by Anniel 4/29/14
By Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve • As soon as I saw the title of this book I knew I had to read it, so I sent for a Kindle sample. Just a note here about being able to get samples. It’s one of the best deals going. I can usually tell by immersing myself in the first part of a book whether I want to spend money or time on it. This sample was an “I’ve GOT to get this book” one.
And I was not disappointed one whit. I was so excited I called all my friends and relatives and told them to go and get it, and give it to all their children. I have several family members who can share my Kindle books, so they get the good advice and knowledge for free.
Dr. Murray claims to be a libertarian, but I find that to be a misnomer, at least as far as his writings in this book indicate. He has too many thoughts on right behavior and the consequences of bad behavior to be uninvolved in what his neighbors might choose to do. He even takes time in his discourse to defend the Constitution, and puts in a plea for religious training, at least a little. I also found him to be more amusing in his curmudgeonliness (I kind of like that word) than I had expected from his earlier writings. This book is much more personal than his academic tomes.
The book is divided into named chapters, and then into numbered snippets of thought or advice within each chapter heading.
ON THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN THE WORKPLACE.
My favorite here is definitely No. 3:
Excise the word like from your spoken language.
Do you use the word like as a verbal tic? I mean, like, do you insert it in, like, random points in your, like, spoken conversation? If the answer is yes, this is the most important point in the entire book: STOP IT.
ON THINKING AND WRITING WELL.
“The process of writing is the dominant source of intellectual creative activity.”
Number 19. Learn to love rigor.
He expects rigor in study, history, thought and preparation. Rigor in editing, syntax, spelling, choosing the perfect words. I found this to be an utterly fascinating section. Murray covers the tools required for writing well, when to write, how to edit yourself, how to have an informed opinion, and so much more. Instruction I sorely need.
ON THE FORMATION OF WHO YOU ARE
Numbers 20 through 28.
One of the best pieces of advice he has to give is to move away from your parents; go out into the real world and get a real job; live on what you earn with no help from mom and dad; discover the needs and aspirations of ordinary people who may live outside your previously insulated existence, people who are not like you. You should discover that you are not the center of the universe and that you can GROW UP AND GET TOUGH.
And so it goes. Learn what you really want to do; determine what you have the ability to do; how to get along (or not) with a boss; what is expected of you as an employee; should you cheat if your boss says to; should you get married and why; whom should you marry and when; choosing a spouse you can be happy with. Whew!
Which takes us to Number 34. WATCH Groundhog Day repeatedly.
He says this is will be a good substitute for not reading and pondering The Nicomachean Ethics. Aren’t you glad?
His finale is Number 35. The book is not too long, so you’ll get there quickly.
Dr. Murray says he wrote this book to clarify life for the generation just beginning their careers, but his wisdom applies to all.
As you can tell, I loved this book. But I must be more of a curmudgeon than Charles Murray, because I have one more piece of advice:
SPIT OUT THE GUM.