I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman (2013)


Originally published 5/28/2016

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman.

It’s not very often that I don’t finish a book. Generally, when I start a book, I finished the series. If I don’t like a book, I’ll still read it; I just won’t look any further into its author or its series.

But then there’s the occasional book that I dislike so much, I stop reading it. Nothing to do with time constraints. Nothing to do with reading another book. No. As in, if I had to choose between sitting in a room doing nothing for three days straight and reading said book, I would choose to sit around doing nothing.

I Wear the Black Hat is one of those books.

Many of you might not read nonfiction books for pleasure, and won’t understand why I wanted to read this book in the first place. But let me ask you: who sings your favorite Disney song? Probably the villain. Your favorite ATLA character? Probably Zuko. Or Azula. Or at least Toph, the “chaotic good” character. The appeal of the villain is something I’ve never completely wrapped my mind around, even though I feel it as well. So, of course, when I read I Wear the Black Hat’s (IWTBH) blurb, saying that it was a study in villainy, I just had to buy it.

But I was severely disappointed. For three main reasons:

1.     Confusion:
This book is incredibly confusing. And not in the sense that I don’t have a college degree yet. If it used confusing legal/scientific jargon, I would be delighted. But IWTBH’s confusion stems from its authors use of examples that I have never heard of and are rarely explained in the book. Perhaps the book was written for a much older audience, but even so, the author shouldn’t assume that every reader will draw the same conclusions. He never states the conclusion that his example shows. He merely names the example and expects his audience, old or young, to glean the meaning for themselves. In a nonfiction book, this type of assumption is unacceptable.
2.     The revelations are few and far between: 
I read nonfiction books to learn. I learned one thing from this book, which was also something that I could have easily learned from somewhere else (and that I already knew to a limited extent). This is the same reason that I don’t enjoy Shakespeare: I don’t learn anything from it. However, Shakespeare is at least entertaining. TWTBH is not.
3.     I disagree with the arguments he DOES have: 
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Perhaps it was because I never understood the examples he used to prove his point, but he often made statements that, to me, seemed shallow and ludicrous.

This is probably the harshest review I’ve done yet, and I know for a fact this is the first book on my blog that I’ve rated under 3 Stars. I would like to think that maybe I would understand this book more if I were older, or if I had read further into it. But it is my duty to be completely honest about my sole opinion, and my opinion is negative. I would love to hear otherwise from any of you in the comments; after all, I don’t want to have wasted my money.

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