Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words
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John Vorhaus is an accomplished screenwriter, novelist, and non-fiction author. As a writing instructor he has “taught at such institutions as Northwestern University, the American Film Institute and the Writers Program of the UCLA Extension.”
“Life is a problem -- a problem you can solve! All you need are some simple, insightful ways of looking at yourself and your world, plus frank, straightforward tools for developing your philosophy, addressing your feelings and clarifying your goals. And they’re all here for you – in abundance – in John Vorhaus’s down-to-earth guide to lofty concerns, How to Live Life. Using the plain-spoken, exercise-driven approach of his many successful writing books, How to Live Life offers no magic solutions, just practical strategies for advancing your self-awareness, acquiring self-acceptance and closing the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. If spiritual matters matter to you, if you want to make your life rise, and if you wish to gain a better grasp of the questions that confront us all, this little book will have a great big impact on you.”
As a rule, I'm not a fan of self-help books. But I am a fan of John Vorhaus, having read and benefited from several of his books on poker nine or ten years ago and after getting an ereader, reading and liking a novel and one of his non-fiction offerings. His irreverent writing style and his humor keeps things light, while still being serious when the subject requires it. I was torn, so I decided to read a sample before making the decision to read this book, which I rarely do.
The title of the first chapter, “where i get off,” (yeah, that lack of capitalization is a style choice) promised to address my biggest concern, as did the first few lines:
So, first question…
Where the hell do I get off writing a book called how to live life?
After all, I have no credentials in psychology, theology or any other –ology. Nor have I scholarship in philosophy, theosophy or any other –osophy. Indeed, I bear no academic qualifications of any kind, bar the lowly BA that got me my first job out of college and hasn’t done much for me since...
He then proceeds to make his case. If you're interested in the details, check out the sample. After having read the book, I have my own explanation.
Do you have a friend or family member who is your go-to person for advice? They're non-judgmental. They may or may not have any expertise in the area you're struggling with, but by listening and asking questions they lead you (or sometimes actually help you lead yourself) to the right answers?
To me, How to Live Life is the book equivalent to that person. A lot of life's bigger questions and the right answer for you (which is different than the right answer for me, or anyone else) comes from self-awareness. They come from figuring out what makes you tick. From your purpose in life and the things you're passionate about. Vorhaus asks the questions to help you focus on what the right answers are for you, rather than telling you what he thinks your answers should be. (Much different from many self-help books.) He'll give some of his answers, not claiming they're the right answer for you (many obviously aren't), but as examples to help you understand the questions better. You'll still want to go to that friend sometimes for advice (after all, their purpose and passion might be to help others), but we can all use more help, right? How to Live Life is a way to help ourselves.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars