Everyone has a purpose. And, according to Oprah Winfrey, "Your real job is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you are meant to be." That journey starts right here.
Oprah opens each chapter by sharing her own key lessons and the personal stories that helped set the course for her life. She then brings together wisdom and insight from luminaries in a wide range of fields who share the greatest lessons from their own journeys towards a life filled with purpose. These are paired with over one hundred awe-inspiring photographs to enhance the impact of these messages.
Beautifully presented in hard cover format, this book includes mini-biographies of all contributors.
My first impression of this book was that it is patently user-friendly and would look attractive on any shelf or coffee-table - and that was before I had so much as opened it! What impressed me were the sturdy binding, the sophisticated colours of the cover design, and the size: although a book meant to be browsed rather than read through in one sitting, it is small enough to fit in one hand or to fit in a bag - unlike many books of this type which are often too big to be easily transported.
I was aware before I began to explore the contents that this was going to be a book that could be read in any direction. It is fine to let the book fall open naturally and read the first page that appears because the anecdotes and quotes are not sequential. Although the topics are arranged under ten loosely chosen headings, each framed with an introduction and closing quote by Oprah, there is no reason why one should be read before the next. Rather, this is a book to read in small doses, allowing time to think about each quote before going on.
As an interviewer, Oprah has always struck me as someone with an amazing ability to analyse where her guests are coming from and to bring out the passion in them. Audiences are certainly receptive to hearing someone talk with enthusiasm about something that is important to them, and a skilled interviewer is able to tap into this energy, directing it so that the momentum is maintained. Part of the secret of Oprah's success has been her ability to gauge audience reaction and to direct the interview in such a way that this reaction is kept at maximum engagement. This is a skill that has spilled over into this book.
The motivation behind the book is summed up in the second part of the title: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose. Oprah aims, by allowing a range of very different people to add their personal voice, to show how many different ways this can be achieved. The work is dedicated "To the teachers who help us realize we can take on the world"; this implies, not only classroom teachers, but every person who inspires, educates, encourages or enthuses another to reach for their individual dream. This is very different from the narrow educational view that academic success is the only desirable outcome for self-fulfilment. Oprah's view is the more holistic one of success in a way that matches individual aspirations.
I like the way the quotes are kept quite short. It means there is no excess information to wade through; Oprah has selected a huge variety of quotes that are succinct and easy to digest rather than choosing fewer, lengthier contributions. Some of the contributors appear more than once, depending on the chapter topic. It is useful that there is a mini-bio for each of them at the end of the book; the pages on which their quotes appear are listed as well for easy reference. I did not know some of these contributors, so this extended reference list was useful for putting them in context. Some of them are writing from a religious perspective, while others are secular. It is this diversity that makes the reading experience so powerful.
This is not an inexpensive book, but a beautifully presented volume that aims to be a source of inspiration for years to come. It would make a wonderful gift, whether for another special person, or just as a reward for oneself. I intend to keep my own copy because I plan to re-read it and also encourage those who visit me to pick it up and explore it too. Having read it right through for review purposes, I now plan to delve into it periodically to revisit one or two of the quotes.
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Friend and traitor. Conqueror and king. Hero and villain. Shane is just a boy, but in order to free his people, he's resolved to do whatever - to become whomever - his mission requires. Conor, Abeke, Meilin and Rollan are four young heroes racing to save the world of Erdas, and their journey has pit them against Shane again and again. But none have learned the truth of the boy who nearly changed the course of history ... more...
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