Review of Ghost of my Father By Scott Berkun

Review of Ghost of my Father By Scott Berkun

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read The Ghost Of My Father after I bought it.

When I follow authors blindly I tend to read a series of very similar books so I’ve shied away from it recently. But I read Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, and The Year Without Pants and loved the way his clear thinking came through on such diverse topics. I was also interested to see how he would handle something as messy as relationships and family dynamics.  I have a direct interest in writer’s that go deeply personal as well; it is courageous to me.

So I backed his Kickstarter at the minimum level but not without fear that I’d never actually read it.

My fears were:

  • Reading the book would be sad so I would never read it; much like you are never in the “mood” to watch Schindler’s List.
  • It would be like reading someone’s personal journal; memoirs sometimes feel like they are written for people close by and not for you.
  • That it would be irrelevant to me as I don’t have the same type of relationship with my father (no family is perfect of course).
  • That the book was about actual ghosts and the whole thing was a big pump fake; I hate horror stories.

I was pleasantly surprised that the ghosts were not real. There were certainly moments in the book that were quite sad; to watch a family tear apart from old settled tensions is painful even if you don’t know them. The timeline and writing was crisp and easy to follow as a reader (this is quite an accomplishment with this type of book in my view – the book jumped back and forth through time but built to a conclusion steadily).

Even though they might be obvious the book provided lessons for me as a father of four:

  • Fathers are important and the confidence (even interest) of a father in his children is crucial.
  • Keep communication open and honest; it will be painful but is the only way to move forward.
  • ‘Checking out’ or starting a feud is not really possible in a family; they will always be there and it causes pain on all sides as long as it lasts.
  • People’s weaknesses depend on others weaknesses.
  • Sarcasm’s effects on children is hit or miss; it tends to hurt more so deploy it carefully.
  • Stay away from Australia. (Not really)

I am quite glad that I read The Ghost Of My Father and feel like it will be a book that makes an impact; I will continue digesting it over time I am sure.

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