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This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

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An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women " " Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, "This I Believe" features eighty essayists--from the famous to the unknown--completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal b An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women " " Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, "This I Believe" features eighty essayists--from the famous to the unknown--completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others. Featuring a well-known list of contributors--including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike--the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board. The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs--and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them--reveal the American spirit at its best.


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An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women " " Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, "This I Believe" features eighty essayists--from the famous to the unknown--completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal b An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women " " Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, "This I Believe" features eighty essayists--from the famous to the unknown--completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others. Featuring a well-known list of contributors--including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike--the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board. The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs--and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them--reveal the American spirit at its best.

30 review for This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    This seems like such a promising concept for a book - "based on the NPR series of the same name, 80 essayists - from the famous to the previously unknown - complete the thought that begins the book's title". But the result is - despite being a bestseller - a dreadful book. If I had checked it out in a bookstore, rather than buying it on Amazon, I might have figured it out from the back cover. Here are the four 'quotes from inside' that the publishers use as a teaser: "I believe in the goodness of This seems like such a promising concept for a book - "based on the NPR series of the same name, 80 essayists - from the famous to the previously unknown - complete the thought that begins the book's title". But the result is - despite being a bestseller - a dreadful book. If I had checked it out in a bookstore, rather than buying it on Amazon, I might have figured it out from the back cover. Here are the four 'quotes from inside' that the publishers use as a teaser: "I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it." Jackie Robinson. "I believe in empathy." Azar Nafisi. "I believe in the pursuit of happiness. Not its attainment, nor its final definition, but its pursuit." Andrew Sullivan. "Be cool to the pizza delivery dude; it's good luck". Sarah Adams. Forgive me - and I may burn in hell for this, but I submit that the only possible reaction to this kind of anodyne banality is a major YAWN. If you crack open the book and can wade through some of the most mind-numbingly pompous prose imaginable, there are further nuggets to be gleaned: Benjamin Carson believes that "there is no job more important than parenting". William F. Buckley believes in God, but, being WFB, finds it necessary to express himself thusly: "This I believe: that it is intellectually easier to credit a divine intelligence than to submit dumbly to felicitous congeries about nature". Jackie Lantry believes in the power of love to transform and heal. I believe that the kind of cliched banality that the contributors to this effort ended up producing is available free in any Hallmark store. More charitably, in considering why this book ended up being such a disastrous collection of woolly-minded writing, almost never rising above hackneyed cliches and Reader's Digest level banality, I believe that the problem lies in the formulation of the question. It seems that asking people to come on the radio for three minutes to sum up the core beliefs of their lives is a poor mechanism to generate anything of interest. It's a trap, causing most respondents to founder in banal generalities. The (very) few interesting contributors were smart enough to avoid the lure of the pompously abstract profundity, and rooted their answers in the specific. Here are the opening sentences of the three most interesting (OK, let's be honest, the only three truly interesting) essays: 'I consider myself a feminist, and I feel like a moron admitting it, but it's true: I believe in Barbie.' (Jane Hamill) 'I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that.' (Deirdre Sullivan) 'There is no such thing as too much barbecue'. (Jason Sheehan) Let me be clear - this review is in no way a critique of the expressed beliefs and opinions of the contributors. It is concerned only with the interest level and readability of their efforts. And on those criteria, this book has to be considered a dreadful, soporific, failure.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    "Be Cool to the Pizza Delivery Dude"  Of eighty spiritual, philosophical, intellectual and unconventional statements of belief, this is the chapter that was most memorable to me.  Certainly the title is memorable, but more than creating just a catchy title, Sarah Adams (in less than 500 words) explains why humility, forgiveness, empathy, honor and equality are a big part of her belief system.  Humility, Forgiveness, Empathy, Honor and Equality - these virtues seem in very short supply today.  Pe "Be Cool to the Pizza Delivery Dude"  Of eighty spiritual, philosophical, intellectual and unconventional statements of belief, this is the chapter that was most memorable to me.  Certainly the title is memorable, but more than creating just a catchy title, Sarah Adams (in less than 500 words) explains why humility, forgiveness, empathy, honor and equality are a big part of her belief system.  Humility, Forgiveness, Empathy, Honor and Equality - these virtues seem in very short supply today.  Perhaps we could encourage Sarah Adams to run for President on a platform of Basic Human Decency.        This I Believe is a selection of five-minute CBS and NPR radio readings from the early 50s and the early 2000s.  It includes a variety of essays from well-known people like Helen Keller and Gloria Steinem to essays by average citizens from diverse walks of life.  This I Believe was initially hosted by Edward R. Murrow and was broadcast locally in Philadelphia.  The readings soon became so popular the program was expanded nationwide on CBS and eventually worldwide on The Voice of America.  A two-volume book of the readings was published in 1952 and was a top-10 best seller for three years.  However, in spite of enormous popularity, the last radio program was broadcast in 1955 because of a lack of financial backing.    Dan Gediman, a producer for radio, happened upon the original book of the broadcasts on his wife's bookshelf in 2003 and decided to try to revive the broadcasts.  With the help of Jay Allison, an independent broadcast journalist, the program was re-introduced on NPR (National Public Radio) utilizing old and new essays.  The program's website has an archive of these wonderful essays: https://www.npr.org/series/4538138/th... and https://thisibelieve.org/ Always be cool to the pizza delivery dude!  You've got my vote Sarah Adams!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In my commitment to read 52 books this year, I made a list of ones I want to read, have bought to read etc. This title was one that I had borrowed from the library, since it was recommended reading from Ali Edwards during an online class I took. It's from the NPR, and it's a collection of short essays from different people. On what they believe. It was a quick read. Great food for thought. During reading this book, I started to question my own beliefs. Not the core ones. The biblical ones, or eve In my commitment to read 52 books this year, I made a list of ones I want to read, have bought to read etc. This title was one that I had borrowed from the library, since it was recommended reading from Ali Edwards during an online class I took. It's from the NPR, and it's a collection of short essays from different people. On what they believe. It was a quick read. Great food for thought. During reading this book, I started to question my own beliefs. Not the core ones. The biblical ones, or even the taught ones. I questioned what do I truly believe? At this 35 year old state of my life. Currently in the stage of child rearing, what is it that I want my kids to know about ME? About what I truly believe? So I am working on an essay, about what I believe. I will post it when I complete it. Reading the book, there were a few quotes that really popped out at me. Here they are. 1. "You only have what you give. It's by spending yourself that you become rich." ~Isabel Alede 2. "A mans noblest endowment is his capacity to change." ~ Leonard Bernstein 3. "Being fully open to yourself may be the hardest work you will ever do" 4. "If I die it will be Glory, if I live it will be Grace" 5. "Families are not only blood relatives, but sometimes just people that show up and love you when no one else will."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leela

