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Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science
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Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  473 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
From a living legend—James D. Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize for having revealed the structure of DNA—a personal account of the making of a scientist. In Avoid Boring People, the man who discovered “the secret of life” shares the less revolutionary secrets he has found to getting along and getting ahead in a competitive world.

Recounting the years of his own formation—f
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Knopf
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Laura
Nov 17, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
James Watson should be avoided, at his own advice.
Andrea
Apr 09, 2012 Andrea rated it it was ok
Shelves: nerd-stuff
Quick- do you read this title as "avoid people who you find boring" or "avoid the act yourself of making others feel bored?"
It turns out Watson meant it both ways (as he would have had to... any decent scientist would not leave such obvious ambiguity in his words), but it took him 300 pages to say so, thereby causing both of us to violate his advice.

I don't know where to start, really. I almost stopped reading after the first chapter, where Watson comes off as an unbearable, arrogant little bra
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Victor Tatarskii
Jan 01, 2014 Victor Tatarskii rated it liked it
Too many facts in a book too small.
Double Helix by James Watson is one of my most loved books about doing science, so I anticipated a very interesting reading about Watson's life from childhood until leaving Harvard in the 70's. But this memoir is a too big collection of people, places and facts in Watson's life to make an interesting reading about any of them. It all goes "I met this one, and then I worked with that one", and so on, and so on. Don't expect any deep insights into personalities o
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Lucy Stewart
Jul 28, 2010 Lucy Stewart rated it liked it
Enjoyable and interesting, and would have been significantly more enjoyable if the author hadn't managed to come across as a bit of a dick (the epilogue managed to tie up sexism, racism, and ableism in less than two pages - impressive. Or not.) And if your own biography makes me think you're a dick? You're doing it wrong.

Still worth reading for the science history and useful observations on American scientific culture, just be prepared to eyeroll a little.
Batesharbuck
May 25, 2011 Batesharbuck rated it it was ok
What an egotistical person. I kept reading, waiting for the light bulb to go on for him as to why so many people didn't care for him, but it never did. Plus, any man who is always looking for a cute young blond, even into his 40's, is just creepy.
Kristin
Mar 17, 2014 Kristin rated it did not like it
Strangely ambiguous title... is "boring" a gerund or a participle? Should I avoid people who have nothing to say, or should I make sure I always have something to say around people? Must read, must find out.

AFTER-READ EDIT -- Unfortunately, James Watson turns out to be a self-centered bigot and a real bore. This book is a self-indulgent reliving of his time in grad school and beyond that spares no technical details of each experiment he performed and emphasizes how he made all of the right decis
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srdjan
Dec 18, 2011 srdjan rated it it was ok
Tough slog. Positives: I appreciate the man's effort to share the lessons of a relatively successful life, he knows the importance of intellectual honesty, and its a great insight into the ivy league world (and his era). On the negatives: he really doesnt come across as a very likable guy, and you kind of wince your way through a lot of it. Not a fun read.
Chris Roberts
This book made me want to work to better myself, write to collect my daily thoughts, and helped me realize that the individuals that change history are very similar to everyone else, except they have an added drive to make things happen.
Melody
Jul 04, 2008 Melody rated it did not like it
He didn't avoid boring me.

I really, really wanted to like this book, too. I struggled through 100 pages and just couldn't go on.
Steve Leman
Jul 22, 2008 Steve Leman is currently reading it
"avoid boring other people"??? i have more interesting math books...
Jennifer
Aug 02, 2011 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Not only do I avoid boring people, I avoid boring books ... like this one. Didn't finish it.
Andres-Leonardo
Jul 05, 2016 Andres-Leonardo rated it really liked it

Interesante chismorreo realizado en primera persona acerca de la innumerable lista de personajes relevantes a los que se arrimó, James D Watson, uno de los descubridores de la estructura molecular del ADN.

En el libro no se recogen demasiados detalles de su labor científica, que supongo se encuentran en su otro libro divulgativoLa Doble Helice, ni tampoco demasiados detalles sobre su vida o pensamiento.

Aunque sobre esto último, son especialmente interesantes sus recomendaciones sobre el desarr
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Amanda
Sep 19, 2010 Amanda rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Miskimen
Dec 20, 2012 James Miskimen rated it really liked it
Dr. Watson had an interesting life and I enjoyed the book. It was interesting to see the real side of scientist whether other readers likes it or not. He comes off as some readers have said as "a dick," to which I would partially agree.
Our highly sensitive feminist would like to say he was sexists, despite the fact that he propped up intelligent women and also was disturbed by the science journal when his wife was portrayed as a simple housewife with no future for a career.
He seemed like a chi
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Y
Jun 19, 2012 Y rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in science
Shelves: read-in-2012
It was very difficult for me to keep engaged. The reason I am not giving it one star is that there were parts that I found very interesting.

