Sherri Scoffield's Reviews > Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
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Mar 26, 08

Read in March, 2008

This book gets many 5-star reviews and is touted as “life changing”.
My comment: “GET A LIFE!!!” This could possibly be THE WORST book I have ever read. I have been reading this book forever! I am so glad I am finished!
It’s 200+ pages of torture! (This size of book I would normally devour in 1-2 days.) It’s a sociology lecture --- a cringingly horrible, horrible, didactic book. And to top it off, it’s horribly written.

This telepathic gorilla pontificates on culture, his take on the book of Genesis, and re-evaluates mankind’s philosophy on life and how we're killing the world. His canned banter with his obtuse human student is more than annoying – it’s offensive. It’s condescending, full of piteous prose, even worse philosophy and false history, not to mention the pitiful interpretation of the Bible.

I would recommend this book for:
· Undergraduate philosophy majors ????
· People who don't know anything and are willing to be treated like idiots…….
· Chris Matthews
· Al Gore and friends!

May I share some of the reviews I DO agree with:

· “A talking gorilla is the only one who can convince a yuppie to give up his evil ways; no wonder the world is in the state that it is in. I've met a lot of people who love this book, but I was just disgusted from beginning to end.

· “Too lava-lamps, hug-a-tree, squishy-fruity for my taste.”

· “No amount of perceived philosophical insight could make up for the way this book butchers the English language and thoroughly disrespects the notion of literature. If you value cohesiveness and writing in general, I urge you to stay away.”

· “I was incredibly annoyed by the dialogue and slow pace of the book and the main character’s block-headedness: ‘But Ishmael, I just don't get it..., please explain again for the next 45 minutes."

· “This book just annoyed the heck out of me.”

· “Ridiculous, unless of course Quinn (the author) is a 6th grader from Tennessee, in which case I'm impressed.”

· “Who needs Ishmael when we have Al Gore?”

· “Hated this. Recommended by a friend. Now I know that religion is not only false, but it’s also evil. And humans are nothing more than jellyfish a bit farther down the evolutionary path.” Really!!!!!

· “I'm embarrassed I read it. Pure garbage.”

· “This book was really annoying and insulting, and so sanctimonious! Blech!”

· “Conceited, pretentious, overdone, belabored: perfect match for Al gore in an ape suit.”

· “Are you over forty years old but have somehow slid through life without forming a single firm philosophical principle? Have you missed your chance to take a stand – any stand at all? Do you have a vague dislike of society - a nascent antiestablishmentarianism that you've never given voice to - but lack the courage and curiosity necessary to give form to your rebellion? Are you nominally scientific (or well, nominally religious!!), but willing to believe that ancient humans were psychic, vegetarian, and lived in harmony with all nature? Are you dying spiritually but unwilling to give up your SUV? Are you so gutless that you'll sacrifice what values you have for the smallest smug feeling of comfort? If you've weakly nodded in agreement to any of those questions, this is the book for you,…….. you spineless toad.”

· “I absolutely HATED this book.”

· “Unforgivable. Instead of reading it, why not beat yourself over the head with a brick for an hour?”

“I would rather eat glass than read this book again.”

SO...why did I waste my time reading this book? Ahhh………...there’s “the rub”!! I try to read, with my children, all the books their schools require of them ----
It was required reading for my high school Junior!!! Errrrgggggggg!!!!!!

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Comments (showing 1-44 of 44) (44 new)

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Neziah I myself am a high school junior and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I don't know where you got all these crazy ideas from but apparently, whoever wrote them didn't understand this novel. It makes some very good points about how we're screwing up the earth (which we are) and not once did it make me feel that religion is evil. Seeing all the stuff you wrote before quoting other people (which by the way you did wrong, you forget to cite where you got your quotes from), you obviously didn't understand this book at all. It only took me about a week to read it and this was with all the other stuff I have to do for school. I understood it very well and believe it simplified the extremely complex situation which us Takers have gotten ourselves into.

Gareth This is a great review. I already know I'm going to hate this book but I feel compelled to read it by this review.

-Carlo you crack me up. You spew babble I hear everyday on NPR and then say that people who don't agree with you our conformists. Freaking typical.

How can you believe in evolution and not think humans are the current pinacle of evolution? It's not egoist it's being rational.

Samantha you either "get it" or you don't. obviously sherri is a taker. it's unfortunate...

