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So, I’m a little short on time this week. Got a new job, then my brother is leaving for Australia. Anyway, here’s a book review instead of any interesting thoughts. I’ll be back on Friday with some books I think are overrated and why.

There are two main types of books in my world:

  1. Serious books – books that challenge me mentally, where every word matters and I have to pay attention.
  2. Popcorn books – where I can blaze through the pages and skipping a few words doesn’t matter.

This week, I’ll be reviewing “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” by Rob Lowe.

 

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by  Rob Lowe

I’m not sure I can really recommend this book unless you:

  • Know who Rob Lowe is
  • Care about Rob Lowe
  • Or are bored.

This isn’t a bad book, it’s just not a particularly good one. At 306 pages, it’s not a particularly long book and the leisurely pace of the words on the page eats it up pretty quickly. This is your basic autobiographical piece. It makes the person who wrote it look good. Not overly fond of the title, as most incidents in the book, including his departure from the West Wing and making the Outsiders, are chronicled elsewhere and Lowe’s account doesn’t add anything. Narratively, the book is well written, if not especially challenging. The chronological flow is solid, taking us from his early childhood and desire to act through, briefly, his departure from the West Wing. A significant portion of the book follows the production of the Outsiders, his first breakthrough film.

Everything, however, does lead to a greater point. Many autobiographical books just read as a list of greatest hits.  His encounter with fame at such an early age to his battles with alcohol are well told. Eventually cleaning himself  up and looking for deeper, more legitimate work transitions into his job as Sam Seaborn of the West Wing. While his exploration of his time at the West Wing is a personal shame to me, as the West Wing is one of my favorite shows of all time, I can understand it’s absence as it adds nothing to his point.

So, what is his point? I guess that everyone has to grow up some time. Youthful exuberance to a talented adult career. He’s currently appearing in Parks and Recreation. Go figure.

There’s a bit of revisionist history, I think. Lowe claims he was the leader of the “brat pack”, while other accounts have that as either Charlie Sheen or Emilio Estevez. Whatever. That’s the option or point, isn’t it? Minor corrections no one notices.

Okay, I keep coming back to how the book was written, not it’s subject matter. Not that this was written poorly, just plainly. Which is par for the course. Nothing to challenge the reader. On the other hand, I did finish it in about two days. I couldn’t put it down. Not because it was spectacular, it wasn’t, but because it entertained. And that’s the point. That’s good popcorn reading. At least I wasn’t cringing, like when my girlfriend made me read Twilight. (Seriously, she made me. Three tries and not getting through the prologue and she succeeded. That’s either sadism or dedication.) No, I’m not going to remember reading this book in five years, but Stories I Only Tell My Friends isn’t cringe-worthy.

If you’ve got time to kill and like Rob Lowe, go read this. If not, plenty of other books. Next time, I’ll be reviewing [I hope] Under the Banner of Heaven.

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