Sunday, January 2, 2011

REVIEW: 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik

Posted by Carla B. at 8:07 PM
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I really enjoyed this book. and I highly recommend reading it. It's not perfect by any means, but it has an authentic voice and a good message. The book is written in first person, and is a true-story based on the author's life over the span of approximately one year. It is nearing Christmas, and the author is enduring one of the worst periods of his life - financially, personally, and socially. He has lost sight of any good in his life, including his own children.

On a hike at the start of the new year, he hears a voice that basically tells him until he starts being grateful for what he has, he will have nothing else good in his life. Upon returning home, he chooses to write thank you notes to show his gratitude. It's very simplistic, and he gives a rational reason as well - using up old stationary. A few dramatic results take place - one thank you note to his own leads to that son repaying a loan (one our author had long-ago given up receiving). However, these are not the focus of the book. Even the author says he doesn't believe they are a direct result, but he does use these events to continue his mission. He also slowly begins to appreciate the things around him.

Somewhere through the middle of the book, his life is slowly improving. Some of the things make you wonder if they were really that dismal all along or was he just seeing them through the eyes of a depressed person? Suffering depression myself, I know that when I am feeling low my surrounding always seem more drab and unpleasant. I think it was that way with his apartment. When he first described it, I pictured a dour apartment in the "bad" part of town with water stains, torn carpet and all but caving in. Later, this same apartment seems to transform into a rather pleasant place to live, complete with flowers and favorable neighbors like his daughter's schoolteachers. Like most things, I think the actual truth falls somewhere in the middle. I believe it is the same with his law practice, divorce and financial matters.

Overall, this book reminds us of the importance of the simple things. A handwritten thank you note is something that appears less frequently in our society, which is so based on current technology. Emails replace handwritten letters, and text messages replace phone calls, reminding society that time is at a premium and in the rush people can forget all the things they are grateful for. The reminder of the simple art of writing a thank you note, something my mother instilled in me at a young age, is a blessing in and of itself.  In writing the thank you note, which takes time and effort, gratitude naturally flows. This book is a kind and gentle reminder of that.

For me, I plan to do my own variation of his plan. I already have an "attitude of gratitude" about most things, and most days, in my life. However, I have fallen behind on that simple thank you note. Often a phone call or email replaces the thank you note. I know that I could do better in setting aside the time and effort required. That will be one of my personal New Year's Resolutions, and one that would make my mother proud.

 **I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Librarything.com as part of their Early Reviewers program. Please see my  disclosure policy for further information.**

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