Review of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” by Jack Canfield

The other day I was driving home from the gym when a pickup truck approaching me on the highway started to drift into my lane. The sun was shining and the road was clear. Perhaps the driver was adjusting himself or talking on his cell phone. He still had control of his vehicle. He just wasn’t paying attention. I’ve been driving for almost forty years, and so I didn’t have to think about how to avoid a collision. This was handled by my arms and legs, by instinct, by rote. Without thinking, I eased to the right, not quite hitting the shoulder. So what was on my mind then? What thoughts did occupy these potential last moments of my life? Not memories. Not regrets or relief at the end of dreams and suffering, or wondering what might follow. Not the love I would leave behind: the friends, the children, the wife, the parents I would predecease. No, my higher cerebral functioning was all tied up in trying to decide whether or not to give the finger to this shitty driver that had wandered across the yellow line and into my face. I would have gone into my hereafter trying to decide if I should flip some guy the bird. 

The massage therapist that I visited on a monthly basis for over a decade, but then dumped because she wouldn’t read my book, had a copy of one of the Chicken Soup books in her waiting room. I’m not even sure it was the one I claim to be reviewing here. And I spent like maybe all totaled two hours reading from it, selecting stories at random, like it was the Bible or something. I think I remember short, uplifting, human, ambiguous, engaging sermonettes that were simple and accessible. But, almost all the way home on Friday, and again driving to work this morning, I tried and tried, and could not remember a single one. Not a single specific anecdote. Not a single heartwarming tale. Not one. Weird.