“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
I often find my IG timeline flooded with the same books, just different accounts and different poses. Some of these books also make it onto the pages of figures who are worth learning from, and so it becomes easy to choose a book because there is so much hype about it.
There are times when I want a book that matches the mood I’m in or which can help me deal with a particular issue, and so I’ll Google and get a list of popular books that match what I’m looking for. Some of them do deliver, they really live up to the hype while others leave me wondering what the fuss really is about.
However, I do believe that it’s not because the books I find underwhelming are bad. It’s just a preference thing. Some books are powerful and amazing for some people while they suck for others. Just like everything else in this world- music, food, art, people, etc.
So, here’s a list of books I went running to buy because I was told they were mind-blowing but didn’t work for me.
Adultery by Paulo Coelho
I read this back when I used to commit to a book. If I started a book, I had to finish it. And so I tortured myself through Adultery, constantly saying, “Please tell me it gets better. Please tell me it gets better,” until I reached the last page. Before this I’d read The Devil and Miss Prym, The Alchemist, Veronika Decides to Die, Brida, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, The Winner Stands Alone and Manuscript Found in Accra. I loved all of them, some more than others, but Adultery became my last.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
When I read the reviews I saw, “thrilling, intelligent, pleasant, chilling…” but I didn’t experience any of those. It was okay but it didn’t keep me at the edge of my seat. When I got to the end I really wondered if that was it. That’s it? That’s the story? It clearly wasn’t for me.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
I read this in Jan or Feb this year and wrote a review. I believe if I had read this four or five years ago, I’d have fallen in love with it, revisited it even. I think once you’ve read a whole lot of business, self-help or entrepreneurship books, some being absolutely powerful and life-changing, when you read one that sounds like a repetition of what you’ve already learned, you can become easily bored. That’s what happened with The $100 Startup, so I’d still recommend it as a good book but just not for me.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
I didn’t enjoy it because I didn’t fully understand it. I only got to appreciate the book when I read The Art of War for Women by Chin-ning Chu, which I found absolutely impressive and useful. The original text by Sun Tzu is on the list of books that changed history but whose history, I ask. Wealthy people, dictators and the whole cluster of people in positions of power swear by it but I honestly didn’t get it.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
This is a good book and a necessary book. I say this because I appreciate the message she’s sharing. We need to hear more female voices promoting women empowerment and I appreciate the way she raises a voice for women and their space in the workplace and home. I reviewed it and I took only the great bits and gave it a positive review. The only thing for me was that the book was not exciting. It talks about crucial issues but it wasn’t stimulating. There’s a way to make even the most serious matters sound exciting, and this one just didn’t do it for me.
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
This book has a few parts that are funny and pleasant to read. It’s also a good story overall, all the right and basic elements of good storytelling are in there. But it didn’t have that punch, it didn’t knock my socks off. I read it but once I closed it, I quickly forgot about it.
What Colour is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
I don’t think I’m the target audience.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
There are many gems in the book and you will leave with something that will help make some change in the way you see things. I bought it because of the title, it’s a really cool title. Somewhere in the middle, I lost interest and my enthusiasm dropped significantly until I couldn’t force anymore and had to put it down. I did, however, pick it up again and finished it even though it still wasn’t as amazing as it had first started.
The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma
I’m a fan of Robin Sharma’s work and there’s always so much to learn. The way I feel about his work is the way I feel about Paulo Coelho’s work, inspiring and motivating, but repetitive. If you read more than three of his books then you will notice how a lot of times you pick up the same or similar lines, or the same lesson. Maybe it’s intentional but it can be exhausting. Another reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much is that I think the advice is great but it doesn’t fit into my personal life, I can’t follow it, there’s not much room for it. I did try to personalise the advice so that it can work for my schedule and my home and work life, but it didn’t happen.
What are some of the hyped books you found underwhelming?