It’s not very often that I give a bad review for a book, except if it’s total rubbish like Fifty Shades or anything by Charles Dickens (see earlier review October 9, 2009). A few years ago, during an election campaign in Australia, one politician said of another politician: “Any man who claims to have a cold shower every morning obviously lies about other things as well.” I was very impressed by this and feel that a similar sentiment can be applied to people who claim that they really enjoy all the works of Charles Dickens. I simply don’t believe it.
I simply don’t believe some of the reviews for Robin Sharma’s book, either. The outrageous claim in the blurb that this is a story of “breathtaking power and dazzling suspense about what it means to be fully alive”, will probably leave most of us with our mouths gaping (not Game of Thrones Red Wedding episode gaping, but the feeling of being a tad ripped off kind of gaping). I had high hopes for it, given the somewhat quirky title and cute little monk on the front, but it turned out to be a rather bland story, ultimately serving as a catalyst for Sharma’s so-called wise words. Nothing earth shattering or profound to be found here: simply be kind, surround yourself with good influences, follow your heart, and so on.
The story revolves around Jonathan Landry, a company man whose life is a mess. His wife has left him because he never spends enough time with her and their son; he’s obsessed with his work; and he’s lost touch with what life should really be about. His worried family comes to the rescue and a cousin who spent time with some monks in the Himalayas sends him off on a mission to retrieve nine talismans that have been left in the safekeeping of friends living across the globe. It’s all pretty predictable. Each talisman accompanies a message that was salient in the personal growth of the person who gives it to him, and Landry gradually applies all of these tid bits to his own life and all is well with the world once again.
The only thing I really got from this book was a few travel tips to store away for future use. As I plan to visit Cape Breton next year, it was useful advice to take the Cabot Drive in a clockwise direction so as to be on the inside lane when coming up and down the mountain. Also, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona shows us the evolving brilliance of the artist’s work under the tutelage of his father. From Landry’s visit to Turkey we get a brief history of the Black Sea and its evolution.
So, Sharma’s book is not a total flop, it’s just a massive anti-climax. I’m sure, though, that each person who reads it will be able to extract something that is pertinent to their own life.