April 16, 2013

Chicken Soup for the College Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger and Dan Clark

Once, a long long time ago, I went to college.  And now I'm thinking about going back.  So it seemed fitting that I read this book.  Having somehow collected an unbelievable amount of Chicken Soup for the Soul books, I'm pretty convinced there is one for every subject, and this one just happens to be for the "College Soul".  Although I'm not sure what college these people went to, because their experiences sure weren't like mine.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul series deals in inspiring, heartwarming, and sometimes sad stories about human perseverance and kindness.  They are short stories, just enough to read a couple a night or sit down and read the whole book in one sitting because it does read fast.  This particular book is supposed to be about college, and there are a lot of college stories here detailing feeling overwhelmed at starting, dorm rooms, roommates, grades, and other such things you would associate.  There's the requisite story about drugs being bad and to avoid them on campus and stories of parents pride at seeing their kids go off to get their education.  And then there's just some random stories that have nothing to do with college at all, like the one of the mother explaining the meaning of sex to a little girl in a waiting room.  That one puzzled me.  But there were a few stories I liked, mainly the ones saying that if you try hard enough you can achieve anything, because I do believe that is true.

The majority of the stories in this particular edition of Chicken Soup are positive.  The people are mostly kind and want the best for each other or they impart valuable lessons to the reader and the protagonist.  But I couldn't really feel connected to any of them.  Sorority girls, class presidents, etc., they were all people that wouldn't even deign to talk to me during school let alone be something I had any reasonable hope of achieving.  And maybe that makes me a little bitter but I wish there had been more stories about the people who did what they could and got out of there straight into career.  More stories about people who went back after figuring out what life had in store for them.  Sure there were a few, but it just wasn't enough for me.

This is a Christian publication but religion didn't play much of a role in this one.  It mainly just focused on the different educational institutions and their students.  I do think it presented an unrealistic view of college.  A lot of times people are so busy working and the college classes are so big that close friends can't be made in the college classroom.  And roommates never seem to get along as well as they do in this book.  But I'm sure they were just trying to provide a positive outlook to a future college student so they wouldn't go screaming in terror at the thought of any negative aspects of their future.  It's meant to be sappy.  And I do wish they had stuck to just college stories.  There were a lot in here that I didn't understand why they were a part of the book, they just didn't fit.

Only an ok book.  I don't think it will prepare anyone for college, but for a few it may give them something to reminisce over.  And for another few, it may even be inspiring.

Chicken Soup for the College Soul
Copyright 1999
337 pages

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