Nicholas Montemarano: ‘The Book of Why’

The Book of Why, as you might guess, asks a lot of questions. A central one: Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a book that makes you think about the life you lead and the way you choose to think about that life. From the perspective of a self-help author who loses faith in what he preaches after his wife dies (and is unable to save her with the power of positive thinking), this is a weighty book that’s hard to put down.

While the self-helpy stuff might seem to poke some fun at itself for those of us who don’t buy into all that jazz (and is ultimately about failing to work for the protagonist), it still had the power to make me evaluate my positivity. What is your perspective on the world, on yourself and the people around you?

I spend plenty of wasted energy being angry at life’s minutiae. Why isn’t the subway moving? Why are my school loans not getting any lower? Why did someone eat my apple out of the fridge at work? Why is it seven degrees outside? But overall, I think I’m a pretty positive person and I try to keep perspective most of the time. I think the more life dishes you, the more you’re able to do that.

For instance: After working hard and being laid off your job because the economy tanked, suddenly everything else in your life becomes more meaningful. After going through a rough breakup, you realize you can pick yourself up no matter what happens with the next guy. Once you’ve overcome an illness or a surgery or a health crisis, you find yourself motivated to take really great care of your precious body. These are all things I’ve been through, and I’m sure you’ve had your own bumps or boulders in the road that you’ve scrambled, climbed or leaped over.

Nick Montemarano writes about really difficult and hard to imagine things—in this case, losing a spouse. His stories are not typically easy to read in that sense, but that’s what makes them intriguing. He writes with stark clarity and an insight that urges you to get outside of yourself (or inside yourself) and think.

How do you stay positive and is that necessary? How do you handle the tough stuff and what makes you feel empowered?

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Top image from Little Brown

Gigglers: I’m not going to seek out the newest hardcovers and tell you whether or not to buy them. And while not the Sunday Review, this Sunday blog will explore my brilliant and fascinating thoughts about books. Please use the comments section to share your own thoughts on this book, or whatever you’re reading.

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