These days I rarely accept book review requests, but when Reader's Digest offered to send me a copy of Treasury of Joy and Inspiration: Our Most Moving Stories Ever, I decided it was just what I needed to read. Lately I've been struggling to feel joyful. The book has been published as a way to celebrate Reader's Digest's 90th anniversary and includes thirty-eight of their best stories. The uplifting collection is divided into seven distinct themes: Joy, Miracles, Gratitude, Giving, Holidays, Healing, and Heroes. In each section I found a plethora of essays (some of which made me laugh, some of which made me cry), culminating in a truly joyful reading experience.
Many contributors to the Treasury of Joy and Inspiration are well-known figures like Christopher Reeve, Alex Haley, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Bradley, Billy Crystal, Helen Keller (really loved hers!), and James Michener, but many of them are lesser known writers, writers I was very pleased to have discovered while reading the book. One of the things I really liked about the book was that it contains essays that span over 90 years, providing a variety of perspectives on joy and showing readers how the concept has transcended generations.
For anyone looking to be inspired by the stories of others, I'd recommend picking up a copy of this book. It's a great stand-alone read or a perfect read-when-you-have-a-moment addition to whatever book you're currently reading. You'll have to grab your own copy to get the full joyful, inspirational experience, but here are a few quotes that really stood out to me as I was reading:
"Most of us need to learn to break out of the prison of self.
For joy comes not only from fusion with nature;
it comes from love and creativeness;
from insight and discovery and great emotion.
Perhaps joy is most likely to come
when we forget ourselves in service,
or in the pursuit of a great dream."
"The trouble with 'if only' is that
it doesn't change anything.
It keeps the person facing the wrong way --
backward instead of forward. It wastes time.
In the end, if you let it become a habit,
it can become a real roadblock,
an excuse for not trying anymore."
"The experience of joy is not
necessarily religious in any conventional way.
But a distinguishing characteristic of joy
is the feeling people have that they have touched
the hem of something far beyond themselves."