Okay, I know I am stretching this alphabet thing a little here using P for Pants when the real title is Ms. Bossy- Pants–but be kind to me–I have brain cells dying as we speak:
Do you ever buy a book thinking that it is the one that will solve all your life problems? That once you read it, you will have all the knowledge you need to get your ducks in a row? Right now my ducks are scattered hither and thither, and no amount of bribing, cajoling, or organizational tips have enticed them into a nice neat row. I am thinking that Huey, Dewey and Louie have minds of their own and getting in line or standing in a row is not something they are ready to be charmed into.
Many times I will justify buying a book because I think I will write about the topic it is so convincingly putting forth. Sometimes I make a mistake and the book does not deserve space in my bookshelf. But we all have to live with bad choices. Case in point: a book I picked up about a year ago said in its blurb that it would find order in my life. It lured me in hook, line and sinker. Its cover was orange (my favourite fall colour), the font of the title alluring, and its promise to shed my life of disorder, turmoil, mayhem and madness (okay I am exaggerating slightly here) was more than I could bear. I just had to have this book.
But, I do not like the book—it is just a bit too bossy. And while a lot of what it says is right, I don’t care. I do not want to follow its dictates, as smart and practical as they are. And that is what I think is wrong with the book. It has no sense of humour. If I am going to be convinced to be more organized and to give up my most prized possessions while doing it, I need to do it with a smile on my face, and not by taking my marching orders from someone who knows better. If I am going to listen to someone I want them to convince me that it is my idea to clean out my closet, or throw away those clothes from high school, or give up my collection of Mad magazines. I do not want them to tell me.
The magic bullet here is the way that one goes about being bossy. You can be bossy without really being bossy and get your point across. The book (that I am not naming on purpose as I do not want the author and her “people” to find me and make me dust and vacuüm as punishment for not appreciating their book) is just too sensible. Even when it is trying to give you advice on enjoying life—it demands that you enjoy life rather than suggesting it—like it is our duty and obligation to enjoy life, and not a pleasure.
Overall, the book is not a pleasure to read. It reads like a textbook in a subject you had to take at school, rather than something you elected to take. The author did not come across as friendly, but authoritative. Even messages that were not a difficult pill to take, were left wanting as they seemed joyless.
Books that want you to change your behaviour in some way need to be friendly. The author needs to have a rapport with the reader, and tell them that they understand the problem, or that they had the problem too, but found a solution. And the most important thing is to not make your readers feel stupid. This book makes you feel stupid—like you should be ashamed of the fact that you kept artifacts from the lovely times in your life as memories. Purging your life of all things that memories are made of is not a message I take to easily.
I guess I am disappointed that I spent hard-earned cash on something that was not at all what I thought it was going to be. The philosophy on the front cover is one I want to embrace (loosely it touts “less is more”) but not the way the author wants me to embrace it.
Soft sell works best on me, and this book was no soft sell. It was a “my way or the highway” kind of book. So to the highway this book will go.
(And no, there is no prize for the person who finds the most clichés in this blog. Actually there is–you can have my book.)