Original Doodles

The Luck Factor- Richard Wiseman

Posted on: November 27, 2009

So this is the very first book I am reviewing on my website so forgive me if it sounds a little clumsy.

Well, let’s get at it. Basically, this book sucked. I mean royally sucked and I’m not going to lie, I feel really disappointed. It’s rare that I read a nonfiction book that I don’t like and I had such high hopes for this one, but here we are.

Okay, so the The Luck Factor is written by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from the UK. The book is written from material derived through long term studies of lucky and unlucky people.  By analysing the thinking and behaviour patterns of people self described as “lucky”, “unlucky”, or “neutral” Wiseman finds several characteristics common amongst his “lucky” subjects. From there we get four overarching principles of luck and12 sub-principles which you, the reader, could adopt in your own life to become a luckier person.

While I like the idea of taking a look at the psychology behind luck and extrapolating from that ways to become luckier, I just didn’t find this book particularly interesting. The majority of the book is direct quotations from the test subjects describing their lucky or unlucky lives. The whole book read like a badly written homework assignment. Actually, it very much reminded me of the many crappy essays I’ve handed in during my undergrad where I was simply too lazy to do any more research and decided to quote paragraphs from other articles in an attempt to up my word count.

Beyond the writing style of the author, the actual material wasn’t too revolutionary either. To become a luckier person essentially requires being open to new experiences, thinking positively, and listening to your gut. I can’t help but think that this whole book could be summed up in a twitter post without losing any sort of actual content. What’s more is that there were plenty of times in the book where events which were completely outside of human control (for instance, one subject was on a plane that was struck by lightning) were lumped in with events in which the participants made some sort of choice (for instance, if the subject was in a series of bad relationships). I fail to see how being positive and open to new experiences could stop totally random unfortunate events from occurring.

One thing I just have to highlight is his view of several particularly “unlucky” female subjects who found themselves in horribly abusive relationships throughout the course of their lives. I don’t know if it’s just me but it seems incredibly wrong equating domestic violence with being “unlucky in love” with the take home message being that if only these women listened to their intuition this would have never happened. Seriously, WTF!

Overall, I would give this book an F. Not worth skimming and definitely not worth reading. I’m sorry Richard Wiseman, I love your blog but this book was terrible.

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2 Responses to "The Luck Factor- Richard Wiseman"

Thanks for this review, I follow Richatd Wiseman on twitter and his blog and find him fascinating. Was because of Derren Brown that I discovered him. Was wondering whether to investigate further and buy one of his books, know now not to buy this one!

I actually follow him on twitter and read his blog too. Generally I find his writing interesting and to the point. I was actually looking forward to reading his lastest book 59 Seconds but after The Luck Factor I’m a little hesitant to spend more money on his books.

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