Sunday, May 1, 2016

Becoming Wise

Title:  Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
Author:  Krista Tippett
Publication Information:  Penguin Press. 2016. 304 pages.
ISBN:  1594206805 / 978-1594206801

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I'm a person who listens for a living."

Favorite Quote:  "That's very important about stories. They touch something that is human in us and is probably unchanging. Perhaps this is why the important knowledge is passed through stories. It's what holds a culture together. Culture has a story, and every person in it participates in that story. They world is made up of stories; it's not made up of facts."

To some extent, to understand this book, you have to understand the background of author Krista Tippett. She is originally from Oklahoma and a Southern Baptist upbringing. She has studied in the United States and in Communist Germany. She has been a freelance journalist. She has been a political aide. She holds a Master's in Divinity. She has won Webby awards, a Peabody award and the National Humanities Medal. She is the creator and host of the podcast On Being on public radio. The podcast showcases conversations on the topic of what it means to be human. Guests come from all walks of life - historians, political activists, scientists, and artists.

This book is a distillation of those conversations. It includes excerpts of individual interviews, but it is much more than a compilation of interviews. The book, like the radio podcast, encompasses the concept of communal wisdom - the gathering of ideas from from all walks of life to create a whole that reaches beyond any one idea. The main sections are written as a first person narrative; this book is also Krista Tippett's personal journey and her interpretations of these ideas. This combination makes the books intensely personal but also global in its application.

Words. Flesh. Love. Faith. Hope. These are the ideas around which this book is structured. "The connective tissue of these pages is the language of virtue ... And there are gentle shifts of mind and habit that make those possible, working patiently through the raw materials of our lives. I've organized my reflections around five of these raw materials, basic aspects of the human everyday, which I've come to see as breeding grounds for wisdom." Each section first defines the seemingly simple words and creates a context for the conversation. It presents the author's discourse on the topic followed by some excerpts from the many interviews on which this book is based. The fact that the final topic is hope embodies the uplifting message of the book.

Find a quiet spot. Get ready to concentrate. Then, read this book. This book requires me to think. It requires me to re-read. It requires me to set it down, think about the ideas, let them occupy my mind, and then return and read some more.  One of the recommendations of this book is the idea of being present in the moment; the book in fact requires it of its readers. This book is a challenging read that requires focus.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering and searching for where I lose the thread of the conversation. Then, sometimes, I find myself stopped at a passage, even a sentence because it so beautifully captures an idea in words. I find my reason for reading the book and recommending the book in the words of the book itself. "Taking in the good, whenever and wherever we find it, gives us new eyes for seeing and living."

Perhaps my process as a reader in itself captures the journey this book documents; it is the search that matters. It is a journey that goes on with life; each one of use add our own voice to the conversation.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.


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    1. Thank you for visiting. I am glad you enjoyed the blog post. Unfortunately, as your comment included an ad for your business unrelated to books, I have removed your post. I would love to discuss books with you without the advertising. Happy reading.