Reviewed by Melissa Schillinger (Onlinebookclub.org) 6/11/2020
4 out of 4 stars
Rick Branch is intriguingly introspective, refreshingly raw, and mindfully - well - meaningless! Becoming Nobody: A personal account of one man’s search for self-knowledge hits so close to home that, as I read, I constantly found myself wanting to raise my hand and shout, “Me too, Rick!” I know readers all over the globe will be doing the same as they turn the pages.
I feel honored to have received front row seats to the event of a lifetime: an ordinary man trying to answer the question so many of us ask ourselves: “Who am I?” And, while the answer to this complicated question may seem oversimplified and possibly even harsh, the warm feeling of camaraderie due to our shared “nothingness” washed over me as I realized the truth Branch set out to share with all those willing to experience it. Branch documented years of thoughtful, deeply personal correspondence with a friend in which they tackle some of the most difficult, yet common questions, we’ve likely all asked ourselves as human beings.
This book picked me (in the most non-mystical way possible, of course). It’s totally my kind of page-turner. As soon as I read the title my lips curled up into a knowing smirk, I chuckled, and couldn’t wait to join Branch on this painful, yet eye-opening and necessary, journey. What I liked most about the book was how much I felt I could relate to the author. For years my father and I have written emails to one another, and held in-person discussions, questioning both the meaning of life and our roles within it. Like Branch’s journey, no stone has been left unturned and no topic is taboo. Similar to Branch's strategy, we focus on scientific findings, research in psychology, philosophical works, anecdotal evidence, and even analysis of intuition and lucid dreams. There’s a strange sense of comfort and calm in knowing that others, like my father and I, are trying to answer the same question, which usually feels like crawling through a dark, dense mangrove with mysterious, yet alluring, detours and no clear way out.
There is nothing I dislike about this book. It was well written, powerful, genuine, and chapters transitioned smoothly, despite the vast topics of discussion and despite my initial concerns that the writing may be too disjointed because of its basis on the author’s original emails with a friend.
This book will appeal to lovers of philosophy, modern psychology and biology. I would not recommend it to audiences who are easily offended by claims against organized religion, refuse to acknowledge natural selection or evolution as truth, and/or aren’t open to analyzing the psychology of faith, religious groups, and spiritual beliefs.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It’s exceptional. Rick Branch isn’t afraid to cut into - and slowly peel apart - the pungent, proverbial onion we’ve all encountered, but most of us aren’t willing to dissect and inspect ourselves. By the end of the book Branch will feel like a friend, and you’ll feel like a “nobody,” but there’s something oddly enchanting and satisfying in such a grim self-discovery.
Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite 4/13/2021
5 out of 5 stars
Many people pose the question 'Who am I?' and 'What is my life purpose?' Using science, psychology, and philosophy from some of the greatest thinkers in history, this guide aims to unravel the cause that prevents us from remembering our true Essence. Since birth, we have been conditioned to believe that all we are is our personality but this only constitutes a small section of our true self. Holding this belief causes us to live superficially and unconsciously and only use our conscious minds around 5% of the time. Throughout Becoming Nobody by Rick Branch, you will gain a deeper understanding of your true self. Why do some people avoid the uncertainty that will bring them true happiness in exchange for compliance and obedience to rules they were conditioned to obey? You will also learn why we dwell on our mistakes, judge others unreasonably, and worry about situations that have not occurred. The unconscious mind has an enormous amount of control over your thoughts beliefs and actions and this completely falsifies our true self.
Becoming Nobody by Rick Branch is extremely detailed and insightful. I loved how the author used philosophy, science, and psychology throughout. This guide has truly opened my mind to the possibility that we, as humans, are completely out of touch with our authentic selves. There is far more to our existence than just what we see, feel, taste and touch. The messages are so profound you have to take your time to really process the information and ponder its meaning. I loved the chapters on Traditional or Mainstream Psychotherapy and The Ego Tunnel. There is a quote from the book which states, 'This realization makes me look up at the sky at night with a new sense of wonder and awe,' and this is how I truly felt when I had completed the book. The guide is filled with life-changing insights that will truly awaken your spirituality and make you more analytical and conscious of your behaviors, thoughts, and actions.
I have also discovered how judgemental and unforgiving I can be on a subconscious level. The guide also has some very interesting information on our distorted perception of time. One of my favorite quotes from the book by Jed McKenna states, “There is no now, there is only the intersection of past and future, both of which possess the curious charm of not existing.” It has been truly inspiring to learn the power we all hold within but have somehow chosen to allow that power to be replaced with external conditioning and our unconscious mind.
Reviewed by Jose Cornelio for Readers’ Favorite 4/13/2021
5 out of 5 stars
Becoming Nobody: A Personal Account of One Man's Search for Self-knowledge by Rick Branch is a memoir written in an unusual style, a book that can be read as the author’s personal philosophy and a path toward personal growth and self-awareness. The book covers a wide range of topics, from self-remembering to the duality in human nature, from exploring the multidimensional facets of the “I” to discussing the power of words. The author writes about themes that are deeply psychological and in a style that is incisive and compelling. He talks about forgiveness, about the place of using the third person, about the loss of self, about selfishness, and a lot more. What is most interesting is that each topic takes the reader a step deeper into the question: Who am I?
