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Life Is Like a Sailboat: Selected Writings on Life and Living from The Philadelphia Inquirer [Hardcover]

John Grogan

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Book Description

April 7 2009
From John Grogan, author of the 'New York Times' bestsellers 'Bad Dogs Have More Fun', 'Marley and Me', and 'The Long Way Home', comes a new collection of more than eighty newspaper articles from the 'Philadelphia Inquirer' written when he was a columnist there. 'In Life Is Like A Sailboat', John Grogan shows us all sides of the human condition—pieces that reflect his unique understanding of the crazy-quilt world we inhabit. From the fragility of life almost gone in an instant at a crosswalk, to avoiding the shoals of adolescence, to cell phones driving us to distraction (as we drive!), to turning the tables on telemarketers, to the Iraq War coming home to a small town in Pennsylvania—these pieces are filled with insight and sensitivity, laced with humor and understanding. In his own very unique way, John Grogan makes all of us feel more connected to each other and less like strangers living in a strange land.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Vanguard Press; 1 edition (April 7 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593155395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593155391
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,133,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Grogan was a Pennsylvania columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the former editor in chief of Rodale's Organic Gardening magazine. He has previously worked as a reporter, a bureau chief, and a columnist at newspapers in Michigan and Florida. His work has won numerous awards, including the National Press Club's Consumer Journalism Award. He currently lives on a wooded hillside in Pennsylvania with his wife and their three children.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is Like a Sailboat is a Quick, Enjoyable Read May 12 2009
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is indeed a sailboat on the dust jacket of John Grogan's LIFE IS LIKE A SAILBOAT. But look closely, dear reader, and you will note that the sailboat, far from battling ocean waves, is floating placidly in a domestic bathtub. That sets former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Grogan firmly in his proper context.

Grogan spent four years or so trolling the lanes and malls of suburban Philadelphia for newspaper columns. This book assembles 84 of them in no particular order. No dates of publication are provided, and there seems to be no overarching theme to unify them. They are just there, for the reader to sample at his leisure. This is a bag of journalistic potato chips, and it is indeed hard to resist the temptation to munch on "just one more" before returning to the real world.

Grogan levels his lance at some easy targets: highway litterers, telemarketers, racist bigots, cigarette smoke, television ads, and gun violence. He also likes to let his readers write pieces for him by simply quoting what they have said on some life-and-death issue like the misbehavior of pet dogs. And he is always careful to identify which Philadelphia suburb is home to whomever he quotes. It is not, however, necessary to be familiar with the geography of Great Philly to enjoy these pieces. Their themes are common to suburbia from coast to coast; all the reader needs do is substitute the name of some similar town from his own area and the fit is pretty much perfect.

Grogan is a graceful writer. He gets his points across crisply and effectively within the confines of the small newspaper space allotted to him (as he himself practiced that elusive art for 28 years, I know how difficult it can be. Wasn't it Pascal who once apologized to someone for having written such a long letter "because I did not have time to write you a short one"?).

My personal favorite among those 84 potato chips is the one about the five-year-old in South Philadelphia who wrote a Christmas letter to Santa, addressed it to the North Pole and stuck on a few "Christmassy" stickers in lieu of a stamp --- only to have the letter returned after the holiday as undeliverable for insufficient postage. Grogan, dogged investigative reporter that he is, asked someone at the post office for an explanation. The official felt that no Scrooge-ish postal employee was at fault, blaming instead a machine that automatically fingered the unstamped missive and ordered it returned to sender. The youngster's mistake was putting a return address on his letter. That malevolent machine, Grogan is happy to report, has not shaken the youngster's faith in Santa.

Grogan likes to visit odd but picturesque places, an old cemetery for example, and to seek out unusual characters who do interesting things like handcrafting furniture from undried wood. He touches glancingly on a few controversial topics, writing with sympathy, for example, about two gay men who want to marry. A couple of warm and fizzy columns are devoted to random acts of kindness experienced by his readers. Grogan is not afraid to express his own views, but he never lapses into self-important bombast or froth-at-the-mouth rage.

The big question in a reader's mind, of course, is: Just how is life like a sailboat? This idea comes in Grogan's folksy account of a youthful water outing with his father, who told him that there were lessons to be learned from their little expedition: Keep your hand on the tiller, small adjustments are needed to stay on course. Pick a clear destination and stick to it. Watch for submerged hazards. Anticipate the winds of change before they blow.

Grogan does not record any wisdom from his father about launching your sailboat in the family bathtub. That's one sure way to avoid submerged hazards and sudden shifts in the wind.
LIFE IS LIKE A SAILBOAT is a quick, enjoyable read.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn (Robertfinn@aol.com)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! June 13 2009
By Margo Birkner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I really liked John's style of writing in Marley & Me, so I thought I'd give this book a try. I liked it so much I gave it as a gift to my father. His insights, observations, and commentary on the world around us are dead-on, written in a light, often humorous style. If you can't relate, you're part of the problem in my opinion! A great read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed Dec 15 2012
By J. Creamer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
We played this in our car on long trips and around town. We enjoyed it so very much. Grogan's writing is down to earth and easy to understand.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writings that provide learnings! March 1 2014
By MTT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I was trying to find an audioCD that can hear while driving long distances from home to work. I like it so much! because I like the way John Grogan writes of a wide different topics, some of them have a deep message as well anothers are common sense but as he described them, the stories become relevant. Also liked very much the narration done by John Larroquette, it felt like John Grogan was telling me the story by himself! I recommend it, for sure!
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is Like a Sailboat July 22 2010
By budandal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Grogan gives a look into other peoples lives, good and bad. He has a way with words that makes one feel the stories.

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