This was a really good book and I have now listened to it three times and intend to listen to it again in a few months to refresh the concepts.
Bronson Pinchot's reading is *perfect* so I disagree strongly with the previous reviewer who said the narration was off and should have been done by someone with more "experience". First of all, Pinchot has 81 narration credits to his name so he's a total pro. Also, the cadence and tone was right on throughout. I checked the list of books he narrated to see if anything else caught my fancy, he was that good. To each his own.
The book itself is excellent. Levy describes the use of "freewriting" (where you write as fast as you can for so many minutes without stopping and without editing or correcting yourself) for idea generation. I understand freewriting is an old technique, and Levy cites Peter Elbow's "Writing with Power" as a source. Being my first real intro to the idea I learned a lot and have been using freewriting as Levy describes and frankly I think it's a life-changer though perhaps that's overstating just slightly. It is extremely useful and he supplements the basic freewriting idea with a number of concepts for idea generation and using your freewriting for more finished and public work.
If I were to criticize something in the book I'd just say a few of the exercises are of questionable value, but there's plenty here to hold your interest.
Everything of value (not much IMHO) can be had with the free 80-minute preview also available here on Audible. If you think this is a self-help book that will teach you "How To Learn Anything ... Fast!" I'm afraid you will be disappointed.
The author is not a skill acquisition expert. That in itself isn't a problem if he did some good synthesis of skill acquisition research and then explained meaningfully how he applied the research to his own learning. Unfortunately the book is little more than a collection of long-winded descriptions of his skills rather than a clear exposition of how he learned them. So for example before you hear anything about how he "learned" Yoga he goes into a lot of detail (Wikipedia grade summary) of Yoga, its history, etc. Maybe you will find these passages fascinating, i.e. descriptions of background material from someone who admits to being a total amateur at them. I found these long stretches incredibly dull and pointless given the true purpose of the book. I wanted to LEARN HOW TO LEARN, not to learn what the author learned from the internet about some of his hobbies. Even the parts where he talks about the skills themselves do not bear a very clear relation to the little bit of general advice he provides in the beginning.
Especially as an audiobook (where it's hard to skip to the few places that might be of interest) this book just does not work.
Rob Inglis deserves some major awards for his reading of this book. In addition to the Hobbit itself being even better than I remember (I last read it thirty years ago), Inglis's performance is thrilling. He is the *perfect* narrator for the Hobbit. As soon as I finished it I picked up the full Lord of the Rings audiobook series narrated by Inglis as well because I already know they're going to be great.
Kevin Smith is especially good as narrator because he talks and tells stories for a living. This book is fantastic and I've already re-listened to it and will do again. It's funny, raunchy (warning!), and has interesting stories throughout. Surprisingly it's also actually pretty inspiring. Smith includes an ode to the game of Hockey and to Wayne Gretzky that should earn him honorary Canadian citizenship. The audio version is especially good because of his performance and the bonus of a few audio-only asides thrown in.
This book made me angry above all else. It was a waste of time and money. I cannot fathom how this title got so many positive reviews here.
In general the book makes the following "point":
Successful endeavors are lead by people with a clear sense of purpose. These people start with "why", and then figure out the "how" and the "what" from there.
Nothing in this book added substantially to that. As others have pointed out, you can get the same content for free by watching the author's TED talk. He makes assertions in this book that range from the trite to the utterly ridiculous - all delivered as if he were revealing some great discovery. The impression I get is that his "research" consisted of the perusal of some Wikipedia articles on success stories like Apple and Steve Jobs, the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King, etc.
It was all so fluffy and general and absolutely without substance. Again, I am at a complete loss as to how it could have even gotten published, let alone garnered positive reviews.
Folks I am sorry for the negativity but I am truly miffed at this one. Mr. Simon Sinek is now BANNED from my bookshelves. Fool me once ...
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