When I ordered this little gem, I expected to receive a stocking stuffer filled with beautiful art and short, pithy wisdom statements. I was right on those counts, but Four Word Self Help is much more. It is a celebration, a reminder, and a source of delight.
Patti has divided the small-format book into twelve sections, each with its own four-word descriptor. So you'll find "Travel: Take just enough baggage" and "Soul: Leave some things undone" and "Children: Learn from small humans". Each section begins with the kind of essays that made Life Is a Verb an enchantment, essays full of stories, humour and insight.
So instead of zipping through the book and wrapping it as a little gift, I found myself pausing to reflect, laugh, nod my head, and, frequently, to head to the computer to write. Now I've filled the book with margin notes. I'll have to buy more copies to give away.
Robert Frost's description of a poem fits Four Word Self Help. It "begins in delight and ends in wisdom".
This is a very simple book, and that is its strength. There are no complex meanderings, no self-indulgent wandering down the by-roads. It's all simply stuff you can use. Use it to make you feel better, use it to allow yourself to lead a more worthwhile life. Few writers have found the power of simplicity as Patti Digh has. Few writers can use it as well. she shares it generously as her gift to us. She also shares the art work of others, so they too can enjoy the feeling of having their work published in a book - how generous is that? In four words, four short words we can find life's truths one at a time. We can pause for reflection. We can make their meaning our own. Most of all we an learn to share her acceptance of life with all its humour and tragedy, all its boredom and terror. This is a simple, warm book that is a treasure.
Patti Digh' s Four-Word-Self-Help is a book of thought provoking sentences, each consisting of only four words. Why did she want to write a book with four word sentences? Because, she explains in the introduction, life sometimes is more complicated than it needs to be. We don't need pages and pages of reasons why we should do some things differently. She wanted to present her ideas simply, avoid the word "don't" and make each sentence an action. I think she succeeds in accomplishing this.
This is a very short book with few words but lots of things to think about. It also has some very nice drawings that she got from various places and followers. It was a worthwhile read.