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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Featured on Oprah's Favorite Things list for 2016! An instant New York Times bestseller Two spiritual giants. Five days. One timeless question. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness's eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the fact of life's inevitable suffering? They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss a…

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams

Overall Book Review:

In a conversational style-type interview, Douglas Abrams facilitates and narrates the unprecedented event of two men coming together as spiritual leaders and friends, to discuss a topic relatable to all human beings – finding joy in face of life’s inevitable suffering. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu recount their own encounters of hardships while advising others on how they can choose and ultimately become joyful in a life filled with sorrow, to make joy a way of life rather than just a fleeting feeling. 

Outlined in three parts, the first segment of the book begins with the two men’s teachings on joy, then moves on to science and discoveries that support these teachings’, and thirdly, readers are treated with stories of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu’s weeklong meeting to create this book, which they hoped would be a gift to all people everywhere. 

Through the dialogue, readers are introduced to the eight pillars of joy that are discussed: four qualities of the mind (perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance) and four qualities of the heart (forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity). 

If you’ve had the opportunity to have read either of these inspirational leaders’ previous books beforehand, you will be familiar with the stories and teachings that they share in this book, but what is new and wholly delightful is that Douglas Abrams not only shares the dialogue, but the interactions between these two great men. Playful and humorous, readers get the rare opportunity to see these two men in a different light. More than religious leaders, advocates, and activists, these two men are genuine friends. They tease, and at times disagree, but they are ultimately respectful of each other’s beliefs and demonstrate their teachings not only in their words, but also in their actions. 

Included at the end of the book are a selection of joy exercises that these two teachers use in their daily lives. The practices are simple and may be things you already cultivate in your life, such as journaling, meditating, or fasting. 

What is so beautiful about this particular text is that it really is for everyone.  Think about it–the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Christian, and the narrator, Douglas Abrams is a non-practicing Jew. It is a universal book that blends science, tradition, and opinion.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Avery

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 mild obscenity.

Violence/Gore:  Past experiences of violence are shared several times; individual playfully pretends to choke his/her friend.

Sex/Nudity:  Extended scene (about 1 paragraph) gay rights and gay marriage are discussed; 2 brief sexual references. 

Mature Subject Matter:

War, race discrimination/anti -apartheid, exile, death, oppression.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Mention of father becoming violent when drinking; wine is used for communion; drug reference; rum flavored ice cream. 

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.