Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dare to Prepare, by Ronald M. Shapiro

I went to the city library to tutor some kids, and when they didn't show up, I browsed the shelves of new books. There was this book, with a finger pointing at me, telling me to prepare. I had just decided which graduate program to attend in the fall and was feeling inadequate to the task before me, so I decided I would read this book and learn how to prepare for what awaits.

Having read the book, I'm not too satisfied with the results. It is heavy on "here's why you should prepare" and pretty light on "here's how to prepare." Well, I don't know. Each chapter that is full of stories of the benefits others have realized from preparation covers a particular aspect of preparation. I guess I just feel this book would be really useful as an outline with hyperlinks. If any aspect of the outline is interesting, you could click on the link and learn more, but otherwise you've learned the essential points from the outline. This book also would be useful as a reference, when you are trying to prepare for something and you want to make sure you're approaching it correctly or using the most effective methods.

The actual act of reading was difficult sometimes because of the way the author used compound subjects with his verbs. It made it so I thought I'd come to the verb when really it was part of the subject, so later when I got to the verb, I had no idea what the sentence meant and had to re-read. That's just a matter of his writing style and my reading style being out-of-whack. One example was when he wrote, "Not only do Ray and his department head peers face the normal budgetary tug-of-war that define [sic] any such entity; they also are highly competitive achievers at the pinnacle of their game" (209). I thought the subject was "Ray and his department," the verb was "head," and the direct object was "peers." Then I got to the verb "face" and had to start over to see the subject was "Ray and his department head peers." Again, no one is right or wrong here; I was just confused a lot.

What I was looking for, though, wasn't quite what this book was written to be. This book is more for discrete events that can be planned and seen to a conclusion. With my current task, it seems impossible to identify counter-party desires or to script how I would ask the hard questions. There really isn't a counter-party and there aren't any hard questions to ask. But in terms of getting me to think about the process I'm about to start and formulate ways to be successful, this book led me to that, if only by showing me that the book wasn't going to get me there.

Rating: 3 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.

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