Thursday, 24 August 2017

Murphy’s Law by Arthur Bloch – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

For more than a quarter of a century, Murphy’s Law has provided the last word on things going wrong. Positive thinking is all very fine when the world is treating you right, but when things go awry, it's Murphy's Law that comes up with the goods-the pithy revelations and undeniable truths that document our limitless potential for misplaced insight, hopeless wit, and pessimistic wisdom.

This special anniversary collection features the best of Murphy's Law--plus new 21st-century entries proving that with advances in technology, even more can go wrong.

For example:

No matter what goes wrong, there is always somebody who knew it would.
Anything is easier to take apart than to put together.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
The less you do, the less can go wrong.
Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter since nobody listens.’

Murphy’s Law is a hilarious take on why things go wrong; compiled by the American writer Arthur Bloch. I make a lot of statements and hold certain views which are often deemed highly pessimistic (even though I take cover under the word pragmatic) and yes, needless to say, a certain friend of mine relentlessly suggested this book. It was felt that I would definitely like it and as I could relate to the book a lot and I did get a killer of an offer for the Kindle edition at INR 31 (~0.41 EUR) and before too long, I started reading the book.

Have you ever wanted to fish something out of a bag, where there might be three possible things you might draw and what you want would come to you only the third time? This book is a collection of one liners (or maximum of four) as to why things go wrong, some of which are sensible and relatable, some of which are outright pessimistic and a few are just needless smart alec comments which could get you into trouble if you actually go about making those statements to the intended (such as your boss). It covers on most common subjects, as to why things go wrong, such as technology, office, hierarchy, economics, government, bureaucracy, etc.

I liked the way in which the book was presented, collecting some popular quotes (though I don’t know as to how much of it was the author’s imagination) and sometimes, for a purely positive quote, providing a negative corollary to explain why things go wrong. I also felt the author covered almost all topics where the reader could link to at least 15 out of the 20 chapters in the book. It was also a book where I highlighted a lot, at least around a hundred statements made in the book, and incidentally, some of them were things that I had said it myself in the past (such as my views on plagiarism).

The flipside of this book is also the fact that it wasn’t too detailed, just a collection of one liners, with absolutely no elaboration.  Additionally, some of the situations he quoted are those which you find as a nuisance only when something goes wrong for you – for instance, to quote the argument of Richard Dawkins – ‘certain class of events may occur all the time, but are only noticed when they become a nuisance. He gives as an example aircraft noise interfering with filming. Aircraft are in the sky all the time, but are only taken note of when they cause a problem.’

This was a really enjoyable read, and also very quick to read, but a note of caution is that this is not something that is to be read with a serious frame of mind. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I am sure that most readers would, too, because the situations are something that we have encountered ourselves. It is an occasion where I have really enjoyed a book that came as a suggestion and on the whole I would award the book a rating of eight.

Rating – 8/10

Have a nice day,

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