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.

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

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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 The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho is a book I have yet to read but that seems to have attained quite a lot of popularity since it was first published in 1988 in Brazil, and in 1993 in the USA. I’ve seen it prominently placed at my local Borders Bookstore, usually next to a sign saying “25% off these Bestsellers”.

The American Public (of which I am one) are suckers for the well written self help book – the promise of reading a book to solve your problems is certainly a tempting one, and I think there are two thoughts ingrained in most Americans. First, that somehow, no matter how well we’re doing, we’re not doing quite well enough. Second, there is a solution for every problem.

Is “The Alchemist” any good? It seems to have that “Greatest Salesmen in the World” or “Acres of Diamonds” vibe about it, where you hear a story and gain “wisdom” in the process, but with a new age twist. These Scathing Book Reviews of The Alchemist indicate that the potion isn’t potent:

If you liked the Celestine Prophecy you’ll love The Alchemist. You can read it while you’re waiting for the mothership to return. Otherwise, take a pass and read something more intellectually engaging, like the tax code.

…and:

Just as I hated Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was a teenager, I hate this book now! No, hate is too strong a word for this piece of insignificant and shallow tripe. In every generation along comes an over-hyped meditation which is nothing more than New Age, melange-religion twaddle. And this is the one for now. And it’s way over-priced.

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If you need 160 pages of drivel of the inspirational fable type, this book is definitely for you.

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The most mysterious part of this book is its popularity.

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This I-Spy book of philosophy is nothing more than 10th rate, watered down Voltaire.

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While reading it, I couldn’t shake the image of a church-basement bookclub discussion – but despite numerous direct and indirect spiritual and religious references, the message here is not one of love and brotherhood. Rather, it’s best stated as “get yours”.

…and perhaps most damning:

This is the literary equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Happy cottages with warm light pouring out of the window, etc. Unlike a Kinkaid painting though, this takes longer than one second to look at.

Scathing Book Reviews of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach is like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that is emblematic of the 1970s, but is still read today. Its one of those books that I’ve heard of but never read, and like many who lived in Chicago in the 80s and 90s, was continually reminded of due to the presence of Rich Melman’s restaurant “Jonathan Livingston Seafood“. There was also the Jonathan Livingston Seagull Movie which I came across on Cable some years ago.

I remember seeing an English Major reading the Book back in College, and its apparently assigned reading for Junior and Senior High Schoolers. If I ever do read it, hopefully it will answer the burning question “Why do Seagulls like Parking Lots?” These Scathing Book Reviews of Jonathan Livingston Seagull think that the Seagull is really a Dead Duck:

For a long time I had suspected that America was a nation full of pathetic people desperately striving to improve their lives. This so-called book has confirmed my suspicions.

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This book is a piece of trash. I feel that nothing other than such a blunt remark justifies my feelings towards this mish-mash of bogey, high-faultin’ pretention and early 70s self-help gibberish. Clearly, this tripe hooked on to the swinging trend of cascading times when mid-life crisis was hitting people from 16 to 76.

…and:

I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions over the course of the book… Not because the author wrote something witty or clever – but because the book continued to reach new levels of stupidity.

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To pad out this lame storyline, Bach gives us a bunch of grainy pictures of birds. Too bad he doesn’t have the guts to show us birds pooping on a statue, having found TRUE enlightenment.

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The only good thing you can say about this book is that it is short, so it doesn’t waste as much time as it might.

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In the miasma that was the 70’s lies this book, an embarassing reminder of the culture of self-actualization that permeated that era. Deep messages? Please… After being asked to write a paper on the meaning of the “Stairway to Heaven” lyric(!), having to read this book was the last straw for our 11th grade Language Arts class.

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This is a simple story. So simple in fact that you wonder why the writer got paid for it.

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A friend loaned me this book once when I was going through a very rough time in my life. Somehow, the book made me feel worse, so you may wish to hold off giving a copy to someone diagnosed with depression.

