9 Scary Words

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…


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9 Responses to 9 Scary Words

  1. Norm/Uriah says:

    Great post Bernadette. Could you claim a sudden migraine that prevents you from reading?
    It is sad that he thinks you will be impressed by this nonsense. Does he not know you very well?


  2. bernadetteinoz says:

    Norman it seems he knows one thing about me – that I read books. Other than that he’s clueless. My staff think it is utterly hysterical that he couldn’t predict my reaction because they all could (even the one who’s only been there 3 weeks) but they are grateful for the chocolate and don’t appear to be suffering from the moral dilemma of being asked to lie.


  3. Rob says:

    I have this great little book on software that I could do with some feedback on, Bernadette. I can send you a PDF and you can get back to me when your arms grow back … go on, you know you want to – you do, you know you do … 😉


  4. bernadetteinoz says:

    Gee Rob that’s such a great offer but I’m awfully busy for the next 3-4 decades (although I would predict that any book about software would be about 100 times more entertaining than any book with a chapter entitled 10 MORE RESPONSES TO ‘NO THANKS I’M NOT BUYING’ (because apparently the chapter that gave the first 10 responses didn’t do enough to make potential salespeople the most annoying human beings on the planet)


  5. Bernadette – What an awkward position for you to be in!! Although I have to admit, I did get a laugh from the mental picture of you hiding under your desk..

    I’m so glad that you’re going to talk to your colleague about this; as awkward as that’ll be, it’s far better than to keep letting him assume that you’re dying to read and give feedback on his book.

    I haven’t yet come across authors that do that to me; however, I have known people that have pressed their favorite books into my hands, saying that those books will “change my life.” Quite awkward when the book is some sort of spiritual guide or self-help book and the person who lends it starts asking how I liked the book….


  6. Dorte H says:

    Poor you!

    Usually I am quite good at staying clear of that kind of obligations. I suppose I look grim and forbidding… A friend of mine experienced something similar last month. She felt obliged to read a crime novel written by someone from our online writing course. The book was bad, and the view on women worse, so she didn´t know what on earth to say to him.


  7. Fiona Robyn says:

    Hello Bernadette – I’m a British author and a fellow member of Bookblogs, and I wanted to invite you (and your readers) to participate in my Blogsplash – there’s more information at http://www.fionarobyn.com/thawblogsplash.htm. Thanks for listening!


  8. Sandy Jay says:

    Great post, Bernadette. What a position to find yourself in. Let us pray that he doesn’t suddenly decide to read something and find it! 🙂


  9. bernadetteinoz says:

    One of the reasons I am very careful about not revealing too much about myself on this blog is that I don’t the wrong people from my ‘real world’ finding me here 😀


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