Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story” as Want to Read:
The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  842 ratings  ·  235 reviews
"Wonderful!” (Grace Paley).

“Heartwarming and smart and wonderfully written” (Detroit Free Press).

“Provides edifying advice, intimately given, like the best-selling Tuesdays with Morrie” (the Dallas Morning News).

“Altogether original” (Dr. Laura Schlessinger).

“This story will speak to the humanity of the reader” (Jewish Book World).

The Beggar King and the Secret of Hap
...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 2nd 2005 by Algonquin Books (first published November 1st 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,428)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jan Rice
This is a book that uses tales and parables in a memoir. More than that, the author used his tales in the service of living his life and creating the raw material for the memoir.

The idea is you need stories to live, and stories need reasons. Otherwise things are just happening to you pell mell--or maybe you're unmindfully living out prefab paradigms.

There's a theological concept here. God brings order out of darkness and chaos, so imitatio dei: build your story--which appears most needed whenev
...more
نوار | لذت گوش دادن به کتاب
کتاب پادشاه گدا و راز شادمانی؛

"داستانِ این کتاب واقعیست:
شغل من این بود که به همه جای جهان سفر کنم و برای مردم قصه بگویم. بعد سرطان گرفتم و تارهای صوتی ام از بین رفت و دیگر نتوانستم حرف بزنم؛ آن هم درست در لحظه ای که خیال می کردم زندگیم از این بهتر نمی شود. پدرم همیشه می گفت:«مردم برنامه می ریزند و خدا می خندد» .
حالا باید از طریق قصه های خودم و قصه ی زندگی خودم، بفهمم چرا خدا به من خندید؟"

"بگذارید قصه ای قدیمی از شهر کهن بیت المقدس برایتان تعریف کنم..."، کتاب اینجوری شروع میشه و جوئل میگه که من
...more
Jodi
This book turned out to be fascinating. Storyteller Joel ben Izzy tells his own story much of which is understanding that blessings can be curses and curses blessings. To say much more would be to spoil the story of how Joel learned what happiness is really all about. In between chapters he places different cultural stories designed to teach us something. I certainly learned something. I really hope I get to hear him in person because as a writer he was very entertaining. (
Naomi Bayer
I was in the Enterprise San Francisco office on October 14th and stopped into the conference room where several of our folks were talking with two guys I did not know. Rich Gross who leads our team in SF, introduced me to Joel Ben Izzy, saying he was one of his heroes and how his son, now in college, grew up on the Beggar King and other stories. Soon, we were telling tales and making connections--totally engaged. Since I was off to Santa Cruz the next week to see my wonderful granddaughters, Sad ...more
Lori
This was a very quick book to read, and if you love storytelling you'll love it. Most chapters open with a fable or story from some part of the world that relates to the coming chapter. It's a memoir of sorts, telling the tale of a storyteller who lost his voice. What could be worse? (Well, lots of things actually, but it's pretty bad for him.)

He turns and returns to his storyteller mentor, who challenges him with hard-edged questions, pushing him in ways that seem too mysterious, and occasional
...more
Correen

A beautiful story of courage and passion. I loved the use of Jewish humor to talk about his life. It has moments of despair without not cynicism. I found it touching.
H L Gibson
I enjoyed the Beggar King; it reads like grown up Mitch Albom. There are a lot of good lessons to learn from the author's story and those he tells throughout the book. A little new age-y in a couple of places but nothing overly offensive.
Maryanne
The Beggar King 11092005 and the secret of Happiness by Joel ben Izzy

The Beggar King
Soloman(king with ring and Ashmodai(demon king) and worm that cuts stone. Takes ring off and is transported far away and lives the life of a beggar, cook and fisherman. Catches fish and inside is another fish and inside that is his ring with the secret name of god inscribed and he returns to his palace and Ashmodai asks him "have you learned something about illusion?" Gone was his arrogance etc. He told Ashmodai
...more
Richard Owen
Stunning book. I love the way the storyteller's story unfolds. I love the interplay of stories the teller tells with the story of the teller. I love the insight of the storyteller and the growing knowledge and awareness of life that emerges in the storyteller. What is the secret of happiness? Wrap yourself in the fabric of this true story and listen very carefully to sound of the voice, the shape of the words, and the comforting silence.

