I used to agree with Ronald Reagan that the 9 scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help” but now I think there are contenders in town: “I’ve written this book, tell me what you think”
Knowing how much I love to read a colleague (who doesn’t) (love to read that is) has provided me an advance copy of his soon-to-be published tome and is awaiting my thoughts.
This is a problem. While I do indeed love to read I am not indiscriminate with my affections. I don’t, for example, read business books. Neither, for another example, do I read self-help books. Ever. Under any circumstances. I’m not for a moment suggesting I need no help, I just believe that actual help is unlikely to be found between glossy covers emblazoned with phrases like ‘life-altering’ in large, colourful fonts. I suspect real help will also cost more than $29.95). Or, as my Dad would put it, “you get what you pay for in this life darling, if you can’t afford quality go without”.
Accordingly you can possibly imagine my total absence of delight when the aforementioned colleague presented me with a book that combines business with self-help and said “I’ve written this book, tell me what you think”. He also mentioned that he hadn’t shown it to other colleagues but that I was getting special treatment because he knows I am a reader.
Why do non-readers assume that readers will read anything put in front of them be it Pride and Prejudice or a TV Repair Manual? It’s generally understood that people have different tastes in food, clothes or movies so why are reading tastes not equally well appreciated?
And why are there so many non-readers who write books? Isn’t it more than a little arrogant to think you can produce something you have no experience of as a consumer? Or are these non-reading writers so gob-smackingly conceited that they think all the books that have come before theirs were lacking the one vital ingredient that they’ve unearthed?
Despite my annoyance and in what can only be described as a complete failure of maturity I have, to date, dealt with this issue by actively avoiding my colleague. Among other indignities this has included bribing my staff (with significant quantities of chocolate) to lie for me and, I’m ashamed to admit, hiding under my desk for a few minutes last week.
But tomorrow is d-day. I will not be able to avoid being in the same room as my colleague any longer.
I’ve decided to tell him that we he was wrong. That even though I am a reader I ‘m really not the target audience for a book about how to be a better sales person ‘even (to quote the blurb) if the only thing I have to sell is myself’.
Because I don’t imagine he wants to know what I really think which is that the kind of pseudo-psychology I sense his book is about (I sense this from chapter titles like “Selling Up: Why Should Your Boss Buy You?”) is just the kind of loathsome waste of dead trees that no human needs to read and I’d rather gnaw off my own arm than spend a moment with the damned thing.
But if he asks…