4 out of 4 stars
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Author Norman Goldstein is someone who struggled with understanding the written word when he was young. As a result, he developed a way of thinking and expressing himself visually as much as verbally, and this is reflected in the book he has produced. In The Book of Normanisms, he mixes quotations with illustrations to give a reading experience that words on their own cannot provide.
The author’s aim with this slim volume is to set before the reader a collection of “adages and pictorial visions to provide a fresh perspective on daily living.” (page 1) The longest adage is only two or three lines long, while some are as short as a single sentence. Each one sits above an illustration that supports the sentiment or idea expressed. Recurring themes in the book include the idea that our thoughts shape our attitudes, therefore we need to ensure that we think positively about ourselves and others. This ties in with the author’s view that our perspective, or more specifically, how we view our life and our situation, very much determines whether we are happy or dissatisfied. Norman Goldstein’s training as a mediator and arbitrator is evident, I feel sure, in the emphasis he places on mindfulness and self-reflection. The same applies to his references to the importance of collaborating with others and making the pie bigger rather than just looking for your own slice.
I love the look and feel of this book. It really has been beautifully produced. The cover design, the illustrations, and the typesetting have all been done to a high standard. I liked the overall ‘vibe’ of the book, too. If there is a message in the author’s words, it is that we need to be kinder to ourselves and others, that we need to regain a balanced perspective on life. He talks about “navigating life’s journey” (page 48) and stresses the importance of appreciating what is truly of value in our daily lives. The author suggests that we try and absorb the quotes that resonate with us. I certainly found a few that gave me food for thought, but each reader will have an individual response to the quotations, depending on age, experience, gender, and so forth.
There is very little that I disliked about this collection. If I had to identify one aspect that might have enhanced what is already an impressive-looking book, I would say that some color in the monochrome illustrations would have been nice. That said, one of the adages encourages the reader to “be grateful for what you have” (page 65) so perhaps I should take that one to heart!
I am awarding this book 4 out of 4 stars. It has been professionally edited and I found only 3 minor errors. The book is suitable for all age groups, as it contains only one example of language that some might find offensive (though the context of how the word is used softens its impact, in my opinion.) Readers who enjoy books on mindfulness and self-reflection will find this a useful addition to their library.
The Book of Normanisms
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