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The Book of Awesome
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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 25, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Daily life in the twenty-first century can be overwhelming. Issues of global warming, health care reform, a strangled economy, and the latest celebrity shenanigans fill our media outlets and our heads until they just about burst. It is all too much to bear. No wonder we seek solace in the tiny triumphs of life: in our own small successes and in the personal interactions, the soothing sights, the tempting tastes, and the sensational smells we find in the world around us.

Neil Pasricha is the author of the award-winning blog, "1000 Awesome Things." His online success translates well into the format of this book, which outlines 200 of those Awesome Things. Things like "That one really good pen that never gets lost;" "The sound of ice cubes cracking in a drink;" "Licking the batter off the beaters of a cake mixer;" "The smell and sound of a campfire;" and "That friendly nod between strangers out doing the same thing." In these pages you'll also learn the most successful strategies for trick-or-treating and for making the most of an all-you-can-eat buffet. You'll even learn exactly what functions are attached to your colon. But this is not a book of mere lists. Mr. Pasricha provides an explanation for each one, and some of those pieces are several pages in length. His observations are spot-on, and his writing style is friendly and funny. This is an entertaining and feel-good read.

I had to wait until page 342 to find my most favorite Awesome Thing: Snow days. The author breaks this phenomenon into three types: The Pre-Planned Snow Day, The High-Probability Snow Day, and The Surprise Snow Day. But Neil, there's a fourth one to consider, and that's the "We're already here. Will we get enough snow for them to send us home early?" kind. That one may be the most frustrating of all. When the crucial announcement comes, that joyful event becomes yet another (albeit, shortened) Awesome Thing. Assuming you can make it home safely in the storm.

"The Book of Awesome" is the kind of paperback that you can scan through quickly. You can catch the headlines and say "Yes!" to particular ones. Or you can take a single lovely, rainy weekend to devour this volume from cover to cover. Keep it on your bedside table or coffee table for a pick-me-up. Read passages aloud to a living room full of friends, and your group will come up with even more possibilities. You don't have to agree with all of the entries. ("Using all the different shampoos and soaps in someone else's shower" didn't resonate with me, and neither did "Neighbors with pools.") Just keep turning pages, and it won't be too long before you find several more Awesome Things that you can relate to. And you will probably find yourself smiling, nodding, and laughing out loud.

Once you get into this mode, you may pay closer attention to those magic moments in your own life. Like sliding a key perfectly into a lock in the dark, without fumbling and without turning on the light. Watching a squirrel figure out how to invade a rodent-proof bird feeder. The smell of tea that wafts up when you unwrap a brand-new box of it. It's all good ... and Awesome. Thanks, Neil. [This review was based on seeing the pre-pub galley proof.]
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a great book to open up when you're depressed or anxious or bored or just any old time. The topics of "awsomeness" are mostly simple, familiar things that you don't often stop to appreciate. Things like "Pulling off your wet bathing suit and putting on dry clothes after a long swim" or "The smell of books" or "The sound of rain from inside the tent". But not only does Neil Pasricha, the author, suggest these awesome moments in life, but he expands on them with little descriptions and stories describing them. For example, under "Remembering what movie that guy is from" he talks about seeing a character in a movie that you know you've seen somewhere before, in some other movie, but which one? Was it in Shawshank Redemption? Or Miracle on 34th Street? No! He was the knife guy in Once Upon a Time in Mexico! Awesome!

I don't think there has been one time that I've opened this book that it hasn't made me smile. And there are a lot of times when I'm bummed out about something and I don't have a lot of time to figure out why I'm bummed or read some long philosophy book about what to do about it. I can just open this book and instantly relate to at least a couple of the topic pages and it takes me to a different place, a place where I can smile in spite of myself or giggle about the fact that someone else finds the same things as I do pretty amazing and can relate.

Picking up this book when I'm unhappy and then finding myself in a not so bad mood after all? AWESOME!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It seems like there's a lot of discontentment going around these days. People get so caught up in their busy lives, focusing so much on what's wrong, what they don't have, that they forget to appreciate the good things. That's where "The Book of AWESOME" comes in. This wonderful little book (based on a popular website) lists the simple pleasures that we all tend to overlook, like snow days and warm underwear, then describes why they're so awesome.

Unlike a lot of other self-help books, reading "The Book of AWESOME" really can change your attitude. It doesn't ask you to change your life, just to pay attention to the good things. It's really not hard at all. It's impossible to read this book and not find at least one entry that makes you shout "YES!" in agreement. It's a great feeling when you see that other people appreciate the same little things you do. But that's not the best part. The best part is that this book gets you to start looking for the awesome things in your own life. After I finished it, I started thinking of all the things that I thought should have made the list, and it made me want to write my very own "Book of AWESOME." This is also a great book to share with friends. You'll end up sharing ideas, getting excited over the things you have in common and the things that maybe you hadn't thought of before.