Some parts I appreciated:

"I was discovering that most high-powered minds to not daily generate new ideas. Their brains lie idle until the input of one or more new facts stimulates their neurons to resolve the conundrums that stump them"

"Success is gratifying and failure is not, but failure is a necessary feature of the work: if your experiments work all the
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Harry Fulgencio
Feb 03, 2014 Harry Fulgencio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"see a paramount among her goals the seeking of potential greatness for its undergraduates through equipping them with the best ideas of the past, honest assessments of the world today, and realistic expectations about the future.." ~ JD Watson to Harvard (a reinterpretation of Hutchin's vision for Uni. of Chicago)

A very candid and straightforward retelling of his life's work, his ideals and the people around him (an involuntary participant of his story). One can imagine being incensed by some o
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Issy
Dec 17, 2009 Issy rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: genetics students
Shelves: couldntfinish
*** Whoa good thing I didn't finish this - racist. Bad for my division at work though . . .



This book fell out of my bag somwhere between the laundomat and my house, which I can only imagine is the work of some benevolent higher power. At it's best this book was like that part in the bible where it goes "Abraham begat Moses who begat Samuel who begat Jonah who begat Ishmael." At it's worst the writer tells us what book he was reading on a particular train ride for no reason other than to tell us
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Colleen Coffin
Nov 09, 2010 Colleen Coffin rated it it was amazing
Slyly humorous, he very effectively conveys his personality here. This book is less about the specifics surrounding the discovery of the double helix and is more about advice giving. His target audience is aspiring nobel prize- seekers but he writes with a charm that makes you feel like he doesn't exclude anyone. I especially love how he points out where people's careers were hurt not from a lack of intelligence but rather from a lack of old fashioned hard work, humility, and learning to work ...more
Kelley
Dec 31, 2010 Kelley rated it it was ok
enjoyable as a farce (unless you legitimately need advice about what to do when you win a Nobel Prize)

Almost unbelievable how egotistical Watson is.

Less enjoyable than the Double Helix, where science takes the forefront instead of academic politics, although more quotably ridiculous
Jodi
Sep 10, 2010 Jodi rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I liked the insight into academic life as a scientist. However, there was an excessive amount of name dropping, which made this a bit of a tedious read.
JP WAdams
Nov 03, 2007 JP WAdams rated it it was ok
His confidence in his own prowess leads to pages of names of the famous scientists he knew. This overwhelms the structured approach of each chapter and the easy writing style.
Olga
Aug 29, 2012 Olga rated it really liked it
What a stuck-up showoff, but it is a great insight into the way academia and science work worldwide and the 'manners learnt' are priceless.
Marcin
Jul 26, 2013 Marcin rated it it was ok
Great title but boring book.
Bernhard
...avoid boring books....
Jenny
Mar 19, 2008 Jenny rated it did not like it
Not much so far..Still reading the first pages. I was interested in the book cover/title. Go figure
Brian Morton
Jun 06, 2012 Brian Morton rated it did not like it
Ironic.
Samuel Chen
Dec 06, 2016 Samuel Chen rated it it was amazing
Thanks based Jimmy
MegaSolipsist
Jan 21, 2015 MegaSolipsist rated it it was ok
I not really sure how to rate this.
On the one hand, it provides a detailed account of Jim Watson's career and discovery of DNA, so on that account it succeeds, but on the other hand Jim Watson is a fairly unlikeable man.
The risk of autobiographies is that in writing a book centred on yourself it is very easy to come across of arrogant, but in Jim Watson's case toweringly so. His constant insults of other faculty members as dinosaurs, fossils and even calling them vapid gets rather tiresome, and
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Squatting Erudite
Sep 29, 2016 Squatting Erudite marked it as to-read
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Scott Worden
Sep 11, 2016 Scott Worden rated it did not like it
I read two chapters and stopped.

1.Notice that the word "I" is rampant throughout the book. That's a red flag already.

2. Watson has way too much unimportant information about every detail in his university life including too much detail about the University of Chicago's President at the time. It's an obvious attempt to tell you who he knew and you should be impressed.

3. He repeats that he disregards religion. We get it. You're an atheist that only relies on science.

4. It reads as an autobiograp
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In 1928, James D. Watson was born in Chicago. Watson, who co-discovered the double helix structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) at age 25, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His bird-watching hobby prompted his interest in genetics. He earned his B.Sc. degree in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1947, and his Ph.D. ...more
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