Soup @Gareth - I think you're rather exemplifying the point of the book. Humans only appear serve as the pinnacle of evolution according to *our* definition of evolution; what we view as improvements, progress, etc. If the scale of evolution was imagined in another way (and it is imaginary since nature is unlikely to have a goal in mind) we might be at the bottom. What if truly "evolved" creatures were those who had managed to exist is a way that doesn't destroy their immediate environment (which is obviously counterproductive to their own existence)? Or is the top of the chain was held but those creatures that could hunt other species easily and quickly while migrating (it would be awful hard to down a rhino for your supper without modern weaponry and its unlikely a migrational people would be building factories)? Human superiority is dependent on human definition and human definition is simply not the be all and end all (we know this to be true from modern conflicts - the violence that has erupted between the Middle East and the West and the fears the West regard the East with all boil down to a different definition of life's priorities)

Charlie Reviews like Sherri's kind of crack me up. The typical books that piss me off I always toss after enough reading (usually two to three chapters into the garbage at most). Here, the irony is apparent, "get a life". What I've come to conclude thus far, as a recent arrival to Goodreads and public Internet forums in general is that there are an incrediable number of angry, self-rightous, people with time on their hands and computers within their reach. Enjoy your day ye critics from the backpages of who cares-

Thud Simply put, this book is not for the closed-minded.

Ethan THINK THINK THINK THINK THINK. Or just read the bible, I don't care.

message 8: by Dez (new)

Dez you're an idiot ma'am.

Daniel Mancoff It's not thinking that we are a "current" pinnacle of evolution, it's thinking that we are THE pinnacle of evolution.

The whole point of the novel is to understand that the world was not made FOR US any more than the world was made FOR fish or FOR newts.

The world is the world and we are a species on it. If we continue acting like we are the end product of evolution, we're going to kill ourselves and our environment.

I don't think the narrator is overly block-headed at all. My impression is that most of us are absolutely that dense. We continue to live lives that destroy the environment, pay little attention to sustainability and balance, and just assume that everything will be okay.

I found this book to be a very sobering, very thoughtful read. Nothing in it is rocket science, but it forced me to really look at the kind of lifestyle I was living.

I hope I - and others - have the courage to live out a new vision.

Was the prose the most elegant literature ever written? No.

Was the message critically important? Yes.

message 10: by Isabella (new)

Isabella Neziah wrote: "I myself am a high school junior and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I don't know where you got all these crazy ideas from but apparently, whoever wrote them didn't understand this novel. I..."

Very nice! I totally agree with you on this. It was a very good book, and those who don't agree, more than likely didn't understand it.

Kathy Szoo Carlo wrote: "So since you mustn't be part of the "Al Gore and friends" group, you must be part of the "George Bush and friends" group (because if you're not with us, you're against us), right? And you would rec..."

For the record, I am firmly entrencheed in the Al Gore camp. I am not a Christian, not part of any religion and of course I believe in evolution. I agree with the message of the book, but I HATED it for being so horribly written.

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

This books uses Socractic dialect, which is meant to be anything but offensive. It is used to guide a student to a conlclusion rather than having them regurgitate facts and call it learning. As far as a "pitiful interpretation of the Bible", who is to judge that? The Bible is possibly the one peice of writing that should be most open to individual interpretation.
I felt your comments were very rude and provided little criticism on the book that would have otherwise given insight to those who have not yet read it.

message 13: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen You clearly missed the entire point of this book!!!!!! Errrggg!!!!!!!

Robert Run what a weird, ad hominem, loaded, agenda driven review. you belong on TV.

Robert Run if you were not granted an imagination, you will not like this book.

Devin "it’s offensive"
"I would recommend this book for:
· People who don't know anything and are willing to be treated like idiots…….
· Al Gore and friends! "

I feel as though you miss understood the purpose of the book, but your comment doesn't really point to what. You mostly have seemed to attempt offensive-ness. The only thing i have to be critical of your comment is of the silliness of what you said about what was wrong with it, going off the topic of the book I would agree, but I feel it's well worth it.

It's offensive of what? your steadfast reality? Your inability to shift your perception of the universe? The fact that you believe everything your told my your preacher or republican presidents?

Anyone who wants to be treated like an idiot is just silly because humans are morons for destroying the world and not giving a hoot.
all gore and friends, is again not making much sense... are you saying you don't believe in global warming...?

message 17: by Robert (last edited Aug 02, 2012 06:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Robert Run Devin wrote: ""it’s offensive"
"I would recommend this book for:
· People who don't know anything and are willing to be treated like idiots…….
· Al Gore and friends! "

I feel as though you miss understood the..."

Don't waste your time on the clowns.. their degree of irrelevance is going through the roof.

references to Al Gore are meant to be trigger words to get you into a circular argument. don't fall for it. leave the cartoon dangling. let the paper yellow.

if the poor sod was intelligent and researched enough to know how strikingly much Obama has in common with Reagan he would commit suicide.

leave him to his delusion and let it go..

