Hear from CEO Bobby Herrera Why You Should Go Off the Beaten Path in The Gift of Struggle: Life-Changing Lessons About Leading

Book Cover of The Gift of Struggle by Bobby Herrera

My Review:

CEO of Populus Group, Bobby Herrera has had his struggles.  Growing up in a Mexican migrant worker family, he was not unfamiliar with long hours and difficult times. In school for six months of the year and then traveling to work in the fields to provide food for the people in this country for the next six months, without getting the recognition, Bobby felt socially invisible.  Unable to spend money like the other kids, Bobby and his brother did their best to fit in but knew they were different.  Once he was in the army at 18, fulfilling his father’s lifelong dream, he realized how his difficult lifestyle had prepared him for military training.  Looking back at his upbringing he felt great appreciation for his parents and all they did for him, and he understood that struggle gave him a gift.

Through charming personal anecdotes, Bobby talks about his ongoing leadership journey and the lessons he has learned.  From exploring his own identity, to being aware of how much to give and take with colleagues, bosses and underlings, to choosing where and how he wanted to make an impact, Bobby tells his stories and encourages us to think about our own leadership styles.  Each chapter ends with Questions to Guide Your Journey, allowing you to think about how you respond to different situations and how you might be able to change your thinking and behavior, and venture off the beaten path to improve outcomes.

This is an easy to read, engaging, and thought provoking little book, great for anyone in a leadership position. Whether you are the CEO, middle management, a parent, or recently entering the workforce, there are lessons to be learned and Bobby Herrera can help guide you on your journey.  For me, as a reader, one of the best things he says is “the best leaders are always learning” and “books are the greatest resource I can recommend to you”.  Bobby has a special shelf he calls “Bible Row” where he keeps his books that guide him, revisiting them often.  They make him ask better and bigger questions and make him think.  I believe The Gift of Struggle:  Life Changing Lessons About Leading deserves a place on everyone’s shelf.  How we look at who we are and where we came from, no matter where that might be, can impact how we are treated, how we choose to treat others, and our level of success.  I enjoyed this one.

The Gift of Struggle is for everyone, and it makes a great father’s day gift!

Goodreads Summary

Author of The Gift of Struggle, Bobby Herrera and Jennifer Blankfein

I had the pleasure of meeting the inspirational Bobby Herrera at Book Expo.

Learn more about Bobby Herrera here.

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4 Benefits of Reading… This Is What I Know.

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Reading helps us to examine our world in new ways.  It provides us with opportunities to become more educated on an infinite number of topics and allows us to look at issues ways we may never have before.  Reading gives us insight into relationships and helps us understand people, teaches us empathy, and presents opportunities to ask questions.

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Here are 4 benefits of reading, and 30 book suggestions for you to enjoy!

1.  LEARN ABOUT INTERESTING TOPICS

Exploring places around the world and going back in time through reading gives us access to infinite knowledge.

Different Aspects of World War II

At The Wolf's Table

Women were chosen to be food tasters for Hitler in At The Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino.

Challenges of Assimilation

A Place for Us

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza explores a Muslim Indian American family and their religion and traditions.

Performance Art at MOMA

The Museum of Modern Love

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose is a fiction story centered around Marina Abramović and her performance art exhibit in 2010.

South Africa and Apartheid

Hum if You Don't Know the Words If You Want to Make God Laugh

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais tells stories of women and family brought together through tragedies.

Rwandan Massacre

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya is a memoir about a girl who survived the genocide in Rwanda and the aftermath.

Death Row and Prison Life

The Last SuppersThe Sun Does Shine

The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak and The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton give a dismal picture of what goes on behind bars and the strength needed to overcome.

The Korean War

PachinkoIf You Leave Me

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim teach us about the lives of Korean refugees.

AIDS in the 1980s and 90s

The Great BelieversNow Everyone Will Know

The AIDS crisis devastated so many and deeply impacted families in the  The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and Now Everyone Will Know by Maggie Kneip.