I liked the writing style, too. It's fun and easy to read. This could have ended up being a really schmultzy, nicey-nice book, but thankfully, it never takes itself too seriously. This is a book that embraces its own dorkiness. It uses lots of silly rhymes, and all but one entry ends with "AWESOME!" It's like it's saying to let go and have fun, and quit worrying about how you'll look. Embrace your own inner dork! It had a very warm feeling, and I could tell that the author put a lot of himself into it.

In this cynical age, we often forget how wonderful life really is, and "The Book of AWESOME" is a much needed remedy. It doesn't try to overwhelm your emotions with sappiness, just shows you the great things you might be overlooking. Its message is that no matter how bad things seem, there are always things to enjoy in life, and it rings so true. This is something I've always believed myself, but even we optimists can use a reminder now and then. It's easy to forget to appreciate the little things, so this book is great to pull out over and over. Read a little when you're having a bad day or when you're going through a tough times. Its reminders will lift your spirits, and its personable writing will just make you smile. AWESOME!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a tome for browsing, a pick-me-up for when you're feeling down. If puppies and cupcakes and cheerful smiles don't lift your spirits, then put on some Goth music and try another book, but the rest of us can appreciate the nearly 400 pages of brief, well-written personal reflections on subjects that make most people happy.

Some of these essays are only a few words long (one, entitled "When you push the button for the elevator and realize it's already there" consists of just two words: "Ding! AWESOME!") and some are several pages long (such as "Mastering the art of the all-you-can-eat buffet," or "Smiling and thinking of good friends who are gone"). They're sure to start discussions -- and perhaps even arguments (if you enjoy that sort of thing).

For me, Pasricha's topics seem to fall into four categories. The majority are quite quotidian: popping bubble wrap, hitting green lights, finding prime seats, free refills, free samples, untangling knots, locating your keys, friendly nods, getting a bargain, sharing umbrellas, fireworks, salt, breakfast in bed, campires, perfectly popped popcorn, Saturday mornings, sweatpants, the smell of books, fast food, exact change, silence, your pillow, showers, long hugs, freshly mown grass, remembering names.

A few of the topics seem like rather vain attempts at making unpleasant things pleasant: dangerous playground equipment, dropping food on the floor, cleaning the lint trap, really old Tupperware, a stranger's fart, the smell of gasoline, your colon, gym pain, putting potato chips on a sandwich, grass stains, crying, rain hair, locking people out of the car and pretending to drive away.

The most interesting disquisitions deal with odd situations that give one a delicious frisson of recognition. A number of them are youthful memories: when you get the milk-to-cereal ratio just right, when someone lands on the hotel you just built in Monopoly, the sound of scissors cutting construction paper, when you're really tired and about to fall asleep and someone throws a blanket on you, the first scoop out of a jar of peanut butter, blowing out all the candles on your first try, wearing underwear just out of the dryer, that one square in the waffle that's most loaded with butter and syrup, getting a trucker to blow his horn, pushing those little buttons on the soft drink cup lid, dangling your feet in water, the last day of school.

There are also many adult experiences but, like the childhood variety, most are sudden sense memories with long titles: when the socks from the dryer all match up perfectly, when the vending machine gives you two things instead of one, finding a mix tape given to you by an old boyfriend or girlfriend, when you arrive at your destination just as a great song ends on the radio, when you nudge the person snoring next to you and it makes them stop, when the guy at the border doesn't ask any questions, finally clipping your fingernails after you've been meaning to do it all week, when your suitcase tumbles down the luggage chute first after a long flight, when you're driving late at night on an empty gas tank and a gas station appears on the horizon.

The book ends with the longest essay of the collection. Entitled "Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now," it's a wry reflection on the amazing, improbable fact of our own existence and an exhortation to feel gratitude and joy for it.

Because it is so personal, what The Book of Awesome doesn't address could fill many other volumes, so it's safe to assume that the first of several sequels is already in the works (snow angels, anyone?), and you, dear reader, could well be its author. Better get cracking!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The word "awesome" recently has been much overused and its precise and important meaning brought down to the immanent and finite. Yet with today's generational employment of the term one can find great delight in the alluring book: "The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things" by Neil Pasricha. Aspects of this volume are essential in one living a life of gratitude and joy. If you find yourself not appreciating life and all the things therein, grab this book and dig in with a cup or tea or coffee; it will assist you in finding the charm, thrill, delight, and enchantment in life we all too often take for granted.

Subjects brought to light include the routine and the inspiring, such as:

- Driving through green lights
- Beauty in small things
- Popcorn
- Tripping without a witness
- Power and uplifting emotions from your miscellaneous relationships
- Silence
- Campfires
- The scent of new books
- Opening new electronic devises
- Pillows
- Showers.

