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Tomes and Tea Leaves

Currently reading

Jaimie Admans
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History
Nicholas A. Basbanes
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
Anya Von Bremzen
The Mirror Lied: One Woman's 25-Year Struggle with Bulimia, Anorexia, Diet Pill Addiction, Laxative Abuse and Cutting.
Marc A. Zimmer, N.R. Mitgang, Ira M. Sacker
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet
Stephen Manes
Curtis Sittenfeld
Gail Godwin
The Old Curiosity Shop
Charles Dickens, Norman Page
The English Eccentrics
Edith Sitwell, Richard Ingrams (Introduction)

30 Day Book Challenge (Day 8)- Most Overrated Book

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom - Miguel Ruiz

Schmaltz.  Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements spent weeks on the best-seller lists.


I am not generally one for self-help books, but I thought this one was particularly bad, and it's wildly popular.  Using "ancient Toltec wisdom" Ruiz is going to tell us all how to be happy, or at least how to be content.  


The following is from the review I wrote in 2009:


Ruiz has come up with four principles from ancient Toltec wisdom. If one adopts these four agreements, Ruiz argues, they will help bring a sense of peace and happiness to one's life. Generally the agreements sound reasonable enough: don't take things personally, say only good things about others, etc. So far, so good. But there's some serious theoretical problems that underlie Ruiz's plan. Ruiz seems to suggest that the self can determine the majority of one's experience outside of social context. He claims that society is composed of collective dreams. Even recognizing that Ruiz is infusing dreams with more importance than western culture generally does, it still strikes me that the message here is that if one has fortified one's spirit with these four principles, nothing anyone else says or does can strongly affect you. Maybe I'm too close-minded, but I just can't buy it. We all live in social and cultural worlds, and those worlds do shape our experience, whether we like it or not.


Oversimplification.  It speaks to my problems with self-help books generally, but I thought this one was particularly egregious.  


At the end of the day, I kind of like being a miseryguts.