Book Reviews: Need a Gift Idea? Ask Bradley Trevor Greive

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Bradley Trevor Greive stole my heart with his book Tomorrow, a gift from a friend.  Since then, I’ve read three more of his books, all of them a powerful encouragement to me.  Tomorrow, The Book for People Who Do Too Much, The Blue Day Book, and A Teaspoon of Courage all begin with a description of a person at their worst (worried, stressed, blue, frightened) and end with encouragement of what can happen when you take a leap of faith, when you relax and take care of yourself, when you remember joy.  The advice is both practical and humorous as are the descriptions of the best and worst states of living.  Paired with black and white photographs of expressive animals, how can these books fail?

These are the best gift books of which I know because who doesn’t need a little encouragement, a little laugh, some pictures of cute animals to create an occasional endorphin spike?

These are short books, the type that can be snatched up and read in 10 minutes or so, so they can be read by those who are too busy, can be a quick pick me up in a work day or in the middle of a huge college paper.  Each page consists of a phrase to a sentence or two, the majority of the layout being given over to a photograph.  The font is fairly large (pt. 12 Arial, I’d guess), making them easy to read without running for reading or magnifying glasses.

Greive questions humanity, asks the reader to think and consider (“Why do people do too much?” asks The Book for People Who Do Too Much), but then makes the reader laugh, and reminds them of the power of humanity too.

The humor can be a little adult.  “Roller Derby is similarly indicative of poor judgment, as is starting your own religion in order to claim generous tax benefits,” warns A Teaspoon of Courage.  “We say that we want love, affection, and companionship,” claims Tomorrow, “but what we really want is wild, passionate sex.”  These books are not for children, though the pictures of animals are cute and might be alluring to kids.

I read Tomorrow first in high school.  I was ready for Greive’s cynicism then if I didn’t agree with it (I’m still not sure that I do) and knew enough about the world to understand his references to the ridiculous things that adults sometimes do.

Those occasional cynical comments are muffled by reminders of the wonder of simple pleasures like stargazing and the taste of raindrops on your tongue, making the realistic cynicism more palatable (a spoonful of sugar).

All Greive’s advice and observations of course need to be taken with a grain of salt.  I know those who wouldn’t mind a world without hugs, and a yearning for love is not always one for wild, passionate sex, but over all his observation is keen.

Some days I don’t have Greive’s faith that the seemingly impossible is possible—for me or anyone—but it’s nice to have even a stranger telling me that I can, cheering me towards greatness and a better me.

These are books that I might strategically place in the open when I have a place that I can decorate and few kid visitors.

*****

Greive, Bradley Trevor.  A Teaspoon of Courage: A Little Book of Encouragement for Whenever You Need It.  Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2006.

Greive, Bradley Trevor.  The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up.  Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2010.

Greive, Bradley Trevor.  The Book for People Who Do Too Much.  Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2003.

Greive, Bradley Trevor.  Tomorrow: Adventures in an Uncertain World.  Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2004.

These reviews are not endorsed by Bradley Trevor Greive or Andrews McMeel Publishing.  They are independent, honest reviews by a reader.

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