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Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go…
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Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School

by Adam Ruben

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This book is a) short b) funny c) realistic and d) also available as an ebook. ( )
  chellerystick | Oct 16, 2010 |
Full disclosure: I know the author of this book. We were both members of the Princeton University Band, an organization that has had a profound impact on me in the six years since I first joined. It is through Adam, and through my relationship with the Band, that I first heard of this book. But I have to be honest and admit that I didn't just buy this book because I know the guy. I bought it because, having just been through a shortened version of grad student hell, I knew exactly what he meant when he characterized going as a "stupid, stupid decision." And the execution of this idea is pretty darn solid.

For starters, serious critique this is not. Ruben is not at all interested in pointing out the explanations or reasons why grad school is awful and why the dynamics of the system need to change. Leave that to the professional sufferers who are in the very positions he mocks herein. Instead, he combines quick one-liners, witty wordplay, and a fresh assortment of his own horror stories to systematically portray the life of an average science grad student (though he doesn't forget the rest of us humanities schmucks, nor does he neglect the MBAs, law students, and med students who took a different but similarly miserable route).

The style of the book is quick, dirty, and packed with little tips and facts, an easily-digestible humor book that is the exact antithesis of the kind of stuff that grad students are expected to read on a daily basis. The text is never overbearing and is always conversational, and the images and graphs that intersperse the pages make it a dynamic as well as entertaining read.

And while Ruben seems most comfortable taking the cheaper shots at the grad student way of life--most of which are funny and accurate, but can eventually feel as if he's taking the easy way out--there are plenty of moments that work on a higher level. The pre-chapter 1 text, for instance, is really quite brilliant, and sets the tone for the work to come. (I'd explain better, but really, it needs to be seen to be understood.)

In the end, the book delivers exactly what you'd expect it to. It's light and fluffy, often amusing and frequently hilarious. The perfect antidote to the life of number-crunching, textual-analyzing sleep deprivation that many of us are all too familiar with and some of us (like myself) had the good sense to run away from headlong.
  dczapka | Jul 10, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307589447, Paperback)

This is a book for dedicated academics who consider spending years masochistically overworked and underappreciated as a laudable goal. They lead the lives of the impoverished, grade the exams of whiny undergrads, and spend lonely nights in the library or laboratory pursuing a transcendent truth that only six or seven people will ever care about. These suffering, unshaven sad sacks are grad students, and their salvation has arrived in this witty look at the low points of grad school.

Inside, you’ll find:
 
  • advice on maintaining a veneer of productivity in front of your advisor
  • tips for sleeping upright during boring seminars
  • a description of how to find which departmental events have the best unguarded free food
  • how you can convincingly fudge data and feign progress
 
This hilarious guide to surviving and thriving as the lowliest of life-forms—the grad student—will elaborate on all of these issues and more.

www.facebook.com/stupiddecisiontogogradschool

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:10 -0400)

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