    This print copy of essays written and read for the NPR series by the same title is sweet and lovely, diverse, and by turns light and deep. From the pizza guy to barbeque, from prominent politicians to the mom down the block, it covers a lot of ground. The effect is to generate conversations and intimacies that might otherwise never have developed. For starting conversations that you never have the time to start, for getting into the heads of people we think we know, and for stimulating personal This print copy of essays written and read for the NPR series by the same title is sweet and lovely, diverse, and by turns light and deep. From the pizza guy to barbeque, from prominent politicians to the mom down the block, it covers a lot of ground. The effect is to generate conversations and intimacies that might otherwise never have developed. For starting conversations that you never have the time to start, for getting into the heads of people we think we know, and for stimulating personal spiritual and intellectual development: a wonderful addition to one's bookshelf.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Danine

    Like a lot people I listen to "This I Believe" segments on NPR. I am so inspired every time I hear one of these essays read aloud on the radio. I love how three words make me think about the way I see life and evaluate my own personal philosophies of life. When I found out that there was a book I made it a goal to read it. I am a natural pessimist. This I believe. I LOVE being nice to strangers and to the people in my life. Sometimes, though, I wonder why I even bother. Does anyone care? There i Like a lot people I listen to "This I Believe" segments on NPR. I am so inspired every time I hear one of these essays read aloud on the radio. I love how three words make me think about the way I see life and evaluate my own personal philosophies of life. When I found out that there was a book I made it a goal to read it. I am a natural pessimist. This I believe. I LOVE being nice to strangers and to the people in my life. Sometimes, though, I wonder why I even bother. Does anyone care? There is so much evil in the world and gasoline is at $4 a gallon why did I even bother bringing a child into the world. This book brought peace to my mind and tears to my eyes. These short essays are by people like ME who care about the world and the creatures that inhabit it. I can't begin to tell you how many times I had to lovingly set the book onto my lap to catch my breath. There is an army of goodness out there and the authors with essays in this book and on the website are in this army. I realized that I too am a member of not only this army of goodness but of the side of humanity that brings compassion and humility down to our daily lives. I'm also inspired to finally write my own essay

