Generation Change book cover

Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors was recently asked to review a book, and because the target audience was people under 30, he asked me if I wanted to take on the project. I agreed, then emailed him and a few other people about how to go about reviewing a book I didn’t like. Taking only some of their advice, this is the result.


Generation Change by Jayan Kalathil and Melissa Bolton-Klinger fails in its attempt to encourage the Obama Generation to continue the campaign for change. Published by Skyhorse Publishing and subtitled “150 Ways We Can Change Ourselves, Our Country and Our World” this book is geared toward readers under age 30. The unsigned description on the back cover indicates that the “fun, witty, and optimistic approach [is] sure to attract readers of all ages” but the font size and writing style are more appropriate for middle-class or wealthier sixth graders. If reduced to a size 12 font, with chapter titles at size 14, the book would likely fit into 150 pages rather than the current 210.

Would you pay $12.95 to read a book that tells you to “Stay Young at Heart” and devotes a chapter to flossing? The best suggestion is #5, which encourages us to blog for good. We’re already doing that. “Find the cause that keeps you up at night and get blogging!”

The book consists of an introduction and 150 suggestions, grouped by audience and then topic. The inclusion of websites for nearly all suggestions will make the book obsolete quickly, and following the advice of chapter 17 (Turn Off Technology) make the rest of the suggestions useless. Some of the suggestions seem very reasonable but others are downright silly, especially in relation to other chapters. Some of the recommendations contradict each other: “Invest Responsibly” and “Buy Buy Buy!” are in adjacent chapters. This assumes a certain level of income that is unobtainable to most Americans under 30. Also included are suggestions for living simply, vacation recommendations, and advice for traveling the world. The latter two seem at odds with the first one and would likely make a person less able to invest responsibly.

My biggest complaint about the book relates not to the suggestions themselves, but to the glorification of President Obama. The authors seem not to have noticed that the environmentalists, peace advocates, human rights advocates and many progressives feel betrayed by Obama’s policies in the first year. We’ve become the generation that asks “What Change?”

There are suggestions for honoring the troops and supporting veterans, but very little on ending the wars America is fighting.

Suggestion #85 would have us “Send President Obama a Thank-You Note”. Thanks, but I’d rather write to him in protest.

Unless you’ve already agreed to write a review of this book, don’t waste your time on Generation Change.