You know, when I first picked up Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking book Emotional Intelligence, I was sure I was going to love it. I mean, the subject matter was right up my street, the book was full of scientific studies (which the secret nerd in me always finds kind of neat), the book had already been met with two decade’s worth of plaudits and acclaim. So what’s not to like?!
Strangely, even though it really does have a lot of interesting stuff in it, and it really is packed to the gills with footnotes and scientific research, and actually was written by an award-winning journalist, Emotional Intelligence was not the riveting read I was expecting. I was still glad that I picked it up, and that I made it through to the end, and I really did learn a lot of interesting information about the importance of emotions, and the need for society as a whole to be a lot more in-tune and aware of what we’re all actually feeling.
But there was something about the book’s style, like a cut-and-come-again cake, that didn’t really work for me. I was expecting a narrative that led me on from one ‘big’ idea to the next and concluded with some earth-shattering ideas for how to really fix the world (and ourselves, while we’re at it.)
Instead, the book slid from one subject to another, with very little in the way of any real connective material between the different parts. Individually, every chapter was interesting and worth reading. Collectively, there was nothing pulling me on to read more, or read further, which is why this book took me over a month to complete.
The material was weighty-enough, and had the stamp of being well-researched and witnessed, but the writing style was a little too ‘light’ for me, and the information I was learning didn’t really bed-down, or take root properly.
Now, in fairness the book was written two decades’ ago, and it really could be that so many of its ‘groundbreaking’ ideas have become so commonplace now that they’ve lost most of their shock value. ‘Old hat’ is never as interesting to read about as the latest news and innovations, so maybe if I’d read it when I was 12, that would have made all the difference in the world.
But honestly? I’m not convinced.
In terms of defining emotional intelligence, how its lack is contributing to the breakdown of society, and general ideas about what needs to happen in the ‘ideal world’, author Daniel Goleman did a great job of pulling together the material, and it’s definitely a good reference work for anyone remotely interested in, or connected to, the realm of emotional intelligence in a professional sense.
But if you’re looking for something that gives you a scientific basis for holistic health approaches, real-life stories that have the power to move you, and prose that’s a stonking good read – stick to Bernie Siegel.
*Rivka Levy’s latest book, ‘Talk to God and Fix Your Health: The Real Reasons Why We Get Sick and How to Stay Healthy’ is out in 2016.