2 out of 4 stars
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Cathy Burnham Martin is an award-winning broadcast journalist, sought-after speaker, and respected writer. For her motivational talks, she has earned the nickname “The Morale Booster.” In this book, she shares her secrets. Only a few of them were new to me, but I relished seeing them all packed in this treasure trove. If you have ever been discouraged, then you would benefit much from the wisdom in these pages.
Encouragement: How to Be and Find the Best is an organized handbook of how one can become an “Encourager” and avoid turning into a “Discourager.” Cathy describes both types and gives tips on how to spot each. She offers a helpful list of strategies to encourage people you meet every day, including the person who greets you in the mirror each morning: yourself. She realistically admits that life is not always sunny, but she says, “And yet, when we are better prepared, we can weather the woes with greater grace and courage.”
She includes quotes from several inspiring personalities and cites examples of real-life situations which portray instances of encouragement and discouragement. The reader will find stories featuring erstwhile Miss Universe host Bob Barker, President Ronald Reagan, and tennis superstar Serena Williams. You have to read the book to know whether these famous people gave encouragement in the cited instances.
The many tips Cathy shares in the book are simple and easy to put into action. Her writing is crisp and funny, and I found myself nodding in agreement at many points. The personalities quoted are adequately introduced in case the reader doesn’t know them, though many (like Helen Keller, Og Mandino, and Aristotle) are familiar and beloved. Cathy calls her chapters “Rust Busters” as she recognizes that her tips are old truths which only need to be dusted and put to good use. Clever chapter titles add to the reader’s enjoyment and recall of the concepts. My favorite titles are the alliterative “Deftly Deal with Despair” and “Frolickingly Fresh Perspectives.” She also coined several memorable terms like “Testosterone Toddlers,” "MBE" (for “Morale Booster Extraordinaire”), and “Boomerang Bullying.” As a delightful bonus, we get two chapters containing inspirational quotes from Cathy’s “Encouragement Inventory.” The best advice I got from the book is one everyone will agree with: Laugh, and do it often.
Unfortunately, bad grammar stole some of the luster of the book and made it lose one star. Sentence fragments were abundant, but these were useful in keeping the book upbeat. The misused words (e.g., “unphased” for “unfazed,” and “conscious” for “conscience”) and punctuation and capitalization lapses were unwelcome.
The issue that made the book lose a second star is the more serious flaw. I got the book in MOBI format, but it may have been converted from a printed copy. There was inconsistent spacing between sentences, making it difficult to pinpoint when a paragraph ended. Captions of photos popped somewhere else, usually on another page. The titles of the chapters and the book (which we normally see at the top of the page in printed books) appeared in random places on the page. I eventually got used to these distractions, but they were really discouraging. This book certainly didn’t need them. (I must say that I checked the sample on the book’s Amazon page and found the format there fine.)
I am sad to rate Encouragement 2 out of 4 stars because of the disastrous format and the grammar issues. I only hope that these will be addressed posthaste. I recommend the book to readers who want to have a power book of encouraging words at their fingertips. However, its present state of disarray may keep them from earning their "MBE" credits.
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