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A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World: A True Life Adventure Story Hardcover – May 31, 2005
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 006078010X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060780104
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.21 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : HarperOne; 1st Edition (May 31, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,773,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It's humorous, but heartfelt, and along the way, while you're amused and entertained at Isabel's adventures, you find yourself understanding the intricate and often heartbreaking story of the Tibetan cause, and the people who suffer for that cause. But the book is infused with hope -- the hope that every one of us can do something to make a difference to any cause that we care about, and hope for the future of Tibet and the Dalai Lama.
You're going to love this book. I did!!!!
Making use of the famed serenity prayer, Losada divides her text into three main sections. Part One: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..." Recognizing that she has never done much besides navel-gazing, Losada decides to invest some time in protesting outside the Chinese Embassy, a not particularly auspicious beginning. Next, the author starts investigating, interviewing, and finally traveling to Tibet. Waking up in Kathmandu, Losada details in comical fashion the advice passed along to her from a girl in the know from Tibet: Never squat down in the bushes on the Nepalese side of the Himalayas. Leeches have a way of attaching themselves. Before you know it, you're pouring with blood.
Sounds enchanting. Not to be daunted, Losada repeatedly hears the warning of altitude sickness, which can kill you. More seriously, though, were the injunctions to take extreme care in how one speaks to the Tibetan people regarding their loyalty to the Dalai Lama. And never, ever, hand out photos of the Dalai Lama as they're illegal. Losada does indeed travel and immerse herself in Tibetan culture where she sees both beauty and evil side by side, incongruously thriving together. Hard to accept.
"The courage to change the things I can..." comprises the second part of Losada's tale as she begins making advances in practical activism without much initial success. From approaching the Free Tibet Campaign organization to requesting and receiving an interview with a member of Parliament, from setting up a company, a website, to delving into the nitty-gritty of fundraising via parachuting for donations, Losada makes even the most dreary activities both humorous and sobering.
Finally, in Part Three, "And the wisdom to the know the difference..." Losada's journey becomes at once more introspective and profound as she receives an invitation to meet with the Dalai Lama. It is this portion of the text alone that will likely bring the most fascination to readers. Losada takes her time to carefully unfold the details of this once in a lifetime encounter and the results are most satisfying.
While Losada communicates with regular dashes of humor and wit, she likewise is serious about making a difference in the world. Even the most socially complacent readers will glean tips on how vital doing "one's bit" is to a better, safer, more peaceful world. As the Dalai Lama so succinctly states, "If the individual acts, society is changed."
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
The book is structured around the author trying to get a better grasp on the serenity prayer, which she has carried with her for years:
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference."
That first bit is where I get stuck. I feel this immense responsibility to devote my life to "changing the world" but I just end up feeling overwhelmed (duh, can you imagine?) and frustrated when I see that there's no silver bullet solution to anything. This book spoke to me in a way that no one ever has. No matter how many times someone has said to me "There is no silver bullet" or "You can't change the world in a day" or whatever, I nodded in agreement but didn't really agree. Deep down, I truly believed that there is a silver bullet and I just had to find it.
But this book taught me that though there may be a silver bullet out there, devoting your life to finding out what it is isn't nearly important as *doing* something that brings you joy and makes you feel as if you're contributing something to the solution. I don't want to ruin the ending, but I will if I say much more than that.
I just really, really loved this book. It's exactly what I needed to read. Thank you, Isabel Losada, wherever you are.