Book Review: The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree-Words from the Heart edited by Mrs. Fields


Note: Over 10 years ago I reviewed this book for a U2 fansite. In honor of Poetry month, I decided to dust it off, make a few revisions, and publish it here at The Book Self.

U2 fans are not your typical rock and roll fans. Sure, they buy the CDs, download their music, and go to the concerts, but being a U2 fan is so much more than that. U2 fans are motivated. They are inspired to open their minds, learn new things, and get involved in causes bigger than themselves. However, they are also inspired to use own creativity. This is evident in a slim, yet powerful book of poetry and short stories called The Little Red Book of Poet-ee-tree: Words from the Heart.

The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree is a volume containing heartfelt prose by a collection of U2 fans throughout the globe. Their love of U2’s music and the written word lead these fans to The Heart. The Heart was an Internet poetry forum where writers cultivated their writing skills, shared their work with others, and got their creative juices flowing. Sadly, it shut down in 2003, but fortunately for the Heart community, U2 fans, and lovers of good writing, the works created for the Heart are not lost forever. They are compiled into The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree.

All the royalties of The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree went to the African Well Fund, a charity founded in 2002 by a group of U2 fans to provide a clean water sources to many African communities. The African Well Fund has built and supplied clean water and sanitation projects in Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe. The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree was just one part of the African Well Fund’s comprehensive vision to help others.

The poets published in The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree write about love and loss, heartbreak and joy. They write with clear-eyed optimism and downcast despair. These poems take us on a journey of both the writers’ hearts and souls, and our individual interpretations to their work. Some poems a mere few lines, whereas others nearly tell a story.

Jennifer’s startling “Modern Day Warfare” uses the frightening images of mustard-gas lies and biological-warfare thoughts, along with rat-ta-tat fists to chillingly describe abuse both emotional and physical.

Kel, in the poem “Africa” describes the continent as a living, breathing human female, inhaling her warm earthy air. This poem puts a very personal face on one’s personal journey throughout the African landscape.

Mrs. F. conveys the love a mother has for her children in the poem “Earth and Angels.” Phrases like “He darts in dizzy zig zags…Listens wide-eyed, hoots at the owl” and “Head filled with fairies and music…She skips and sings” give us an intimate look at the special qualities that make our sons and daughters so special to us.

All the poems, whether short or lengthy, are very strong, and open to many interpretations. I don’t know how these poets came to their words. Sometimes a poem just comes to someone and easily flows out onto paper. Sometimes constructing a poem is like throwing a bunch of words into the air, and then constructing a poem using the scattered words. However the poems came to be in this book, they came through what Allen Ginsberg once called, “ordinary magic.”

Several short stories are also collected in The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree. When writing a short story, writers also face challenges. Writers need to grab the reader and tell a complete story in a short amount of words. And these stories have to be engaging, draw the reader in, and achieve a believable conclusion without seeming to be tacked on in haste.

This is expertly done in Laurie CK’s “Pennycake.” In this story, carefree memories of a 1970’s childhood are recalled with its birthday rituals and lazy summer days. The brief mentions of Noxzema, Keith Partridge, and 8-Track tapes give the reader a strong idea of a certain place in time. This story also evokes what it is like to be a child facing real life unexpected grief and a subsequent loss of faith.

The one quibble I do have with this book (and it is a minor one) is the limited amount of writers. I don’t know if this is because only a few writers were accepted or only a few writers chose to submit their work. This could also be because the Heart was a small group to begin with. If anything this book begs for a sequel.

 

Book Review: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

I think one of the first reasons why I became a feminist is because of Gloria Steinem. To be honest, it wasn’t due to her tireless work on behalf of women’s rights, committed activism towards other causes, and her exceptional writing. It was because I thought she was so pretty with her long streaked hair, her mini-skirts and her trendy aviator sunglasses.

You’ll have to forgive me…I was around seven years old at the time.

Of course, I’m now a grown woman and my love and admiration for Steinem goes beyond her looks. She is so much more than a fashionable feminist (yes, we do exist). So I was overjoyed when my friend Nora gave me a copy of Steinem’s latest book My Life on the Road. I thoroughly adore Steinem’s past books like Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem. And I’ve been reading Ms. Magazine since middle school. To this day my nickname for Steinem is “Cool Auntie.”