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I think you need to calm down. You don't have to like it, but the style and subject of this book are fairly unusual; it's a serious work of philosophic art, and if you are unwilling at least to give it this tiny amount of dignity I don't think I can trust your opinion of any book, frankly. Try a serious analysis: then I'll listen to whatever personal opinion you might have.

Conspiracy2riot how strange that this book didn't piss me off like the bible managed to do. furthermore, i would prefer to be a leaver rather than a taker. that alone parks us miles apart. what a shame it's your ilk that will go forth and multiply...and destroy us all in the process just to bring about the insanity of revelations.

message 20: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Longo You must watch a lot of Fox News.

message 21: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Mielke I wold have to agree that he book has gone over Sherry's head...or it was a message that she did not want to hear.

Holly Mays I think this was a big "whoosh" for you,friend. I'm sorry you didn't absorb its value.

message 23: by Omar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Omar Ramirez The close-mindedness of the old way of thinking is fading. It is the close-minded that can't stand this book but still read on. And it's is the open minded, the future generation that will ultimately learn and page the way for the future. As for this excellent thought provoking book, it's a good fictional book way to learn from the thought of anthropology.

Johnathan If you're this negative about such a beautiful book, I can't imagine wtf you turn into when you stub your toe or get a flat tire. This book is for "thinkers" and more specifically those beginning to think and question life for themselves, ie high school and undergrad students. Your review is totally misleading and frankly a little psychotic.

Johnathan Btw, I would rather have your son, or anyone's son or daughter for that matter, read this book over the bible. After seeing your reading list, no wonder this book broke your mind, you've been spoon fed what to think by your institution and having no thoughts of your own, clearly made you go insane. I hope your son is a better person for it.
The bible is a work of historical fiction there lady. Sorry to be the one to break it to you..

message 26: by Rejo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rejo your an idiot ma'am

Jessica Green hmmmm... it's so bad it won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award and Daniel Quinn walked away with the $500,000 prize. Maybe a better question for you is not why others are so delusional, but why you didn't get it.

message 28: by Bradley (new) - added it

Bradley Stewart I see that you are a taker, just like the novel states. Brain washed to believe that whatever society deems as right and wrong must be so. Next you are going to tell me that everything your government, church, or media tells you is the truth. Don't know if you know this or not, but more wars have been started over religion than anything else. People like you are the reason this novel was written.

Annette Great review. I read it and when I was done I went to youtube and watched a couple videos about it, did a search and read a couple discussion groups about it, and I'd say most everyone agrees it didn't tell us anything we didn't already know.

Jessica Green It's in the telling...

Jessica Green Loved the book, disregarded the bad review.

Trevor Did rant and rave about this book because it frightens you?

message 33: by James (new)

James Daher You're a reactionary piece of crap

Chris Walker Someone needs to drop their bible and pick up a textbook every now and again. Did Fox News tell you this was a terrible book?

Jessica Green It's okay to dislike a book. I personally loved Ishmael, but wish that in a book community that openly discusses ideas participants could remember their humanity and treat people civilly. You loved Ishmael, not Lord of the Flies.

message 36: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara Lundrigan I haven't even read this book and I know that I will love it. I know it will spell out all of the thoughts I have been thinking and the things I have been feeling when I look out into our society. I don't think the point went over Sherri's head at all, I think she just doesn't agree with it. The fact that she brings up environmentally friendly people tells you, she understood the point. She is just one of those sad, angry people that will always think human beings are better then everything else on the planet.

Jessica Green We are each on a journey of understanding. Some people make the mistake of being sure they "know" something and, therefore; they spend more time learning lessons than others. Their willful blindness prevents them from seeing.

Sheri's not dead yet. There's still hope that she'll see what those of us who found Ishmael enlightening already see (or maybe not. Lol).

Milen It seems to me that you let your political views cloud your enjoyment of the book, which is understandable, we all have that. Still, such a vitriolic review is not useful.

Katie Mostad Visits Sherri's profile
"Favorite book: The Book of Mormon"
Disregards Sherri's opinions on any further matters.

Melissa Martin Pretentious.

Rejo: your an idiot ma'am

At least his son would be lesser..if the book's done its job.

Allen Van I laugh at the amount of effort some put to be as negative as possible.. its a book and like a piece of art it reaches to those it has to.. "get a life" ahaha.. Too funny..

message 43: by Hotske (new)

Hotske I haven't read the book yet, so this isn't about the book... I just think this review exposes some excessiveness nastiness in this woman's personality. Did you really dedicate this much time to tearing apart a book as well as tons of other people?

Joseph Maxwell Sherri Scoffield... I scoff at you.

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