3 out of 4 stars
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Life can get you down. Whether it's our own circumstances or just the effects of a barrage of negative media and angry people around us, we have all fallen victim to a negative outlook at one time or another. Paul E. Kotz helps us regain a positive perspective in his book, Something Happened Today. In this short work of just 81 pages, the author shares stories and vignettes of unexpected events in daily life. These stories are organized topically into 9 sections. This book can easily be read in one sitting or divided into many short readings.
After introducing himself and his motivation for writing this book, the author begins sharing stories of brief interactions that might not be so memorable if not for his perspective. In the section titled "Everyday Gifts," he tells stories of giving 50 cents to a woman who came up short at the register and buying an extra breakfast at the drive-through to give to someone who needed it. In later sections, he shares from his experiences as a volunteer with elderly and disabled veterans and as a high school teacher and college professor. Through all of these stories, the focus remains looking for the good and holding onto that.
Even though this book was short, I found it to be a joy to read and a very uplifting experience. Its brevity may even be one of its strengths as there are no wasted words to bog down the narrative. Kotz brings to light the fact that no life is boring or insignificant. As someone who has often felt that there is practically nothing worth mentioning in my daily activities, I found this book very encouraging. I especially appreciated the story titled "Now I understand." Although the author is sharing about his experience with a veteran, his patient response to the man's anger that day showed me a new way to orient my mind toward others that will help me in my own occupation in the hospitality industry. His experiences with students also contain many nuggets of wisdom that can help parents, teachers, and anyone working with young people. I especially appreciate how the author refers to high school students as young men and young ladies, rather than kids. To me, this not only shows great respect for the students in acknowledging what their own bodies are telling them, that they are not children, but also calls them up to the next level of maturity and responsibility, which I believe are learned skills, rather than a function of age.
The only negative comments I have regarding this book pertain to the editing. Until about the halfway point, I thought this book was very well edited, but towards the latter half, I found a number of grammatical errors. These were primarily things like missing or incorrect commas and typos that would not be caught by spell check since they are a word that is one letter different from the correct word.
If I could give half stars I would certainly give this book a 3.5 because I absolutely loved the content and am so thankful I had the opportunity to read it. As it stands, I have no choice but to give this book 3 out of 4 stars because the content was superb but there were too many errors to permit me to give it a perfect score. I recommend this book to anyone who is feeling down or just wants some encouragement and a more positive outlook on life.
Something Happened Today
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