40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2000
Robert Fulghum offers some uncommon insights on everyday occurances. This book made me laugh, cry, relate, but most of all it made me think. Mr. Fulghum casts a new light on everything from the life lessons of primary school, religious philosophies and the minor disaster of walking into a spider web on your way out the door to work. I throughly enjoyed this collection of essays on many levels. As often as it made me laugh, it also made me examine the nuiances of my own life.
49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2002
"A part of this -- the part about what I learned in kindergarten -- was passed around the country until it took on a life of its own. One day it was sent home in the knapsack of a child whose mother is a literary agent..." (Robert Fulghum) Thus history was written -- serendipitous indeed. I have read the chain message, which lists these gems, many times from various Internet friends, throughout the years. Many of the phrases are clichés now because of the truth within the words.
Finding fragments of our own lives in these pages is easy. Fulghum consolidated his extensive Credo of life into a simpler format, such as: "Remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned -- the biggest word of all -- is LOOK." Look both ways... look into the heart of the matter... look at yourself... look at history... look what happened... look at what you missed....
All of the kindergarten principles are found in the first three pages, and then Fulghum reveals how he applied these ideals throughout his life. One example is his encounters with a neighbor who was a "raker and a shoveler." He picked up the leaves and shoveled away the snow, but with the attitude of you "can't let old Mother Nature get ahead of you," and considered Fulghum to be a lazy neighbor. The leaves pile up, become mulch, and make more earth. The snow melts and feeds the land. Nature has taken care of itself for a long time. I imagined someone going into the woods and everywhere else, daily gathering leaves in a constant frustrating battle, and at season's change shoveling the snow from one place to another. Of course, I would want the leaves raked up and the snow shoveled off the driveway and sidewalk, but my dad, who understood the cycle, put the greens in the garden.
Fulghum shows the fallacy of gender encoding through a simple example about cars -- the Y chromosome does not mean a man knows about jumper cables. "Besides, this guy only asked me if I 'had' jumper cables, not if I knew how to 'use' them." He describes an incident where he and the stranded collaborator swaggered around, "being all macho and cool and talking automobile talk." They looked under the hood of the car, and there was no battery. "'Hell,' I said, 'there's your problem right there. Somebody stole your battery.'"
In these marvelous vignettes, Fulghum shows a simpler way to look at those things we confront in life. The book was first published in 1986, and it is still being published. Very few books survive this long -- only the good ones do. Five stars.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2000
I remember picking this book up in the 6th grade and never putting it down for a year. The year between my picking it up and putting down I read it, reread it, rereread it, read bits here and there, quoted from it, thought it was my Bible and then thought better...
You get the idea. I was enchanted by this book. Typically, I find people who are confronted with things like this, which can be very corny but very wise at times, are either totally absorbed or revolted. It doesn't surprise me at all that average customer reviews for this book are either one star or five stars with few ratings in between.
But you should be aware of this book's content before you make up your mind. The book consists of anecdotes told from the perspective of Robert Fulghum, who has been a salesman and a Unitarian minster among other things. His perspective can get very mushy at times, such as when he talks about how in fall Nature gives him an Oriental carpet in his backyard.
And he can be very profound - like when he sees a kid hiding from his friends in a game of "Hide and Seek" in a place where no one will ever look. He compares this "go out a winner" attitude of the kid, whose friends almost give up looking for him, to the attitude a man with cancer had when he elected not to tell anyone close to him about his terminal illness.
