Two Books, One Winner. Sorta.

You can’t take me to a library. I’ll walk out of there with more than I intended get, every time. It’s amazing my backpack hasn’t gone on strike or that my bookshelves haven’t applied for disaster relief.

Anyway, I was looking for a book on mind-mapping, a little hobby of mine. (Come on, big pieces of paper, pens of different colors, big swishy curves and lines? Yeah, I’m all over that.) There was a book at the local library on the subject, so I headed out to pick it up. While there, I happened upon another book, one about creative thinking, and thought, why not, eh? Scanned the books, placed them into my pissing-and-moaning backpack, and headed home.

Beep. Beep. Impending snark! Continue at your own risk!

So I kept the mind-mapping book for later and dug into the book on creative thinking. It’s a training wheels book on creativity from what I can see: most of the book is devoted to logic or visual puzzles that are common brain teasers. Once you realize that’s what you’re doing, it’s easy to shift your perceptions sidewise and start solving them. These sorts of puzzles are a lot of fun, but aren’t unique to the book — they can be found anywhere on the web. Besides puzzles, the book focuses on combining two unrelated ideas into something new, followed by anecdotes of people who have done so. He harps on the current educational system (and who doesn’t, really?) for stamping out creativity, and then makes a leap that Leonardo Da Vinci was probably as gifted as he was because he wasn’t allowed to go to university, and thus wasn’t stifled. (Okay, what? The educational system of our time and that of Da Vinci’s are not comparable. Nor is Da Vinci to the public at large. Just. Arg.)

I pressed on, hoping to find something of use, and got to a section where he’s talking about word combinations, and gives 5 examples. The fifth example, in all the options he had at his disposal, was “race card.” I did a double take. And then a little further down in the same paragraph, the author gave one further, writing “‘Religious right,’ for instance, refers to a group of people with strong beliefs who try to influence the political process.”

Huh. Sure it does. Closed the book.

Today I sat down with the mind-mapping book. No obvious baggage, authors are pro-creativity, playfulness, and letting the mind really stretch in new, perhaps better ways, with mind-mapping. You can tell, just by reading, that whole book was outlined using a mind-map: chapter by section by subsection by notes. Which, cool, they believe in what they’re selling (and you can buy mind-mapping kits, if, you know, you don’t live near any place that sells paper and pens).

I got to page 44 when I again did a double take. This time it was a statistic, claiming that 95% of note takers blah blah blah. It was the 95% part that threw me, because at that point I’d realized that previous statistics they’d used up until now — all of them — were 95% of whatever. (Except for one, which was 100%, which was describing the author’s evaluation of his own improvements, which is why I excluded it.)

Dudes! Why are you making shit up? Just, stop. Stop. I want to chill and make big old mind-maps ’cause they help me play with information visually in ways that are otherwise impossible. You don’t need to pull numbers out of your ass to convince me, or any other reader, to try mind-mapping. We already have the book! Or, if you feel you must make your point with imaginary numbers, can we try pulling out different ones?

The funny this is, after tallying up all the 95% statistics on pages 1-44, I sat back to continue reading and there on page 45, another 95% statistic. I laughed. Hard. My cat looked at me funny. Then I got up and started writing this post.

The second book I’ll keep reading, because it will be valuable. (And if not, HEY, markers!) The other book? Good news is that my shelf will be very happy, as that book won’t be sticking around long.

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