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on 8 December 2013
This is a flabby mess of a book, written in a painfully self-conscious style. For a book that claims to present the essentials of mindfulness for busy people it's an awkward contradiction that no definition of mindfulness appears until page 25. Instead we get endless fluff about what's coming, written in a clumsy faux-chatty style that sets your teeth on edge from the start. The endless crass media references are jarring, as are the incessant jokey parenthetical remarks. The book states that mindfulness is `scientifically supported' but has no references so we can't check. In any case, the authors' description of our caveman ancestors running from wild animals `centuries ago' and of Carl Sagan as an `American astrologer' must cast doubt on their scientific credentials. This, along with the amateurish style and frequent malapropisms (`bouffant' and `portend' are both used as nouns) also reflect badly on the publisher.
The book has the accustomed twee hallmarks of a `therapy' book - obligatory word-games (`human being' vs. `human-doing'), endless bullet lists and a clutch of spurious acronyms - and practical content is thin on the ground. Curiously enough, that content - largely represented by the mindfulness exercises themselves - is written in a distinctly more sober style. This likely says something about the genesis of the book, which to all appearances has been assembled around a small nucleus of core material from the authors' practice. The exercises are worthy for the most part, but it's not new material.
A few comments about the Kindle version: giant chapter headings are messy and take up almost the whole page, while pull-quotes don't seem to serve any real purpose on a Kindle. My Kindle follows the embedded hyper-links to the audio files but says it can't download them. (The newer Kindles don't support audio anyway.) On the plus side, there is a hyper-linked index.