An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists from the famous to the unknown completing the thought that begins the book s title Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others Featuring a well known list of contributors including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer a part time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island s parole board The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them reveal the American spirit at its best. I ve been listening to the essays contained in this book as I ve walked around my town this spring I ve enjoyed many of them, while finding others a bit stilted and pretentious My favorite of the bunch probably belongs to writer Wallace Stegner In his essay, Stegner says, In all honesty, what I believe is neither inspirational nor evangelical Passionate faith I am suspicious of because it hangs witches and burns heretics, and generally I am in sympathy with the witches and heretics than with the sectarians who hang and burn them I fear immoderate zeal, Christian, Muslim, Communist, or whatever, because it restricts the range of human understanding and the wise reconciliation of human differences, and creates an orthodoxy with a sword in its hand I was surprised by how many of those who spoke, including Eleanor Roosevelt, espoused no absolute faith in God, but rather held to a hopeful agnosticism It was also interesting how many of the older recordings still held relevancy for today s listener Of course, the most interesting and humorous was the young man who explained in all sincerity how he believes in feeding monkey s on his birthday. This seems like such a promising concept for a book based on the NPR series of the same name, 80 essayists from the famous to the previously unknown complete the thought that begins the book s title But the result is despite being a bestseller a dreadful book If I had checked it out in a bookstore, rather than buying it on , I might have figured it out from the back cover Here are the four quotes from inside that the publishers use as a teaser I believe in the goodness of a free society And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it Jackie Robinson I believe in empathy Azar Nafisi I believe in the pursuit of happiness Not its attainment, nor its final definition, but its pursuit Andrew Sullivan Be cool to the pizza delivery dude it s good luck Sarah Adams.Forgive me and I may burn in hell for this, but I submit that the only possible reaction to this kind of anodyne banality is a major YAWN If you crack open the book and can wade through some of the most mind numbingly pompous prose imaginable, there are further nuggets to be gleaned Benjamin Carson believes that there is no job important than parenting William F Buckley believes in God, but, being WFB, finds it necessary to express himself thusly This I believe that it is intellectually easier to credit a divine intelligence than to submit dumbly to felicitous congeries about nature.Jackie Lantry believes in the power of love to transform and heal I believe that the kind of cliched banality that the contributors to this effort ended up producing is available free in any Hallmark store More charitably, in considering why this book ended up being such a disastrous collection of woolly minded writing, almost never rising above hackneyed cliches and Reader s Digest level banality, I believe that the problem lies in the formulation of the question It seems that asking people to come on the radio for three minutes to sum up the core beliefs of their lives is a poor mechanism to generate anything of interest It s a trap, causing most respondents to founder in banal generalities The very few interesting contributors were smart enough to avoid the lure of the pompously abstract profundity, and rooted their answers in the specific Here are the opening sentences of the three most interesting OK, let s be honest, the only three truly interesting essays I consider myself a feminist, and I feel like a moron admitting it, but it s true I believe in Barbie Jane Hamill I believe in always going to the funeral My father taught me that Deirdre Sullivan There is no such thing as too much barbecue Jason Sheehan Let me be clear this review is in no way a critique of the expressed beliefs and opinions of the contributors It is concerned only with the interest level and readability of their efforts And on those criteria, this book has to be considered a dreadful, soporific, failure. In my commitment to read 52 books this year, I made a list of ones I want to read, have bought to read etc This title was one that I had borrowed from the library, since it was recommended reading from Ali Edwards during an online class I took It s from the NPR, and it s a collection of short essays from different people On what they believe It was a quick read Great food for thought.During reading this book, I started to question my own beliefs Not the core ones The biblical ones, or even the taught ones I questioned what do I truly believe At this 35 year old state of my life Currently in the stage of child rearing, what is it that I want my kids to know about ME About what I truly believe So I am working on an essay, about what I believe I will post it when I complete it Reading the book, there were a few quotes that really popped out at me Here they are.1 You only have what you give It s by spending yourself that you become rich Isabel Alede2 A mans noblest endowment is his capacity to change Leonard Bernstein3 Being fully open to yourself may be the hardest work you will ever do 4 If I die it will be Glory, if I live it will be Grace 5 Families are not only blood relatives, but sometimes just people that show up and love you when no one else will. This print copy of essays written and read for the NPR series by the same title is sweet and lovely, diverse, and by turns light and deep From the pizza guy to barbeque, from prominent politicians to the mom down the block, it covers a lot of ground The effect is to generate conversations and intimacies that might otherwise never have developed For starting conversations that you never have the time to start, for getting into the heads of people we think we know, and for stimulating personal spiritual and intellectual development a wonderful addition to one s bookshelf.