Book Review: Girl Seeks Bliss

I am totally reviewing a book I’m not even half finished reading… I’m not even done with chapter 2 yet!

I hope to do book reviews as a not-so-regular feature on this blog. I am a librarian, so I will have the full MLA citation. I will have the image of the cover as a link to Amazon, if possible — I am not currently an Amazon affiliate though I don’t rule that out for the future. And then I will have a bit about whether or not I like the book, and my reasons. Maybe a quote or two. Really basic, simple. So here we go…

Beland, Nicole. Girl Seeks Bliss: Zen and the Art of Modern Life Maintainence. New York, NY: Plume, 2005.

I love this book so much, I would go so far as to say I heart it. (You know, like when you’re a teenager and you write a heart between your initials and those of the guy you have a crush on… MM ❤ MH.) It’s like a women’s magazine with a lot more substance. I can’t get through five sentences without finding something to remember – luckily I decided to take notes in a spiral-bound book and NOT by highlighting, because every page would be almost completely fluorescent yellow.

So why review a book that I haven’t finished reading? Because it makes Buddhism accessible to me. I have tried reading other books about zen, but nothing before brought it forward to me. In Girl Seeks Bliss, Beland talks about the Four Noble Truths in a way that is relevant. She explains the first noble truth, that suffering is a natural part of existence, by assuring the reader that, “Supermodels, Oscar-winning actresses, ridiculously rich heiresses – they will all curl up in their beds, cry their hearts out, and feel like crap countless times over the course of their lives.” This of course is reason not to envy them, not to think that their lives are perfect.

And did you notice that language? Name me another book that explains Buddhism by saying that everyone feels “like crap” many times in their lifetime. No really, please. I’d be interested in checking it out. I never before thought Buddhism could be hip, but this “Zen Guide to Modern Life Maintenance” does just that. The first chapter breaks down Buddhism into the basic information. The second is similar to Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching 101, saying that you can stop negative thoughts and change them by stepping back and looking at things objectively. There are several meditation techniques and “tricks” too, at least in the first two chapters. Plus lots of gold I haven’t even come to yet.

I was born and raised Catholic, and I still consider myself Catholic although I don’t go to church every week. But the more I read Girl Seeks Bliss, the more I want to incorporate Buddhist ideas and practices into my life. I think this will help me to cultivate presence and help me to control my quick temper. I can’t wait to see what else I can learn from this book, and I can already see it as something I will come back to again and again.

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