Famous People

LittleWhite HousesSong of a Captive Bird

Little by Edward Carey is a story based on the imagined life of Madame Tussaud, Eleanor Roosevelt and her unconventional relationship is depicted in White Houses by Amy Bloom, and the life of the strong female poet, Forugh Farrokhzad is revealed in Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik.

Strong Women That Were Wronged

Lilac GirlsRadium Girls

These are devastating stories of women in the past who were not protected by the government, like the rabbits in The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly,  and the factory workers in The Radium Girls by Kate Moore.

Grand Central Terminal History

The Masterpiece

Fictitious stories about the actual art school located above Grand Central Terminal are depicted in The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis.

2.  EXAMINE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS

Reading can provide different prospectives, helping us see a story from all sides.

AsymmetryThe Only Story

Loosely based on the author and Philip Roth, we read about a young girl in a relationship with an older male in Asymmetry  by Lisa Halliday. 

A look back on the memories of the narrator’s first love, there is a young male in a relationship with an older female in The Only Story by Julian Barnes.

The Sunshine SistersThe Husband Hour

Complex mother, daughter and sister relationships play out in Jane Green’s The Sunshine Sisters and Jamie Brenner’s The Husband Hour .

3. LEARN TO EMPATHIZE

People are always saying reading encourages empathy and it is really true…When you are reading you are made more aware of other people’s feelings and given the opportunity to understand people that are different.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineThe Extraordinary Life of Sam HellA Boy Made of BlocksWe Loe Anderson Cooper

Eleanor Oliphant by Gail HoneymanThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Bob Dugoni and A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart are about those that just don’t fit in; similar to the characters in the short story collection We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes.

4. EXPLORE THE UNKNOWN

Some books provide opportunities to ask ourselves WHAT IF? 

The CircleReady Player OneThe FarmVox

The Circle by Dave Eggers examines the power of social media.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline shows the future of video games.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos explores surrogate farms.  

Vox by Christina Dalcher takes a dystopian look at government control.

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Learn about interesting topics.  Examine complex relationships.  Learn to empathize.  Explore the unknown.

 What are you reading today?

An Engaging Memoir of Powerful Reflections on Family, Life and Personal Growth from the South Side of Chicago to the White House in Becoming by Michelle Obama

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My Review:

Becoming is an engaging memoir from a tall, bright, black girl from Chicago who grew up in a traditional home with loving family and the opportunity for education. Where her life led is remarkable and Michelle Obama tells us about her youth, her relationship, marriage and daughters along with her thoughts and opinions about being a black woman, wife and mother in the White House. As the First Lady, she had worthwhile major initiatives surrounding children’s health, military families and education and she provides readers with an insider’s look and insight into her time in Washington DC.

Becoming is not just about becoming FLOTUS, it is about Michelle Obama’s personal growth based on choices she made and ones that were made for her due to circumstances – choices about her career, whether or not she got married and had children and how she created and honored her family values, made an impact on people and participated in causes she cared about, utilizing her new found power and visibility to help the people in our country become healthier, more ambitious and hopeful.  She wasn’t just the president’s wife; Michelle Obama was a refreshing force with strong morals and an effective agenda for positive change in the White House, while providing stability for her children and husband as he took on the biggest job in our country.

One of Michelle Obama’s major initiatives while in the White House was the Let’s Move campaign with the goal to reduce childhood obesity and encourage a healthier lifestyle.  She worked with her Executive Director, Sam Kass, who at the time was President Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition, and together they created the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden.

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In 2018 Sam Kass came to my local library (Westport Library) to talk about his time in the White House, eating healthy and to promote his cookbook, Eat A Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World.

A role model for women and girls, Michelle Obama took on the job of First Lady and conducted herself in the public eye with grace and effectiveness and deserves admiration and accolades.  I highly recommend this book, regardless of your politics, as it gives you a unique understanding of the Obama family, the challenges members of the black community and all women face, and the endless possibilities for making positive change in your immediate world and the world at large.  I loved it and hear the audio version is fantastic!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.