…and this review, excerpted at length. I’ll lay odds he’s an Ayn Rand enthusiast:

This slimy collection of self-important piety and nonsensical bilge is one of the most horrific encapsulations of what is rotten and bad in western society today. In it, a sentient air-rat decides he’s much too important to deal with small minded concerns ke making a seagull’s living eating fish. He decides he’s some kind of artist. He meets an asian air-rat who is of course much more wise and deep than his own whitebread air-rat self, and becomes some sort of super spiritual air-rat. Not content to jockey around the entire universe like some kind of air-rat version of Padre de Pio, he returns to earth to lord it over the other air rats with his superior spiritual pose.

Book Reviews of Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is a book that was given out at my company – you guessed it – immediately prior to a series of layoffs. I evaded that series of layoffs, only to join the ranks of the “formerly employed” after September 11th (I worked for a company that was heavy into Business Travel, natch.

I got it, read it, kept it for awhile and I guess I threw it away awhile back. I remember “Who Moved My Cheese” as being an inoffensive but ineffective book, with a simple message – change will happen and you can’t stay still, which is something I already knew prior to getting the book. I sure as heck don’t remember it being helpful to me while I was laid off.

Anyway, Spencer Johnson certainly benefited by it, but these reviewers think there’s a scent of Limburger arising from “Who Moved My Cheese”:

Never have I come closer to the mind crushing monotony and impersonality of corporate America than when I read this book….It’s patronizing, shallow, insipid, and still manages to be patently insulting to those employees who might actually be capable of analytical thought. That’s quite a feat.

…and:

It teaches that you must accept change without regard to whether it is appropriate it not. It teaches that you must not struggle, you must not fight. You must simply accept whatever change happens. This is the perfect book to distribute when a company is going through reorganization.

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Who moved your cheese? I’ll tell you who moved your cheese! Your company’s accountants moved your cheese. And they ain’t gonna move it back, no matter what you do.

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The one saving grace about this book is it’s a quick read. I finished it in 23 minutes.

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In the game show of life, “Who Moved My Cheese?” is Corporate America’s final answer to the lovely parting gift. Spencer Johnson’s book is the literary equivalent of giving an amputee victim a band-aid for his boo-boo.

…and:

The Berenstein Bears of Self-Help Strike Again

…and:

If corporate America’s new trend is reading children’s books they would be better served rereading and analyzing Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches and Other Stories.

…and a great Top 10 list of alternate titles from Amazon Reviewer Kevin Morrill:


#10 “Don’t Take It Personally, Thousands Of People Get Fired Everyday”
#9 “It’s Never Easy Letting Valuable Employees Such As Yourself Go, Bill, I mean, Bob”
#8 “Cheer Up! Nobody Here Liked You Anyway”
#7 “Let Me Say Once Again, The Shareholders Really Appreciate This”
#6 “Hey, You Can Sleep In Now”
#5 “Think Of It This Way: You’re Now In A Lower Tax Bracket”
#4 “It’s Not Like You Lost Your Job…Okay, So You Lost Your Job”
#3 “Look On The Bright Side- You’re Helping Someone Less Fortunate In A Third World Country”
#2 “At Least You’ve Still Got Your Health (Minus The Ulcer, Of Course)”
And my #1 title: “It Could Be Worse, It Could Be Me!”

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesiaby Elizabeth Gilbert explores the author’s journey across the world (and the self, natch) following a protracted divorce. Trying to find yourself is never easy, particularly if you have jet lag. From what these reviewers say, she seems to have found herself but never anyone else:

She is the most vapid, narcicistic, insecure, self-absorbed, spoiled brat I have ever had to listen to. I could not wait to get her whiny, foolish voice out of my head.

…and:

This is the type of person you meet at a cocktail party and RUN in the other direction after a few minutes when she starts spewing out all her problems at you with no end in sight. Note to the author: I am your reader, not your psychotherapist.

…and:

Pure drivel that reinforces my theory that a “good” agent can get even the worst of stories published.

…and:

I started rolling my eyes on the second page and pretty much didn’t stop rolling them until I stopped reading.

…and:

Does the world really need a field guide for selfishness? Can’t they just watch a few minutes of Joel Osteen?

…and this reviewer, who manages to find the books hidden theme:

Isn’t it ironic that the three countries that the author traveled begin with the letter “I” as did nearly every sentence in the book? What a sex-crazed narcisist!