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BOOK Can I criticize (or hate) a book I haven't read entirely?

Discussion in 'Education, Learning, Books' started by MJ DeMarco, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. DonTriumph
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    DonTriumph Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Hello MJ,

    Here's my take:

    I judge a book based on:
    • Reviews from someone I trust (I learned about The Millionaire Fastlane from a blog I trust).
    • Amazon preview, check its Table of Contents and first pages. By then I can sense if the book will be worthwhile for me or not.
    • Book's sales copy. Usually if I'm in a bookstore and I can't sneak peek the book because it's wrapped.
    • Sometimes I background-check the author.
    Basically if I buy the book, I deemed it worth reading. So I will make the effort to read it from first to last.

    My one rule of thumb, though:

    I learned not to buy a book just because it's a "classic" or the author is a big name. Sometimes it's just a hype and the book won't really bring any "new" value.
     
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  2. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I'm pretty stingy with my time and what I choose to devote it to. I rarely read books in their entirety, and the idea of, "What if the good parts are in the last chapter" simply doesn't resonate with me. If the good parts are only in the last chapter, the author didn't do his/her job and I believe it's fair to criticize that book for wasting my time. I've never read a book where just the last chapter is good, and I never will -- I'll never make it that far.

    That said, hopefully none of us criticize books without adding some detail. I can get 10 minutes into a book and decide I really don't like the author's writing style or the message doesn't resonate with me. Doesn't mean it's a bad book -- it's just a bad book FOR ME. Tony Robbins is that author for me. I won't criticize him or his works, but I may recommend that others (who I know are of similar mindset to me) not waste their time on his books.

    That's completely different from getting three chapters into a book and realizing that I fundamentally disagree with the premise or the path that the author has laid out, and I believe I have enough background to be able to support a wholesale argument against what was written. In that case, I see no problem with criticizing the book, as it will both waste time in the reading and can send readers down the wrong path. In fact, I see it as my responsibility to steer people from those books/authors.

    And both of those are different than a book I read where I get something completely different than what I believe was promised and expected, but I don't regret reading it. For example, Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Kiyosaki, in general. I don't believe he delivers what he promises, and I avoid most of his books, but he did provide some motivation and tips early on that led me down the path I'm on. So, while I'll criticize the book for not meeting its promise, I expand on that with some compliments as well.

    As a funny example, I actually received a 1 Star review of my first book on Amazon with a comment to the effect of, "This book was just too dense with material and I couldn't get through it." That review is one of my very favorites! I hated the 1 Star, but the "criticism" was nicest compliment I could have received -- that's what I was going for and that's what my intended audience wants. I'm glad he took the time to elucidate his specific concern rather than just say, "Book sucked!"

    Criticism comes in all shapes and forms, and as I'm sure MJ can attest, you can have a book that 95% of people rave about, but there will always be the 5% that it doesn't resonate with (or just want to complain).
     
  3. ZF Lee
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    ZF Lee Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Let's make a hypothesis of sorts.

    'With ALL readers with the same level of expectations, it is estimated that X will get readers to say the book sucks/rocks'

    The main problem for me is of course the ceteris paribus...the differing expectations of readers.

    No matter how well written an author can be or how clarifying the sales copy for the book can be, people will still see words differently.

    I'll give you an example:

    The Sinister Thread title.

    How to Make $1,000 a Week with no Degree, no Feedback, & no Portfolio.



    Lazy readers think
    : Easy, lazy money up ahead! Wohooo!

    Later at the 2nd page: There's MOOORE. Too long, not worth my time. Netflix coming up!

    Sensible hardworking readers: So I don't have a degree or feedback or portfolio...so here's another tool to help me earn money? Cool! What's the next step? I can do it tomorrow!




    Taking the POV of the author, he must be able to reach his desired readers of the desired interest, characteristics and longing. That is the best sufficient (if you can call it) benchmark of success. Can't exactly write for all. You don't write Scientific American for lazy college dropouts. You write it for intellectuals and avid learners. Sure, the dropouts could learn from the publication, but less likely, due to factors like discipline and cash to subscribe.