She was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After completing her formal education, she returned to Chicago and accepted a position with the law firm Sidley Austin, and subsequently worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Michelle Obama is the sister of Craig Robinson, men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University. She met Barack Obama when he joined Sidley Austin. After his election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago’s South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C.

Is scrubbing toilets the ticket to easy street? Read about Stephanie Land’s struggle to pay the bills in Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

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My Review:

Everyone has a story and it is possible that Stephanie Land’s is not all that unique.  That is the importance of her telling us about her job as a Maid, her strength and persistence to support herself and her daughter while bringing to light the challenges so many people living in poverty are faced with when it comes to getting government assistance.  Perceived laziness and free ride mentality are hurtful stigmas that hardworking men and women fight against when unfortunate circumstances find them living below the poverty line.

In a similar vein of Educated by Tara Westover, Stephanie Land beautifully expresses her insights on humanity and gives a voice to the hardworking people who like her, struggle to stay afloat doing domestic labor jobs working for the wealthier to earn a living, apply for housing assistance and vouchers for food, barter for room and board and strive to the best single parent possible…all while on the quest for higher education to create a better life.

According to the US Census Bureau, close to 40 million people in this country live in poverty, with women and minorities leading the charge.

If you want to read more stories about poverty, try Heartland by Sarah Smarsh and Evicted by Matthew Desmond.

Enjoy this Video interview of author Stephanie Land.

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

Stephanie Land is the author of MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Guardian; Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her two daughters. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @stepville.

 

DNA testing is a hot topic today…find out how it went for author Dani Shapiro in her new memoir: Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love…with new video interview!

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New Video Interview from CBS This Morning

My Review:

Do you really know the story of your life?  Author Dani Shapiro thought she did; the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Orthodox Jewish father, Dani grew up surrounded by, and enmeshed in Judaism, Hebrew, traditions and rituals.  She had a deep love and admiration for her ancestors who came before her and she drew strength from just knowing about them.  In Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love, Dani shares with us her shocking personal discovery and the emotional rollercoaster that ensued as she searches for answers to family secrets and struggles to come to terms with who she really is.

In her early 50s, after her parents had passed away, on a whim, Dani did something so many people are doing these days – she sent in her DNA to be analyzed.  She was blindsided by the shocking results and then began a search for unknown relatives to ultimately discover herself.  Shaken to the core with endless questions, Dani was immersed in uncertainty of her identity, where she came from, and who she really is.  Was everything she thought about all her so called blood relatives who came before her a lie?  Who is her family…her son’s family…who does she belong to?

Finding long lost relatives can be a source of great happiness and fulfillment, and equally brings up so many questions and so much pain.  It is a complex concurrence of emotions and if you are going to take the chance and send in your DNA for testing, emotional preparedness for the onslaught is a good idea.

While reading this incredible memoir I was swept away on the emotional journey with Dani Shapiro as she masterfully tells her unique story.  Don’t miss it!

A quick search on the internet brings up many news articles and videos on the topic – here is one… VIDEO.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. She lives with her family in LItchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest memoir, Inheritance, was published by Knopf in January, 2019.

Nathalie Jacob shows us how to stay positive after trauma in her memoir…8 – Rediscovering Life After a Brain Tumor

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My  Review:

In 8: Rediscovering Life After a Brain Tumor, Nathalie Jacob tells us her incredible story of bravery and rediscovering life and purpose after doctors discovered a golf ball size tumor in her brain. Enjoying a successful career and an exciting and energetic lifestyle with her new husband and friends, she was shocked when told she required surgery. Assuming she could be back to work and usual life in 3 weeks time, Nathalie and her family were blindsided when the results were not what was expected, and all of a sudden her hopes and dreams were not attainable. A devastating situation with a glimmer of hope, Nathalie had to adjust to the new normal and redefine who she is and what she can accomplish.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nathalie, and without a doubt, she is an incredible, eloquent woman with strength and a kind heart.  She is worldly, well traveled, educated, accomplished, trilingual, with fantastic memories and stories from her days training for the Olympics in sailing and living in Madrid, Columbia, the Caribbean and Miami.  Left with some considerable deficits that prevent her from getting a full time job and returning to her active lifestyle, she is now creating new memories in Connecticut with her husband and beautiful young daughter.  Nathalie started several groups on Facebook, some the are social and one that is for Spanish speaking brain tumor survivors and their families.  She likes connecting people, has found playdates and enjoyed mom’s outings with many of the people who have joined her groups, and her next challenge is to develop a not for profit to benefit children in Colombia.   Her planned path in life may have changed but she is destined for great success.

