We read this book aloud to our children and then met to discuss it with other families. It was interesting to sit in a room with four families, sharin...moreWe read this book aloud to our children and then met to discuss it with other families. It was interesting to sit in a room with four families, sharing the dreams we have pursued or would like to pursue, the dreams we have witnessed others pursue, the dreams that have failed, and those that have succeeded. That is the kind of thinking this book leads to. You start thinking about your dreams.
The first half of the book is an allegory. It’s pretty didactic and obvious, in the tradition of Pilgrim’s Progress. So at first it comes across as corny to modern ears, especially teenage-boy ears. But pretty soon we all settled into the writer's style and appreciated the fact that he was trying to teach us something through story instead of lecture. Once we let go of our expectations for edge-of-your seat entertainment, we began to let the message penetrate our hearts. We began to ask ourselves if we had ever been a “border bully.” We began to think about times we have been called to surrender our dreams to God. We began to wonder if we had ever had the courage to leave the town of Familiar or if we would have the courage to leave it again. We thought about how much we can help each other with our dreams, even though each dreamer must fight his own Giants. We found little nuggets like this one: “To do what he most loved, he would have to do what he most feared.” And we began to see that Ordinary’s journey has a lot to do with our own journeys.
Even though this is not great literature, it is simply told, which is harder to do than it looks. It generated good discussions in my home. And it does what it sets out to do--it teaches principles in a memorable, engaging way. (less)
This was a serendipitous find at the library and I ended up really liking it. Short chapters. A warm, wise, motherly voice. Nuggets of truth to inspir...moreThis was a serendipitous find at the library and I ended up really liking it. Short chapters. A warm, wise, motherly voice. Nuggets of truth to inspire me. What could be nicer on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, while I'm waiting in the car rider lane at the middle school?
Here are the titles of my favorite chapters, to give you a flavor of the contents: Generations of Bodies, Our Many Mothers, When Someone Deeply Listens to You, Mouth Yoga (about smiling), Framing the Day, the Holy Family Commutes, Walking the Night Hallways. Each is a little essay really, with an idea for a meditation at the end of the chapter. I've tried a couple of the meditations, but mostly I just like picking up the book, reading a couple of pages, and slipping into Denise Roy's peaceful way of seeing her world.
I like this book. The writing was not exceptional. The ideas were not startling or new. But the author herself is inspiring. I am amazed at her level...moreI like this book. The writing was not exceptional. The ideas were not startling or new. But the author herself is inspiring. I am amazed at her level of service and involvement in her community. I am impressed by her life-long quest for self-improvement and mastery over her weaknesses, such as her debilitating fears. I am tickled by her quirky sense of humor. I want to be more like Merrilee Boyack.
This book inspired me to think about what I could be perfectly obedient in for one year and thus make a good habit. I reminded me of the powerful “act as if” principle. It caused me to think about my fears and analyze how I could overcome them. It gave me concrete strategies for dealing with worries, such as letting go or saying “oh well,” “no biggie,” or “hang loose.” It taught me a question to ask my children and myself when we are tempted to judge: “I wonder what their story is?” I’m glad I read this book. I read a little each day, after I read my scriptures, and it was just what I needed at this moment in my life. I think I will read it again and refer to it as needed, and that is certainly one test of a good book. (less)
This book, a gift from a dear friend, inspires me to think about what will make me happier and challenges some of the notions I’ve had about my own ha...moreThis book, a gift from a dear friend, inspires me to think about what will make me happier and challenges some of the notions I’ve had about my own happiness. For example, the author reports that happiness studies show that everyone, whether introvert or extrovert, is happier after spending time with other people. I’ve always felt that I needed more solitude to find happiness, but this book asserts the opposite. She also says that getting anger and annoyance off your chest by expressing them actually makes them more intense rather than dissipating them. She says that people think they like variety more than they actually do. When confronted by a lot of choices, they will walk away rather than take the time to make a reasoned choice. She reports on research that shows the best indicator for how lonely a person is, whether man or woman, is how much time the person spend with women. Spending time with men does not alleviate loneliness.
Rubin’s very first resolution, “Go to sleep earlier” is one I’ve been trying to work on and need to work on some more. Teenagers in the house put a real kink in this resolution, but I know that it is so important to get adequate sleep and something I need to make a higher priority. Rubin’s greatest insight into going to bed earlier was very simple: Turn out the light. Her second strategy was to get ready for bed early—she found that she sometimes stayed up too late because she was too tired to get ready for bed.
Samuel Johnson wrote, “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.” This book is a study of the little things. (less)
Each page layout contains a photo of an influential person, alongside a brief tribute. A quote from each featured hero is also included. In such a for...moreEach page layout contains a photo of an influential person, alongside a brief tribute. A quote from each featured hero is also included. In such a format, there isn’t room for much detail about the person’s life, but what detail is included is well-chosen and telling.
What drew me to this book was the the concept of choosing real-life heroes for our children. Kids have enough superheroes. Here are real men and women, imperfect, but shinning examples of one or more qualities that make them great. I liked most of the selected heroes—some were as famous as George Washington and Ghandi—others were more obscure, like the man who has done more to end world hunger than any other human being who has ever lived, by increasing harvest yields around the world. There were athletes, politicians and presidents, writers, civil rights advocates, actors, scientists, musicians, and more.
This would make a good coffee table book because you can pick it up, flip through the pages, and read one tribute in about one and a half minutes, then shut the book feeling inspired. I left it out and my kids picked it up several times. (less)