Category Archives: Personal Growth

The Present

Title: The Present

Author: Spencer Johnson, MD

Rating: Good

Reason for Reading: This book is from our personal library, purchased many years ago.

Summary: The book is a practical parable.  Formatted as a story within a story, the prologue has Liz seeking advice from former co-worker Bill.  She notices that Bill is doing much better now than when they worked together, while Liz is struggling at work and home.  Bill says that his improved performance and greater enjoyment of life began when heard the story of The Present, and began applying its lessons.  He is at first hesitant to tell Liz the story, knowing her skeptical nature, but Liz confirms she will give the story a fair chance, no matter how simplistic is seems.

The story is that of a young man’s journey to maturity, guided by occasional visits to the old man who lives in his neighborhood.  The old man knows The Present and gives it to the young man in small segments at different moments in his life.  Not surprisingly, the segments are The Present, The Past, and The Future.

The epilogue has Liz meeting with Bill again after some time has passed.  She has learned and applied the lessons from the story.  She has shared the story with others, just has Bill shared it with her.  The skeptic is now a believer in the simple truths contained within the parable.

Review: This book contains such profound truth in such simple words, it is striking in value.  It is a quick read.  I can go through the whole book in about two hours.  This is a great book to keep in your library and read every year.  It won’t last through a New York to Los Angeles flight, probably not even between when you get through security and receive clearance to takeoff.

The story is compelling.  It is easy to relate to the young man as he learns about The Present from the old man.  His circumstances are easy to identify with for any reader.  The language is so simple that the lessons are easy to digest, surprisingly so given their great value.  If you are interested in simple truths to be found in a quick, easy read, find a copy of The Present.


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The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews

Title: The Traveler’s Gift

Author: Andy Andrews

Rating: Good

Reason for Reading: This book was recommended by Dawn as one I would enjoy.  She was certainly right on three fronts.  First, it’s fun to read.  It plays like an action-adventure novel or mystery at times.  Second, it is educational.  The wisdom contained within is impossible to miss as one reads through the narrative.  And third, the traveler visits different moments in history, and I am a history buff (but that quality is not necessary to enjoy and learn from the book).  This book was purchased, and no compensation was provided for this review.

Summary: The Traveler’s Gift is the description of Andy Andrews’ Seven Decisions that determine personal success. Andy read 200-300 biographies of successful persons. From this, he identified seven principles at work int heir lives. The decisions they made led to their successes and revealed these principles. The book introduces the reader to each decision by taking the traveler, David Ponder, on a journey to meet an historical figure. These seven people of great influence each teach him a gift. Written like a novel or historical fiction, the narrative the author has composed teaches while it entertains.

Review: Not a self-help in the traditional sense of diagnosing the reader’s problem and then providing the authors prescription, The Traveler’s Gift instead walks the reader through the decisions with the protagonist, David Ponder. Unemployed  and struggling, he begins to wonder if he can find success in life, or if he’s just cursed. Through his travels, figures like Harry S. Truman, Christopher Columbus, and Anne Frank give him the decisions that determine personal success. Their advice to him is the author’s advice to the reader, though you won’t feel preached to. The advice is more like the Maltese Falcon or Holy Grail of a suspense movie or a mystery novel.  You won’t find the author suffering from a superiority complex.  Nor will you find these solutions too shallow to be followed in real life. No “visualize” or “think outside the box” directives that go nowhere in 3-dimensional life. The reader can appreciate how real these principles are to the individuals David meets. Andrew’s descriptions of them and their circumstances are compelling, even to a non-history buff.  As you read, you’ll find parallels to your own life and challenges, even if they don’t compare to the Battle of Gettysburg in historical importance.  Andrews asserts that everything you do matters, and therefore, are valuable when done well.

Reading like a novel, but educating like a self-help book, The Traveler’s Gift is a must-read for all. Brief, compelling, and insightful enough to read every year, put it in your library, or that of a friend.


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