Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Work Week

(BookCrossing, 24 July 2011)

Helping people to leave the rat race, express themselves, etc. is a noble aim – helping them to bum around the workd while on their employer’s time quite another. I had picked up this book from Mozfest and then read about it in A.J. Jacobs’ “My Experimental Life”, where Ferriss asks to – and ineed does – lift an entire chapter on outsourcing straight into his book, and this is seemingly typical behaviour. Ferriss boasts of using loopholes to “achieve”, but is pushing people off a platform really achieving in Chinese wrestling? – I found this generally a bit unsavoury, to be honest. He does admit that one of his case studies was not keen on some of his methods, which is honest and fair enough. And I have taken an interest in some of the milder versions of his efficiency measures, such as checking email less often (but telling people you are going to do this: used today when I have a big work project in). I’m glad I didn’t buy this book – but then the author would probably approve of that!

Here’s a much fuller review of this book by the person I passed it to next!

Jennie Erdal – Ghosting: A Memoir

(BookCrossing, 30 July 2011)

As someone whose job it is to write for other people, on their terms and in their voices, a lot of the time, I was very interested to read this account of a ghost writer’s very heavy engagement with her craft. She ends up writing everything for her single client – letters, reviews, columns, non-fiction books … and then two novels! I now know where I, personally, would draw the line; I have been asked about writing fiction with people before, and I have turned them down – now I am committed to doing that! But as someone with more inside knowledge than presumably many of her readers, I did find her accounts of the process authentic and fascinating, and it would certainly prove interesting to anyone less aware of the processes and emotions. I would like to state here that I have never lounged by a pool with any of my clients, nor have I written the kind of material that will mean I have to release this book in the pub, and, sorry clients, but I’m not installing a fixed telephone line for any of you!