Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I have a very busy day, so I decided to flake off a little bit with my goal to make it to 100,000 pages and read a shorter book.

Today's book, "Americans are a "positive" people - cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive is the key to getting success and prosperity. Or so we are told. Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking, tracing it from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. With the myth-busting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of positive thinking: personal self-blame and national denial."

Pessimistic thoughts:

  • I was very tempted to title this blog entry "In Praise of Bitterness," but then I thought better of it. But if anyone ever wrote a book with that title I would love to read it. Maybe I should write a book about that - and then I could follow it up with "In Praise of Shallowness."

  • I picked today's book because I have read another book by the author - For Her Own Good - which was very interesting. I have a weird habit of reading that I really enjoy, and then never bothering to read any of the other books by that author. I guess it's partially because I have a hard time believing that I will like the second book as much as the first, and also because I am lazy. There I said it. I'm too lazy to go and look up the other books by that author and read them. But, I've decided to change that and give today's author a second try. And I'm so glad that I did, because I found today's book really interesting. I wouldn't say that it's a book I loved (and I didn't love her other book either) but it was fascinating in places.

  • I had a bit of an obsession with self-help books as a child (I was so weird) so I was happy to see the author of today's book mention one of my personal favorites from that time, "The Power of Positive Thinking." According to that book, if you visualize it, it will come. I spent months trying to control other people's actions by visualizing them doing whatever I wanted them to do. I tried so hard to be the mental Puppet Master, but to no avail. The book did warn about using visualization for evil personal gain, but I figured there was nothing evil about trying to visualize my Mom letting me have that fourth Oreo, so what was the harm?