Book Review: “Glad to Be Human” by Irene O’Garden

I am certainly what some would call an optimist. I always try to look on the brighter side and give people the benefit of the doubt, and one of my mottos is that “people are more than one thing.” I practice yoga, I meditate, I journal; basically, I partake in many self-care practices as a way to quell the stress of everyday life – especially this everyday life. So when Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism crossed my path, I scooped it right up.

Irene O’Garden is a very celebrated writer, from “stage to e-screen, hardcovers, children’s books as well as literary magazines and anthologies,” according to her website. Glad to Be Human is very well written, contains beautiful prose, and even contains bouts of delightful humor.

“Birdseed when planted does not grow birds, but when eaten does.”

All 200+ pages of the book contain stories from around the globe, from Paris to Budapest, to the Alzheimer’s ward. While the travels may help broaden one reader’s horizons, I personally had a hard time jumping around. Glad to Be Human is essentially a journal of that time in the author’s life, and while clearly put together with care, I often felt a little… lost.

Despite all of my meditative practices, I don’t often feel connected to nature. I don’t have a garden to speak of, living in a rental, and this book absolutely demands (metaphorically, of course) that the reader spend time enjoying nature and gardens and all that mother nature gives to us. I think that I am merely not in the place in my life where I can enjoy that as I should be able to, so the book doesn’t feel like it is a fit for me.

I flipped from chapter to chapter trying to find something that would resonate with me right now, in this moment, and I found that within “A Phrase to Melt Anxiety” in the “Sympathies” chapter.

“The more acts of love we recognize, the more relaxed we get to be.”

While I didn’t connect with the book in its entirety, I was able to find little gems and jewels that I will carry with me. I think this is a book that I will put on my shelf and revisit in another few years when my head isn’t clouded by the worries of the world and the weight of the system isn’t bearing down on me.

Or maybe I will send it to my friend Meg. She has a really large garden.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Mango Publishing Group, for review.

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