Official Review: Becoming Nobody by Rick Branch

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Brendan Donaghy
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Latest Review: Becoming Nobody by Rick Branch

Official Review: Becoming Nobody by Rick Branch

Post by Brendan Donaghy »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Becoming Nobody" by Rick Branch.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Becoming Nobody: A personal account of one man’s search for self-knowledge is a philosophical journey in search of truth by Richard Branch. Written between 2008 and 2018, the book is 318 pages long and consists mostly of material lifted from emails the author exchanged over the period with his friend, Ana Hildebrand. The pair shared their thoughts on the ideas and writings of an eclectic mix of writers, philosophers, and thinkers from across the ages.

The author was born in 1952 and raised in New Hampshire. While it seems he was always the kind of person who questioned the nature of things, it was in his mid-fifties that he embarked on a sustained search for answers to the kind of existential questions that have troubled saints, scholars, philosophers, poets, and psychologists for thousands of years. Branch was initially inspired by the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, who preached a path of spiritual development known as the ‘Work’ or the ‘Fourth Way’. Branch explains that the core of this teaching is the belief that: ‘we each have an unconscious Personality and a conscious Essence. The problem is how we take our Personality or self to be all there is to us, usually oblivious to our better-knowing and authentic Essence.’ Through self-observation, Gurdjieff believes, this can be corrected.

While Gurdjieff provides the starting point for the author’s quest for enlightenment, he doesn’t succeed in furnishing Branch with all the answers he is seeking. Much of the book charts the development of the author’s own thinking on these matters. His writing documents his attempts to scrape away at what he views as his false persona, to uncover the real self that lies beneath. In doing so, he runs the risk of obliterating the false Rick Branch only to discover that there is nothing underneath; he runs the risk, in fact, of becoming nobody.

The further I got with this book, the more I enjoyed it. I found the early chapters, when the author wrestles with his notions of the ‘false self’ and ‘essence’, to be a bit slow. In Branch’s defense, he is documenting his personal journey and, therefore, cannot be blamed if he finds himself tramping across terrain that has been well-mapped by others. By the middle and later stages of the book, the reader has come to know Branch better. We get personal glimpses of the author through the anecdotes he shares with us: how he struggled with (and overcame) his fear of public speaking; how he interacted with his mother and twin brother at different points in his life; his attempts at impressing women on the beach; his decision to move to Florida on his retirement. Branch also shares some of his political views. All these little snippets help humanize the man behind the keyboard and make the reader warm to this self-effacing character.

I didn’t like some technical aspects of the book. The text is justified on both sides, but the author (or typesetter) does not seem to make use of hyphenated word breaks, preferring to break a line early to accommodate words that aren’t going to fit. This gives a ragged appearance to some pages, in my view. There are also some errors scattered around the book but they are not overly distracting; I suspect that the book has been professionally edited.

I’m giving this book 3 out of 4 stars, deducting one star for the errors I found. It will appeal to people who enjoy thinking about the meaning of life. There is nothing of a sexual nature to offend here. There are a few curse words dotted about the book, but they number less than a handful. Readers with religious faith should only tackle this book if they can deal with having their beliefs challenged. Likewise, people with a conservative political outlook may find some of the views expressed here hard to read.

******
Becoming Nobody
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Kirsi_78
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Post by Kirsi_78 »

Becoming Nobody sounds like an interesting read. I love to challenge my thoughts and my beliefs every now and then and this book just might be a good challenger. I think I have read another review about this same book and thought already then that I should read this... your review just managed to convince me! Thanks, and great work!

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Post by Michelle Fred »

I am always open to new knowledge and superior arguments and the book seems like an interesting compilation of such. It seems fascinating that the author underwent a personal experiment of chipping and pruning himself to find out what lies underneath. I sure would like to know what he found. Thanks for such an engrossing review.