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    I really wish I had listened to this in smaller chunks. It's a lot to take in. Some of the essays were not exceptional, but others were absolutely wonderful. Topics ranged from the rule of law, love, and freedom to barbecue and jazz. And listening to this collection, rather than reading it, really does add a lot to the experience. Not to mention the opportunity to hear such voices as Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jackie Robinson.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    If you had 3 minutes to clearly state what your beliefs are, could you do it? What would you say? Would you talk about your religious beliefs, or the lessons your mother taught you that you still live by, ideas from books you've read, or the things you learned through living your life? This collection of "personal philosophies of remarkable men and women" consists of short essays, written both in the 1950's and in the early 21st century, as part of the "This I Believe" series on NPR. The series If you had 3 minutes to clearly state what your beliefs are, could you do it? What would you say? Would you talk about your religious beliefs, or the lessons your mother taught you that you still live by, ideas from books you've read, or the things you learned through living your life? This collection of "personal philosophies of remarkable men and women" consists of short essays, written both in the 1950's and in the early 21st century, as part of the "This I Believe" series on NPR. The series first ran in the 1950's on a radio show hosted by Edward R. Murrow. The show was resurrected on NPR in 2005, and is still being aired. In fact, anyone can send in their own story of what they believe by going to the website http://thisibelieve.org/ From the original series, we have stories by Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Leonard Bernstein, and other luminaries of that time, as well as stories by non-celebrities. From the 21st century, contributors include Isabel Allende, Azar Nafisi, Bill Gates and our own Frederic Reamer (Professor of Social Work at Rhode Island College). Their various beliefs made for an enlightening day of reading. I came away feeling inspired and hopeful, and how can a book be any better than that? My favorite thoughts: " I believe that life isn't a popularity contest. I really don't care what other people say about me - and believe me, they've said plenty. For me, it's about trying to do the right thing even when nobody is looking." Jody Williams " I now again believe there is more good than evil; more of those who create, or wish to create, than those who destroy; more of those who love than those who hate." Maximilian Hodder "Everything potent, from human love to atomic energy, is dangerous; it produces ill about as readily as good; it becomes good only through the control, the discipline, the wisdom with which we use it." Wallace Stegner

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Bottrell

    I've been listening to the essays contained in this book as I've walked around my town this spring. I've enjoyed many of them, while finding others a bit stilted and pretentious. My favorite of the bunch probably belongs to writer Wallace Stegner. In his essay, Stegner says, "In all honesty, what I believe is neither inspirational nor evangelical. Passionate faith I am suspicious of because it hangs witches and burns heretics, and generally I am more in sympathy with the witches and heretics tha I've been listening to the essays contained in this book as I've walked around my town this spring. I've enjoyed many of them, while finding others a bit stilted and pretentious. My favorite of the bunch probably belongs to writer Wallace Stegner. In his essay, Stegner says, "In all honesty, what I believe is neither inspirational nor evangelical. Passionate faith I am suspicious of because it hangs witches and burns heretics, and generally I am more in sympathy with the witches and heretics than with the sectarians who hang and burn them. I fear immoderate zeal, Christian, Muslim, Communist, or whatever, because it restricts the range of human understanding and the wise reconciliation of human differences, and creates an orthodoxy with a sword in its hand." I was surprised by how many of those who spoke, including Eleanor Roosevelt, espoused no absolute faith in God, but rather held to a hopeful agnosticism. It was also interesting how many of the older recordings still held relevancy for today's listener. Of course, the most interesting and humorous was the young man who explained in all sincerity how he believes in feeding monkey's on his birthday.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lori Neff

    I have owned this book for years, but only recently picked it up to read. I took my time, reading one essay each day. It's been a fascinating look at what motivates people. It was also interesting to see some essays from the 1950s sprinkled throughout and note how different those felt in tone and content.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    A collection of essays from the famous and not-so-famous about their personal life philosophies, I found this to be very thought-provoking. Some essays from the original 1950s series were mixed in with the more contemporary ones, and there's even one that spans both. There are essays covering heartfelt and controversial subjects - religion, patriotism, bigotry - and there are less serious subjects, such as being nice to the pizza guy. Here are a few selections - I'll include the author and time p A collection of essays from the famous and not-so-famous about their personal life philosophies, I found this to be very thought-provoking. Some essays from the original 1950s series were mixed in with the more contemporary ones, and there's even one that spans both. There are essays covering heartfelt and controversial subjects - religion, patriotism, bigotry - and there are less serious subjects, such as being nice to the pizza guy. Here are a few selections - I'll include the author and time period (hidden) at the end - it is amazing how timeless some of these truly are: It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine. It is in giving that I feel the spirit of my daughter inside me, like a soft presence. (view spoiler)[ Isabel Allende, current - she lost her daughter, Paula, to illness - a pain we share (hide spoiler)] These days I see graft and corruption reach high into government. These days I see people afraid to speak their minds because someone will think they are unorthodox and therefore disloyal. These days I see America identified less and less with spiritual standards. These days I see America drifting from the Christian faith, acting abroad as an arrogant, selfish, greedy nation, interested only in guns and dollars, not in people and their hopes and aspirations. (view spoiler)[ William O Douglas, 1950s (hide spoiler)] The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious - the knowledge of something unfathomable to us, the manifestation of the most profound reason coupled with the most brilliant beauty. (view spoiler)[ Albert Einstein, 1950s (hide spoiler)] When I read the Bible now, I take the teachings of men like Jesus and David and St Paul as the helpful advice of trusted friends about how to live. They understand that life is full of complications and often heavy blows, and they are showing me the wisest way through it. (view spoiler)[ Helen Hayes, 1950s (hide spoiler)] I believe in honor, faith, and service - to one's country and to mankind…the means to real happiness and the true worth of a person is measured by how faithfully we serve a cause greater than our self-interest. (view spoiler)[ John McCain, current (hide spoiler)] I believe in the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading. (view spoiler)[ Rick Moody, current (hide spoiler)] We are a land of immigrants: a nation that has been touched by every nation and we, in turn, touch every nation. And we are touched not just by immigrants but by the visitors who come to America and return home to tell of their experience. I believe that our greatest strength in dealing with the world is the openness of our society and the welcoming nature of our people. A good stay in our country is the best public diplomacy tool we have. (view spoiler)[ Colin Powell, current (hide spoiler)] I believe in man's integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it - and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist. (view spoiler)[ Jackie Robinson, 1950s (hide spoiler)] I believe that like sunshine and great sex, no day is bad that has barbecue in it. (view spoiler)[ Jason Sheehan, current (hide spoiler)] Politicians boldly risk public rejection of the kind that the rest of us will go to any lengths to avoid. I believe in …the kind of politics that teaches us all we owe to those who came before and those who will come after. That each of us has drunk from wells we did not dig; that each of us has been warmed by fires we did not build. (view spoiler)[ Mark Shields, current (hide spoiler)] I fear immoderate zeal, Christian, Moslem, Communist, or whatever, because it restricts the range of human understanding and the wise reconciliation of human differences and creates an orthodoxy with a sword in its hand. (view spoiler)[ Wallace Stegner, 1950s (hide spoiler)] I believe it is possible for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. For me, the difference between an "ordinary" and an "extraordinary" person is not the title that person might have, but what they do to make the world a better place for us all. (view spoiler)[ Jody Williams, current (hide spoiler)]

