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4.0 out of 5 starsTerrific Book but BEWARE of the paperback version!
Reviewed in the United States on October 18, 2017
In the early morning hours of each morning I have eagerly opened this book, but now done I'm feeling the void of a friend's departure. Reading Krista Tippett and her companions' dialogues is an enriching and insightful experience. This grace-filled gathering of devoted people from an amazingly wide variety of religions, backgrounds and experiences forms the perfect guest list for a grand dimmer party full of engaging ideas, and yes, wisdom. So very glad I purchased the Kindle version which makes available terrific highlighting and note-taking options. Tippett also lists at the end of the book those she interviewed and notes App access for listening to the each full interview. PLEASE TAKE NOTE: I also purchased this in paperback for an elderly friend and am greatly disappointed with the production: the print is faint and not easy for old eyes to read, so disappointing. What a hassle to follow up on this! This is the reason for the four star rating. Tippett' work is five stars-plus!!!
5.0 out of 5 starsMust Read and Gift (even for scientists and atheists)
Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2016
As others have already mentioned, this is very thoughtful and profound contribution. Tippett addresses how we interact with ourselves, each other, and the universe, if not more. The book is infused with nods to her personal journal, which makes the book so much more real and enjoyable. If there's any message, it's that we need to listen more: listen to ourselves, our hearts, and those with whom we strongly disagree. Ultimately, I think this book is about hope for us, as people and tribes, and societies. No surprise HOPE is her last chapter.
Even though her radio program, On Being, is not this way, I worried that this book would be too much about God or an effort to proselytize in some way. It is not either of those things. It's a mature, honest, lived perspective on what wisdom is, where it comes from, and what it can mean for us. Scientists, skeptics, and nonbelievers will find a great deal to relate to in this book.
If I have any critique, it's that Tippet bases her vision and effort on the great people of the world: the scientists, religious persons, and leaders of all sorts. It's no surprise that their work and words inspire. But Tippett pays little attention to the despots, the true criminals, and those who choose ignorance over thought (perhaps a large proportion?). She nods to her abusive parents, but seems to let them off the hook. I have to wonder what she'd write if she were down in the trenches facing the lesser of our collective angels. There is wisdom in such places and experiences, too. Wisdom of equal import, I think.
That said, the book is super, a must read, a must gift…
5.0 out of 5 starsBrief Notes from an 84 Year- old Admirer.
Reviewed in the United States on December 25, 2016
A brief review cannot possibly do justice to this amazing book. Krista Tippett has woven an incredible group of strongly wise quotes from her interviews with a great variety of experienced and learned people. As a journalist she has had access over the years and throughout the world to these people, and has delineated her own personal growth and change as she has met and mused about them.....The "Mystery and Art of Living" seemed to me to allow the reader to accompany her on her life journey and, for me, fulfilled the promise of the title.....(Should I ever "Become Wise" (or wiser,) I would give her credit along with the philosophers of my early liberal arts education.)
3.0 out of 5 starsValuable perspectives, well worth reading despite confusing layout
Reviewed in the United States on December 28, 2016
First of all, I unreservedly recommend the contents of this book; it's the organization that is somewhat challenging. Krista Tippett has interviewed many seekers and social activists about the role of spiritual consciousness in their lives, and in this book she seems eager to share with us all that she has learned in the course of these conversations and her reflections upon them. The topic is germane, and there are plenty of wonderful nuggets in the book, and the only reason I don't give this 4 stars is that her layout of material is confusing and hard to follow. I (and the rest of my book group members) were frequently unclear about who was speaking, Ms. Tippett or her interview subject. It slowed us down, having frequently to check back to see if she'd left her own voice and was now quoting a passage from an interview. The author should have been better served by her editor. Despite that annoyance, I thought the book well worth reading, as the interview subjects she's chosen to quote had thought-provoking, soul-directing things to say that I appreciated very much and have continued to think about. So by all means, read this book; just be prepared to do a little work to achieve clear understanding.
2.0 out of 5 starsIf you are either not American or not Religious - BEWARE
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 9, 2020
Broadly speaking the book provides some interesting discussion of interesting questions of our times - ranging from love to faith to the internet. However, all of this is presented through an incredibly USA- and religious-centric worldview. The author also does the common, tacky thing of evoking theories and ideas from quantum physics (and so on) to support the now beaten-to-death notions of "mystery" and "uncertainty" in science. The books strengths are its interviews with various religious leaders and wo(men) of religion in other fields. In some sense it seems to be a book about "modern" religion masquerading as one about wisdom - attempting to convince the reader that these two notions directly parallel one another. In some places this is OK, but in others it is rather on the nose.
In conclusion, if you are religious, or harken for discussion of the good ole USA (and long to avoid any critical thought about what is happening beyond its borders) you might like this book. If, like me (and I believe most of those on the UK Amazon site where I am writing this review) you don't care for such a restrictive and dull view of "wisdom", give the book a miss!
As the host of the On Being podcast, Krista Tippett gets to have conversations with some of the most inspiring artists and spiritual teachers in the world – from the Dalai Lama to Anne Lamott, Mary Oliver to Eckhart Tolle, and most people in between.
Thankfully, Tippett's chosen to present a gift to the world in the form of 'Becoming Wise'. It's a distillation of some of her most memorable conversations, and acts as a kind of guide to living – how to be. The richness of the book is almost overwhelming – it's sumptuously written, full of wisdom from some of the greatest thinkers of our time, ambitious in its scope – and I wanted to underline almost every word. It's one of the best books I've read all year.
"And so in choosing how we are in the world, we shape our experience of that world, our contribution to it. We shape our world, our inner world, our outer world, which is really the only one we'll ever know. And to me, that's the substance of the spiritual journey. It's not an exasperating idea but an infinitely emboldening one, and it's taken me many years to come to that without resistance."
I am reading this slowly, making notes as I go along. Each page brings thoughts/ideas that I want to consider, or introduces me to a thinker/scientist/teacher whose work I want to explore further. Sometimes, I just want to read a passage again and let the message sink in. I think I will want to revisit it in future as well.
Thanks to Krista and her team, and all those who gave so generously of themselves in the interviews.