Sep 10, 2010

The Dullest Man In Babylon

For my finance class, I've had to read "The Richest Man in Babylon" and then write a two page report on the subject, which I have yet to do.

First, I am going to write a review of it here, then take out all the expletives and complaints, add some fluff, and make it 2 pages.

With the title I gave this post, hopefully you can guess my feelings towards it. The Richest Man in Babyon (RMIB) is a small book, 144 pages, small pages with large-ish type. It's also one of the longest books I've ever written. I don't claim that it was a waste of time, far from it, it was just so poorly written after every paragraph I needed to take a break and read something less mind numbing, like the sales figures for the Twilight Saga, or why Justin Bieber is so darn popular.

That being said, I will talk about what I enjoyed about the book. I liked the lessons it taught, and I plan on implementing them all. They boil down to: save 10% of all you earn, be wise, and be industrious. There are other lessons as well for how to be wealthy/successful, and I appreciated how they said that wealth can be used to make you more at peace and more secure, not what most wealth building books suggest, that once you make all this amazing money you can be lazy all you want! But first, buy more of my books/my $10,000 program and you'll make money! I swear! The principles in it are solid, are smart, and in my opinion, correlate to teachings of the gospel. Not least of these, the teaching repeated throughout the Book of Mormon: "If you keep my commandments, you shall prosper in the land."

What I didn't enjoy: George S. Clason, the author or RMIB is a smart man, gifted with financial ideas. I'm not sure how successful he was, but if he followed the principles taught in the little nugget RMIB, I have no doubt he was happy and successful. But his fortune was not made by his prose. It's bad, ladies and gentlemen. Stephenie Meyer on antidepressants (so, Stephenie Meyer) bad. Sample from page 1: "Beads of perspiration formed upon (the chariot builder's) brow and trickled down unnoticed to lose themselves in the hairy jungle on his chest." Not an image I wanted, George. What this book needs is a superior author to take what GSC wrote and improve/tighten/remove the bad prose. This book could be superb. But the writing is so bad, it becomes very difficult to glean what good the book does have.

And don't say "Austin, if you're so smart," true, I grant you that. "Austin, if you're so smart, why don't you rewrite the book?" Well mister hypothetical reader, I would, but I am busy enough with my own stuff like work and school and home and my own writing that doesn't involve a chariot maker's hairy jungle. I don't remember if I've stated this (probably, but repetition is important, and fun) I have a sketchbook for a drawing class that requires at least 200 sketches, approx. 1/2 an hour spent on each page, I have photos I need to take, a notebook for all semester with current news articles on ethical issues, I have a budget for all semester to make, 3 stocks I need to follow, and a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting that are all equally important. Not that I'm asking you to pity me (not so overtly, anyway) but I'm saying Austin is a busy bee, and would appreciate a little respect, especially hypothetical questions from hypothetical people.

Anyway, would I recommend this book? Sure. Would I recommend it for any reason other than for saving money? Heck no. Don't even think about it. The writing will make you cry if you're a writer, and fall asleep if you're not. Maybe both.

That's all I have to say about that, now I'm off to actually doing my homework, I wonder what that'll be like.


Jacob I. McMillan said...

Please post more excerpts. This book sounds horrifying.

Mark said...

At least the author clarified that the hairy jungle is on his chest, instead of other even more horrifying places. And I think the book report for finance class doesn't really care about the writing part of the assignment, just the finance part.
and I'm sure glad in your busy schedule, you have time to blog (which apparently is a noun and a verb)

Austin said...

"Trickles of sweat slid down is back, descending into the hairy jungle of his butt crack." Better?

I would post more excerpts, but that would require me to read it again. Not gonna happen for awhile.

I heard something interesting today from my Philosophy teacher that applies to this situation. He said flat out "some philosophers are boring, or are not good writers. Don't read the literary content, read the ideas expressed." I can take the same view when reading the hairiest man in babylon.

Ammon said...

I actually think that this was a really worthwhile book. While it may come off dated and a bit cheesy, the principles are top notch.

It's the kind of book like How to Win Friends and Influence People or How to Lie with Statistics that I'll re-read every few years because I think they're so valuable.