Books (and people) you don’t love

Published on
June 8, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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One of our new Actionable Book Club members recently told me that the book she’d selected to summarize wasn’t all that great. In fact, she hated it. And didn’t know what to do. How could she write a summary on (and thereby effectively “promote”) a book she could hardly finish?

In context to the ABC, specifically, I suggested that if she truly couldn’t find anything of value to write on, she could, of course, select another. No sense being stuck working with a dud when there was nothing holding her back from simply picking up another book.

But here’s the thing – sometimes we are stuck with duds. Sometimes we have little choice but to work on that project, or with that team, or sit next to that guy. Sometimes the person you’re next to in line at the buffet irks you in every way imaginable. What then?

I believe we have a choice. We have a choice to remove ourselves from the situation, certainly (though sometimes the ramifications of a choice like that can make it a difficult one), but above that, we also have the opportunity to dig. To look beneath the poorly written pages or the seemingly bigoted comments. To move past our own reaction to the stimuli; to try to remove ourselves from the equation and to see what there is to be learned here; even if it’s not the most enjoyable experience on the surface.

At the risk of appearing naive or blindly optimistic, I truly believe there’s something to be learned from every experience; every person and, yes, every book. I think I like the game of it, too – the challenge of looking beyond the emotional, visceral reaction we have towards something and to look deeper where most people look away. If nothing else, you develop your own sense of courage and a deeper understanding of why certain things offend or attract you.

It’s easy to look deeper into the things you love. It’s another thing entirely to learn from those you don’t.