Audiobook of the Week: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Be Useful’

BE USEFUL: Seven Tools for Life, by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Read by the author.

Listen to enough hours of Arnold Schwarzenegger reciting his new audiobook, “Be Useful,”and I promise you too will be annoying your loved ones by speaking in Aaahnold. (“Der is no Plon B. Plon B is to succeed at Plon A.” “Verk your azz off.”)

That’s OK. The fun in this book lies not in the novelty of the advice (“Only you can create the life you want for yourself” is not exactly a Eureka! moment), but in his own genuinely instructive, if a little bizarre, life story.

Not many authors can illustrate the importance of details by describing the lengths they’ve gone to to build up their calf muscles, or the bromide “Know Your Customer” with the story of when they sold the chairman of Universal Pictures on the idea of a movie starring themselves and Danny DeVito as twins.

Schwarzenegger shows an honest vulnerability when he nods to the implosion of his marriage after his affair with the family’s housekeeper (“I blew up my family. No failure has ever felt worse than that”). And he doesn’t avoid controversy, as when he argues that a college education is not and should not be for everyone.

The memoir’s title, taken from words his father often said to him, is his mantra for success, which incorporates the self-awareness of what you have to offer to this world. Be useful, but without suppressing your vision of the future. When he was growing up, nothing and no one could dissuade him from leaving Austria for America. The images he saw in movies and on TV “were like Viagra for dreams.” The guy does have a way with wuhds.

‘Be Useful’

Listen to a clip from “Be Useful”

BE USEFUL: Seven Tools for Life | By Arnold Schwarzenegger | Read by the author | Penguin Audio | 6 hours, 19 minutes

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