What About the Big Stuff?

With [this work], publishers continue to milk the desire for feel-good books. Carlson’s book will rev the engines of self-helpers without kicking them into drive. Like many of his previous titles (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff), his latest is observational and general, with generic wisdoms that quickly become repetitive. Entries wax on a range of topics, including divorce, stress, and the grieving process. Carlson misses more than he hits, although good points sometimes emerge, e.g., in “Dedicate Yourself to Mind-fullness,” he exhibits uncharacteristic clarity in advising readers to experience thoughts and emotions peacefully. Of little practical use, this is more a pep talk than a means to an end. Read it in conjunction with more focused titles like T.D. Jakes’s frankly Christian Woman Thou Art Loosed: Healing the Wounds of the Past. As with entries in the popular “Small Miracles,” “Taste Berries for Teens,” and “Chicken Soup” series, these books contain so much recycled material that libraries would be better off purchasing them only on demand. There are also serviceable single volumes like Barry and Joyce Vissell’s Meant To Be: Miraculous Stories To Inspire a Lifetime of Love or Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life.

This review appeared in Library Journal 127.19 on November 15, 2002, page 89+. The book was shredded February 10, 2010.

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