  11. 4 out of 5

    JG (Introverted Reader)

    In a collection of short essays, men and women from all walks of life share their defining beliefs. I listen to NPR in between audiobook downloads but I seem to only be in the car for the news and Marketplace, so I've never heard any of these essays. I enjoyed them immensely. Ranging from funny to serious, from heartfelt to tongue-in-cheek, there's a wide range of personal voices and creeds to be found in this collection. I particularly liked that essays from the first run of the series, hosted by In a collection of short essays, men and women from all walks of life share their defining beliefs. I listen to NPR in between audiobook downloads but I seem to only be in the car for the news and Marketplace, so I've never heard any of these essays. I enjoyed them immensely. Ranging from funny to serious, from heartfelt to tongue-in-cheek, there's a wide range of personal voices and creeds to be found in this collection. I particularly liked that essays from the first run of the series, hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the '50s, were included. They were concerned about the end of the free world due to the Cold War. Now we're concerned about the end of the free world due to terrorism of all kinds. Some things never seem to change. That said, people don't change all that much either, and I mean that in the best possible way. We still have faith in our own humanity. Many of us have religious or spiritual faith. Those who don't have faith in order and reason. Kindness, compassion, humility, personal growth, empathy--all our best traits are on display here, both in the older essays and the more recent ones. On a side note, I enjoyed hearing the way voices and accents have changed in only about 60 years. The accents in the '50s seemed to be more pronounced. My guess is that we're losing some regional accents due to media influences. That makes me a bit sad since I enjoy hearing them and definitely speak with my own Appalachian twang! I was interested to hear women speak back then too. I find it hard to explain, but their voices sounded more breathy and feminine to me. Was that something girls were subconsciously taught? I've noticed it in old movies but assumed it was just the actress in her role. Now I'm left wondering if it was a cultural thing. By the end of the collection, I had started tuning out a bit. They were all unique in approach but some of the fundamentals did start to feel a bit repetitive. I understand this was issued in print and as an audio book. I would definitely recommend listening to it. The pieces were originally written for radio so it makes sense to approach them in the intended medium. However you read them, I do recommend this collection. You'll be left wondering, as I do, "What do I believe?"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is a book based on the well known radio series by the same name. The concept arose out of a meeting between Ward Wheelock, a Philadelphia advertising exec; William Paley, the founder and CEO of CBS; Donald Thornburgh, general manager of the local Philadelphia CBS affiliate and broadcaster Edward R. Murrow. They "bemoaned the spiritual state of the nation - that 'material values were gaining and spiritual values were losing.'" This was blamed on economic instability, the shadow of war, and t This is a book based on the well known radio series by the same name. The concept arose out of a meeting between Ward Wheelock, a Philadelphia advertising exec; William Paley, the founder and CEO of CBS; Donald Thornburgh, general manager of the local Philadelphia CBS affiliate and broadcaster Edward R. Murrow. They "bemoaned the spiritual state of the nation - that 'material values were gaining and spiritual values were losing.'" This was blamed on economic instability, the shadow of war, and the frustration of the younger generation in terms of the shape of their future. All things that are still current more than half a century later. They decided to produce a five minute radio broadcast that revolved around interviews with famous people influential in their fields. The immediate response was overwhelmingly positive. Although a simple letter from a housewife, asking why they didn't engage in conversation with average citizens, changed the course of the program. Thus it included people of prominence and people of obscurity. It aired for four years in the early 1950's, until Wheelock lost is agency's prime account with Campbell's Soup, and went missing a year later while sailing in the Bermuda Triangle. Eventually the concept was revived, and became a product of NPR. The essays included in this first volume were varied in subject and immensely thought provoking, if not emotional reads. For me, they hold the same appeal and attachment as the StoryCorps broadcasts. A beautiful connection to people of all classes and walks of life that illuminates the common threads in all our journeys.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Nociti

