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I don’t know if I’ve ever been as conflicted about a book as I am about The Untethered Soul. I really think some of the advice in here is crucial and would help so many people with the challenges that they face in everyday life. But, as a book, it’s kind of terrible. Let me set this up first. The Untethered Soul is a self-help/spiritual book explaining why we (as in, all humankind) need to stop letting the events of our lives stress us and stop trying to control the things that happen around us. In extreme short-hand, it says that you have to let go of the daily events of your life, and keep moving forward. Even if it’s a good event, enjoy the moment, live in that moment, and then let it go and experience the next moment.
And I think that’s really good advice. There are so many moments, both good and bad, that I hang on to every single day, and I know that it stops me from always enjoying the moment. Singer also goes into simple methods to help everyone avoid these hang ups. From relaxing the shoulders to consciously acknowledging what’s happening, to remembering that you are just a person on a planet spinning through endless nothingness, Singer’s advice is straightforward, but it makes quite a bit of sense.
On the flip side, this is one of the most repetitive books I’ve ever had to deal with. It is a chore to read. That insight about how we are all just on a spinning blob in never ending space? That is mentioned at least 15 times through the 170 pages. Each chapter lasts about 8-10 pages, but it makes its point within the first two pages. So then you get quite a few pages of constant drilling and hammering and drilling and hammering until you just want to put the book down.
This is a slim book at 170ish pages, but it took me two weeks to get through because I just had no desire to actually read the words Singer put together. The ideas? Sure. They’re pretty solid and pretty helpful, but it’s difficult to pay attention to them when the author uses the same 12 words over and over again to get to the point.
The analogies that Singer uses are also pretty manipulative in my opinion. Not all of them, but a significant portion. Singer’s go-to analogy is to talk about theoretical break ups. Maybe this is because he went through a break up that acted as a catalyst for his self-discovery, I don’t know, but I do know that the easiest way to get readers emotionally invested into your work is to make them think about failed romantic relationships. Everybody has gone through that one break up that really stings, or been cheated on, or poorly treated, or whatever, so instead of creating everyday hypothetical situations , Singer harps on theoretical break ups that are bound to wrench at his readers’ hearts. It’s effective, but it’s definitely manipulative.
So, in the end, this one all depends on what you want from a self-help book. Do you want a good writer bringing her experiences to the forefront and eloquently explaining how to apply the lessons in your life? If so, this book is not for you. Do you want realistic, no-strings-attached, take it or leave it advice that you can make your own decision on separate from your emotions? If so, this book is not for you. But, if you are willing to slog through uncomfortable language and ignore the author’s self-serving examples, then this book has a nugget of advice that can really open your eyes.