4 out of 4 stars
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In this book, the author starts by telling a fictional story of how the tiniest dinosaur that ever existed—the TyrantoCrankaTsuris—caused the extinction of all the other dinosaurs, thanks to its crankiness. He tells how humans evolved from this dinosaur, inheriting its cranky nature in the process. A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness: The CrankaTsuris Method is essentially a detailed analysis of crankiness. Steven Joseph shows how and why crankiness is part of our nature and highlights the ways it manifests in our words and actions. Using simple stories—both real and fictional—doused in sufficient helpings of humor, Joseph goes on to detail ways that we can all identify and deal with our crankiness safely and effectively.
It's not every day that one comes across a book for grownups that happens to be a sequel to a children's book, but this book is precisely that. It follows an earlier children's book by Joseph titled The Last Surviving Dinosaur: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris. The children's book was essentially summarized in the first chapter of this one to give a little context to what the author was talking about. I found this to be extra helpful. I also appreciated that this wasn't just another self-help book with sweet words and no actionable advice. The author delved deep into the problem of why people can be cranky, and he dropped a lot of actionable tips along the way. He also touched on some relevant issues, such as the connection between principles and reason and making decisions with both the brain and gut.
I was especially intrigued by how he referred to our cranky nature as CrankaTsuris, a portmanteau of the English word "cranky" and "tsuris," the Yiddish word for problem. In his writing, CrankaTsuris means the outflow of complaints and issues that build up within us and cry out for release; it is an external manifestation of our negative emotions. The author also gave names to different forms of CrankaTsuris, such as CrankaTsuris Caterpillar, CrankaTsuris Kryptonite, and CrankaTsuris Nincompoop. Each of these forms of crankiness had a chapter dedicated to it where the author fleshed it out using many stories. One of my favorite stories was the one about Joseph finding his father's lost teeth.
I'm a stickler for humor in almost any kind of writing, and I think it fits perfectly into this book. The humor Joseph infused in his writing served a dual purpose. It gave me a glimpse of the kind of person he was, and it made it easier to digest his message. Given that crankiness and humor are typically on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, it's interesting how the author blended them effectively in this book. Some of the stories he told also gave me a sneak peek of what it was like for him growing up in a Jewish household.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars because it was professionally edited, and there was nothing I disliked about it. The author's imagination and storytelling skills deserve nothing less. This book is ideal for kids and adults alike. If you've ever thrown a tantrum, complained bitterly about anything, or are dealing with serious anger management issues, this book is the medicine for your crankiness.
A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness: The CrankaTsuris Method
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