Monday, May 3, 2010

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 11: What Is the Best Book You Ever Read? Why?

I read a lot of self-help and business books and always get a few kernels of brilliance from them. However, the self-help books often bother me as many are constructed as workbooks filled with exercises and warnings if you don’t do the exercises you won’t get anything from the book. The business books are also heavy-handed, as authors after making one keen observation apply it in every context he or she can think of to prove its worth.

The most recent book I read was Paper Airplane by Michael McMillan mentioned by Tim Storey in Utmost Living. It was very good, but not my favorite. It tried to be too many things: a self-help book, a business book, and camouflaged with brilliant design work, also as a children’s book. In the end, it reminded me of my favorite book.

Tom and Pippo Make a Mess by Helen Oxenbury is hard to find as I believe it is out-of-print. I discovered this so-called child’s book at well over age 50, when it was brought to my attention by Alex’s father. He had been reading the book to Alex for many years (my guess at least eight). Alex, a remarkable young man, who has fought with tenacity since he was born at a birth weight of 21 ounces, loves the book, and often, after his father finishes reading it, rips up the book and makes a mess.

Every adult and child can benefit from its message whether as a gentle reminder or as a wake-up call. Unlike the many self-help and business books, Tom and Pippo Make a Mess has an ever so-light touch, and encourages the reader to think and reach his or her own conclusions. Equally important, the book’s message with Alex’s comment resonates louder the more times you read it or have it read to you.

What’s your favorite book? Why?
© 2010
The above is from the newsletter, Howard’s Inner Circle, which periodically appears on the blog, “Instigator” at It may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is credited as the author.

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