I get anywhere from six to a couple dozen books in the mail every day. It's amazing. I have the best job in the universe. However, the law of averages dictates that some of those books must be totally awful—the kind of awful that you can spot on sight. I collect those books on a dedicated shelf in The Stranger's offices. Dan Savage has dubbed it "Hell's Lending Library," and it's really become quite an impressive museum of publishing mistakes.
You know those lame management books? The books that take a historical figure and ask the vital question: "What would this historical figure do if s/he were currently employed as a middle manager at some terrible insurance company?" I loathe those books. But they're pretty easy to ignore, unless you're the sort of person who actively searches out what Shakespeare or Aristotle has to say about management.
But last week, I got Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior in the mail, and I can't stop thinking about how terrible this book is. It's by former WSU coach Mike Leach ("New York Times bestselling author of Swing Your Sword," cover text helpfully advises) and Buddy Levy, and it's full of shitty bullet points like this one:
LESSON: As a leader, make sure your people know their jobs and do their jobs. Self-sufficiency is key.
That lesson is derived from an account that Geronimo "inspired his men with words of encouragement," and that he "was responsible for leading them to safety and making sure they had sufficient food and water." The story about Geronimo getting shot in the head and then running to safety inspires this beauty:
LESSON: Stay calm under pressure at all times, and those around you will be calm too.
I have so many questions about this book. Did anyone at any point think that a book full of lessons for bland suit-wearing white people with soul-crushing jobs based on the life story of a Native American leader might be a bad idea? Does anyone find these tips inspiring? How dumb do you have to be to find life-changing truths in these shitty cliches plumbed from Geronimo's life history? How racist is this book, on a scale of one to ten?
Hell's Lending Library welcomes its newest permanent guest with open arms. Geronimo will take its place on the shelf next to Judy Carter's The Message of You: Turn Your Life Story Into a Money-Making Speaking Career. Let's hope those two books don't breed.