Living a life on the road as an activist, speaker and writer came naturally to Steinem. Her father was a traveling salesman so it’s in her DNA. As a young woman Steinem spent time studying in India. Her career as a journalist had her traveling all over interviewing and covering all kinds of topics whether it be going undercover as a Playboy Bunny or interviewing the likes of Cesar Chavez. Always an activist Steinem was drawn to feminism, acting tirelessly for the rights for women whether it be access to their reproductive rights or issues they may face in the workplace. She helped create Ms. Magazine and has been a dominating force of feminism for decades, not only inspiring women around her own age but also inspiring women young enough to be her daughters and granddaughters.

“Wandering Organizer” is just one way Steinem defines herself and to me this book proves just that. Her life on the road has influenced her in a multitude of ways, especially in the world of politics. She also admits how being a wandering organizer has influenced her physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And her travels makes for one hell of a read.

Steinem was at the 1963 March on Washington when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech.” She worked on the behalf of farm workers. She campaigned for Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.She was also a big supporter of Hillary Clinton in both 2008 and 2016.

She’s worked along with activists Florynce Kennedy, Dolores Heurta, and Wilma Mankiller. She admits her relationship with Betty Friedan was less than cordial. She joined forces with Generation X feminists like Amy Richards. And now millennial feminists are discovering Steinem and her work. Now in her 80s, Gloria is still traveling, writing and speaking.

Every essay is written in a down-to-earth, yet moving way. She is a powerful voice but one that never seems intimidating. She fully admits things weren’t always rosy on her travels. She dealt with a lot of backlash, especially from the radical right, but kept on fighting on the behalf of not just women, but society as a whole.

I found all her essays fascinating, turning each page as Steinem went on her amazing journey. Her life on the road would make for one hell of a movie. One chapter of My Life on The Road would make for one hell of the movie.

This novel is an impressive and mind blowing account of the people, places and things Steinem encountered on her travels. At times I felt like I needed an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of it all. I feel fortunate to have learned more about this brave and inspirational woman. As with Steinem’s other books My Life on the Road is a must-read for all feminists, one to be visited again and again.

Book Review: Under the Affluence-Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America by Tim Wise

under the affluenceEvery once in while there comes a book that makes me want to shout from the roof tops, “Everybody, please read this book if you truly care about humanity and society!” Tim Wise’s book Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America, is one such book. And though it may sound melodramatic, I truly think Mr. Wise’s book is an excellent primer on exactly why our nation seems so skewed, confused and messed-up, especially during one of our most scary, yet important presidential election years ever.

Scholar, activist and writer, the aptly named Tim Wise, has focused on societal issues since college and one of his first jobs was working against former KKK grand wizard, David Duke’s presidential bid. Since then Wise has worked on behalf of many progressive causes and has written several books, Under the Affluence being his latest.

In 2016 Wise wonders why do we (as a nation and a society) shame the poor (and let’s face it, anyone who isn’t mega wealthy) while praising the super-rich? And what does that say about us and what impact is this having on society?

Wise calls this detestable movement “Scroogism,” and, yes, based on Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. And it is a theme that has shaped our thinking about the haves vs. the have-nots and have-lessers, much of it encouraged by big business, Wall Street, billionaires and millionaires, CEOs, the radical right political pundits, the current state of the GOP, conservative Christianity, mainstream media and often, ourselves. And yes, that includes the have-nots and have-lessers. And Wise offers evidence through nearly 40 pages of end notes to give gravitas to Under the Affluence.

Under the Affluence and its theme of Scroogism is divided into three well-researched, scholarly, yet audience friendly, maddening, heartbreaking and in the end, cautiously hopeful chapters. These chapters include:

  1. Pulling Apart-The State of Disunited America
  2. Resurrecting Scrooge-Rhetoric and Policy in a Culture of Cruelty
  3. Redeeming Scrooge-Fostering a Culture of CompassionIn Resurrecting Scrooge,

