drunk person…entertaining for a few minutes, then just annoying.

…and:

A shallow shell of a human being, Tucker will appeal to 15-23 yr olds with low critical thinking ability. If you like to read books, be sure you will not like this one.

…and:

Anyone buying this book knowing what it is about is a lunatic.

…and while this may be good advice, I don’t think anyone thinking of buying the book would make use of it:

If you want funny, Rabelaisian humour, try Jim Goad instead.

Scathing Book Reviews of The Rules, by Sherrie Shamoon and Ellen Fein

The Rules, by Sherrie Shamoon and Ellen Fein is a “how to” book that I won’t ever need.  Why?  Because it is a collection of “Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mister Right”.  I’m gender handicapped on that one, and married.  I don’t even need to buy it to figure out how my wife caught me, because I was the one doing the chasing. (Awwww…..)

Anyway, dating books are often funnier than they are true.  One of the “rules” in this book is: “In an Office Romance, on all nonbusiness -mails, responding once for every four of his e-mails is a good rule of thumb.”  What the…? Here’s another one.  “Don’t return his phone calls.”  Huh?  Seems to me that this books title should be “How to End a Relationship”.  The readers that wrote these Scathing Book Reviews of The Rules would like to throw a penalty flag:

I’m a guy, and I’ve read it. It’s taught me how to avoid girls looking to follow the advice of some untrained pop-gurus.

…and:

By following these godforsaken rules I lost the love of my life. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I tried this book, but I’d like to warn others… The author’s of this book should be jailed. ZERO STARS!

…and:

This book will work. In the same way that overt promiscuity and misogyny will work. There are plenty of stupid jerks out there and following these rules will make you a magnet for them.

…and:

Do women with IQs above 35 actually believe this drivel? How does lying and manipulating one’s way through the dating process create a lasting and secure relationship? The only part of the Rules phenomenon that I liked was taken care of by the Department of Schadenfreude: co-author Ellen Fein’s husband left her, citing abandonment. Beautiful.

…and:

I’ve got to give this book one star for obvious reasons, but I do highly recommend it! The paperback version is relatively inexpensive, and you can’t put a price tag on laughter.

 
…and:

Quite possibly the cheesiest relationship guide available.

…and:

This book is one giant step backward into the dark ages. Why don’t we give up the vote while we’re at it?

…and this review from an incorrigible romantic:

I don’t understand why people hate this book so much. There’s nothing about our society- work, raising children, writing college papers, etc.- that isn’t infested with manipulation. Do you really expect a love between two people who are raised in our society to be any different?