    So, going back to the more relevant Can't Hurt Me.

    Soft-heart readers (no wrong with that): Oh my! It's too rough! I'll just stop at the SEALS chapter, no more.

    Readers interested in development: Oh, here's something that I never did that Goggins did to win at the SEALS!

    What do readers expect?

    Personally for me, I'll read, scan through or abandon it according to my mood. I'll be more stricter when it comes to books that help me solve my present business problems (e.g. copywriting or accounting books)




     
  4. Suzanne Bazemore
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    Suzanne Bazemore Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    For the purposes of our book discussions, I think read half. I read half of Goggins's book, but I probably won't finish it. It doesn't mean I wouldn't like to participate in the discussion, because we are using the book to prompt discussion in our group for our benefit, and I think I read enough to do that, because I did get a lot out of what I read. The part I read was very thought-provoking and beneficial, but it became somewhat repetitive to me, so I stopped reading it and probably won't re-engage, but I might. I guess my stance views using the book as a launching point for discussion about entrepreneurship, in this group, not as an official book critique.

    I go to Amazon and use the "look inside" feature to read the first few pages. As soon as I am not interested, I stop reading. Whether it is the first sentence or 2/3 of the way through the book.

    This concept is interesting.

    For me, if it is fiction I am more likely ditch it immediately. With nonfiction, I might skip chapters to ones that interest me more.
     
  5. Kung Fu Steve
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    Kung Fu Steve Platinum Contributor Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    This is great ^

    You guys know me, I've always been the kind and loving friend who says "include everybody" and "treat everyone how you want to be treated" ...

    ... but I'll admit when I started seeing as many people as I do these days -- I'd talk about Tony throughout a whole seminar and people would run up to me after and say how inspired they were and how it was so great... and "have I read Dave Ramsey's book? Oh my god -- my husband and I have these envelopes -- look, here it is! We have cash in this one for this and this for this..."

    And they'd go on and on... and of course I'm thinking "sooo... you going to buy a ticket to the seminar with those envelopes, lady? Or what?"

    :rofl:

    But what I saw in myself in those moments -- I didn't like.

    I was judging these people for their beliefs.

    I was outright upset that they couldn't see what I saw. "You guys are never going to get ahead working this job, if you goal is financial freedom you need to do XYZ ... NOT that!"

    And honestly... who the hell am I to tell someone how to live their life?

    Ramsey is one I run into a lot -- and from what I knew of him I didn't want to read his books but I picked up 2 of them (I forget what they were at the moment... Money makeover?) -- but my purpose of reading them was simply so I could relate to them because you can't influence someone when you're judging them.

    It only took 2 or 3 times.... where I would say something not-so-positive about their favorite book and I could see the utter sadness in their eyes. They trusted me, they connected with me, they opened up to me... and here I came through and just punched them in the face.

    These people who were trying so hard to change their lives and they finally found something to latch onto. Some life preserver... and here my dumb a$$ comes along and says "well that life preserver is square, not round like it should be... and don't you think you should've just worn a life jacket?"

    SIDE NOTE: This is a conversation for another time... but isn't part of the reason we get so lost and lonely as entrepreneurs is because we feel like someone doesn't understand us? "You should go back to school, get a safe secure job, don't risk anything"

    Maybe I'm rambling here but it's different strokes for different folks.

    You want to read an entire book? Great.

    You want to read a chapter? Great.

    You want to read half? Great.

    You want to throw it across the room after the first sentence? Great.

    I think the only trouble comes in when we start judging people for liking something or not liking something...

    And I'm guilty of it.

    When we start telling other people something is awful and they should never try it because you didn't like it...

    And I'm guilty of that, too.

    There are 48,701 members of this forum looking for guidance, advice, ideas, friends, and just outright hope.

    I don't think we can give any of those things unless we explore both sides of the coin.

