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Monday, July 25, 2011

books i hate, part I

The other night I finished the last unread book on my kindle. (Um, other than a travel guide to somewhere I may never go and a history of mental illness that, despite my interest in the subject matter and despite my having read one of the author's other books over and over about twenty times, is so dry and academic I just cannot read it however much I try.) This meant that, naturally, I had to go on amazon and buy myself a few new ones. I need both reading material and a choice of reading material, you know.

Let's talk about one of them, shall we? Those of you who are really sharp and quick on the uptake and who actually read blog titles have an inkling what kind of review is coming up, I bet. Here's the literary masterpiece in question:

But before I start excoriating this stupid book, lemme give you some background info. First, for those of you who don't know, I do some yoga. Not as much as I should, and I'm certainly not advanced, but I do it, I like it, I am in full support of it. Secondly, I am kind of an ersatz Buddhist. [Me to ex-boyfriend, about a sandwich shop in his neighborhood that had a Buddhist pun in its name: Are those guys actually Buddhist? Him: No, they're Buddhist like you are. They just think it's cool. The gentleman later claimed he never said that, but he did and it was quite alright. It was both hilarious and, y'know, TRUE.] I've read a bunch of Buddhist books and, on and off, I do the metta meditation, though, like the yoga, not as often as I should. Finally, I have been to massage school, which...Oh, hell, if you haven't been to massage school, it would probably take me five paragraphs to explain why that's relevant, so just trust. It is. My point being, I'm probably just the kind of person this book is aimed at. Amazon certainly thought so when they recommended it!

Well, then, Andrea, what is your problem with this book? Can you not just be a good little consumer and fit into the niche you are boxed into? Sigh. No, I cannot. I am always an effin' problem.

Here's the thing: a chatty sort of book based on the author's life experiences is much like a blog. In order to connect with it, you've got to like the authorial voice. I mean, anyone who's reading this (hello...hellllooooooo? anyone out there?) and who's visited this blog more than once can just be assumed to like a certain potty-mouthed, sarcastic world view, amirite? You might not agree with everything you read here and you might not like me enough to want to, say, invite me to dinner, but you are engaged enough by the authorial voice to keep reading. We are, (mythical) you and me, simpatico.

Well, me n' Ms Berger Gross, we are not simpatico. I found her, almost from the beginning insufferable. For someone who is claiming a certain level of spiritual enlightenment, she is remarkably lacking in self-awareness and stunningly blind to her own privilege. I almost felt like I was reading GOOP.

Okay, Ms Berger Gross is not quite as insufferable as Gwyneth, but she does say things like "Now, eating half a pineapple a day can get pricey. But it's worth it to me to feel energetic and ready to go every morning..." and gives us smoothie recipes in which the ingredients are, no lie, organic yogurt, organic strawberries, organic orange juice, and honey. I was reading that at the beach yesterday and felt compelled to yell to my friend, "What??!!?!!?? The honey doesn't have to be organic??!!???"

Perhaps the most galling (and totally un-health-related, so, yeah, off-topic!) part of the book to me is that Ms Berger Gross has disowned her parents, just because she felt her relationship with them is dysfunctional and she is still sulking over the wrongs they did her when she was six. Let me be clear, their crimes were not that of horrific abuse. Your parents rape you or sell you for drug money, etc, I certainly support your decision to leave home as soon as you are able and never look back. On the other hand, you let them put you through Vassar, including funding a trip to Nepal where your journey of enlightenment begins, first and then decide to completely cut them off in their elderly years and not allow them to meet their grandchild, simply because you think daddy has anger issues and mommy shouldn't have stayed with him, you are a selfish douchebag. And when you justify that with an interpretation of the yoga sutras that weasels about how forgiving people doesn't actually mean forgiving them, you are a double douchebag. When you don't eat meat because it's unkind, but you cannot be kind and forgiving to the old people who raised you and whom you admit did their best, you are a triple douchebag. I may be only an ersatz Buddhist, but I know the karma involved in that is not good.

But back to the health and fitness related nonsense! There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about clean eating, juice fasts, never eating to the point of actually being full, and my personal favorite, detox enemas. And splurging once in awhile on whole grain organic (no, really) pizza made with hormone-free cheese.

Dude. I would rather be 40 pounds overweight, thanks.

In summary, don't buy this book. Instead, look forward to the second part of our series wherein I count how many times the word "sexy" is used in the first chapter of a weightlifting book for women!


1 comment:

  1. So totally correct about blog followers having to love the writing. I (am ashamed to admit) even read bloggers that ahem, I underlove (sometimes I make up my own words in a desperate attempt to be diplomatic), simply because I enjoy the writing. The reverse is true of bloggers who have something to say but don't say it well (and/or misuse the apostrophe). This applies not only to blogs but books. I read something that gets on my nerves and I perseverate for pages! I also listen to audiobooks when I walk and if the reader mispronounces a word, I walk for an hr. without hearing another word because I can't focus. It is even worse if the reader is the author. I'm thinking "you so totally did not write this book because had you done so, you would know how to pronounce that word". Oh, sorry, this WAS about you. Where were we?

    The rest of the entry and the video, well, did you hear me howling all the way from Boston? Assuming, of course, that you are there at the moment.