Book Review: The Alchemist

Book Review: The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book has been on my list of books to read for a while.  I recently heard it being compared to a great book that I just finished reading a few months ago, Life’s Golden Ticket.  I decided that was the sign I needed that it was time to read The Alchemist.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

This book is a fairly easy read, although it took me longer than I had expected to get through it.  I didn’t consider this book to be life-changing for me personally, but I did find it to be filled with much wisdom!  A few of the things this book teaches:

  • Each of us has our own destiny, or “personal legend”
  • Once you recognize that destiny and always follow your heart to pursue it, the universe will help you to achieve it.
  • The boy in the story travels a great distance in search of his treasure, but in the end, he finds it in the place where he started from.  Oftentimes, the things we are looking for are right there close to us right from the beginning.  We just need to stop and notice them more often, and take time to appreciate them.
  • Pay attention to your dreams…they are the language of God
  • Focus on the present moment, and you will be happy
  • We can learn so much from nature and the constant signs all around us…we just need to pay attention and let them lead us.

These are all good reminders that we can all use from time to time.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy self-help books or those looking to find their purpose in life, and I would read this book again.

Favorite Quotes

To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation…and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

 

Dreams are the language of God. (p.12)

 

Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.

Book Review: A Long Way Home

Book Review: A Long Way Home

by Saroo Brierly

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book was recommended to me by a friend.  She had just finished reading it and offered to let me borrow it.  I enjoy reading memoirs occasionally, and this story just seemed so incredible that I couldn’t resist!

Summary (from Goodreads)

The miraculous and triumphant story of a young man who rediscovers not only his childhood life and home…but an identity long-since left behind.

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.

When Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost birthplace half a world away, his story made global headlines. That story is being published in several languages around the world and is currently being adapted into a major feature film. Brierley was born in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India. He currently lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  It truly is an incredible story!  If I had to describe the story in one word, that word would be “miraculous.”  I felt like I was along for the entire journey with Saroo, and I felt so many different emotions along the way.  I continue to be amazed at the things he had to do to survive on his own at only 5 years old.  This story opened my eyes to a whole new world, so very different from the only life and culture I have ever truly been exposed to. When I got to the pictures in the middle of the book, tears of joy poured!  I am amazed by everything he had to go through, but just as Saroo says, there is no doubt in my mind that everything that happened was all meant be and everything was meant to turn out exactly as it did.  What an amazing story that has the ability to inspire and encourage others to never ever give up hope!

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a miraculous story.  I have recommended it to my teenage daughters, although they have not read it yet.  The story has also been made into the movie, Lion.  (“Lion” is the meaning of Saroo’s birth name in Hindi.) I have not seen the movie yet, but I am looking forward to seeing it.  Here is the movie trailer:

My Favorite Quotes

My favorite quotes are from the last few lines in the book:

I feel strongly that from my being a little lost boy with no family to becoming a man with two, everything was meant to happen just the way it happened.  And I am profoundly humbled by that thought.

 

It is sometimes difficult not to imagine some forces at work that are beyond my understanding.

 

Book Review: Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances

Book Review: Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances

by Brendon Burchard

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I read this book because I got a promotional email from Brendon Burchard offering the book and some of his inspirational videos for only the cost of shipping the book ($5.00).  I enjoyed his other books, The Charge and The Millionaire Messenger, so I wanted to give this one a try, too! (Click on the book cover above to get your free copy for only the cost of shipping).

Summary (from Goodreads)

The classic inspirational parable from the top motivation and marketing trainer and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Millionaire Messenger—a triumphant tale of personal growth and change that will inspire anyone who has ever wished for a second chance.

What if you were handed a golden ticket that could magically start your life anew?

That question is at the heart of Life’s Golden Ticket. Brendon Burchard tells the story of a man who is so trapped in the prison of his past that he cannot see the possibilities, the choices, and the gifts before him. To soothe his fiancée Mary, clinging to life in a hospital bed, the man takes the envelope she offers and heads to an old, abandoned amusement park that she begs him to visit.

To his surprise, when he steps through the rusted entrance gates, the park magically comes to life. Guided by the wise groundskeeper Henry, the man will encounter park employees, answer difficult questions, overcome obstacles, listen to lessons from those wiser than he, and take a hard look at himself.

At the end of his journey, the man opens Mary’s mysterious envelope. Inside is a golden ticket—the final phase in turning his tragic life’s story of loss and regret into a triumphant tale of love and redemption.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  I was expecting this to be another non-fiction self-help book like Brendon Burchard’s other books (all of which I loved), but I was surprised when I began reading to find this was actually a story.  It was an easy read, and it held my interest throughout the entire book.  This book helps you to take a good look at your life and ask yourself if you are truly happy.  If you are not, it helps you to think about steps you can take to change that, to overcome your fears, and to let go of bitterness and other things from your past that may be keeping you from following your dreams.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in personal growth.  There are many valuable life lessons taught all throughout the book.  Although I didn’t consider this book to be life-changing for me, I think it could be life-changing for so many people!

