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The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times
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The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  776 ratings  ·  98 reviews
What keeps us going when times get tough? How do we keep on working for a more humane world, no matter how hard it sometimes seems? In a time when our involvement has never been needed more, this anthology of political hope will help readers with the essential work of healing our communities, our nation, our planet—despite all odds.

Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 29th 2014 by Basic Books (first published August 2004)
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4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  776 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This was one of my textbooks in college that not only stretched my mind, but gave me something enjoyable to read over and over again for years to come. It's a collection of works by so many of the people who have inspired me with their words, actions, and thoughts. Anywhere that you can find Maya Angelou, Howard Zinn, Alice Walker, Desmond Tutu, Tony Kushner, Pablo Neruda, Nelson Mandela, and Jonathan Kozol among others all hanging out in a around 400 pages is a place I want to be. Hope you all ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-lesbian
This is closer to a 4.5. Even though this was written during the Bush administration, it feels like the most relevant thing I could be reading right now. I want to buy my own copy and read an essay a day. Each essay is only a few pages (usually around 3-5 pages), so even though the topics can be extremely heavy, it never feels like a slog.

If you're wondering how you can possibly have hope right now, this is the book for you. If you feel like even talking about hope is almost obscene right now, y
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took a lot of time to finish this, so that I could have time to digest the essays before starting another. Powerful essays with life and world changing potential, truly prophetic.
Ethan Casey
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I spent this summer building a patio, something I had never done before. I had to imagine it, then haul out a lot of dirt, then build a retaining wall and haul in crushed rock and sand. I couldn't have done it without my friend Pete, who has experience and tools that I lack. The surface is 2,000 reclaimed bricks: assorted antique pieces of Seattle history (some  from the original harbor steps dating to the 1880s).

I could get run over by a bus tomorrow, or an earthquake like the one that just hit
C.E. G
Dec 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonviolence
I requested this book a day or two after the 2016 presidential election in the US, hoping it would point me toward activists to read or listen to more in depth. It's not quite as impactful a collection as I remember from the first time I read it 8+ years ago, but there are still some essays that helped shape my orientation to current/future resistance. It definitely highlights how much internal work activists need to do in order to be brave.

First read in February 2008:
Lisa Kentgen
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So relevant and important for the times we live in....doesn't matter that it was written in 2004.
Just re-read and as inspiring now as when it first came out.
Highly recommend!
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book! It will hold a prominent place on my shelf, so I will remember to pull it down and read a chapter or two for inspiration whenever I need it.

The book is a collection of 49 essays and poems, curated by Loeb into 9 subthemes. The pervading message (as you might guess from the subtext of the title) is the continued relevance of, and necessity for, hope. Sounds cheesy, no? Like a bunch of mush?

What makes it not so is that each of the contributing writers are people who have every re
Paul Strohm
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
While the sky may indeed seem to be falling, the subtitle of this book of essays is "A citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear," which it is.

The editor, Paul Rogat Loeb, author of "Soul of a Citizen," has assembled a collection of 44 essays from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Cornel West, Jim Wallace and Desmond Tutu... that provide more than a glimmer of hope that we can, in fact, turn the world around, right the wrongs, and create a global community where we'd be proud to live.

Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Truly inspiring. Pulling from many authors and experiences, it is possible to feel hope. There are reminders of things that can work, but also that the attempts that fail have value and are part of the process. I know I will want to return to it again and again.
Courtney Smith
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yagmsa, favorites
I loved this book! Everyone who wants to make a difference in this world needs this on their bookshelf. It does a great job of discussing the mundane parts of life that we often think are insignificant and shows how they really can make a difference.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I spent a great deal of time pouring over this collection of stories and essays and found myself attached to and comforted by this book as if it were a dear, wise friend.

I marked up the pages. I noted powerful sections. I found myself constantly wanting to share and discuss this book. I bought two copies to give to friends. Then I bought three more to give as a thank you to keynote speakers at a workshop I had organized.

The intention of this book is the encouragement of social change locally, na
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book quite a while ago--it was published in 2004. I was feeling concerned about some of the directions our country was going in back then and intended to read it. It languished on a shelf until I saw it when I was cleaning up my desk and decided to read it. The introduction to the book perfectly describes the way I think many people feel today and this was the perfect book for me to read now. It is a series of short essays by a wide variety of authors who have all faced situations ...more
Joslyn Allen
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay, empowering
Review published: https://chronicbibliophilia.wordpress...

The title and subtitle of this compendium say so very much. Comprised of essays from 49 leaders and activists – including Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Cornel West, Alice Walker, and Desmond Tutu – “The Impossible Will Take a Little While” is about finding hope, growing courage, and resisting fear. These essays were compiled post-9/11, when the world suddenly seemed darker, scarier, more sinister. Compiled in 2004, they were also written
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for my capstone class! Highly recommend if you're wanting a raw view on getting involved in social justice things. Incredible experience and perspective from the author!

