I went by the store yesterday, and while browsing the book section saw a book with a wrap around cover that stated: “I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story.” And in larger type, the title: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. How could I resist? I came home and gobbled it up in one sitting. In this book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal sets out to document her rather ordinary life with a series of alphabetical entries. The entries read like the blog entries I wish I could write- some are trivial, minutae of Amy’s life and preferences, while others are deep and thought provoking on a more universal level. Under the header Dry Cleaners, Amy relates being touched by her dry cleaner’s gesture of returning $10 he found in her clothing; Busy is her brilliant rumination on adults’ tendency to blur the line between business and productivity, Blush consists of one line: “I blush easily”. Some of the entries are cross referenced like in a real encyclopedia, and you can read through them in pretty much any order. The writing is witty and charming and sweet, and Amy is someone I’d like to know.
The beauty of this book comes from it’s encyclopedic conciet. By their nature, encyclopedias are full of important information, information everyone should know. By taking her life and putting it in an encyclopedic format, this book puts forth the idea that individual’s lives are important; that it’s possible that knowing whether or not Amy (or anyone) always gets creme rinse stuck in her right ear is as important as knowing about the aurora borealis or penguins. Do we spend as much time getting to know the people around us as we should? Are we stuck in our own bubble assuming everyone is just like us, and do we then get mad when they do something we don’t understand? If only each person came with their own encyclopedia, so we could become experts, could look something up if we didn’t understand.
I want to go make an encyclopedia of myself now.
Current total: 12
Just Finished: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Currently Reading: The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald