So this is the original book. The one that started everything and spawned a series so large that most home libraries couldn't contain them all. Fortunately, since this is the first book it's not subject to a lot of the problems the others had. Although it does have it's cheesy moments, or maybe that's just me being older and more cynical than when I first encountered it.
The Chicken Soup for the soul books are
compilations of stories, parables, verse, and other short writings that
have a common theme of making you feel better about the world around
you. Not all end happy but are meant to inspire. And this particular
book has broken those different stories down into chapters titled, "On
Love", "Learning to Love Yourself", "On Parenting", "On Learning", "Live
Your Dream", "Overcoming Obstacles", and "Eclectic Wisdom". Sometimes
the stories make sense in the chapters, like in the case of the
parenting chapter containing a story "Why I chose my father to be my
dad" which detailed the life of a dedicated parent. Others were not so
obvious, like "Golden Buddha" in Learning to Love Yourself. Sure it was
about finding that special something within, or they tried to tie it to
that theme anyway, but it just didn't click with me in that chapter
I'm not going to deny that some of the stories
didn't bring tears to my eyes. They're meant to do that, just like
those Budweiser commercials with the horses. They want to tug at your
heartstrings. It's good advertising. And there were a lot of good
stories in this book. At least half of them were positive, could make
you cry, or had a good message. But then there were a lot of cheesy
ones too. Or a lot that were quite obviously made up as opposed to
being real life stories. A particular example of this would be the ones
that mentioned a kind act preventing a suicide. I'm not saying that
doesn't happen, but the stories here involving that theme just didn't
ring as true.
This book also has undertones of religion,
particularly Christianity. Sure there was a story about a Buddha, but
it didn't go into that religion, merely used it as a fable of sorts.
While there's nothing overt about the religion in these books, it is a
common theme that they all share and some are more blatant than others.
It's pretty sure that you'll never see a "Chicken Soup for the
Atheist's Soul" coming from these publishers. But that's ok. It's
their business and they can publish what they want. It's the reader's
choice if they want to pick it up or not. But this first book is one
where the religion isn't blatant and any reader can sit down and enjoy a
few good short stories.
Probably one of the best of the whole
series, before it got too big for itself. Sometimes the original is the
one you need to stick with.
Chicken Soup for the Soul