OK, this is not relevant to Talking Brains, but I figure it's a public service announcement ... I just bought a book based on its title.
James Watson just wrote a biography, and I thought the title was really good, in all its ambiguity: Avoid Boring People. As a professor and someone who lectures occasionally, I realize that nothing is worse than boring people. And as a human being, few things are more irritating than having to hang out with boring people. So, Watson's title is pretty good, and it promised to be an interesting read.
Fatal flaw: this book is boring. He bored me, and showed himself as boorish. The book is an endless series of anecdotes about his stations in academia, what a lovely guy he is, how many Radcliffe undergrads he dated, how many people's careers he helped, and so on. This might be riveting, if you're in a circle of people who already know everyone here, but otherwise it's just plain boring. So he committed the cardinal sin of boring me. This is disappointing, because his snarkiness and directness promised to make for some amusing stuff--but I guess he just turns out to be another old fart who needs to recycle old files in his cabinet.
Possibly the most annoying part of the book isn't the boring anecdotes or the boorish remarks on his relationships with women, but the pretentious "remembered lessons" at the end of each chapter. These are supposed to be life lessons that give interesting insights into how to do science and be a big deal, but they end up being comments at the level of "work with a teammate who is your intellectual equal." Gee, thanks, JD. That's real good. Who woulda thunk it. Never occurred to anyone.
So while I love the title and I absolutely agree with its message, in all its ambiguity, this book is really weak.