I read Can’t Hurt Me as part of the 12 Months of Reading Goodness challenge. February is the month to let a loved one pick a book for you to read and so I asked my husband to do that. When you ask a self-help book junkie to pick your next read, chances are you’ll be reading a self-help book, which is what happened to me. I designed the challenge to help people get out of their reading comfort zone, and this is certainly something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, so it worked in that respect.
Actually, to say Can’t Hurt Me is a self-help book is to shortchange it. It’s really a memoir with doses of self-help exercises and philosophy, mostly relating to sports psychology. The personal narrative is often powerful. The self-help stuff – it’s really just not my thing. I think a straight up memoir might have made for a better book, because David Goggins’ story is really impressive.
David Goggins is a powerful example of someone taking control of his own life. The odds were stacked against him. His father was viciously abusive. His mother finally left him when Goggins was in grade school, taking Goggins with her to southern Indiana, where they relied on government assistance to get by. He struggled in school, eventually skating by by copying other kids’ homework and test answers. He felt the pain of racism. He was in danger of being just another sad statistic when he got a wake up call in the form of a failed military entrance exam. He really wanted to join the Air Force.
This begins an impressive cycle of hitting significant obstacles and figuring out how to overcome them, mostly through a combination of hard work, goal setting, risk taking, discipline and mastery of his mind. He passes the exam, joins the Air Force, then becomes a Navy SEAL, then becomes an elite endurance athlete who competes in 100+ mile road races. Oh, and he set a Guinness World Record for number of pull ups in a 24 hour period. He is brutal to his body and seeks out pain. He enjoys pushing himself to see how much he can endure. He is wired differently than most of us and I am skeptical that what he has can be replicated, which is a big reason the self-help part didn’t work for me.
I also didn’t care for the writing style. It’s raw and blunt and riddled with f-bombs. I get it. The author is trying to set the tone. But the technique became distracting. The book is also organized a little too loosely for me – some chapters flowed together logically while others jarringly begin with an event at a different time with no transition to orient the reader. And the second half of the book became a bit of its own endurance race as the message becomes a little repetitious.
So, overall, I think Can’t Hurt Me will appeal to a certain set of readers, and in fact it’s received strong reviews on goodreads and Amazon. But it wasn’t really my thing. I’m glad I read it because David Goggins has a truly remarkable life story and I like his messages of personal responsibility and striving for excellence. But the writing style and the organization of the book just didn’t work for me.
Did you read a book this month that a loved one chose for you? Tell us all about it.
Also, a reminder that March’s challenge is to read a book by an Irish author.