Lynn's Reviews > The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret for Success in Business, Love, and Life

The Power of Eye Contact by Michael Ellsberg
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Nov 08, 11

Read from November 06 to 08, 2011

I decided to read this because I read an interesting article on Tim Ferriss' blog about eye contact that was guest written by this author. The article was fascinating and made some good points. I realized Ellsberg also was the author of another recent book that I planned to read - The Education of Millionaires. That book is about highly successful people unburdened by a college diploma. As I'm completely over-educated with an abundance of college credits but no degree, (I never picked a major because I had too many interests)the idea of such a book appealed to me.

So I'm really quite annoyed that this book on Eye Contact stunk as much as it did. I realize that sounds harsh, but this book deserves the criticism. I have a really hard time NOT finishing a book. I don't have a normal relationship with books, I tend to devour them whole. Even if it's dreadful, some punishing part of myself forces me to trudge onward and finish.

That said, I gave up about 30 pages from the ending and skimmed.

My initial worry was, would the subject of eye contact really have enough content to justify I book? The answer, at least for this author, is a resounding NO. Every interesting tidbit found in this book was something I read previously in that brief blog post I mentioned earlier. In fact, in many ways the post was better.

With an absence of content or real thought on the subject, the author instead resorts to filler. He interviews a bunch of people with some passing semblance of expertise in the area, and just dumps their quotes into the chapters verbatim. He references so many other books, that it becomes annoying....especially as the ideas he's pulling from these other references are usually not at all that interesting or on topic. It's a lazy move. I feel like he was just filling pages. If you took out all the direct quotes, snippets of poems, and lengthy passages of books he quoted, his actual writing probably would only fill 40 pages or so.

You know it's getting bad when the author has to quote from his own father, who wrote a book that had nothing to do about eye contact. At that point I was really rolling my eyes and was assured we had reached bottom, but no, he later quotes his mom as well. Seriously?

He frequently brings up his fiance mostly just to remind us he has one, because rarely do the stories involving her add anything to the point he's writing about. He comes off like lovesick puppy eager to show off his conquest. Who cares?

Most annoying though was his habit of self-reverentially telling us he was writing this book...using sentences like "As someone writing a book on eye contact, I thought this was insightful". (That's a paraphrase, not an actual quote, but you get the picture.) He also frequently would justify going off-topic by using clever devices such as "you may wonder what this has to do with eye contact" followed by a bunch of gibberish that didn't justify the diversion at all. Again, lazy, exhausting writing. I felt embarrassed for the guy.

The book is full of contradictions, poorly executed thoughts, and many digressions that seem utterly pointless. I finally reached a point of annoyance where I realized it wasn't worth my time to finish the book - I had already wasted too much time hoping the author would redeem himself at some point.

I get the overwhelming feeling this is an individual who's read so many books he feels like it's his turn to cash in and write his own. The fact that he didn't really have anything to say or a subject that was deep enough for meaningful, insightful research wasn't going to be enough to stop him. It should have.

The book closes with an epilogue revealing that during the course of writing this book, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He says over the course of dealing with this he realized that "I have written all kinds of things that, in the hindsight of months or years, seemed frivolous, trivial, or irreverent." I had to snort at this point and think to myself "like this book, for example?" He goes on to say that he's figured out how to weigh his writing's worth by judging if others find it useful, not just when things are going well, but when life is throwing lemons. He then decides *he* has deemed it worthy because of the power of the gaze his fiance gave him when coming out of surgery. This whole story comes off so phoney and cheesy. I can only take it as a feeble attempt to justify the disaster on the pages that preceded it.
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