    The reason I like biophase's post here so much is because that's the mentality I admire.

    I often tell people these days "I didn't get the chance to finish that one... tell me what you liked about it!"

    Anyways... I guess my response is "who cares how much you read of a book... the real question is, how are you communicating about the idea, thought, book, or seminar. "

    And all communication is either a loving response or a cry for help.
     
  6. Suzanne Bazemore
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    Suzanne Bazemore Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I only leave positive reviews. However, if someone asks my opinion (especially if they have something at stake, like at my writing group or here), then I am honest, but I would not want to cut someone down online. If I didn't like the book I would not read it, but I wouldn't leave a bad review. I figure what I like or don't like is my prerogative, but I don't leave negative reviews for restaurants, books, or products. I think negative reviews are helpful, but I don't leave them myself. I just can't bring myself to do it.
     
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  7. Process
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    Process Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I agree. Both books are dreamer porn.

    People in the dreaming stage should read books like "The Richest Man in Babylon," "Go For No", and "The Greatest Salesman In The World."

    Those books are fictional but contain action and process.
     
  8. John Walker
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    John Walker Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    @MJ DeMarco

    I use some techniques I learned to know if a book is worth my reading time or not.

    You should not pick up a book and start reading it.

    First you check the summary, then you flip through the entire book page by page looking only for the book's subtitle, do not spend more than 4 minutes throughout the book.

    After this you will already have a sense of what the book is about and how it is constructed, that way you will already have an understanding about it when you start to read the truth. If the summary makes sense to you and the subtitle also, you start reading, if not, you return.

    You can do this by reading only the first line of each paragraph to get a sense of what you are teaching, before reading the completion of the book.

    When you do this "photo reading" before reading a book, your brain understood that you have read it once, and it will be easier to read it again.
     
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  9. artKarolina
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    If something doesn't motivate me to keep reading, I will put a book down at 50 pages. That's my personal thing. I'm the same with movies, music. 15 minutes in, if the movie doesn't feel compelling, I turn it off. I listen to 3 or 4 songs on an album, if it's not compelling - I move on. There's a few books I read though that had a great introductory chapter and setup, then by the middle you start seeing the author get bored and run out of good information, relying on filler. That's annoying.
     
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  10. LaraJF
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    LaraJF Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I think you need to take a step back and ask "What was my purpose in reading this?"

    If I'm reading a book because I want a different insight, I'll read enough to understand where the author is coming from and their point of view. Then I'll decide if it gave me what I needed. And finally, I'll decide if I want to keep reading.

    If I'm reading to learn something, I'll read the ToC and scan chapters for what I think I need to know. Then I'll decide if it's the best resource or not.

    Mind you, that's all for non-fiction. I often get books on Audible since it's harder for me to put it down than it is to put down an ebook and pretend I've forgotten about it.

    For fiction, if you don't grab me in the first two chapters, I'm done :)
     
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  11. Fassina
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    Fassina Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    For us to get to a consensus we'd need to argue semantics.. But this time let's avoid arguing what a good or bad book means.

    What do you define by reading ? Does reading the 20% that represents 80% of the information count as having read a book? Or does only reading it cover to cover not skipping more than 5-10% of the book?

    Imo you should first 'qualify' the book, i.e determine if it's relevant to you or worth reading. The methods for doing this may vary, from checking reviews to checking table of contents.
    I can confidently tell if a book is worth reading very quickly, via table of contents, introduction, reviews, skimming chapters..

    To me that's a good enough assessment. To some people that's not good enough. The thoroughness necessary will vary from person to person.

    Arguments for both perspectives can be clearly seem in this post.

    I personally feel I can tell if a meal tastes good or not with one bite, I don't need to eat an entire plate of trash to be able to decide it's bad. Yeah there's a chance that a part of that meal is good and I'll miss out on it by not eating the entire plate, but that's a risk worth taking imo.

    At the end of the day I'd rather eat as little trash as I can. Same thing for books, relationships, tv shows, movies, games and anything else..