Wise carefully researches how in the 21st century the United States is a society that bashes the poor, blames victims, the unemployed and underemployed, embraces a serious lack of compassion and celebrates cruelty while putting the wealthy and the powerful on a pedestal. And Wise examines the origins of class and cruelty in the United States, the ideas of the Social Gospel and FDR’s New Deal, the myths and realities of the War on Poverty from its inception to Reaganism (and how liberals responded), and the concept how culture of cruelty affects who receives justice and who receives nothing at all except horrifically de-humanizing insults, both in rhetoric and reality. It is probably these two chapters that truly stirred my rage, and at times, I had to put Under the Affluence down and take a few deep breaths.But just as I was about to chuck Under the Affluence across the room and spend a week in the corner rocking back and forth, I read the final chapter, and felt a bit of hope. Perhaps, as nation things aren’t as bleak as they seem. In this chapter, Wise reminds us to look for possible roadblocks on the way of redemption. He also mentions that besides facts, use storytelling because behind every fact there is a very human face with a story that must be heard. He behooves us to create “a vision of a culture of a compassion” and how we can help communities to control their destiny.

Now, I am a realist. I know for the most part Under the Affluence is a book that preaches to the choir, especially in 2016. But maybe, just maybe, Under the Affluence will open minds, soften hearts and act an agent for, as Elvis Costello so aptly put it, “peace, love and understanding.” Under the Affluence is not only one of the most important books to come out in 2016; it is one of the most important books to come out in the 21st century.

Wise also takes a look at the world of the working poor and the non-working rich, the myth of meritocracy, horribly mean-spirited remarks, much of it coming from the radical right, including pundits and politicians, excessive CEO and big business pay, the devaluing of work that truly benefits all of society-nursing, teaching social work, protecting the public, improving our infrastructure, creating art, taking care of the elderly and disabled, and so on. And let’s not forget the very valuable work that doesn’t pay-parenting, eldercare, volunteering, etc.

In Pulling Apart, Wise takes a hardcore look at our current state of joblessness, wage stagnation, underemployment and how they affect us in this stage of “post-recession recovering” America. He investigates today’s realities and the long-term effects of income and wealth inequality. Wise contemplates who and what caused these problems and how race, class and economics are involved.

Book Review: $2.00 A Day -Living On Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J Edin and H Luke Shaefer

2.00 dayAmerica is supposed to be the richest nation in the world, right? No way do we have people living in strict poverty, trying to survive on the barest of bones, right? America isn’t some “primitive” third world country, right?

Well, not exactly. In America we have citizens from the largest of metropolises to the most rural of communities struggling to live on a mere two bucks a day. And their lives are fully explained in Kathryn J Edin and H Luke Shaefer’s eye-opening and maddening book $2.00 A Day: Living On Almost Nothing in America.

In the 1990s, politicians, including President Clinton, figured the “War on Poverty” from the 1960s had quite worked out. Far too many families were living on public assistance. Thusly, welfare reform was implemented thrusting many families (often helmed by single mothers) off the welfare rolls. Now, this was deemed a success during the 1990s because of a strong economy and a tight labor market.

But as we know, the economy fell to pieces in 2007/2008, countless people lost their jobs and finding work became hugely difficult. Hence, many people fell into poverty (including those had been living comfortable middle class lives).

But these people weren’t mere statistics we heard about and read about. They were real people living on very little, and using methods, some legal, some not so legal to survive.

In 2012 Edin and Shaefer traveled around the country interviewing various families who were living on very little money. They interviewed families in Chicago, Cleveland and rural areas in the Mississippi Delta. These people’s stories were both unique and similar, and I hope are listened to with an open mind.

Why do we have so many people living on so little? Now part of it is due to the nature of low-wage work, much of it in the service sector. And even in the service sector, many of these jobs have countless applicants. I know this to be a fact; several years ago I applied for a job at a small marketing agency. This agency had over 250 applicants apply for this position. I can only imagine how many applicants apply for positions at much bigger organizations.

And because employers receive so many applications, they can easily move onto another candidate if they can’t reach another. Some of the poor in this book live in homeless shelters and therefore have difficulty being reached by would be employers.

But even those who aren’t in homeless shelters, lived in substandard homes and apartments. Many of the families lived in cramped spaces with many relatives. Some told horror stories of crumbling abodes that slumlord’s ignored. And some even mentioned dealing with various forms of abuse they dealt within their homes

When employed, those profiled spoke of altered schedules (often at the last moment) and employers concerned with the bottom line cutting workers’ hours. Some of these people also worked more than one job, which cut into time they could spend with their families. The poor also had to deal with wage theft and truly awful bosses. And then there were people who had physical and mental issues that made being employed nearly impossible. Some of them were on disability but even disability checks didn’t stretch far.