    I really enjoyed reading these essays. Written by common citizens as well as easily recognized people of fame, they tell of the personal philosophies that these people have developed in their lives. Some are religious, some are political, some are very deep and philosophical, and some are light and funny, but all are worth the time spent reading them. I read the book as I read a novel, but honestly, you could just sit and pick it up whenever you have a couple of minutes and cherry pick an essay I really enjoyed reading these essays. Written by common citizens as well as easily recognized people of fame, they tell of the personal philosophies that these people have developed in their lives. Some are religious, some are political, some are very deep and philosophical, and some are light and funny, but all are worth the time spent reading them. I read the book as I read a novel, but honestly, you could just sit and pick it up whenever you have a couple of minutes and cherry pick an essay that appeals to you at that moment. My favorite two essays were one written by Jackie Robinson, "Free Minds and Hearts at Work", and one written by a 16 yr old boy, "Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day". I will be re-reading these essays over and over again and at some point I hope to take the time and write my own. I think it's an important skill - to be able to put into words what you really believe.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Hedges

    With essays from Temple Grandin, Gloria Steinem, and Brian Greene, I thought I would really enjoy this compilation. I didn't. It contains pretentious, self-indulgent rubbish. Newt Gingrich authored the greatest read. Need I say more?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    Listen to the recorded version rather than read the book, because the original pieces were written for radio and are read by the authors themselves. That was exciting--to hear the voices of Eleanor Roosevelt, Oscar Hammerstein, and even Helen Keller. I'm not surprised that the people on GoodReads who read the print version overall seem less impressed than those who listened. One of the beauty of these pieces, it seems to me, is the instruction writers received to frame their pieces affirmatively, Listen to the recorded version rather than read the book, because the original pieces were written for radio and are read by the authors themselves. That was exciting--to hear the voices of Eleanor Roosevelt, Oscar Hammerstein, and even Helen Keller. I'm not surprised that the people on GoodReads who read the print version overall seem less impressed than those who listened. One of the beauty of these pieces, it seems to me, is the instruction writers received to frame their pieces affirmatively, focusing on what they do believe rather than arguing against what they don't. This is much harder than it seems at first, as I discovered when I tried. To hear so many people articulate their beliefs affirmatively was a subtle and refreshing change from so much of what we hear in the media today. Here were people taking a position without making it feel like a fight! Given this format I found myself relaxing and listening more receptively, even to people with whom I disagreed. The other benefit is that the program producers have found a way to make modern Americans express themselves earnestly in public. We're not used to sincerity today; everyone has to be ironic, satirical, even mocking. Those who claim to speak earnestly--as in politics--usually come in for immediate scorn and criticism (we assume it's poll-group tested blather, all a staged performance). I admire "This I Believe" for finding a way to elicit heart-felt, earnest expression and for creating a small outlet to air it to today's highly "savvy" (i.e. cynical and impatient) public. My one complaint is that because the producers ask writers to avoid "dogma," people whose beliefs align with conventional religious doctrines are underrepresented. There are writers here expressing a belief in God, yes, but not in terms of sin or atonement or salvation or reincarnation. (One or two writers make passing reference to Jesus Christ, but no one here puts Jesus--or Allah or the Buddha or the Vedas--at the heart of a piece, which seems a striking gap in the collection, given what we know statistically about a large part of the American public today.) I understand the desire not to be polarizing, and I appreciate that the producers wanted writers to express ideas in their own words, but there are those for whom such concepts are central to their lives, and there should be room for them in the collection, especially if they can help explain to outsiders what those inherited verbal formulas mean to them. There are politicians and immigrants here adopting language from American founding documents; there should be room for those adopting traditional religious language as well. If nothing else, this collection prompts the listener to think about what his or her own essay would include, a valuable thought experiment, even if one never makes it onto the radio.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kip