This book is enthralling, deeply researched, and features the doctrines of great minds such as Gurdjieff and Eckhart Tolle; it will also help readers develop self-awareness. The book is packed with wisdom and thought-provoking passages, one of those books you only pick up if you want to engage in serious inner work. It is written in gorgeous prose and I enjoyed the simplicity of language, which conveys the author’s mastery of the subject. Weaving episodes from his personal life into the book, Rick Branch creates a reading experience that is enjoyable.
Becoming Nobody has many warnings about the illusions we have about ourselves and about life. It invites readers to get down from their high horses and listen to what life tells them when they fall from those horses. By grounding us, “Life will have shown us the humbling truth of who we are.” Becoming Nobody is a deeply moving book that will shift the way most of us see ourselves and life, packed with wisdom and a light that moves inward, unveiling the world of authenticity in us.
Reviewed by Sol Tyler on Amazon 5/14/2021
5 out of 5 stars A wonderful read
Understanding who we are and why we feel and act in a certain way, what difficult tasks! Author Rick Branch puts ourselves on the table in order to make us realise how sometimes we need to “Become nobody” in order to be someone. Sounds strange, right? But this book makes us realise it is not. It is simpler than it sounds.
This book is written in a very original way since, to describe his ideas, Branch has chosen the form of a diary which is a compilation of emails he wrote with chronological dates on them. The emails go from 2008 to 2018. Some excerpts of famous writers are mingled in the chapters, and this adds to the pleasant atmosphere that reading these pages produce. An absolutely creative piece of writing!
Reviewed by Albert on Amazon 5/23/2021
5 out of 5 stars It managed to solve many of my questions. Highly interesting!
This is, without a doubt, an excellent book and highly recommended. Now, as the author indicates, the book can be hazardous for you, as it is often extremely raw, honest and shocking.
I am sure that many times we have asked ourselves, "Who are we?". Well, the author brilliantly combines the use of science, psychology and philosophy, plus the inclusion of anecdotal evidence (mostly through emails sent to a fellow searcher) lived between 2008 and 2018, gives us a very comprehensive approach to coming to understand who we really are, although this is not always going to be a positive thing for us.
Personally, I found it a very interesting book and worth reading!
Reviewed by A Cannady on Amazon 6/2/2021
5 out of 5 stars A definite must-read if you're searching for contentment or self-identity.
Wow. Just "wow." In "Becoming Nobody: A Personal Account of One Man's Search for Self-Knowledge," Rick Branch hits a home run about the problem in society today. I'm guilty of it as a parent myself. We have spent so much time raising our kids to tell them they can be anything they want, and they're amazing, and they should shoot for the moon, thinking that by starting them with high standards, we are helping boost their self-esteem. What we're doing, instead, is creating generations of children who grow up into entitled adults who think they are so amazing, they're too good for minimum-wage, blue-collar jobs. It's not that they're bad people. It's that they're confused about who they really are, and then they are unhappy because they're not these amazing adults their parents told them they'd be. To fix this misalignment of "self," one has to become "nobody" to find out who their "somebody" really is. Wow. Read this book.
Reviewed by Jasmine Smith (Onlinebookclub.org) 9/11/2021
4 out of 4 stars
In hopes of discovering the answers to what the purpose of existence is, Rick Branch took a journey deep within the works of several great philosophers and personal writers. Starting with the teachings of Gurdjieff, which he discovered in his teen years, Branch developed an interest in the dual nature of the self. He believed he would find the solution for the peace of mind he sought in this study of viewing the unconscious personality as a separate, false self from the conscious essence that resides at the core of a person.
Branch, after a thirty year hiatus, renews his philosophical interests, and together with a like-minded email correspondent, Ana Hildebrand, delves deeper into the concepts of the self, false I's, ego, and mind-body dualism. Branch pushes forward despite uncertainty as he jumps across philosophies and beliefs, where the search for something becomes an exploration into the nothingness within himself.
Written as a compilation of notes, emails, personal thoughts, and quotes, Becoming Nobody is a wonderful look into the world of philosophy, particularly those concepts pertaining to the self. Branch writes his story in a very comprehensible way, including exemplary examples that allow the reader to visualize how following these teachings can be achieved in a modern life. As well as how they can affect a person while being followed.
There was very little in this book that didn’t captivate. The only part of the book that was difficult to follow was a slight randomness of the chapters. They felt like scattered thoughts in want of organization, but even this was true to the nature of the text and Branch’s internal struggle to understand. He even briefly mentions at the end of the author’s note to just flip through until you come across something that interests you. Which gives an insight to his understanding of the disconnection between his thoughts. Despite this chaotic format, the story still had a recognizable linear progression, which allows the reader to truly feel the progression of his state of mind.
The immense amount of research Branch does over the course of his personal journey allows an insight into multiple angles for each system of belief, and his use of statements from a great variety of figures, from G. I. Gurdjieff, Eckhart Toll, Jed McKenna, and many others, which both corroborate and contradict each other, makes this book a good starting point for anyone with an interest in philosophy. The progression of his journey would also make this a good read for anyone interested in autobiographies or stories of personal development. The amount of information that is packed in this small book makes it highly recommendable, and I found the publication to be well edited. I, therefore, give it 4 out of 4 stars.