Here is a video interview of Nathalie talking about her book.  Please take the time to read her story!

Check out this article about celebrities who have had brain tumors.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Nathalie Jacob was raised in Colombia, went to high school in France, and later moved to the United States. She is trilingual in English, Spanish, and French.

Nathalie studied business administration at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia and received her master’s in business administration from IE Business School in Spain. She spent ten years working in high-level marketing jobs for Fortune 500 companies in five different countries. In her spare time, she enjoyed sailing and won several national championships.

The aftereffects of a brain surgery left Nathalie disabled and unable to work. She has done three voluntary jobs since, until the birth of her first child. She is now focusing on being the best mother she can be to her baby daughter, Nicole.

An Eye-Opening Story of Poverty in America…Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

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My Review:

It is possible that I have overdosed on stories about indigence and the cultural divide, so for me, Sarah Smarsh’s message was strong yet her story felt repetitive.  Smarsh tells us about her family and how their extreme poverty lead to generations of teenaged pregnancies,  drinking, abuse, lack of education, bad or absent parenting, and all the while her family worked hard to live.  We learn everything through the author talking to her unborn child – in my opinion, an unnecessary addition to this memoir which forces us to reevaluate how we look at our country’s class structure, often based on earnings.

According to the author, the government doesn’t even recognize the people who are below the poverty line. She says, “In college, I began to understand the depth of the rift that is economic inequality.” With self awareness and recognition of her past, Sarah broke the chain that was passed down through the generations of her family as she chose to avoid teenage pregnancy, and as of now, parenthood altogether.

Reminiscent of Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, and inclusive of some elements of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond and Educated by Tara Westover, Sarah Smarsh’s story felt like more of the same but is worthy if you can’t get enough!

Goodreads Summary

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About the author:

Journalist Sarah Smarsh has covered socioeconomic class, politics, and public policy for The Guardian, The New York Times, NewYorker.com, Harpers.org, Longreads, Pacific Standard and many others. A native of rural Kansas, Smarsh is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality and the news media. She lives in Kansas.

Susan Orlean’s account of the Los Angeles Public Library’s tragic fire, the history and the rebuilding, and innovation and the future at my own local library.

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My Review:

In April 1986 a suspicious fire started at the Los Angeles Public Library and destroyed over 400,000 books and countless irreplaceable historical materials, among them a cherished collection of maps, sheet music, plays and first editions of rare books. Hundreds of thousands of books were damaged by smoke and water and the people of the city were distraught over the tragedy. A suspect, Harry Peak was charged with arson, but the legal team had little definitive evidence and over time the case fizzled.

In The Library Book, Award winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author, Susan Orlean takes us through this horrific event that shocks the city and changes many of the employees and volunteers forever.  Based on extensive research, she also provides information leading up to the development of the LA library and its collection and departments as well as its rebuilding after the fire in a compelling, storytelling fashion.  From how a portion of the collection was salvaged after water damage by freezing the books for 2 years in frozen lockers owned by local merchants to prevent the growth of mold spores, to the ongoing and arduous investigation of Harry Peak, to the help desk that answered every question imaginable before google existed, to the importance of the education and support programs developed for immigrants, the homeless and all the people of the city, Susan Orlean enlightens us with facts, anecdotes and eye opening information that makes up the unique history of the Los Angeles Public Library and all libraries worldwide.  I learned quite a bit and thoroughly enjoyed!

