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If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways. Paperback – January 2, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This slender volume—a place marker in Quinn's philosophical oeuvre about mankind's relationship to nature (including the trilogy Ishmael, The Story of B and My Ishmael)—is as slight as the winsome aphorism in its title. Two-thirds of the book is a lightly edited transcript of a rambling, three-day dialogue between Quinn and a fan who spent Thanksgiving 2005 weekend with him in his Houston home "to nail down the ideas she had explored in my books." For Quinn, a related goal was to answer the question, "How do you do what you do?" for himself. The result provides no startling insights for anyone familiar with the author's essential thinking, though it does occasionally depict Quinn as a cranky and condescending guru, as he challenges his visitor on such topics as world history, religion and God's compassion, abortion and capital punishment, and overpopulation. The essence of the q&a exercise boils down to challenging received wisdom, pulling back to look at the big picture and examining all assumptions. Two essays, one on whether humanity can save itself from environmental doom and one on animism as religion, add some much-needed heft. (Jan.)
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Review

 "An originality and a clarity that few would deny." - The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth; First Edition edition (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586421263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586421267
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In his newest book, Daniel Quinn proves once again how dedicated he is to his readers. He has written books (Ishmael the most famous) that are used in universities around the world, and are consistently praised as "clear" and "original." When you approach great thinkers and ask them how they do it, you usually don't get much of an answer. They'll often just look at you, either apologetically or smugly, and assure you that they "just do it" and can't really explain. With this book, Daniel Quinn gives us a close-up of how he's been doing it his whole life. He's spent his career trying to rip away the shades so that people can have a clear look at history and what we're doing to the world. Millions of people are grateful to him for brightening their understanding of humanity. But in his latest, his task is sharing not his conclusions, but his method.

Readers of his previous work will enjoy diving right into this dialogue between Daniel Quinn and Elaine, a reader who spent some time with him at his home. It delves into the thought processes that produced Ishmael in the first place. The goal of this book is to assist readers in thinking in clear, original ways about... well... anything. It's not so much the subject matter that is central to this book, but the way into the subject matter, and how that unique path produces conclusions that couldn't have been reached if the usual paths were taken.

This book is not only for readers previously familiar with Quinn. It can serve a lot of purposes. It could be an introduction that will enhance the reading of his other books. It could be an advanced study for someone who has read Ishmael. But also, for anyone, this is a book that teaches critical thinking and comes at it from the unique angle that Quinn always surprises us with.

This one is worth reading and re-reading, and as always with DQ books, sharing with others.
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Format: Paperback
It's been almost ten years since I've read ISHMAEL, Daniel Quinn's first masterpiece. And ever since reading it my life has only gotten better. But I've always wondered how DQ worked out the ideas in the book that shattered my worldview at the time. And IF THEY GIVE YOU LINED PAPER WRITE SIDEWAYS is the book that explains his frame of reference. The process he uses to see through the myths of this culture.

On page 102 Daniel Quinn writes, "Almost nothing exerts a more powerful hold on people's minds than unexamined and unchallenged received wisdom..." Examining and challenging the received wisdom that is passed down from one generation to the next is a big part of what DQ's work is about. And it is something that we all can do. This is a book that we can read and reread to help us examine and challenge the recieved wisdom of this culture. It's fun. Try it sometime.

A few years ago, a friend of mine said that Daniel Quinn should recieve the Nobel Peace Prize. I think my friend was on to something. Like DQ said in ISHMAEL, every prison needs a prison industry and our cultural prison's industry is: Consuming life on this planet. Well, DQ has showed us the cracks in this cultural prison's walls with his books. LINED PAPER is another one that may help us escape before we go extinct.
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While I would agree that critical thinking is sorely lacking in our society and in our public schools' curricula, this book is unlikely to inspire you to think more critically. Read Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit or The Story of B instead.

Quinn's interviewer in this book, Elaine, struggles to keep up with him as he leads her through his line of questioning. It was probably a very educational experience for her, but at times reading the transcript borders on tedium. Even Quinn seems to get frustrated a few times. There's a lot of redundancy as they often restate each other's questions and answers. The book never really goes anywhere. I didn't get much out of it.
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Wow. I wish there was a clue to what we could do with this knowledge! A brilliant mind wrote this book. I am never quite sure if I'm glad I read a Quinn book or if like in The Matrix, I'd rather be rich and forget what I know.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The insights into Quinn's mind are instructive, awe generating, full of untold hope- discern able almost intuitively. What a great, productive read!
At times humbling, other times empowering, If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways never fails to impart a big change in our thinking process. We become part of the solution as soon as our thoughts are steered in a constructive way.
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Daniel Quinn has many interesting and different ideas. However I feel most of his readers are after his explanation of Ishmael, while The Holy is my favorite book ever. I take comfort in the fact that one day squid will inherit the earth! Anyway, Quinn goes through questions and statements he receives from readers and discusses them with a girl, who wants to find out how Daniel Quinn does what he does. Sometimes it's frustrating, I wished it was a real live conversation and I could join in, but there is the internet, and I am sure I can. I did enjoy his going through and trying to teach, it's an interesting, rewarding, and frustrating process. It's always a challenge, thinking like someone else.
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