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Book Review: "This I Believe" edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

by Ruby Bayan - 05/15/07

If youíre looking for a book you can read in one sitting, this is not the one. ďThis I Believe Ė The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and WomenĒ is a powerful collection of essays based on the National Public Radio series of the same name. The book is edited by Jay Allison, host and curator, and Dan Gediman, executive producer, of This I Believe. These editors are donating their proceeds to This I Believe, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the mission of This I Believe.

Eighty essayists contributed to this book, each one penning concise expressions of their thought processes following the bookís title. From the world-renowned Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, Helen Keller, John McCain, and Carl Sandburg, to the hometown lawyer, professor, part-time clerk, and tone-deaf music lover, each one spoke of their deepest beliefs in life. From reflections on kindness, generosity, and compassion, to staunch convictions about democracy, freedom, and war, these essays touch chords every reader will hear in their hearts and minds.

Novelist Isabel Allende, niece of Chilean president Salvador Allende, writes, ďGive, give, giveówhat is the point of having experience, knowledge, or talent if I donít give it away? Of having stories if I donít tell them to others? Of having wealth if I donít share it? I donít intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine.Ē

Grammy award winner, singer-songwriter, and actor Loudon Wainwright III says, ďI believe in the power of inspiration, in the mysterious gift of creation. Creation with a small ďc,Ē that is, creation as in oneís work, hauling a dayís catch. When I write a song, Iím happy for a few days and itís not just because Iíve been reassured that I still have a job, though thatís certainly part of it. Mostly Iím happy, I think, because Iíve experienced a real mystery. I havenít the slightest idea how it happened or where or from whom or what it came. Iíd prefer not to know. In fact, Iíd prefer not to talk about it anymore. It might scare the fish away.Ē

These are just a couple of the many nuggets of treasure in this book. Brimming with insights, food for thought, and the wisdom of the all-American spirit, This I Believe is a collection that should be read intently, and appreciated over and over again. It stirs the soul, awakens the spirit, and encourages everyone to pause and think about what they believe in. ThisIBelieve.org also encourages readers to write it down and share it with the rest of the world.

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