If you habitually fail to savor the small seemingly unimportant portions of life perhaps you should read "The Book of Awesome." Pasricha writes: "Maybe we all love snowy days, peeling an orange ... and popping bubble wrap" and we just need to be reminded about all the fascinating simple joys in life.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I really liked the idea of a book that reminds you of the small-yet-awesome little things in life, reminds you to stop and smell the roses and be happy with what you have.
But for me reading just the index / titles was enough to get the idea, and reading the full stories didn't add much, if anything at all.
Very (quick read and relatable stories, but not necessarily 'awesome'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Words fail in describing just how wonderful this book is for putting a non-stop smile on your face. If you need a mood pick-me-up or just a little reminder of how magical life can be -- look no further. This book is just what the doctor ordered!

You will laugh out loud, you will smile, you will feel nostalgic, you will remember to appreciate the simple things, you will want to start your own list of Awesome things now that your memory has been jogged. AND you will learn useful stuff too. Like how to know which side of the car the gas tank is on just by looking at the little arrow on the gas tank icon on the gas gauge.

I'm smiling just rethinking about this book to write its review. That's the power of AWESOME!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is not a book you read from front to back. This is the sort of book you open up and just start reading. This book is basically a list of things that are kind of silly, but they make you feel great anyway. Examples: "Using Rock-Paper-Scissors to Settle Anything"; "Blowing out all the Candles on Your First Try"; "Getting in a Line before it gets really long". Each of these things has a short description, just in case you need a hint of why these things are so Awesome. Here's one that I just experienced: "When you spill something on your shirt that doesn't leave a stain". Yep, that's enough to put a smile on my face, and on some days, that's enough to make my day.

This is a fun book. Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I know at least 20 people who need this book. These aren't people who need self-help books or who are down in their luck. These are people who enjoy indulging in genuine happiness. In today's social/political/economical climate, it's easy to slip into the self-perpetuating longing for conflict. Resolving conflict gives us control in uncertain times. What if, however, you take a chance to reminisce, hope and smile about those tiny things over which we have no control; the ones that make or break a day; the universal things that I have in common with my friend, partner, grandmother, barber, grocer, banker...you get the idea.

The Book of Awesome is that tie that binds. In his collection of 200 `things' the author strikes a chord with the acoustic guitar of life. From childhood nostalgia to the everyday moments that wink on our daily struggle, this book is a complete introductory course in relinquishing our need to dwell on the trite and redundant negative of everyday. However, the genius of the book is not entirely in the ideas themselves but in the author's ability to express these ideas in a playful, earnest and guilt-free way. Take for example the entry `Your Colon'. Not many people are interested in talking about that `area' but Pasricha has a way of really creating a champion about every awesome thing, even your colon. In each short essay (ranging in length from 1 word to 4 pages) readers can pick this book up at any spot for a laugh or smile. This may not be your typical book club read with your central characters being things like `old, dangerous playground equipment' and `the other side of the pillow' (my fave!) but this may be the beginning of a new type of club - the awesome book club. This book will not only satisfy your need to read something great but will also spawn endless conversations in the circle of those in the `awesome movement' like the finale of Lost or the latest American Idol to get the boot.

At the risk of perpetuating the cliché...this book is really just...awesome.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
For the past two years, Neil Pasricha has dedicated himself to identifying one new awesome thing every weekday, and posting it on his blog. Without fail, these things are commonplace. Things we experience in our daily lives without ever paying them much attention. Because of the regularity with which we experience them, it's easy to overlook how they make our lives better in big and small ways.

What's delightful about the blog, and now this book, is that Neil gives us a chance to hit pause, and look back on our experiences, celebrating them, albeit belatedly. His writing is celebratory, engaging, funny, and inspiring. What's more, you don't have to read too many of his entries before you start paying attention to perfectly toasted toast, the last crumbly triangle in the bag of potato chips, or the smell of books, and smiling when you experience them. You also begin recognizing new awesome things yourself. Somehow, when you start paying attention to how the little, seemingly inconsequential things can brighten your day, the genuinely bad stuff doesn't seem so consuming. The world seems a little bit friendlier. A little bit smaller. A little more wonderful.

Now that I've said that, I think it's really important to tell you that this is NOT A SELF-HELP BOOK (despite how I've seen it promoted recently). It's not a psychology book. It's not an instruction manual. It's a catalog of short, joyous essays about awesome things. I promise that you will walk away from this book having mastered no new concepts. However, I also promise that you will find yourself smiling and nodding in appreciation while you read -- a silent toast to awesome things you never took the time to recognize.

I had high expectations for this book, which were well-exceeded. In fact, I liked it so much that I bought copies for my parents and my sister, who have enjoyed it as well.
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