I made a promise to myself a while back to write a review for every book I enjoyed unreservedly all the way to the end.
But what does “the end” mean? What happens when I use the book to put myself to sleep, then have to go back and listen again to parts I missed because I was asleep? (it was an audiobook)
What happens when I have to go back and read the last part of the book again, because I didn’t get everything I needed to the first time? Not to mention the fact that I will probably keep referring back to this book (especially that last section) for the rest of my life? At some point, I just have to write the damn review. So here goes.
When I was in the hospital in October, I spent a lot of effort staying sane.
While I might not have been…entirely successful in this endeavor, a lot of the progress I did make came from The Book of Joy.
The Book of Joy is a series of conversations, interviews, and anecdotes shared by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Tenzin Gyatso the Dalai Lama, and author Douglas Abrams. The book’s purpose is to teach people how to maintain joy. And it works.
Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama go through the negative emotions one by one (anger, sadness, etc.) talk about where they come from, and tell us what to do about them. For example, the Dalai Lama relates an anecdote about a car mechanic who bumps his head on the corner of the car he’s working on. The pain angers the mechanic so much that he smashes his head into the car again. In the same way, some (maybe even most?) of the anguish we feel in our lives is self-inflicted. That’s a good thing. That means that at least some of our anguish can be under our control.
I won’t go into more detail than that — I’ll make a hash of it. Suffice to say that the Book of Joy is full of funny, wise, practical advice. Its authors are friends, and rib each other mercilessly (“We must accept both our own flaws, and those of others. For example, I can’t speak English well, and your nose is too long.”) They relate stories that would be fascinating simply as history, but imbue them with lessons that not only entertain and educate, but also also improve readers.
Listening to this audiobook was like medicine for me, and I plan to apply the lessons it taught me for the rest of my life.