Tag Archives: self-help

Review of The Slave, by Anand Dilvar

I won a copy of The Slave, by Anand Dilvar, through Goodreads.

Trapped in a vegetative state, following a terrible accident that has paralyzed his whole body, the narrator is unable to communicate with those around him. Cut off from family and friends so begins an inner conversation with his spiritual guide, a conversation which takes him on a journey of self-realization, bringing him eventually to a new state of consciousness, and an understanding of his deepest self.

Written with an engaging simplicity, this is a truly profound book which can change your life. In fact to use the authors own words, it is designed to shake, shudder and wake us up. It is a book that has nothing to do with success, social recognition, with the accumulation of goods; but everything to do with joy, love and peace.

Sooooo, I read The Slave and I rolled my eyes so hard I think I saw the back of my skull. Why do people keep publishing books telling others to accept reality and take responsibility for their own actions and emotions, while pretending this is some new ground-breaking idea? I’m pretty sure Lao Tzu said it in the 6th century (BCE). And it probably wasn’t even a new idea when he decided to write it down!

The writing is stiff and there are several inconsistencies. For example, the unnamed protagonist was a John Doe at the hospital. But he was injured in a car accident at a party with people he knew. Surely someone could ID him to the paramedics. And his spirit guide was supposed to be part of himself and not know anything he didn’t. But he could prompt enlightenment and teach lessons John Doe didn’t know.

It was also vague on details. A hospital staff said the character was in “some sort of rigamortis.” A doctor claimed his “heart stopped,” instead of saying cardiac arrest or asystole. The girlfriend said she moved in with her aunt who lived “quite far from here,” etc.

All in all, I found the whole thing sappy and unoriginal. It’s been done better before.

Review of Consciousness Archaeology, by Maximus Freeman

I won a copy of Consciousness Archaeology, by Maximus Freeman, through Goodreads.

Description from Goodreads:
Consciousness Archaeology vividly chronicles Freeman’s relentless, twenty-year exploration of the ebbs and flows of life from the dark night of the Soul to the radiant light of Presence. His use of intimate, personal stories provides a raw, unfiltered view of human nature in its most vulnerable state. Freeman shares his unique perspective on many ancient truths and introduces several insightful theories of his own while injecting just a hint of humor. Most importantly though, he provides simple, practical exercises which allow the reader to experience profound, life-long benefits. Are you ready to dig deep?


Self-help books are a difficult group to review, as what works for one person might not for another and visa-versa. This book is no different in that regard. But I’m willing to nix it for a few important (to me) reasons.

First, how exactly can a man write a book that is supposed to be about acceptance and letting go of the self, but includes so very many references to Me, Myself and I? This is not actually about about how you or I can excavate our consciousness. It is instead a memoir of how Maximus Freeman explored and discovered his. Not the same thing!

He speaks about how in the past he was a self-centered, control-freak. But all we have is his own word that this has changed. And frankly, finding a man (a white man, at that) willing to tell you all about how he has the answers you don’t isn’t rare or eye opening. Nor does it convince me that he’s suddenly the easy going, modest guy he espouses.

Second, he identifies the root of all insecurities by page 4 (which is really page two, as the first is a title page and the second a centered quote). Then he finds the reason we all ‘act the way we act’ and how to move away from it by page six, before jumping into his spiel. Excuse me, but those are huge topics that deserve a lot more attention than 4 pages. What’s more, as a reader I expect more than just being told. I want some supporting information.

Third, he includes references to the spirit, light and dark, karma, etc. But all of these are separated from their original context. I’ve said this in the past, in similar author centered self-help books, but you can’t just appropriate ideas piecemeal and then present them as original, with no understanding or reference to their culture of origin.

Lastly, There is almost no new information or recommendations here. Freeman is basically just taking other authors’ practices and recommending them (because they work for him). There is no expiration of why they work or even, importantly, how to make them work. My advice? Look at the bibliography, go find the source material and read it. You don’t need to get it filtered through some man who thinks the pinnacle of vulnerability is admitting he was bullied in middle-school for being short.

I have no doubt Freeman believes himself evolved and intends this book to truly help people. But to me, it reads like one man’s ego trip. Even watch a JP Sears video? Yeah, this is they type he’s making fun of.

Review of Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual, by Jocko Willink

I won a copy of Jocko Willink‘s Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual through Goodreads.


Jocko Willink’s methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life. Many books offer advice on how to overcome obstacles and reach your goals—but that advice often misses the most critical ingredient: discipline. Without discipline, there will be no real progress. Discipline Equals Freedom covers it all, including strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear, and specific physical training presented in workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes, and even the best sleep habits and food intake recommended to optimize performance.

Within these pages discover the keys to becoming stronger, smarter, faster, and healthier. There is only one way to achieve true freedom: The Way of Discipline. Read this book and find The Way.


It’s not that I think Willink doesn’t have any good points in this book, it’s just that I really, REALLY can’t relate to how he presents any of them. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is a book written for men. And I don’t just mean because of its yanged out, gung-ho tone (there are women who go for this sort of thing), but because it talks about the benefit of exercise and such as building muscle mass and increasing testosterone, among other things (not generally things women aim for). I’ll go farther and say it’s written for Willink’s fellow soldiers. There’s a section on guns and another on choosing a martial art. Neither of which seem relevant to a standard get fit self-help book, but are right up the alley of aggressive male types.

The thing that I found so very alienating about this book though was the framing of everything as a battle. After 20 years as a navy seal, I can understand how Willink came to be this way, but I just find the very idea pointlessly exhausting, wrong, and unnecessary. Many of his points could as easily have been said in less adversarial terms and be just as true. But that’s not the sort of book this is. It’s designed for war-minded men who like the idea of crushing their enemy, even if that enemy is self-doubt, or laziness, or lack of motivation. I’m just really not one of those people.

Further evidence (to me) that the book is intended for those who might qualify as meatheads is the way it’s formatted with white text on a black background, with indents and right justifications, and lots and lots of empty space per page. The whole thing reads more like mini-motivational speeches than anything else. As if it’s intended to sit on the coffee table and be opened to a random page for the quick inspirational pick-me-up. I read the whole thing in less than an hour, despite being almost 200 pages long.

All in all, I can’t say if this is good or bad, only that it really isn’t for me. I found the whole thing ridiculous, even if Willink’s point that anything you want to do you just have to do is a good one. Too bad he didn’t actually write a book about how to actually accomplish that.