Many of these people had SNAP (often called food stamps), which was pretty much the only access they had to a public safety net. And many spoke of relying of charity and food pantries. But in rural places, it was difficult to find these places.

So how do these people survive? Selling one’s plasma is a popular tactic, as is selling one’s food stamps. And some mentioned selling sex to make a few bucks to live on.

Many of them live with family members and friends and pooling their various resources. One woman with a car offers her services to help people get around.

And yes, far too many go without. People mentioned skipping meals and not purchasing the basic necessities like buying underwear or having electricity or running water.

But there were places where those profiled could find comfort, libraries being named as one. Some found comfort in their churches or amongst family, friends and their communities. And those who could find good charities, also felt comfort.

Now what can be done? Well, making others aware of these people’s plights is key and this slim volume helps do that. On a personal note, I think it’s important to not see these people as “others” but as our fellow human beings, showing empathy, not scorn. Yes, we could say they shouldn’t have kids if they are so poor and why didn’t they get an education? Sure, but not having children and getting an education is no guarantee that one won’t fall into poverty. Even those of us who “did everything right”-had children when established and in a good relationships, received an education, developed skills and worked hard, may have to worry about falling on hard times. These people are not lazy, most want to work and contribute to society, and $2.00 mentions how both the public and private sectors can do join efforts to make this happen.

$2.00 is an important book at a very crucial time, especially as we get closer to the 2016 Presidential election, and a book I highly recommend.

Book Marks

bookmarks obamaLovely tributes to Alison Parker, reporter and Adam Ward, photojournalist.

Author Joseph Stiglitz discusses growing income inequality issues.

Yes, please do this. Oh, wait. Don’t.

Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Wrote a Book. Hmm, Morrissey is writing a novel.

Just what is JK Rowling’s favorite Harry Potter fan theory? She’s happy to tell us!

Male writers hide their gender to gain female readers.

Beyond the standard book shelf. Really cool and unique ways to store your books!

Toronto Libraries lets patrons check-out humans as well as books. I love this idea, so clever!

Words of wisdom from Judy Blume.

Librarians on bicycles are bringing books to under-served children.

Book Reviews: 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate About America by Mike Gallagher

50-Things-197x300Okay, liberals, tell me the things you hate. Off the top of your heads you probably mentioned the biggies like racism, sexism, homophobia and all sorts of bigotry. You hate environmental degradation, corporate greed, and the growing chasm between the haves and the have nots. You’re also probably not fond of the Bush administration, Fox News, the religious right, and the Tea Party.

However, according to Mike Gallagher, liberals hate things like apple pie, John Wayne, small businesses, and the American workforce. And he gleefully ruminates upon these topics and other things that inspire a liberal’s hatred in 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate About America.

You’re probably wondering, “Who is Mike Gallagher?” According to the radio industry magazine “Talkers” Mike Gallagher is one of the top talk radio hosts in America. He proudly calls himself “a happy conservative warrior.” He is also a contributor to Fox News and has been published in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall.com.

So what do liberals hate about America?

One thing liberals hate is the retail juggernaut Wal-Mart. Why? Because according to Mike “Wal-Mart works and liberalism doesn’t.” Why Mike is comparing a chain of big box stores to a political and social point of view is beyond me. There are quite a few reasons to not like Wal-Mart—its regressive employment practices and plundering of local businesses. But to this liberal, one reason to hate Wal-Mart is because the service is often surly and every single Wal-Mart I have patronized has been completely trashed!

Weirdly enough, liberals don’t just hate Wal-mart; they also hate small businesses and workers. Really? There are quite a few small businesses in my mostly liberal neighborhood, and they’re much appreciated. And I don’t think it was conservatives who were out supporting Wisconsin’s public workers fighting for their collective bargaining rights. But to Mike liberals hating small businesses and workers is more about him hating government regulation and unions, which he believes are things that completely destroy small businesses and harm workers.

