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Ryan DeJonghe - The Avid Reader

I didn't always read, but that changed in June of 2013. I dropped the unnecessary stuff and picked up the awesome stuff--like reading! I started posting my reviews on Amazon and within a few months rose to the top 0.1% of reviewers. My reviews then went to Goodreads, and now my blog (http://ryandejonghe.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Ryan_Reads). If you are reading this, why not leave a comment or send me a note? I love talking to other folks about books and my reviews. Publishers and authors, feel free to drop me a note if you want me to review your book. I usually stick to mainstream publishing, but I'll consider anything. If I review your book, I’ll give you a fair and thorough review and let you know when the review goes live. You can reach me at dejonghes@gmail.com. Happy Reading!
The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don'ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life - Charles Murray

This book feels a bit short and outdated. A 20-year-old (target audience) following Charles Murray’s advice would stand out, but not necessarily in a good way. They’d appear disconnected and unimaginative. They may be polite, well-dressed, and properly spoken, but those are the people that often fly under the radar. For a better book about getting ahead, read WHO GETS PROMOTED, WHO DOESN’T, AND WHY by Donald Asher. It is also published by Crown (under the 10 Speed imprint), but feels much more modern, and has greater, well-researched details about “getting ahead”.


Murray’s advice is not all humdrum. He does include some excellent resources for further reading, as well as insight into timeless clichés that still have valued meaning. It never hurts anyone to be polite, without sucking up, and to dress well. Some of this may be taught more by mentoring or coaching, versus this book.


Murray’s grammar section takes up a third of his book; it barely scratches the surface, and even what it does contain sounds stiff. Look at Steven Pinker’s recent article in THE GUARDIAN that discusses why it is okay to break certain grammar rules (all of the “rules” he addresses are found in this CURMUDGEON’S GUIDE): http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/15/steven-pinker-10-grammar-rules-break (I will be reviewing Pinker’s upcoming book THE SENSE OF STYLE when it comes out next month.)


Because much of Murray’s presentation focuses on grammar, I’d be remiss not to mention June Casagrande’s GRAMMAR SNOBS ARE GREAT BIG MEANIES, which is a fun way to learn grammar and syntax rules. Casagrande also has a book out called THE BEST PUNCTUATION BOOK, PERIOD (also published under a Crown imprint) that is better than that curmudgeonly and mean spirited book EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES (whose author wishes lightning strikes and burial upon users of poor punctuation).


I don’t believe Murray to truly be a curmudgeon. I believe he has a good heart and wants to help younger employees succeed. His effort at sounding “mean” in this book comes across as flawed. And again, the book is tiny (don’t give this as a gift thinking graduates will read this; get them something they’ll actually read): the book is about as tall as a dollar bill, a few inches wide, and under an inch in thickness. Besides talking about no piercings in the workplace, getting married, and finding religion, there’s not much content for your money.


Thanks to Crown and Blogging for Books for sending this book for me to review.