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A New Way To Be Human

Book Review of: A New Way To Be Human

7 Spiritual Pathways to Becoming Fully Alive

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Review of A New Way To Be Human, by Author (Hardcover, 2012)

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Reviewer:

Normally, I don't read books in this genre. See my reasons, following this review. I agreed to review this book because it came highly recommended and because the author has strong personal connections with figures such as Desmond Tutu. I think if you normally read this genre, you will appreciate this book. If you don't normally read this genre, this book is unlikely to get you started doing so.

Mr. Taylor writes with a passion that can come only from experience. And, unlike most nonfiction books today, both the title and the subtitle match the actual content.

The book starts with a foreword from Desmond Tutu. In the Introduction (written by Mr. Taylor), the third paragraph consists of one sentence, "And yet, you have a choice." This clearly states a fundamental concept that directly contradicts the basic premise of the blame game culture that's all around us. I think it's upon this concept that Mr. Taylor has built his worldview.

I think Mr. Taylor would agree with something I recently wrote in the Mindconnection e-newsletter:
"Acts of unkindness can become contagious. So can acts of kindness. Act now." Throughout this book, Mr. Taylor provides examples of connecting with other people through acts of kindness and consideration. A person can choose to be passive and controlled by old, harmful ways. Or a person can choose to identify what the situation calls for to be more fully alive with others. And then act on it. In the final chapter, Mr. Taylor says, "The journey to being a new human is never passive. It invites your active engagement."

The book is 194 pages long and consists of eight chapters, seven of which are each devoted to discussing one of the seven pathways. The eighth chapter is titled, "Next Steps: Becoming Fully Alive."

Why I don't normally read this genre

This genre uses language and conventions that comprise a sort of code to its target demographic. I'm not in that demographic, and the language and conventions of it do not appeal to me. As a reviewer, I feel obliged to comment on some particulars.

Repurposing words to uses that apply only in the current text (or speech) is one of those conventions. This technique often produces a sense of new insight, but I see it as a confusing way to communicate. Why not say exactly what you mean, instead of going into semantic exercises?

Mr. Taylor greatly overuses metaphors and metaphorical ways of speaking. In my opinion, metaphors are like condiments. They can make things go down better, but they are no substitute for the meal itself. Use less catsup, please.

Where he really lost me was his repeated use of short examples to illustrate a point (sometimes, as I recall, without the point actually being expressed before or after the example). These examples would just start with no introduction or tie-in to the preceding text. There are several problems with this. The abrupt transitions were jarring, and it took a while before I realized that backtracking to answer "Where did this come from?" was futile. Mr. Taylor would suddenly tell us about some person, as in "Sue did this" or "Bob did that" and the reader has no idea who these people are or why we should care about them. No connection being made.

Based on my normal review standards, this book would get a failing grade. I'm not attuned to this style of presentation, but many people are. I think if reviewing this book against the standards of the genre it comes out as a book that deserves a read and serious consideration.

 


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