The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery

Book review by Deane Barker tags: skill-building

This book annoyed the hell out of me. This is another book that doesn’t really describe anything in any objective sense. Rather, it’s a…"meditation” on something. It comes off feeling indulgent and narcissistic.

The writer jumps around. He talks about how he tried to master drawing, then he goes into magicians quite a bit, and then there’s a bizarre chapter on baking bread with his mother.

None of this is combined into any type of thematic whole. It seemed to just be a random collection of essays that could, in some sense, be considered to be about the same subject.

I guess I was expecting something like Practice Perfect or So Good They Can't Ignore You. But this was not even close. Instead I got something like The French Art of Not Trying Too Hard or Bookstores (both of which I loathed).

I bailed out about two-thirds of the way through when it became clear it wasn’t going to get any better.

Ridiculous and disappointing.

Book Info

Adam Gopnik
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A hardcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

This is item #70 in a sequence of 774 items.

You can use your left/right arrow keys to navigate