I've been a follower of Kim and Jason Kotecki's Escape Adulthood site for several years now. I admire their quest to free the world of "adultitis", and the way that they encourage people to remain open to the joys of life. Jason's Escape Adulthood manifesto was one of my earliest book reviews. I am a regular reader of Kim and Jason's blog. Recently, Jason sent me a copy of There's An Adult in My Soup, with a note to check out a couple of specific pages. I was happy to see that a couple of conversations that I had with Kim and Jason had actually made their way into the book. On further reading, I was even more happy to discover quotes from TadMack (aka Tanita Davis) and Robin Brande. As you can see, I'm not objective about this book. So you may take this as more a recommendation from a friend than a formal review.
There's An Adult in My Soup is a collection of essays about "cooking up the life of your dreams". I think that most of these essays began as blog posts. As such, it's not a book that you need to read cover-to-cover, in order (though I suspect that the entries were published in the chronological order that they were written). In fact, reading it cover to cover, you will notice occasional repeated ideas. There are a few copy-editing errors, too. It reads like what it is - a hand-picked collection of inspirational blog posts, with cartoon illustrations added to brighten the start of each essay.
I still loved the book. I flagged it with about 30 post-its. I intend to read it again, and to give it to other people to read. Because, for me, this book is a reminder to try to be a happier, more optimistic, person. To be more childlike (as opposed to childish). To notice the small joys as they pass by. To strive for balance.
My general view is that people only change when the change is internally motivated. I think that self-help books work for people who happen to read a particular piece of advice that resonates with them at that time. That is, you'll only actually change if you read a particular book at a time that intersects with your own personal journey. And sometimes, you read a book that tells you things that you already believe, but serves as a gentle reminder not to get sidetracked. That said, here are a few passages from There's An Adult in My Soup that resonated with me this week:
"Everyone is busy. Enough already.
Do you find yourself unknowingly getting thrown into the "busyness" contest? Whether it's at work or with family or acquaintances, people start talking about how busy they are. Before you know it, you too are spouting about how little time you have. For some reason, it seems like the busiest person wins. What a twisted and damaging conversation." (Page 13)
"God has scattered these free prizes all around us: a watercolor sunset, the smell of fresh cut grass, the intricacy of a snowflake. We're so busy being self-absorbed and stressed-out that we miss them all because they're hidden just below the surface of our hurried consciousness." (Page 30)
"They say life is all about the journey, not the destination. But we don't often live like that. Many of us gear our lives around some arbitrary date in the future, as if everything will be better when that point in time--that day on the calendar--comes. But what makes THAT day on the calendar any better or more important than THIS day on the calendar?" (Page 44)
"What does your daily schedule look like?
Are you finding a good balance between work, family and alone time?
What can you do to take more control of your life, for the good of your health and sanity, as well as your relationships?" (Page 76)
And so on. Most people will, I think, have one of two responses to quotes. You might be intrigued, and want to read more (in which case, I direct you to Kim and Jason's blog). Or you might think it sounds a little naive or overly simplistic (in which case, this isn't the right book for you). My experience has been that the authors really believe in what they're promoting. They believe in creating a balanced life, in celebrating small joys, and in demonstrating a childlike curiosity. And this belief comes across in the book. There's An Adult in My Soup is like a series of pep talks from that unquenchable friend - the one who always makes you smile, even when your cynical side things that it's more complicated than that. I'm happy to have read it. I hope that some of you will want to read it, too.
Publisher: JBiRD iNK, Ltd.
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Source of Book: Received copy as a gift from the authors
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.