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The Westport Library

As someone who is involved in my own local library as a consultant, a volunteer and a patron, the shock and dismay of a terrible tragedy like what the LA people experienced is unthinkable.  We know that today, libraries do not just house books, but they provide so much more to their community.  My local library, The Westport Library is exceptional.  They opened to the community in 1908 – beginning with a donation from Morris K. Jesup, a wealthy banker, who was the president of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and and one of the men who started that museum along with JP Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and other prominent businessmen and philanthropists.  He founded organizations that helped provide care for wounded soldiers, taught immigrants skills and was one of the founders of the YMCA.  He supported Arctic expeditions, hospitals, museums and educational institutions, including contributions to Yale and Williams College.   He made his money in the railroad business and ultimately in banking and was the president of the New York Chamber of Commerce.  Morris Jesup was born in Westport and  donated the land and $5000 for the Westport Public Library to be built. It was completed and opened to the public four months after his death.

To keep up with changes and growing needs of the community, there have been several renovations… one in 1986 (the same year as the LA fire), and another in 1998.  In 2012 the Westport Library opened a makerspace and acquired 3D printers, and in 2014 they became the first library in the country to use robots to teach computer programming.  The Westport Library programs have included some amazing people, like Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Martin Scorsese, Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lois Lowry, Sheila Nevins and Lynsey Addario.  James Naughton, Alan Alda, Alisyn Camerota, Justin Paul, Clive Davis and hundreds of other local, aspiring and accomplished authors, actors, and public figures have participated in the innovative and extensive programming.  At the library, of course you can check out books, music, dvds and reference material, but you can also do unusual or unexpected things, like a crossword puzzle with Will Shortz once a year (creator of The New York Times puzzle), learn about electronics, how to master your iPhone and online dating, play chess, knit, write, discuss books, and so much more.  The library hosted the first annual literary festival, Saugatuck StoryFest for the community this year and welcomed 100 authors and storytellers to participate.  (authors include Sheila Nevins, Andrew Gross, Peter Blauner, Heather Frimmer, Alisyn Camerota, Cristina Alger, Wendy Walker, Lynne Constantine, Kate Moretti, Riley Sager, Meredith Schorr, Fiona Davis, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, Lynda Cohen Loigman and Abby Fabiaschi)

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Right now, The Westport Library is finishing up a significant $20 million dollar Transformation Project, and is due to be open to the public summer 2019.  They look forward to sharing with the community an expanded indoor/outdoor café, many conference rooms, comfortable seating areas overlooking the Saugatuck River, a larger makerspace, a hackerspace, a recording studio and room for events that accommodate over 600 people…there will be something for everyone in what is to be an incredible community gathering space with endless resources and opportunities.

If you are even in this neck of the woods, please come visit!  It will be worth the trip.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

What can I tell you? I am the product of a happy and relatively uneventful childhood in Cleveland, Ohio (back when the Indians were still a lousy team, and before they became a really good team and then again became a somewhat lousy team, although I have hope again…) This was followed by a happy and relatively squandered college career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (back when Ann Arbor hosted a Hash Bash every spring). I studied literature and history and always dreamed of being a writer, but had no idea of how you went about being a writer – or at least the kind of writer I wanted to be: someone who wrote long stories about interesting things, rather than news stories about short-lived events. There is no guidebook to becoming that kind of writer, so I assumed I’d end up doing something practical like going to law school, much as the thought of it made me cringe. After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon (back when Portland was cappucino-free) to kill some time before the inevitable trek to law school – and amazingly enough I lucked into a writing job at a tiny now-defunct monthly magazine. That led to a job at an alternative newsweekly in Portland where I wrote music reviews and feature pieces. While I was in Portland, Mt. St. Helens erupted; I started writing for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice; I learned to cross-country ski; I failed to learn how to cook.