    In a perfect world things would be different, but that's sadly not how things work.
     
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  12. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    It's funny, but some of the most popular books recommended by gurus: Money Master the Game, 4 Hour Work Week, Principles - even Blue Ocean Strategy - bored the sh*t out of me!

    Some of the books by smaller, less well-known figures have been fantastic - probably the writers are putting their heart and soul into them. Unscripted, TMF and Alex Becker's book "pillars of wealth" were some of the best books I ever read.

    It's hard to say when you should stop reading a book. Usually if I'm still bored by the 2nd chapter, there's not really much point to carry on as I'll end up going back reading the same paragraph again and again until I absorb it, taking me twice as long and putting me to sleep.

    There are so many books out there that frame the same points in different ways. I would say it's not always the content of the book that's bad, but often the writing style and the relevancy of the content to the issues you're struggling with.
     
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  13. DustinH
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    DustinH Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    This has become my philosophy on reading books. I read fewer and fewer new books each year while I have a list of books I re-read at least once each year, sometime twice. I have 2 or 3 new books on my docket for this year but, other than that, I will re-read my favorites.

    1. Millionaire Fastlane
    2. Unscripted
    3. The One Thing
    4. The 10X Rule
    5. Cashflow Quadrant
    6. Traction

    New Books on my to-read list this year:
    1. Atomic Habits
    2. Expert Secrets - Russell Brunson
    3. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You Got - Jay Abraham
     
  14. DustinH
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    Same here. I think the first part of the second section of Principles is great to re-read. Where it starts actually talking about his business and management principles. The rest is filler.

    I've been really struggling with Blue Ocean Strategy. It's boring as hell. On a similar note, I'm struggling also to get through Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen. A lot of boring stories. I'm only about 25% through each one. They have motivated me to cancel my Audible subscription. Instead I've picked up some podcasts about creating Online Courses and I've learned more about digital marketing and online business from those than I ever would've from those books.

    There's too much filler in books. They fill the pages with related stories that take forever to get through and waste the reader's time.
     
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  15. EPerceptions
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    EPerceptions Bronze Contributor

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    IMO, whether a book sucks or not is completely relevant to you.

    How you react to a book changes based on where you're at in life. There are many things that were boring and tedious years ago, that I can completely relate to and learn from today. Or that I just couldn't get my head around when I was younger, but became clear as day after living life a little.

    With non fiction, I glance through the TOC and possibly spot look at sections that might interest me. That's usually enough for me to know if I want to read it or not. Sometimes I'll spot read high and low reviews.

    Personal fiction reading I have much less time and patience for, so it has to grab (and hold) me within the first 2-3 pages.
     
  16. Jonathan Hoch
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    I listen to most of my books thanks to audible. I usually toss in the earbuds, and let the book run while I go about my day. I've been able to listen to 35 books in the last 3 months, and a few I've listened multiple times.

    But one book that I couldn't F*cking finish, was Overlap. I was hopeful because I had heard good things about it from a few friends. But it got to this weird point where it was giving relationship advice, halfway through the book. After an hour of how to treat my significant other, I ended the book. I'm 9 years happily married. I was looking for business advice. Thanks. No thanks. I promptly informed all of my friends they were idiots.
     
  17. Generic_Username
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    80/20 principle or the Pareto principle: idk about specific percentages, but IMO you don't need to read the whole book to see if the book isn't what you wanted it to be:
    1. Who is the author? Joe Hypocrite or Jane Practitioner: if the author doesn't practice what he/she wrote, why should you?
    2. What is the purpose of the book? Is the purpose not what you wanted?
    3. How does the author write- sample the book
    Etc.
     
  18. NickVGreen
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    NickVGreen New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    It depends on what you're gonna say about it. For example, when what you have heard about the book sounds unappealing or not worth your time you can say "From what I have heard, I don't think I would like it/that it is worth my time" without spending any time reading it.

