When you have too much homework to do, too many sports or instruments to practice, too much drama to handle, or in general, so much to do that you feel that you can’t enjoy anything in life, your grandma might tell you to stop and smell the roses. Take a break, step back from it all, and enjoy the little things. I always had a problem with this phrase because personally, I am not a fan of roses; you have to go in really deep to smell them in the first place, and then, when that happens, you end up with thorn cuts all over your face, which completely removes any of the relief that is to be had from smelling the flower. I think this might be one of those generation gap things. Our grandparents stop and smell the roses. Our parents take a chill pill. I don’t really know what we under-thirty people use as our “Go take a break!” phrase, except perhaps everything we rant about on Facebook and Twitter, but if I were to have my way, our phrase would be “Go read The Book of Awesome.”
The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha is a compilation of informal essays pulled from Pasricha’s website 1000awesomethings.com. This site chronicles essays about, well, things that are awesome. Now, there are lots of things that we can call awesome where the awesomeness is up for debate. You can say “Twilight is awesome!” and draw legions of fangirls and fanmoms all squeeing in jubilant agreement. You’ll also draw just as many who show up with wooden stakes, silver bullets, and everything else that would kill a traditional vampire, werewolf, or vapid accident-prone girl who loves them both. Neil isn’t interested in that kind of iffy awesome.
Neil is interested in the little awesome things that just about everyone who has had an adventure beyond their front door can relate to. Awesome things like “Bakery Air,” “Wearing sandals when you shouldn’t be wearing sandals,” and “Seeing a cop on the side of the road and realizing you’re going the speed limit anyway” (Yes!) pop up in this book—little things that, though insubstantial, can really make your day when you think about them.
They’re not all universal; for example, “High-fiving babies” will never be awesome to a person who thinks babies smell too funny to merit touching, even if they “don’t usually leave you hanging,” but even if you don’t agree with some of the awesomeness, chances are, there will be at least one small thing that you wholeheartedly agree with. For me this was “The sound of scissors cutting construction paper,” the essay for which opens with, “When you hear scissors cutting construction paper, you just know fun is about to happen.” As an unabashed lover of cutting things out of construction paper, that was the sentence that proved the book’s validity to me: Neil Pasricha gets it. He knows what it means to appreciate the little things, even things as little as cutting up some wonderful, colorful paper.
He also appreciates them in a fun way. Though The Book of Awesome is a book of essays—a word that usually inspires groans of horror and impending procrastination—every essay is written in a fun, conversational voice. Most essays are less than a few pages long, which is truly awesome for the person who likes both an easy and short read.
But most importantly, this book doesn’t just provide its readers with entertainment. It provides them with a reason to look around their own lives and appreciate the little awesome things that they encounter every day, something that, while it doesn’t finish the homework or practice, or solve the drama, at least makes the day more bearable. And personally, I think “The smell of the coffee aisle in the grocery store” beats smelling a rose any day.
Those who enjoy this book are bound to enjoy its sequel, The Book of Even More Awesome, which comes out April 28!