Favorite Quote(s)

The miracle makers in this world are the people who live by choice and live to contribute. (p.181)

 

Though you cannot recall it ever happening, a spell has been cast upon you, and it has mesmerized you into believing that you are not good enough and that there is something wrong with you.  This spell is Society’s Spell, and it has made you secretly feel inadequate, ugly, weak, slow, small, useless, and helpless for far too long.  Tonight we break that spell. (p.35)

Book Review: What on Earth am I Here For?

Book Review:  What on Earth am I Here For?

by Rick Warren

My Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I read this 63-page booklet because our church was giving them away.  I read The Purpose Driven Life many years ago, also by Rick Warren, and I loved that one so I thought I would read this, too.

Summary (from the back of the book)

You can live the life you were meant to live.

This small booklet answers life’s three biggest questions:

The Question of Existence:  Why am I alive?

The Question of Significance: Does my life matter?

The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?

Knowing your purpose in life will:

  • Give your life meaning
  • Simplify your life
  • Focus your life
  • Increase your motivation
  • Prepare you for eternity

Discover the principles that have transformed millions of lives around the world.  Excerpted from The Purpose Driven Life: “The bestselling non-fiction hardback in history.” – Publishers Weekly

What Did I Think/Recommendation:

I loved Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life.  This booklet seemed to be a condensed version of The Purpose Driven Life.

I love that this booklet is a very quick and easy read at only 63 pages.  It is filled with lots of wisdom and ideas, but I could not give this 5 stars because I was really turned off by the line on the first page, written in bold: “you won’t discover your life’s meaning by looking within yourself.” Honestly, I stopped right there and put the book away for a few weeks before I decided to continue on with it. As the author of a book about self-love and someone who did find God and my life’s purpose by looking within myself, it was hard for me to get past that line. I believe there are as many paths to God as there are people, and it is a turnoff to me when someone thinks that their way is the only right way. I’m glad I did eventually pick the book back up and continue with it because there is a lot of good content in the book. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but the parts that I do agree with and accept as truth are very comforting.  Regardless of your beliefs, it does make you think about life.

Book Review: The Unmistakable Touch of Grace

The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: How to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Signposts in Your Life

by Cheryl Richardson

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

This was my second reading of this book.  I read it several years ago, but I kept it on my bookshelf and for some unknown reason, I decided it was time to read it again.  Cheryl Richardson is one of my favorite authors and one of my biggest mentors.  Her book Life Makeovers changed my life, but I think I enjoyed this one even more!

Summary (from Goodreads)

Dear Friend,

Twenty years ago, I made a decision to wake up and alter the direction of my life. This set in motion a series of events that proved to me there are no coincidences. Every event we experience and every person we meet has been put in our path for a reason. When we awaken to this fundamental truth, we begin to understand that a benevolent force of energy is available to guide and direct our lives. I call this energy the unmistakable touch of grace.

This book tells the story of how grace has transformed my life as well as the lives of others. While some stories may seem unbelievable, all of them are true. As you follow the journey, you’ll start to see the influence of grace in your life, too. And, once you’ve finished, the way you view your life (and the people in it) will be changed forever.

Many blessings,

Cheryl

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVE this book so much!  I am so happy I decided to re-read it!  It is an easy read, and it is filled with a lot of interesting examples and stories from Cheryl’s life as well as stories from her clients.  At the end of each chapter, I like the fact that she provides lists of resources and books that influenced her in case the reader would like to research the topic further.

As I was reading, I realized that much of what she talks about in this book resonates with me.  I can’t help but wonder if I was introduced to all of these ideas about grace when I read the book the first time, and over the years these beliefs grew stronger as I looked for examples to support them.  I am at the point in life where I believe everything happens for a reason and always for the greatest good.  When my husband lost his job a few years ago, instead of worrying I immediately recognized it as a gift.  I fully trusted that everything was happening for the best, and I knew and assured him that it would all work out.  And of course, it did!   I seldom worry these days, and I am wondering if these beliefs began when I read this book for the first time.  This second reading brought me much peace and reinforced all of those beliefs.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants more peace in life and is interested in growing spiritually.

Check out other reviews of this book on Goodreads.

Favorite Quote

Every event we experience and every person we meet has intentionally been put in our path to help us lead more conscious and fullfilled lives. They are blessings in disguise, gifts that make you stronger, more conscious, and ultimately, more alive.

Book Review: Live What You Love

Live What You Love: Notes from an unusual Life

by Bob and Melinda Blanchard

live-what-you-love-cover

My Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I found this book on my bookshelf.  I must have bought it at a library book sale at some point.  I chose the book off my bookshelf because the title sounded interesting, and it looked like a very quick and easy read.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Bob and Melinda Blanchard’s first book, A Trip to the Beach, sold more than 85,000 copies and became inspiration for countless people who were ready to start living their dreams. Comprising stories, reflections, notes, insights, and a bit of advice, Live What You Love is the Blanchard’s warm, engaging, and personal response to the thousands of fans who’ve asked them, “How did you do it?”

“What happens if life falls outside the expected lines and inside others that are self-defined? Our experiences tell us that living this way is as wonderful as it is odd. We happen to believe that life really is about choices, and we love what happens when interesting ones get paired together.”–Bob and Melinda Blanchard

After the Blanchards’ published A Trip to the Beach, they found that readers responded personally and passionately, often buying multiple copies to give friends and family. They received countless invitations to lecture and requests for national television appearances, and have been asked to develop a series for PBS. Everyone, it seems, wanted to live their life: during the winter, the couple operate the most popular restaurant in Anguilla, the tiny Caribbean nation hideaway of celebrities, beautiful beaches and luxurious homes, and spend summers in the green hills of Northern Vermont.
Through delightful and moving stories, reflections, notes–and a soupcon of advice–the Blanchards have written a stunning, inspirational manifesto where truly living what you love becomes a revolutionary act, a rebellion against the common life. They show how, through self-trust, personal adjustment, and daily acts of commitment, each of us can live the life we love and make every day a personal treasure. Full of warmth, humor, wisdom, and charm, LWYL is the Blanchard’s love letter to life, a celebration of unusual choices, and a thank you gift to all of their fans.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I enjoyed this book a lot!  It was a very quick and easy read, and it held my interest the entire way through.  It was also very inspiring.  The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is because the story jumped around in time and that was confusing at times.  It was also difficult at times to tell which one of the authors was telling the story since they took turns writing the chapters.  I think the story would have been easier to follow if it had been written chronologically.  I have not read their first book, A Trip to the Beach, but I have added that to my list of books to read.

I would read Live What You Love again.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has dreams and just needs a little bit of motivation to take action on those dreams.

Check out more reviews on Live What You Love on Goodreads.

Favorite Quote

“Choose a rich life over an expensive lifestyle and curate your own memories as treasures you will share.” p. 182-183

 

 

Book Review: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

the-art-of-happiness-cover

My Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I got this book at a book sale years ago.  I was probably drawn to the title, and I was excited to learn about the wisdom that the Dalai Lama had to share.  Like many other books, this one sat on my bookshelf for several years before I saw it there about a month ago and felt called to finally read it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I was really hoping I would love this book and take away a lot from it.  Unfortunately, it was not an easy read for me.  It took me over a month to read this.  Happiness is one of my favorite topics, but unfortunately this book did not hold my interest like I had hoped.  Once I started reading, I was disappointed to find out that the Dalai Lama did not write the book.  The book was written by Howard Cutler, M.D., a psychiatrist who interviewed him.

Although this book didn’t meet my high expectations of it, there are some things that I really enjoyed about it.  I liked reading the direct quotes and the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, and this book has inspired me to read some of his books, including his autobiography, Freedom in Exile and The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus.

I don’t think I would read The Art of Happiness again, but I would not discourage anyone from reading it.  The Dalai Lama shares some great wisdom and advice, and there is a lot of information to take away from it.

You can check out other reviews about this book at Goodreads.

My Favorite Quotes

A few of my favorite quotes of the Dalai Lama from The Art of Happiness:

Definition of love (p.286) – “An utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual.”

“Motivation is so important…If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal.  Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort.  But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.” (p.272)

“I believe that each individual should embark upon a spiritual path that is best suited to his or her mental disposition, natural inclination, temperament, belief, family, and cultural background.” (p.294)

“The variety of people calls for a variety of religions.  The purpose of religion is to benefit people, and I think that if we only had one religion, after a while it would cease to benefit many people…religions are meant to nourish the human spirit.  And I think we can learn to celebrate that diversity in religions and develop a deep appreciation of the variety of religions…we must respect and appreciate the value of all the different major world religious traditions.”

“I think prayer is, for the most part, a simple daily reminder of your deeply held principles and convictions…Prayers are actually reminders.  Reminders of how to speak to others, how to deal with other people, how to deal with problems in your daily life, things like that…my practice involves reminders — reviewing the importance of compassion, forgiveness, all these things.” – (P. 298)