What else do liberals hate? Well, we hate conservative women. Funnily, Mike doesn’t mention conservative women like Condoleezza Rice, Elizabeth Dole, columnist Kathleen Parker or the late Jean Kirkpatrick. A lot liberals of might not agree with these ladies, but Mike doesn’t mention them. Nope, instead he mentions conservative women like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Malkin, truly vindictive, hateful women who seem to be more about contributing to their wallets and being famous, than America. Heck, I know conservatives who don’t like these women.

Liberals also hate Christianity, which is odd to me because there are quite a few liberal Christians and Christian denominations. But to Mike the only Christians that matter are radical right Evangelical Christians and more mainstream Christians don’t seem to exist in his world.

Charity is another thing liberals hate. Mike came to this conclusion by observing a few tax returns of some notable individuals, as if that’s going to tell the whole story on why liberals hate charity. I hardly think a handful of tax returns are a good gauge on how liberals view charity. And most of us know charity goes beyond donating money to a good cause. Charity is also about donating time, skills, and much needed supplies. And charity is not the same as social justice, and we all know how some conservatives feel about social justice. But that’s a topic for another book.

When it comes to entertainment liberals hate George Bailey, John Wayne, and talk radio. Liberals hate George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life? George Bailey is a film character beloved by people—liberal and conservative. And why would liberals hate John Wayne? Liberals hate John Wayne because he wouldn’t compromise himself to play a character he didn’t agree with. Well, call me crazy because but to me great actors take on challenging characters they might not totally like (see Julianne Moore’s brilliant performance as Sarah Palin in Game Change), but I don’t hate John Wayne. However, Mike may be on point with talk radio, especially considering talk radio is rife with truly toxic types like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura, and Sean Hannity.

Amongst the other things liberals hate is success, steakhouses (I guess all liberals are vegetarians), patios and pools, V-8 engines, science, the suburbs, both the West and the South, bright lights, boys and girls, and algae. And yes, liberals hate apple pie. Why? Because apple pie represents America and the number one thing liberals hate about America is America itself!

50 Things Liberals Love to Hate About America is a book that is too ridiculous to get all enraged about. I have an inkling Mike might not completely agree with what he’s written but he has to appeal to a certain base, the mouth breathers who think Fox News is credible journalism, Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11, and Michelle Obama’s toned arms are a Socialist plot.

I tried to think of books that list the things conservatives hate about America. And though I’m sure there’s a few, but I couldn’t think of any. However, what would one such book cover? What do conservatives hate? Well, if I’m going to stereotype I’d say conservatives hate President Obama and the rest of the Obama family (including Bo and Sunny). They hate gay people, Democratic women (“Hillary has cankles!”), sensible gun laws, and non-Christians (especially those trifling Muslims). Conservatives hate vegetarianism, PBS, both coasts, “elitists”, libraries, and recycling. Typical conservatives hate film festivals, hip-hop, and art galleries. In fact, a conservative’s idea of art is a black velvet painting of that weeping Cheeto, Speaker of the House John Boehner.

What should we liberals do to counter Mike’s attacks? Well, enjoy a thick, juicy steak. Move to a red state. Watch Nascar. Wear a flag pin. Buy a gun. All of this would totally blow Mike’s mind!

Cleansing the Palate

I don’t think Mike Gallagher is a horrible person. I’m sure we’d get along if we ever met. Heck, I’d even eat at a steakhouse with him even though I’d prefer a plate of barbecue ribs. But he is part of the world of talk radio, a huge part of the divisive, mean-spirited rhetoric that has polarized our country, most coming from the right. Rory O’Connor writes about this phenomenon in his book Shock Jocks: America’s Ten Worst Hate Talkers and the Progressive Alternatives. Rory bravely uncovers the sleazy underbelly of right wing talk radio exposing the hatred, bigotry, and deep dysfunction of some of our most famous shock jocks while also profiling more progressive radio personalities that counter all the hate. Rory also interviews some hosts—liberal, conservative, and moderate. One host he interviews is Mike Gallagher who admits he knows some liberals. In fact, Mike’s late wife was a liberal. See, Mike, we’re not all bad.