It's difficult for me to describe everything found in this book. Perhaps the best summary is given by the title. If you're looking for something different to read, and aren't afraid to examine a cornier - but infinitely more profound - way of looking at the world, then you must read this book.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2000
Fulghum's outlook on life is refreshing. He finds simple pleasures in everyday life that many people are missing. The core of his book(s) revolves around treating ourselves and others with kindness, exploring everything with wonder our Surroundings, and giving each other that special kind of boost that says I know your their and I'm glad. If you're looking for deep thought and didn't find it here I challenge you to reread it. I would go so far to say that he is the Tao Tzu of out times. In a world so filled with hatred and actions designed to break others down Fulghum has written a book that can bring the kind, wonderous child in all of us out. I cannot recommend it more.
finally, Yes I always buy lemonaid from kids on the street corner even if I have to circle the block. It's worth the smiles :)
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 1998
This book was a pleasure to read, enjoyable both for its thoughtful musings about the world we live in and the author's humor. His idiosyncracies (such as his practice of not raking leaves or otherwise disturbing the yard with work) are things I either practice myself or else wish I did. His good sense shines through in the leaves of the book and his often wise observations are not esoteric platitudes but down to earth comments about plain good living. (I have sometimes seen this book stocked in the religious sections of bookstores, but this seems inapt, given that the author doesn't demonstrate much religious leanings in his writings.) The chapters are short and easygoing, allowing this book to be read in one or one hundred sittings.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2007
So the author is what one might call a free spirit. When asked, "What do you do?" he usually replies that he is a philosopher, and then explains what he likes to do is think a lot about ordinary things then express what he thinks by writing or speaking or painting, whichever seems appropriate. In All I Really Need to Know we have a series of short essays about "ordinary things"... like kindergarten, eensy-weensy spiders, South Pacific islanders who yell at trees, raccoons making whoopy in the crawlspace, buying deerskin gloves in San Saba, Texas, coloring with Crayola crayons, and other rituals of "deep-rooty places."
Fulghum's essays are uniformly brilliant and efficient: the long ones are at most 1000 words. According to his Wikipedia article, he has sold more than 16 million books in 27 languages in 103 countries. Simplicity sells.
So budding authors, take Fulghum's tack to heart. Myself reading so much in the course of my Coffee Coaster work, I'm beginning to get a sense of where the collective consciousness of humanity is headed. And I think Fulghum's work perfectly distills the benevolent awareness coming up the road, none too quickly I might add. What's that famous quote from William Blake:
To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2003
I would recommend this book to anyone. The basic principle of the book is, everything you need to know about life, and how to live successfully stem from the basics that we all learned in kindergarten. Often, in many books there is a boring spot. Either the reader gets tired of waiting for the characters to interact with each other, or the plot isn't moving along, etc. With All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, this is never the problem. Since each story is very short, if you don't like the characters in a story, it will be over shortly. The stories in the beginning of the book were the most meaningful, while at the end, the stories were incredibly good. In the middle of the book, the stories weren't as good, and the theme of Christmas was in about ten different stories. Since there are only about 60 stories, you can image how this got redundant. Other than these, I could personally relate to the essays and I think that anyone else would be able to also.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 1999
I am very surprised about how insulting some of the comments on this book are. While I agree that you may or you may not like this book (or any other book for that matter), I can only think that those who insult the author for his writing didn't understand a word of what he tried to communicate. Did he fail ? No, I liked the book a lot for its wisdom, common sense and humour. If you don't agree that not everything has to be big to be good, then you may not understand it... often a simple flower from a meadow offered with a true feeling is worth more than a hundred roses quickly purchased in a supermarket.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2006
I avoided this book for years thinking it was probably boring at best. When I finally picked it up from a local library I realized just what I had been missing.
Robert Fulghum writes just about life experience, the wonder in it, the lessons, and the joy. It's honestly that simple. If you read it at the right time in your life it can completely change the way you see things. I know it did for me.
I became a full blown fan after reading just the first book. I now own all of his books and proudly display them in my home.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 1999
Thanks to all the "complex" thinkers that continue to attack Fulghum's best-seller. Although Fulghum chooses to write from a simple voice, he also touches on universal themes we can all identify with. Some people need more intellectual stimulation, and if you're that type, pick up Kant, Nietsche, or Carlyle. For those of you who want a simple, easy laugh, grab this book. I'd rather read this book when I'm trying to relax any day.