Who can resist a book with the title The Top Ten Things Dead People Want To Tell You ? Not me. Even before I read that 70% of the responders on the Amazon had given it a five-star rating I knew that I wanted to read it.
I have never been more disappointed in a book. It’s title is the best thing , perhaps the only good thing, about it.
The book is written by Mike Dooley, a former tax consultant turned entrepreneur. He is the author of two previous best sellers and the founder of Notes from the Universe, an uplifting daily free e-mail that goes out to over 700,000 subscribers. The central premise of Dooley’s book is that when people die they ascend to a happy place where their every need is fulfilled. However, these dead souls still retain their attachments to those they left behind and follow the fortunes of their loved ones on earth. The Top Ten things are what Dooley imagines they want to pass on to those they love. Dooley doesn’t offer any proof of this premise; he says he just knows this is true. Some readers object to this postulate; they seem to have thought that Dooley would use the actual experiences of people in writing this book. I am not one of them. In saying” I know. Just trust me.”, Dooley is not doing any different from all the major religions. They too do not offer any proof for their beliefs.
My problem is with the rest of Dooley’s assumptions. He tells us that everyone, regardless of whether they were saints or sinners goes to the same place, even the scum of the earth. The only punishment is the knowledge of what they have done during their earthly lives and the guilt for their actions on earth. The idea that there is no other retribution for one’s sins is difficult for me to swallow. Also problematic is his belief that all of those who have died yearn to come back to earth and particularly the idea that they choose the identities they will assume in their next incarnation. Perhaps eternity can be boring, perhaps souls want to return to an earthly existence to experience things but why would they want to choose anything but comfortable, positive environments. Why would anyone choose to be born desperately poor or physically handicapped?
I must confess that I skimmed the latter half of the book. The writing is so annoyingly saccharine, so relentlessly rah-rah, so full of fluff that I just could not will myself to read it more thoroughly. The Top Ten Things are far from earthshaking and are little more than platitudes. Number 8 for instance is ” Life is More Than Fair” and Number 10 is ” Love is the Way, truth is the Path”. You will have to read the book if you want to know the other eight but I don’t think it is worth your while. Trying to read this book is like opening a beautifully wrapped gift box only to discover that it is empty.
Why did so many readers find this book great? Perhaps it is the idea that the departed are in the other world still watching out for us, loving us. It is a comforting thought; many of us have surely felt that someone is watching out for us when we fortuitously overcome problems. It also helps explain why , at the moment of death, not a few people call out to their long dead mothers.