“Then there’s another group of people who admit that they don’t know how things will turn out, but have decided to work for change. I see Martin Luther King on that team, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn. I see my chaplain from college and my activist friends. They’re always telling stories of faith being rewarded, of w
D. Adiba
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book! I have been more than outraged by what is going on in the world, and found myself in a funk where I felt that nothing would ever change.
Then I saw a Tweet from one of the Women's March organizers about how helpful she found this, and she could not be more right.
This book is something that you could read every year. There are so many inspiring stories and it sheds light on the cycle that humanity now finds itself in.
I cannot recommend this enough. It is a long, long, boo
Stephanie Nannen
This huge collection of short essays from a diverse array of authors is a little bit hit and miss...but I still really love it. I haven't actually finished it, but have purchased a copy to keep out on the table, so I can pick up and read a selection as desired. This isn't a book you want to rush through, but one where you want to spend some time ruminating on what you just read. I highly recommend to anyone working for justice in the world, who at times gets weary.
Liz Catalano
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes, we need books that remind us that not everything is hopeless and that there are good and wonderful people who are working to help this dumpster fire of a world. That we are not alone in the fight for social justice, equality, protection of peace and the environment and good things. That there is nothing wrong with being hopeful. This book may have been compiled in 2004, but I feel we need it here in 2019 now more than ever.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by one of my favorite professors after we had one of those "everything is just awful" conversations. Years later, I still find myself returning to this book when I'm down or having a bad week. This book is able to inspire hope and for that I'm grateful to these authors.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Inspiring! This collection of essays by everyone from Nelson Mandela to Pablo Neruda details a lot of what has done to try to make this world a better place, but it also suggests ways that others may do the same. Highly recommended.
Charles Collyer
Great collection of pieces giving encouragement for doing good work.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is my go-to when I am feeling hopeless about our political climate, which is quite often these days. I pick it up and re-read it every so often and it restores my faith in humanity.
Marie Mcmanus
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you are considering more involvement in social justice problems plaguing our country this is a must read. It inspired me to do more.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
Very helpful in these times.
Oct 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of lovely people like Jonathan Kozol, Desmund Tutu, Wendell Barry, Pablo Neradu, etc, etc, etc,
The problem is that it was presented to me in a class full of people that said things like,
"for me grace is the slow small strokes a swan takes to cross the pond"
"grace is the movements of a young couples dance of love"
no kidding that's for real! Those are actual quotes from classmates and if invoking that kind of drivel isn't reason enough to turn one off this book forever, t
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in Australia a few years back. I had no money, no ticket home, no work permit and no hopes for under the table work. Needless to say I was feeling a little down. I opened up the paper one day enjoying my weekly treat of a 30cent ice cream cone from McDonalds and saw a cartoon strip. An ant was walking in the first panel minding his own business, in the second panel a large "PLOP" the third was a big pile of crap where the ant was walking, and in the fourth and final panel a thought bubble ...more
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This isn't the type of book you "read" as most books. You will find yourself drawn to the essays and writings in this collection for varying reasons. This is yet another example of a book that is now littered with tabs, folded pages and notes on statements of forgiveness, perseverance, love, ethics, etc.
One does not read this book in any particular order, but you find the words and passages that speak to you on any given day, as I did. I think I could spend hours going through the best of the b
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
There was so much to love about this book. It's incredibly timely yet despite its original 2003 publication and subsequent reprint and edition update in 2014. It really spoke to a lot of my fears - feelings about helplessness and overwhelming odds when thinking about political activism. It was inspiring to know that others and others who have done way more have been there too. I thought the selection of essays chosen was very good. They were realistic without being alarmist. Hopeful without bein ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It took me almost two years to read this book all the way through. It's meaty enough to read an essay (or part of one), underline good bits, and process for a while. If I could give this one a million stars, I would. I'm also finding it apropos in this time of political unrest--most of the authors showcased here have emphasized that they never felt worthy or strong enough to make any difference in this dark world, but that somehow, by linking arms with others and raising their voices, miraculous ...more
Ariel Lynn
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book, with multiple points of view from famous & not-so-famous authors alike, dealing with the many issues & thoughts that come with social activism. It encourages hope, discusses how to avoid despair &/ burning out, & shares the words & worlds of some of the most dedicated activists of our time.

It is a must read, even if you're not personally involved with any sort of activism (yet!). The essays are neatly divided into similar sections, with a succinct in
Fran Darling
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pleasure
I am still reading at this time, but recommended it to our ed program head of our city library and then loaned it to my sister.

Recommended by daughter, Jill, who is using this in her Creative Writing class at U of M Dearborn this fall. So glad to hear of it, I bought my own copy. The selections are above the norm for thoughtful, accessible well-written pieces. The selections also give insight and encouragement to paths of hope and progressive choices.

Contact Paul Rogat Loeb - for speaking at le
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Paul Rogat Loeb is an American social and political activist, who has strongly fought for issues including social justice, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and civic involvement in American democracy. Loeb is a frequent public speaker and has written five books and numerous newspaper editorials.
“Those who make us believe that anything’s possible and fire our imagination over the long haul, are often the ones who have survived the bleakest of circumstances. The men and women who have every reason to despair, but don’t, may have the most to teach us, not only about how to hold true to our beliefs, but about how such a life can bring about seemingly impossible social change. ” 145 likes
“Hope isn't an abstract theory about where human aspirations end and the impossible begins; it's a never-ending experiment, continually expanding the boundaries of the possible.” 7 likes
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