I don't know where I found the book or what brought it to
...more
Cleo
I really liked this book - mostly because I LOVE story telling. I am a real fan of Timpanogos StoryTelling Festival - I am wondering if Joel ben Izzy has ever been here - or will be in the future.

This is an auto-biography BUT it is really just a collection of wonderful stories. Since he is a story teller he uses stories to indicate how they affect his attitude toward the experiences of his life. Really a lot of good quotes.

I highly recommend it - especially if you love stories.
Amy
I loved the author's story and I loved his use of stories to tell his own. I kind of want to memorize the folktales at the beginning of each chapter to use as parlor entertainment or to teach my kids life lessons. Professional storytellers have always been very fascinating to me.
Kita
The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness is the true story of Joel Ben Izzy, a storyteller who lost his voice. His stories are better than his writing, but I did enjoy the fables/tales peppered throughout the book and his thoughts on what storytelling means.
Aprille
Joel ben Izzy explores the power and meaning of story. As a travelling storyteller who loses his voice, ben Izzy takes us along on his journey of discovery. A wonderful, quick read - interspersed with classic tales that have a direct relationship to his path.
Ramy
Aug 17, 2009 Ramy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ramy by: Nadine (wife)
Very interesting story written by a Jewish storyteller (I didn't know this job existed) who lives in Berkley. A story by a storyteller about his own story but also full of folk stories. A painful part of his life....
Evanston Public  Library
What is a storyteller without a voice to tell stories? That is the puzzle Joel ben Izzy must solve when, due to cancer surgery, his voice disappears and doesn't come back. Interspersed with folk tales from around the world, this autobiography has the feeling of a personal folk tale, as the author explores his childhood memories of a loving but inept father, sweet and tolerant mother, angry and foul-mouthed grandmother. His children beg him for bedtime stories, his wife worries about the bills.Th ...more
Sarah
Jan 25, 2010 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Bookclub
The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness was a good read. As is stated in the title it is a true story about the author, Joel Ben Izzy's, life. Ben Izzy is a storyteller and after waking up from surgery to remove some cancer he realizes he can't talk. Through this short novel Ben Izzy goes through a transformation in order to accept his new life.

As I mentioned earlier this book was a good read. At one point in the book I was a little frustrated because Ben Izzy visits an old friend who knows
...more
Jill Furedy
I didn't learn any secret to happiness from this book, but then again, I wasn't expecting to. I read a review of it in a Bookmarks magazine a few years ago and it has floated around on my to-read list since then (my collected clippings and post it notes list, as I don't want an endless to-read list here). I really liked the short stories that lead into each memior chapter, and would have liked to hear even more of those. They point you in the direction of the coming anecdote, but many aren't fu ...more
Wendy
This was a very sweet and inspiring book. It is the story of a professional storyteller (I didn't even know you could be a professional story teller), who loses his voice due to thyroid cancer. It is a time of discovering who he really is and what his life means to him. He learns these lessons through telling remarkable stories interwoven through the book. They are stories he has been hearing and telling his whole life and each story is symbolic and leaves you thinking about your own life, prior ...more
Katie
This book is one of my favorites because it is such a heartfelt story and teaches such profound lessons. This story is about a storyteller who losses his voice. This loss would be a tragedy to anyone but it's much more of a tragedy for him because without his voice he no longer has a job. Also without his voice he feels like he has nothing so he has to go find himself once again, which I'm sure is not an easy journey to make. One of the things that I love in this book is when he talks about a st ...more
Denise Oyler
I really liked this book because it made me consider the meaning of life and the purpose of trials. Why are we here and what can we learn from our experiences? He pauses the questions but allows you, as the reader, to consider the answers for your own life. I also enjoyed his analogies through the folktales.

My favorite parts:

(Paraphrasing) Life is the sum total of all we've lost, divided by what we learn from it. And you'll go on suffering until you've learned your lesson. The future has slippe
...more
Sandy
You can’t begin to think you know a story just because you’ve heard it before. You can’t begin to think you’re done with a story, either. Stories live and move, seemingly of their own accord. They are the teachers who show up when you are ready to learn.

Stories honor life.

