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Hater - John Semley

While reading this, the only thing I could think of for this review was: it’s okay.

I agree with the thesis, that criticism is necessary in any society or culture, and I generally enjoyed the writing about it. That’s what made it okay.

What kept this book from being great was I think two things. First, the book is not very long. Short books are great sometimes, but I definitely would have appreciated more detail. The book got kind of repetitive, which isn’t good for such a short book. I know there is more to say on this subject and I would have liked to see many of the ideas expanded on.

The second reason it wasn’t great was because of the author himself. I did enjoy the writing. He’s talented and educated and the writing was dense and amusing. But, this book is in the style of philosophy, and for me there was far too much of the author in the text.

It was far from a biography, but, at the end I felt that I knew more about the author’s taste and opinions than the thesis itself.

There is quite a lot of pop culture references. This isn’t an old book, so the references aren’t out of place, but these references will definitely date this book forever onwards. If you’re disconnected from pop culture, like me, then you won’t “get” many or most of the references.

To me this is a big problem. Philosophy should be able to stand on its own logical foundations. But if you don’t get the pop culture references he uses to make his case, you might not get the case at all. I shouldn’t know more about what pop culture things the author likes than I do about the thesis of the book.

Overall, it was self indulgent but entertaining. It was clearly written for people who are already well-read, and so it asks more of the reader than something entry level. This is fine to me, but many people I think would be turned off by this density.

I paid a dollar for this book and it was worth it to me. Despite my critique, I’ll probably read it again.