    I enjoyed this book. I've heard a number of the essays on NPR, and I've visited the website (www.thisibelieve.org) on multiple occasions to read these "personal philosophies of remarkable men and women." This book brings a lot of the better essays together in a single volume. There are a number of reasons why I was drawn to this book in the first place and why I found it inspiring after I finished reading it: 1) I am fascinated by the whole notion of faith or belief--what it is or isn't, how it is I enjoyed this book. I've heard a number of the essays on NPR, and I've visited the website (www.thisibelieve.org) on multiple occasions to read these "personal philosophies of remarkable men and women." This book brings a lot of the better essays together in a single volume. There are a number of reasons why I was drawn to this book in the first place and why I found it inspiring after I finished reading it: 1) I am fascinated by the whole notion of faith or belief--what it is or isn't, how it is acquired, how it motivates people, how it varies from person to person and from culture to culture, etc. I loved the variety of perspectives in the collection, not only from person to person but across time, since the book includes essays from the 1950s, when the series first started, as well as more recent contributions. The diversity of voices makes this collection more powerful. 2) Most of these essays do not deal explicitly with belief in a god or organized religion. They don't emphasize religious faith much at all. Instead, they focus on more pragmatic matters such as being "cool to the pizza delivery dude," attending the funerals of people you know even though you may not feel like doing so, using creativity to solve problems, and acknowledging the importance of moderation and skepticism when it comes to belief. I appreciate these kinds of approaches because I belong to a religion that places a premium on "spirituality." I don't necessarily disagree with the emphasis. I just think I'm wired differently. I find that I'm more concerned about the practical matters of day-to-day living than I am with the ethereal aspects of religion. And morality is much more of a motivator to me than spirituality. So these essays speak to me in ways that the lessons and talks I hear at church on Sundays don't. 3) There's a tendency among many traditional believers to lapse into cliche and formulaic language when talking about personal belief or spiritual experience. Such language does not mean that the expression is insincere or that the experience that underlies it isn't genuine. However, it's refreshing to read these statements of belief in language that doesn't sound like I've heard it a hundred times before.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Based on the NPR program of the same name, this collection features 80 essays written by people both famous and not detailing the core beliefs that define them. Some of these essays were light, funny, and whimsical, while others were deeply spiritual, philiosophical, and politically charged; one even brought me and the co-worker who was listening with me to tears. However, there was not a single one that failed. Each told a unique story about the individual who wrote it. I had the pleasure of lis Based on the NPR program of the same name, this collection features 80 essays written by people both famous and not detailing the core beliefs that define them. Some of these essays were light, funny, and whimsical, while others were deeply spiritual, philiosophical, and politically charged; one even brought me and the co-worker who was listening with me to tears. However, there was not a single one that failed. Each told a unique story about the individual who wrote it. I had the pleasure of listening to an audio recording of this collection. Each essay was presented by the original author with an introduction by Jay Allison or Edward Murrow who hosted the original 1950s series. Hearing each essay in its authors own voice lent a special quality to this book, so that the listener heard the essay as the writer intended. There was no questioning the meaning and intent behind their words. Before I had even completed my listen I bought the ebook, as I knew that I would want to go back to reread and reference both the essays and the notes at the end on how to write my own essay. There is something for everyone in this book, and there is not a single person to whom I wouldn't recommend it. In fact the only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because the studio where I work can get noisy and I couldn't clearly hear all of them. There is a strong possibility that as I go back and reread the essays I missed that I will wish I had rated it higher.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dave Gaston

    A tough one to rank and file, such a wide swatch of opinions from both contemporary and historical composers from all walks of life. A super idea that first became popular in the 50’s and then was reborn by NPR in the 90’s with the advent of web write ins. Each pronouncement is a maximum of 750 words. Collectively, these emotionally charged essays read more like dense, rich poetry. Imagine stuffing the outcome of a lifetime of experiences into a two page letter called, “This I Believe.” That sai A tough one to rank and file, such a wide swatch of opinions from both contemporary and historical composers from all walks of life. A super idea that first became popular in the 50’s and then was reborn by NPR in the 90’s with the advent of web write ins. Each pronouncement is a maximum of 750 words. Collectively, these emotionally charged essays read more like dense, rich poetry. Imagine stuffing the outcome of a lifetime of experiences into a two page letter called, “This I Believe.” That said, some of the essays felt sparse with kick around time for humor, local color and nuance (and that is a gift my friends). Most authors hung their hat on a single theme that threaded across the fabric of their life. Some points of wisdom, some points of debate and reflection, some points to challenge traditional pursuits of faith, patriotism and love. John McCain’s POW memory of compassion was moving as was another bit on loving and embracing particular past failures. The theory goes, if you gave it your all, you should carry the exact same pride (as a winning effort) regardless of the outcome. A little thick for a single sitting, but well worth having next to a guest bed. 3/26/07