I moved to Boston in 1982 (back before they built the Ted Williams Tunnel and long before the Red Sox reversed the curse). I wrote for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe, and started work on my first book Saturday Night. Four years later I moved to New York. After moving to New York, I learned how to snowboard; wrote The Orchid Thief; became a staff writer at The New Yorker; got married; got a Welsh Springer Spaniel; learned how to order take-out food. These days I do some lecturing and some teaching, but most of the time I’m writing pieces for The New Yorker and occasionally for other magazines, and working on books. My latest project, a book about the Los Angeles Public Library and the arson fire there in 1986, will be published in October, 2018, by Simon and Schuster. Right now, I split my time between Los Angeles and the Hudson Valley of New York, with my husband, my son, and a small menagerie of animals.

 

Hippie by Paulo Coelho

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My Review:

I loved The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and was hoping his new book would feel as important.  In Hippie, Paulo Coelho writes a story based on his own life experiences, his relationships, political views and personal values, and his adventures of travel and terror of kidnapping.  Throughout this book he has injected his thoughtful ideologies and gives us a description of the ways of the world in the 1970s.

Even though Coelho had gotten himself into trouble often as a young man, it seems as if he was a deep thinker.

“We don’t choose the things that happen to us, but we can choose how we react to them.”

Paulo embarks on a journey from Bolivia to Peru, Chile and Argentina and then to Amsterdam, where he meets Karla, a young girl looking for a travel companion to Nepal.  They take the Magic Bus across Europe and Asia to Katmandu.  We learn about their relationship and the other travelers on the trip.  With no formal plans for the future, what today we might see as a lack of responsibility, the idea of free love and the benefit of simplicity of travel, Paulo communicates his experiences that enriched his life and helped him on his search for meaning.

I particularly enjoyed reading about his discovery of dance and his transformative experience with Hare Krishna dancing and singing in the street.

“Dancing transforms everything, demands everything, and judges no one.  Those who are free dance, even if they find themselves in a cell or a wheelchair, because dancing is not the mere repetition of certain movements, it’s a conversation with a Being greater and more powerful than everyone and everything.  To dance is to use a language beyond selfishness and fear. ”

Even though I enjoyed learning a little more about Paulo Coelho, his rebellious stage and his emotional journey to find the meaning of life, for me, Hippie fell flat. Written like a story, but based on his real life, I didn’t think it portrayed Coelho’s vibrant youth and his travels in a compelling and powerful way.  There were tidbits of insight and lessons but the characters were not developed enough for me to care.  The politically charged, free thinking sex, drugs rock and roll hippie attitude was described but not written completely enough to evoke emotion.  I get the feeling that this piece of writing is more meaningful to Coelho than to readers.  But maybe that is just me…

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage. In the following year, COELHO published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time. Other titles include Brida (1990), The Valkyries (1992), By the river Piedra I sat Down and Wept (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo entitle Maktub (1994), the compilation of texts Phrases (1995), The Fifth Mountain (1996), Manual of a Warrior of Light (1997), Veronika decides to die (1998), The Devil and Miss Prym (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in Stories for parents, children and grandchildren (2001), Eleven Minutes (2003), The Zahir (2005), The Witch of Portobello (2006) and Winner Stands Alone (to be released in 2009). During the months of March, April, May and June 2006, Paulo Coelho traveled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella in 1986. He also held surprise book signings – announced one day in advance – in some cities along the way, to have a chance to meet his readers. In ninety days of pilgrimage the author traveled around the globe and took the famous Transiberrian train that took him to Vladivostok. During this experience Paulo Coelho launched his blog Walking the Path – The Pilgrimage in order to share with his readers his impressions. Since this first blog Paulo Coelho has expanded his presence in the internet with his daily blogs in WordPress, Myspace & Facebook. He is equally present in media sharing sites such as Youtube and Flickr, offering on a regular basis not only texts but also videos and pictures to his readers. From this intensive interest and use of the Internet sprang his bold new project: The Experimental Witch where he invites his readers to adapt to the screen his book The Witch of Portobello. Indeed Paulo Coelho is a firm believer of Internet as a new media and is the first Best-selling author to actively support online free distribution of his work.