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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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 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 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 
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Quite possibly the cheesiest relationship guide available.

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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?

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.

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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.

Scathing Book Reviews of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be, by Armin A. Brott

The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be by Armin A. Brott was one of those books I read while my wife was pregnant with our son. After almost eight years of fatherhood, let me tell you, reading books about parenting isn’t going to hurt, and it might even help, but there’s nothing like on the job training to help you learn to appreciate the smell of a healthy poop or the sound of a snoring infant.

What’s my review of “The Expectant Father”? Well meaning, but ineffective, like a lot of Dad books, and more than a few parents books (and parents) too. These Scathing Book Reviews of The Expectant Father are pregnant with criticism:

So far, I’ve waded through dozens of hints of how to share in my wife’s experience – making a plaster cast of her belly, taking bottoms-up photos to record her progress… My wife would kill me. Then there’s the chapter suggesting sneaking the placenta out of the hospital for a ceremonial burial.

…and:

If you are the type of guy who feels like saying to your wife, “Hey, I’m pregnant too” then by all means, read this fluff.

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I quit reading after he devoted a whole page to saying that he took his placenta home, stored it in the freezer (along with some of his friends placentas…) then buried them and planted a tree over them. Hope he doesn’t grab the wrong item when going in for leftovers…

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I got this book from my wife and after reading it, I wished she hadn’t spent the money on it; burning the money would have been a better use for it.

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I got this book for my husband, hoping it would help him to understand and participate in our pregnancy. Instead, it has turned out to be a source of comic relief! That anyone can take this book seriously is laughable.

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If you need a book to explain to you that you will soon no longer be the center of your pregnant wife’s universe, you need some serious counseling.

…and this, which equates the Neanderthals with “The Greatest Generation”. That explains a lot about the VFW hall (I kid, I kid):

this book is writen by a caveman for cavemen. If you found this book helpful you should not be having a baby, or you live in the 1940’s.

Scathing Book Reviews of “The Secret”, by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne is a book I skimmed and put back down at the Bookstore. It’s got a catchy title, one that just begs you to open the faux leather copy and to pore through the faux parchment pages, but alas, I found nothing there that seemed to be new. The Secret boils down to “Want anything bad enough and it will come true in mysterious ways”. This is in a lot of “self help” books, and it is called “The Law of Attraction”.

Most responsible self help books – and anyone that has a few years on them – will tell you that sometimes, wanting, no matter how much, isn’t going to cure your Dad’s alzheimers, your sister’s cancer, your daughter’s stutter. These things CAN be cured or dealt with, but before anything can happen, you gotta want it, but wanting alone it isn’t always enough. It reminds me of the old lottery joke:

Morty, a deeply religious man, had long prayed to win the lottery to get him out of financial trouble. He prayed to God every night to win, even as things got worse and worse. After losing his job, his car and with his wife about to leave him, he prayed one last time. “God, please, I’m in trouble. I lost my job, my car, and I’m about to lose my family. PLEASE God, let me win the lottery.”

Suddenly God Himself appeared before Morty, long beard, white hair, deep voice, shining light, the works. Morty said “God, you’re here! Does this mean I’m going to win the lottery? God said, pleadingly “Morty, meet me halfway on this. Buy a Lottery Ticket.”

My advice? Know what you want, be open to getting want you want in more than one way, and then ACT to get what you want, with the faith that you’ll get it. Anyway, these Scathing Book Reviews of The Secret think one Secret to success is to not read the book:

“Greetings, friend! Do you wish to look as happy as me? Well, you’ve got the power inside you right now, so use it! Send $1 to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. Don’t delay; eternal happiness is just a dollar away!”

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The first step in increasing your wealth is to take the money you would have spent on this mindless drivel, and put it in your pocket. See? You’re doing better already.

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Rhonda Byrne is a smart woman. Why? Because she is swindling the American populace into buying her garbage.

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P.T. Barnum, you are vindicated once again… If you really want to learn something simple enough for kids but eternally true and useful for adults try the children’s classics “The Little Engine That Could”, and “Stone Soup.” These books have true wisdom and pretty pictures too.

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It did not help me at all. I feel stupid for buying it. it felt like it was writen in two weeks. It had no real debth

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Comparing this book to a pet rock would be insulting the rock.

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Norman Vincent Peale repackaged for the pedestrian New age generation.

My thoughts on “The Secret” to success? You didn’t ask – St. Iganatius Loyola said it best: “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.”

Scathing Book Reviews of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purposeby Eckhart Tolle is yet another in a long line of “Success Literature”, – a book genre which has got to be an American original (don’t tell me if I’m wrong). The seeming promise of success literature to its readers is “Read the book, and your life will change”, where in fact, the writer’s message is, “read this and do as the book says and then your life can change”.

All too often, the only thing that actually changes is the money, from the reader to the bookstore. I’ve read my fair share of “success” book, and the ones that tend to be the most beneficial are the ones that tell you to know what you want, figure out how to get what you want, build a plan, and then CARRY IT OUT! It’s the last part that tends to trip us all up.

Oprah Winfrey thinks this book is worth buying, but I ask you, can you really trust a guy named “Eckhart” to offer good advice? These Scathing Book Reviews of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle make it their purpose to convince you to not buy the book:

While I applaud Oprah for this novel approach to bettering the human race, I take issue with both this author and his book.

…and:

I think I’ve found my true calling in life. Create a joke of a new age cult and get a self absorbed talk show host to peddle it and then the sheep will line up to purchase it. I couldnt get through chapter one. Please, a moment of silence for everyone throwing their money away, feel the oneness with your fellow sheep.

…and:
“Refuse to grow-up”would be a better title for his book.

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I find no clearer indictment of the American mind than the success of this book.

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I don’t know who’s more dangerous, Oprah or the half-wits she endorses on her show or the half wits in the audience of her show.

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This kind of stuff is appropriate for sappy greeting cards or manipulative advertising but, in my opinion, little else.

…and from the “unfortunately right” department:

This has to be some of the most boring mumbo jumbo I’ve ever read. The writer clearly likes to hear himself talk, or read, or whatever. I can’t believe he actually got this book published. There must be alot of lost people out there.

…and this, from someone who was probably thinking of “The Secret”:

Let me save you some time and money. Here’s what the book says… Blah,Blah,Blah, “think postive” Blah,Blah,Blah “I can create success and money and health with positive thoughts” Blah,Blah,Blah. That about sums it up!

…and for Die-Hard Democrats, the ultimate insult:

About as insightful as a George Bush speech.