There was a time when book reviews were confined to newspaper pages, the likes of the Guardian, the Telegraph and the New York Times. Now one can find tons of reviews on line from just about anyone.
I buy quite a number of books on Amazon.com and whenever I’m researching a title, I always scour the reader reviews, starting with those giving a one star rating. If someone thought that it was a bad book and not worth the investment, I want to know! Having said that, I’ve seen books that I absolutely loved get a one star rating; so it’s not the most reliable benchmark for choosing books that you might enjoy. But here’s my point:
In reading those one star reviews, and I’m talking for non-fiction books, I’ve found a common theme. Most reviewers say something like “this guy is not saying anything new. It’s best if you read “such and such”; it’s a much better book and the author is a better writer.” Or “this is a great book if you’re a beginner but if you’re a veteran (implication…like I am) then you won’t need this tripe.”
Both are interesting perspectives.
In the end, I make a decision based on my gut, which is hardly ever wrong. Even though the information I’m reading, might be familiar, there is always another example, perspective or way of describing something that makes it even more a part of me than when I first encountered an idea.
Being open-minded seems to be more essential than thinking that we know it all. Dr. Bob Deutsch, author of ‘The 5 Essentials’ says that when we are open, we never consider ourselves or our work to be a finished product.
I’m reading James Allen’s ‘From Poverty to Power.’ Many are of the close minded view that those who are poor will remain poor and those who are rich will do so, on the backs of those who are poor. Now James Allen was a very practical man. His wife said he was “a good man who lived every word he wrote and that he never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing, or to add another to his many books; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice.”
Today, more than 100 years following his death, his words are not new but are we practicing what we know to be true?
In the foreword of ‘From Poverty to Power,’ he shares: “I looked around upon the world, and saw that it was shadowed by sorrow and scorched by the fierce fires of suffering. And I looked for the cause. I looked around, but could not find it; I looked in books, but could not find it; I looked within, and found there both the cause and the self-made nature of that cause. I looked again, and deeper, and found the remedy. I found one Law, the Law of Love; one Life, the Life of adjustment to that Law; one Truth, the truth of a conquered mind and a quiet and obedient heart. And I dreamed of writing a book which should help men and women, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, worldly or unworldly, to find within themselves the source of all success, all happiness, all accomplishment, all truth. And the dream remained with me, and at last became substantial; and now I send it forth into the world on its mission of healing and blessedness, knowing that it cannot fail to reach the homes and hearts of those who are waiting and ready to receive it.”
The source of our success, happiness, and accomplishment lies within each of us but we must be willing to believe that this is true. We have been programmed to look for answers outside ourselves. We want others to tell us what to do, how to think, how to behave, how to dress and what decisions to make – yet it is OUR life!
The Law “Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap” should be tattooed on every heart as a reminder that none can deny it, none can cheat it and NONE can escape it. Allen emphasizes “Do not complain that the rich oppress you. Are you sure that if you gained riches you would not be an oppressor yourself? Remember the law, it is absolutely just, and that those who oppress today must themselves be oppressed tomorrow; and from this there is no way of escape.”
Too much time is wasted complaining and criticizing. Instead we need to practice faith and fortitude. Mark Nepo in his new book ‘The Endless Practice’ shares “we are shaped by the endless practice of becoming the person we were born to be.”
Our greatest quest in life remains: how to find the courage to look within for the answers we seek, to not to waste our gifts, to name the reliable truths we can return to so that we could discover our own wisdom and use our gifts to become who we were born to be – successful, happy and accomplished in our own way.
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