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I got this book from a buy-one get-one book sale at school. It was Christmas time and I wanted something uplifting to read over the two-week break. I ended up forgetting it at school so it was waiting for me in January. I began reading it but... well, I'm not sure what happened but I didn't enjoy it so I put it aside for a while. It sat on my desk for months. Then one day, I picked it up and began to re-read. And it inspired me. I don't know what I was missing in my first attempt at reading but, I got this book from a buy-one get-one book sale at school. It was Christmas time and I wanted something uplifting to read over the two-week break. I ended up forgetting it at school so it was waiting for me in January. I began reading it but... well, I'm not sure what happened but I didn't enjoy it so I put it aside for a while. It sat on my desk for months. Then one day, I picked it up and began to re-read. And it inspired me. I don't know what I was missing in my first attempt at reading but, whatever it was, I got it now. I'd love to introduce it to my middle school pre-AP class but some of the essays are too provocative for them. They won't understand some of the essays until they are older. I'm sure, though, I can pull a few out which they will grok. I'm also considering using this series as my first books to send out into the world. I've already lent my copy to a friend who was intrigued by the barbecue essay and the letters NPR on the cover. Read this book in dribs and drabs. Each essay is worth thinking about and chewing over. For literary discussion groups, a discussion guide is included.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    What a lovely book. There are so many little nuggets of truth and inspiration that I may have to go out and buy this one. The precept is deceptively difficult: write a statement of personal belief in 500 words or less. Sounds easy until you sit down to write your own. I liked so many of the thoughts and quotes that I can't list them all, but maybe my very favorite quote comes from one of my favorite essays: 'Always Go to the Funeral' by Dierdre Sullivan: "In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn' What a lovely book. There are so many little nuggets of truth and inspiration that I may have to go out and buy this one. The precept is deceptively difficult: write a statement of personal belief in 500 words or less. Sounds easy until you sit down to write your own. I liked so many of the thoughts and quotes that I can't list them all, but maybe my very favorite quote comes from one of my favorite essays: 'Always Go to the Funeral' by Dierdre Sullivan: "In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn't been good versus evil. It's hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing." Other favorites: The Elusive Yet Holy Core by Kathy Dahlen An Athlete of God by Martha Graham Seeing Beautiful, Precise Pictures by Temple Grandin Happy Talk by Oscar Hammerstein II The Rule of Law by Michael Mullane Mysterious Connections That Link Us Together by Azar Nafisi Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day by Josh Rittenberg (a beautiful essay by a 16 year old boy) Everything Potent Is Dangerous by Wallace Stegner So many, many others. A delight to read. (I think those one star raters did not get the point of this book.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Overall, the book was an interesting read. It was fascinating to read the perspectives of such different people and see the underlying theme in all of their essays. At the same time, I had a problem with this theme. I understand that the book was supposed to be inspiring, and there were several essays that did this for me. Overall, though, I really would have liked to see a little more variety. I understand that this is the equivalent of asking for a completely different book, since one of the p Overall, the book was an interesting read. It was fascinating to read the perspectives of such different people and see the underlying theme in all of their essays. At the same time, I had a problem with this theme. I understand that the book was supposed to be inspiring, and there were several essays that did this for me. Overall, though, I really would have liked to see a little more variety. I understand that this is the equivalent of asking for a completely different book, since one of the premeses was that none of the views expressed in the essays could be "dogmatic" or "narrow-minded", whatever that means to the editors. However, until people who see themselves as open-minded have conversations with the people they consider narrow-minded, can we truly say that we've tried to be open-minded at all? If you can't communicate your ideas to all kinds of people and at least try to understand people who are different from you (as well as try to make them understand you), I don't know if any progress can really be made. I would have liked to see more of these kinds of conversations take place in the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is definitely a book to read in small chunks - a few essays at a time. Only then is it possible to really digest what each author is saying as they try to articulate their core beliefs. In fact, there are some I want to go back and reread, pulling out the parts that really stood out to me. Some essays are incredibly powerful, others insightful. They range from well-written to wandering, trite to thoughtful, sobering to funny...but all are something to respect, as it's no easy task to try to This is definitely a book to read in small chunks - a few essays at a time. Only then is it possible to really digest what each author is saying as they try to articulate their core beliefs. In fact, there are some I want to go back and reread, pulling out the parts that really stood out to me. Some essays are incredibly powerful, others insightful. They range from well-written to wandering, trite to thoughtful, sobering to funny...but all are something to respect, as it's no easy task to try to figure out what you truly value and then put it into words. I think what I appreciated most about this book was then reflecting on my own beliefs - comparing them to what was presented and evaluating them for myself...the whole reading experience was ongoing conversation with myself: yes, I believe the same thing; hmm, that is actually something I value a lot; well, I agree with that, but it's not a core value for me; etc. All the while I was trying to think about what I would say if I wrote a similar essay. It took practically the whole book, but I know now how I would start: "I believe in reading...".

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    In 2010 all the new freshman at Florida State University received this book as part of our orientation pack. The point, I think, was that FSU wanted us all to read it before school started in September. I doubt any of us did. It took be 5 years to get to it, and honestly, I think it's more potent in my life now than it would have been back when I was 18. The book is a selection of stories, lessons, and musings of what people believe. I enjoyed many of the chapters, to name a few: "An Ideal of Se In 2010 all the new freshman at Florida State University received this book as part of our orientation pack. The point, I think, was that FSU wanted us all to read it before school started in September. I doubt any of us did. It took be 5 years to get to it, and honestly, I think it's more potent in my life now than it would have been back when I was 18. The book is a selection of stories, lessons, and musings of what people believe. I enjoyed many of the chapters, to name a few: "An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man" by Albert Einstein, "The Benefits of Restlessness and Jagged Edge" by Kay Jamison, and "A Shared Moment of Trust" by Warren Christopher. This I Believe has selections from famous people and normal people of the United States and it's a beautiful peak into our national conscious and psyche. I would suggest this book to any one who needs a little inspiration, or rest, or to anyone who enjoys philosophy and systems of personal beliefs.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I received this as a promotional copy with the idea I use it to teach College Writing. Granted, the premise can work for smaller assignments, but the idea of using this as a model for writers seems highly flawed, given how surface-level and bland most of the writing is. Most essays seem selected based on WHO wrote them rather than the quality of writing, and some of the writers take for granted that anyone cares about hearing what they believe in the first place. Love: Eve Ensler's "The Power an I received this as a promotional copy with the idea I use it to teach College Writing. Granted, the premise can work for smaller assignments, but the idea of using this as a model for writers seems highly flawed, given how surface-level and bland most of the writing is. Most essays seem selected based on WHO wrote them rather than the quality of writing, and some of the writers take for granted that anyone cares about hearing what they believe in the first place. Love: Eve Ensler's "The Power and Mystery of Naming Things" and Penn Jillette's "There Is No God." Hate: William F. Buckley, Jr.'s, "How Is it Possible to Believe in God?" (This is just whack. Several of his sentences don't even make any sense... it's like reading something that's been translated from English to Farsi to Japanese back to English.) The other dozens of essays: one stale saltine after another.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine Lesieutre

