April 16, 2008

Review: Four Secrets to Liking Your Work, by Munzio, Fisher, and Thomas


Title: Four Secrets to Liking Your Work: You May Not Need to Quit to Get the Job You Want
Authors: Edward G. Munzio, Deborah J. Fisher, and Erv Thomas
Originally Published: 2008
This Edition: 2008 (ARC)
ISBN: 9780132344456 / 0132344459

This is yet another book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. I received it probably about a month ago, and I've been trying to read it since.

Hmm, I feel almost as if my review could stop with that last sentence.

The basic premise of this long-named text is that you can find ways to enjoy your work by shifting your perspective, learning about the work styles of yourself and of your colleagues, finding keys to motivating yourself, and the like. All that is well and good, I'm sure. I happen to like my job, but I could see myself applying some of these techniques if I didn't.

However. I could not get through this book for laughing. It's not supposed to be funny; the prose is just that bad. Here are the opening two paragraphs of the prologue:
Prologue: "Monday Morning Dread"

The alarm broke the peaceful silence of the bedroom with an ugly metallic buzz, the dial glowing sallow green numerals of an obscene hour. Brian rubbed his eyes; consciousness came slowly. Soon, that old feeling of "work dread" began to smother his spirit. The day ahead of him drifted into focus, and his all too familiar feeling of dismay was close behind: It's time to go to work.

Like many, Brian lost his "will to work" years ago. The thought of a whole week at "that place" made him want to go back to sleep or to vanish and never return. The conflict, the oppression, the sadness, and the boredom were unbearable. Yet he could find no alternative. Bills needed to be paid, and he had become fond of eating.

Where to begin? Even ignoring the tense change at the end of the first paragraph and the "unnecessary" quotation "marks," this is bad prose. This is bad like NaNoWriMo at three am. This is the "if I insert enough adjectives it will be good" school of writing. It's bad, and the whole book is like it. And where does Brian work, exactly? The gulag? And does he know that he can find another job and still pay his bills? People do it all of the time. And wouldn't he have quit if the job actually was unbearable? These paragraphs confuse me.

Nevertheless, we'll leave Brian aside for the moment. I will now turn to the back of the book. Remember, this is a non-fiction work that is trying to be taken seriously. It's aimed at business professionals. It has pages and pages of spectacular quotations from reviews. And in the reference section, it cites wikipedia. Four times. Can I be more emphatic? It CITES WIKIPEDIA. Do I need to explain why this is stupid?

Prose, style, and scholarship aside -- I think that this book would be useful for someone who is in the unhappy position of disliking a job they can't quit. There are some good techniques and some good insights. You just have to wade through a lot of much to get to them.

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