Twenty odd years ago, journalist David Brock was a part of the extreme radical right. He wrote for conservative publications like American Spectator, The Weekly Standard and the Moonie-owned Washington Times. He deemed Clarence Thomas’ accuser, Anita Hill as “a little bit nutty, and a little bit slutty,” And later skewered her in the book The Real Anita Hill thus becoming the radical right’s golden boy. However, not was all golden for David. He found himself tamping down his more liberal social views to advance the conservative cause. He disowned proper journalistic ethics to promote his career. And he lived uncomfortably as gay man in a community that often denounced homosexuality. In his very candid memoir, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative Brock brilliantly captures how the radical right grabbed him and how he left the movement as he came to grip how the current state of conservatism poisoned our political climate. Blinded by the Right is not pretty, but it is an amazing and important read.

One thing that bugged me about Mike’s book is the stupid “group think” liberals supposedly follow. Liberals are a pretty sundry bunch. The book Proud To Be Liberal edited by Elizabeth Clementson and Robert Lasner is a great book featuring essays of many proud liberals including cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, columnist Eric Zorn, journalist and author Eric Alterman, history professor Blanche Wiesen Cook, and comedian, writer, and fellow cheesehead Will Durst. These essays are funny, diverse, and get to the heart of why so many people are proud to call themselves liberal in an age where liberal is a naughty word—and shouldn’t be. The essays are entertaining and enlightening, and make you wish these the Sunday morning political shows would feature these liberals more often and leave Ann Coulter and her slatternly black cocktail dresses in the dust.

Book Review: Most Good, Least Harm-A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life

Most good_If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” — William Penn

For the past few days, like a lot of people, I have felt a deep and profound grief over the senseless deaths of nine beautiful people who were committing the innocent act of attending bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Men and women were shot dead due to the racism and hatred of one person, a person who was welcomed into Mother Emanuel with loving grace and kindness. I have so much anger at the shooter, and so much admiration for the victims’ families and friends for the forgiveness they are showing towards him. I truly don’t know if I could do the same.

So I sit here, thinking of what a messed up world we live in. Detestable hate crimes like what happened in Charleston seems to be never-ending and I just want to throw things or curl up into a little ball of sadness, anger and cynicism. But that wouldn’t be very productive, now would it?

And so I decided to read Zoe Weil’s book Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life.” I’m well aware that reading a book and writing a review will not change what happened in Charleston or heal race relations, but at this point, I think we can all use some positive vibes and some inspiration on how we can put some good out into a very broken society.

Zoe Weil is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education. She also leads workshops on doing what she calls Most Good (MOGO). I can’t think of a more perfect person to motivate us to examine our values and let these values guide us in the decisions we make and the actions we take to better our world.

Most Good, Least Harm is divided into three parts-Looking Inward, Choosing Outward, and Getting Started.

In Looking Inward, Weil behooves us to take a good look at ourselves and discover our values-what do we hold dear in our hearts, minds, and souls. In this part, she gives us seven keys to MOGO.

Live Your Epitaph
Pursue Joy Through Service
Make Connections and Self-Reflect
Model Your Message and Work for Change
Find and Create Community
Take Responsibility
Strive for Balance

Once we figure out our values we learn how to get our values into the world by choosing outward. This is our values in tangible action and can include everything from the products and food we buy to the work we do. Weil also calls us to action through activism and volunteering and using the tools of democracy to the better of society. These could include writing to your senator or congressperson on issues that are important to you. This could include donating your money, time or skills to local charitable organizations. Weil provides a list of 10 principles for a MOGO life, which include things like transforming education and investing our money wisely. And to make this part of the book for palpable for the reader, Weil offers several stories of individuals who took MOGO to heart and are now make positive changes. A great by-product of living a MOGO life? Doing good feels good!

Finally, we come to the last part-Getting Started. We figured out our values. We’ve coming up with ways to put these values in action. Now what? To jump start implementing MOGO Weil gives us a questionnaire and action plan. She also gives us some food for thought with facts and statistics on various important issues. And finally, Weil gives us resources to help us further our commitment to MOGO lives. These resources include various websites, books and organizations.

Most Good, Least Harm is slim volume but it packs a wallop, the type of book you can refer to again and again on how to know your values and then how to put them in action. Some people might complain that Weil focuses a bit too much on what she values and how she’s implementing her values to be more MOGO, but I believe she’s just using her personal story as an example of MOGO, not a guide we have to follow or else.

Ultimately, once you read Most Good, Least Harm you feel a bit less lost and helpless and a lot more empowered. In our mixed-up, messed up world it’s time to MOGO!