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel ben Izzy is the story of a man who learns to honor life by entering the mystery of the stories he and others live and tell.
Ben Izzy is a storyteller whose life is turned upsi
...more
Kapila
This is the story of a storyteller who loses his voice - literally and otherwise - and then finds it again, literally and otherwise. It's also the story of a man and his teacher, of a man as a person, partner, father, and of a man as a living being that's a part of his mother, his father, and history.

What is this book? What is this life? Not quite a biography - but somewhat. Not quite a storyteller's guide - but somewhat. Not quite an instruction manual - but somewhat. Little bits of wisdom, re
...more
Kevin Hanks
What a treat! Going into this book, I had no idea what it was about, who the author was, or anything else about it, so I had no idea what to expect. Now that I have read it though, I'm excited to find more books by Mr. Joel Ben Izzy.

He is a master storyteller (I didn't even know that you could BE a professional storyteller!) and I found myself rivited everytime his narrative broke out into a new story about some far off king, or a funny Jewish Rabbi. All his stories were highly symbolic and taug
...more
Kara
Such a beautiful book, all about storytelling, and how life throws you unexpected challenges that can often be blessings if you find the beauty in them. This is a story told by a master storyteller, so the language is succinct, strong and mesmerizing. It tells a very simple story that has layers of meaning. If you've ever had a "plan" for you life and had that plan go completely down the tube (and that would be most of us), then this book is for you. Great characters and truly wonderful stories! ...more
Susan
This is a true story, autobiographical to the author/storyteller, on which marvelously told relevant stories are hung. It all comes together into something very genuine, and wise, even profound (although the profundity I think is most of all in the search for and determination to find something profound in a very difficult experience.) It's about taking life as it comes. It's dignified and inspiring. Very worthwhile.
Abhishek
A remarkable book weaved with story within story, with an over arching story to hold them all. The way the stories form all over the world have been weaved together while telling of the author's life, only a master story teller could have done. The book is inspiring and uplifting in its message and deep in its truths. Highly recommended for everyone of any age and background.
Jennie
I enjoyed reading this quick read of Joel Ben Izzy's life, his journey becoming a storyteller, and the challenge he encountered losing his voice for a time due to cancer. Sprinkled throughout his own life's story were the stories he tells, professionally, including "The Beggar King".
I also enjoyed looking him up online and finding him on you-tube!
Maggie
a story about a storyteller who loses his voice and the introspective journey he takes within the actively disintegrating world of this startling life event. his friend Lenny says, "I'm serious. Failing is an art." and with that idea the disparate stories come into focus around a single theme: we are so preoccupied with our own voice that we miss the voices of those whom we love. consequently, we miss love. peeling back the noises, we can hear the silence and the still small voice of Goodness wi ...more
Barcelonena
I really liked the True story of Joel. I even got curious and googled him to discover that he had his voice back before the end of the book. Sometimes it wasn't clear to me the connection between the short stories preceding the relevant chapter. It was interesting for me to realize how öuch religion (Judaism) could influence the stories (the true ones as well as the made up ones).
Michael
This is the tale of Joel Ben Izzy, a professional storyteller who loses his voice but in the process gains much, much more. It's not only his true story, but it's interwoven with Eastern European Jewish stories and the riddles of his storytelling mentor Lenny. Lenny is quite a character: a Talmudic Socrates who questions Joel, poses wisdom riddles, and helps him to see his tragedy as a blessing. Joel starts off each chapter with one of these Jewish tales, which adds to the winsomeness of this bo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 47 48 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Think No Evil: Inside the Story of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting...and Beyond
  • The Search for God at Harvard
  • Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son: A Memoir
  • Vinyl Cafe Notebooks,The
  • Knee Deep in Paradise
  • Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus
  • A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World
  • My Father and Myself
  • Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story
  • Dirt in the Skirt
  • Born Naked: The Early Adventures of the Author of Never Cry Wolf
  • A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story
  • Enemies, A Love Story
  • Astrology Through a Psychic's Eyes
  • London's Overthrow
  • The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World
  • Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found
  • Field Notes from a Hidden City: An Urban Nature Diary
The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story The Beggar King And Other Tales From Around The World Stories From Far Away Lights & Laughter: Joel ben Izzy Spins Hanukkah Tales Buried Treasures: A Storyteller's Journey

Share This Book