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Brendan Donaghy
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

Kirsi_78 wrote:
18 May 2020, 06:51
Becoming Nobody sounds like an interesting read. I love to challenge my thoughts and my beliefs every now and then and this book just might be a good challenger. I think I have read another review about this same book and thought already then that I should read this... your review just managed to convince me! Thanks, and great work!
Thanks for taking time to comment!

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Brendan Donaghy
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

Michelle Fred wrote:
18 May 2020, 17:32
I am always open to new knowledge and superior arguments and the book seems like an interesting compilation of such. It seems fascinating that the author underwent a personal experiment of chipping and pruning himself to find out what lies underneath. I sure would like to know what he found. Thanks for such an engrossing review.
Thanks for your comments!

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Post by HusainNecklace52 »

I have always loved philosophical books.
This one seems like a perfect fit for me.
Thank you for your review, it is much appreciated!
:D :D

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Post by Sheila_Jay »

I am a lover of philosophical books and I think this just one of those that I would like to read and grow my thinking. I am hopeful that the author will work on the identified downsides of the book. Thank you for the honest review.
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

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Post by Amanda Deck »

I've been thinking lately about "who would we be if life hadn't happened to us?" It seems obvious that we'd be like babies, nature only with no nurture. None of the environmental effects that literally form us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Anyone who's been pregnant knows that a baby shows its personality before we meet him or her. It seems that a baby's environment shapes the core personality already in place during development. (Of course, the womb counts as an environment, too.) I wonder if peeling away life experiences means finding core character; one baby become a 'doormat' while another might be a crusader for human rights - all coming from a compassionate nature shaped by life experience. The one who always gives in does so from wanting others to be happy, the crusader chooses a different path from that same compassionate nature.

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Latest Review: Becoming Nobody by Rick Branch

Post by Brendan Donaghy »

HusainNecklace52 wrote:
20 May 2020, 01:48
I have always loved philosophical books.
This one seems like a perfect fit for me.
Thank you for your review, it is much appreciated!
:D :D
You're very welcome - thanks for commenting!

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Brendan Donaghy
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

Sheila_Jay wrote:
20 May 2020, 03:17
I am a lover of philosophical books and I think this just one of those that I would like to read and grow my thinking. I am hopeful that the author will work on the identified downsides of the book. Thank you for the honest review.
Thank you for your comments!

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Brendan Donaghy
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

Amanda Deck wrote:
20 May 2020, 23:15
I've been thinking lately about "who would we be if life hadn't happened to us?" It seems obvious that we'd be like babies, nature only with no nurture. None of the environmental effects that literally form us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Anyone who's been pregnant knows that a baby shows its personality before we meet him or her. It seems that a baby's environment shapes the core personality already in place during development. (Of course, the womb counts as an environment, too.) I wonder if peeling away life experiences means finding core character; one baby become a 'doormat' while another might be a crusader for human rights - all coming from a compassionate nature shaped by life experience. The one who always gives in does so from wanting others to be happy, the crusader chooses a different path from that same compassionate nature.
Interesting thoughts - thanks for sharing them!

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Post by Sunday diamond »

The book has lots of philosophical teachings that are added to my knowledge. You have a detailed review.

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Post by Micxartful »

From the title of the book it seems so interesting since in this time we are struggling finding or searching of our self-knowledge. I, personally looking for this kind of books that keeps my inner knowledge present and open to different opportunities that our self-knowledge given to us. And a man's knowledge is not limited to what we seen but what we've been experience.

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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

Sunday diamond wrote:
23 May 2020, 16:39
The book has lots of philosophical teachings that are added to my knowledge. You have a detailed review.
Thanks so much for commenting!

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Brendan Donaghy
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

Micxartful wrote:
23 May 2020, 23:14
From the title of the book it seems so interesting since in this time we are struggling finding or searching of our self-knowledge. I, personally looking for this kind of books that keeps my inner knowledge present and open to different opportunities that our self-knowledge given to us. And a man's knowledge is not limited to what we seen but what we've been experience.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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