    Overall, I really enjoyed this! Because I have to write my own "This I Believe" essay for an English class, I couldn't help but analyze what I liked and didn't like about each one and how certain techniques could be applied to my own essay. The best ones, overall, in my opinion, had one main story/ experience/ moment that they followed and wrapped their belief around. I tended not to enjoy the ones with lots of abstract pondering that didn't solidly tie back to a concrete story as much. My favor Overall, I really enjoyed this! Because I have to write my own "This I Believe" essay for an English class, I couldn't help but analyze what I liked and didn't like about each one and how certain techniques could be applied to my own essay. The best ones, overall, in my opinion, had one main story/ experience/ moment that they followed and wrapped their belief around. I tended not to enjoy the ones with lots of abstract pondering that didn't solidly tie back to a concrete story as much. My favorite essay was "In Praise of the Wobblies." It's by Ted Gup on page 97 of this glorious book, or, at this npr link: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Faythe Swanson

    I enjoyed this book from cover to cover & was sad when it came to an end! I find it interesting to discover what other people & why (life experience). I came to a point in my life where I began to challenge myself, "What do I believe? & I mean REALLY believe - not what OTHER people TELL me to believe! I'm still on my journey & loving the process. I enjoy reading about others' journeys, too. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover & was sad when it came to an end! I find it interesting to discover what other people & why (life experience). I came to a point in my life where I began to challenge myself, "What do I believe? & I mean REALLY believe - not what OTHER people TELL me to believe! I'm still on my journey & loving the process. I enjoy reading about others' journeys, too.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Glenna

    This is based on a radio show that was started in the 50's. A very interesting collection of essays about what different people believe. I listened to this "book" over the last several months. (a few at a time -- It's one of those things that can overwhelm you all at once). Even though I didn't agree with all of the beliefs, it was a great way to make one think about what their own beliefs are.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Gunn

    I listened to this book. I believe one reason I enjoyed this so much is because I listened. The people who wrote the less than 600 word essays also read them. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys philosophy or deep thinking.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Loveland

    I thoroughly enjoyed this... well, 'book' doesn't even seem to be quite the right word, it's more of an experience. One that allows you to time travel to the 1950's and hear personal thoughts from people such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller. It is so fascinating to find out what people from all walks of life believe. It made me feel connected to mankind. It gave me hope for humanity. I was surprised to find that the essays from the 1950's series and the ones from the modern revival were no I thoroughly enjoyed this... well, 'book' doesn't even seem to be quite the right word, it's more of an experience. One that allows you to time travel to the 1950's and hear personal thoughts from people such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller. It is so fascinating to find out what people from all walks of life believe. It made me feel connected to mankind. It gave me hope for humanity. I was surprised to find that the essays from the 1950's series and the ones from the modern revival were not as different from each other as I would expect. Both were interlaced with themes of family, religion, compassion, and patriotism-- as well as concerns over the state of our world and society, racism, and poverty. You can't read this without feeling compelled to try to write your own personal creed- a very intimidating challenge!!! Thanks to my SIL for gifting this to us!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bharathan

    This book is based on a fantastic idea: give people a voice to briefly talk about their core tenets of personal philosophy. At its best, this book is engaging, funny, poignant and powerful without coming off as preachy. At its worst, however, This I Believe is heavyhanded on its message and is just boring. Read this book for for its finest speeches delivering simple, interesting wisdom in fascinating form. Don't bother reading the speeches which are uninspired, bland, preachy and not captivating This book is based on a fantastic idea: give people a voice to briefly talk about their core tenets of personal philosophy. At its best, this book is engaging, funny, poignant and powerful without coming off as preachy. At its worst, however, This I Believe is heavyhanded on its message and is just boring. Read this book for for its finest speeches delivering simple, interesting wisdom in fascinating form. Don't bother reading the speeches which are uninspired, bland, preachy and not captivating in any way whatsoever.

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