    If you're actually going to read part of it though, you're free to dismiss or hate it as soon as you read the title or the blurb on the back, just as long as you are aware and clear on your reasons for dismissing/hating it. If the title or blurb turned you off, you should clear on that when you express yourself to others (instead of "I hated it," maybe "The title was a turn-off" or "The blurb sounds just like a million other books of [book's genre]).

    For example, the worst book I've ever partially read was My lover's lover, where in the second chapter the main character reflects on the sweat molecules she's shedding as she hurries up a nightclub stairway. I knew it was going to be bad before I started, but once I got to that nonsensical characterization (the character was not a physicist and there was nothing about her or the situation that should have brought this molecule-reflection) I just couldn't deal with it anymore.

    TL;DR: there is no point to which you have to read a book to make a judgment on it; you just have to be specific about your judgment and clear on your reasons for it (sounds uninteresting, hated the blurb, seemed like a repetition of other books on the same topic)
     
  19. TheLearner
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    IMHO, If you aren't reading something like a textbook, then at 3 chapters in you know if the book is something you want to keep reading or not. To me it is like watching a movie, if I get 30 minutes into a movie and I'm still not interested, I'm not going to spend another hour hoping that it gets good. I also wouldn't recommend that movie (or book) to anyone else if it didn't hold my attention.
     
  20. Darko Jocic
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    Here's how I see it:

    In short - If you're already thinking about dropping the book, just do it. Neither you, nor the author are about to change in a few chapters.

    In long - Depends entirely on who's reading it and for what purpose.

    Who: There's a saying where I'm from that's translated along the lines of "Even a broken clock is right twice a day." In that context I'd say that the quality of a book is always relative to the reader's ability to extract quality from it in a "learn from others' mistakes" sort of way.

    Why: Sticking to the whole money niche, people read with various intents, all the while being incredibly prodigious in keeping themselves unaware of it. Thankfully there's no need for me explain anything here, since you guys have seen wantrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes. So in accordance to whether someone wants a few hours of wishful thinking, a bit of encouragement, a list of excuses, a different perspective, or perhaps even practical advice to apply in their lives, a good book for them is one that ultimately allows them to achieve their intent, whatever that may be.

    Edit: Just realized I didn't really give an opinion on the actual question. You can, of course. People hate people they've never met, ideologies they've never studied, food they've never tasted and so on. The question is only whether or not it is beneficial for you and the people you're sharing your opinion with, and that question people should answer for themselves, because it doesn't really concern anyone else.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
  21. djcoax
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    Over the last few years I've been on a "business-book binge". Reading an average business book takes about 10 to 12 hours. But if there is something I hate it's wasting time. And these books are filled with fluff - testimonials - stories etc. So I tried Blinkist - but that proved worthless to me because interacting with a book's content for 15 minutes doesn't let me retain the info.

    My response to this problem is that I designed a particular method to reading a book, which allows you to interact in an entire new way with a book - and allows you to stop thinking about a non-fiction book as this linear thing.

    Without sounding "new-agey" i think of reading a book more like interacting with the author. Instead of him just monologuing at you. It's like sitting in a bar with a dude who won't stop rambling. You have the right - the obligation perhaps - to question the information provided to you.

    These are the 12 Steps:

    1. Study the Front Cover
    2. Study the Back Cover
    3. Study the Table of Contents
    4. Read the introduction
    5. Read Chapter 1
    6. Read The Last Chapter
    7. Read The Epilogue
    8. Read the 5-star reviews and the 1-star reviews on Amazon.com
    9. Read the 5-star reviews and the 1-star reviews on Goodreads.com
    10. Read the top 20 quotes from the book on goodreads.com (they are extracted from Kindle) and then upvoted or downvoted like on Reddit
    11. Reflect on the themes of the book
    12. Pick the next chapter that calls out to you or drop the book

    I outlined the process in a long-a$$ post on my website. And I made a Udemy course on it (if someone is interested pm me and i'll send you a coupon). It really works for me and apparently is also valuable for people (which I was surprised at at first because the process feels deeply personal)
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019

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