This is a review of the book Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions, by James E. Ryan.
Fun fact: I have only done two-(ish) book reviews (other than this one) in all of my time blogging, and that was four years ago. That is strange because I absolutely love to read, and I read a lot. Maybe I’ll start doing more. But anyway!
I read this book in two days, because I found it hard to put down. That’s always a good thing, but it has never happened to me before with a nonfiction book that wasn’t a memoir. Usually I reserve my book-devouring for really compelling fiction. This book was just so, so good that I HAD to write a review about it, even if nobody reads this post. 🙂
This book is about five essential questions that we should all be asking ourselves and others in life. The premise is that asking these questions regularly will help us to become the people we want to be, living satisfying and worthwhile lives. It seems a little “fluffy” at first glance, but this book was incredibly inspiring, encouraging, and touching. There were many times reading it that I actually teared up! It was that poignant.
The author, James E. Ryan, writes in a very easy to understand and entertaining way. It’s what kept me reading, wanting to see what funny comment, gem of wisdom, or moving story he was going to share next. He is the kind of writer I would aspire to be one day.
But back to the five essential questions. “Wait, what?” is a question that represents pausing to gather more information before jumping to conclusions. This question leads to understanding. If we only stop to ask clarifying questions before making judgments, we would be able to communicate more openly and positively.
“I wonder…?” is a question that allows us to consider possibilities, and follow our curiosity in meaningful ways. Being curious is the beginning of progress and great discoveries, both personally and for humanity in general.
“Couldn’t we at least…?” is a question of how we can find common ground with others, or how we can compromise, or how we can take first steps toward something that seems too big at first glance. This question is in some ways the opposite of despair. Instead of worrying about some problem being too big, or our differences being too big, we can see that there is still something we can do, or agree on.
“How can I help?” is a question concerning how we treat others. It involves humility, kindness, compassion, sympathy, empathy, and ultimately, action. It teaches us to look outside of our own concerns and pour into others.
“What truly matters?” is a question about the most important things in life. It sorts out the temporary and insignificant from the truly valuable and lasting things. As a Christian, this question is a good reminder of keeping an eternal perspective, rather than focusing on the circumstances of my day-to-day. What is God’s purpose for my life, and how does he work that out through these seemingly mundane details? Questions like this put life into perspective, and help us to keep our priorities on what truly matters: things like loving God and people, being kind, valuing and caring for our family, serving others, appreciating and perhaps even creating beauty, finding happiness, and leaving a legacy.
These questions altogether build a picture of a human being who is understanding, curious, wise, kind, and purposeful. Something as simple as being intentional about the kinds of questions we are asking ourselves and others can create a mindset that changes our lives and our world for the better.
This book is definitely one I would recommend for everybody to read! It can make you laugh and cry, as it helps you to think deeply about life and grow as a person. It’s a relatively quick, and thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five stars!