2017 Reading List: Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make A Difference

There is no better book to read during the holiday season than one filled with stories of kindness, compassion and generosity. I read Chicken Soup for the Soul® Celebrating People Who Make A Difference at this time of year when it’s all too easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the holidays. This was the perfect book to bring me back to center, to focus on what’s really important and to remember that there is so much good in the world, even when the terrible news and headlines can feel overwhelming. 

There is not much to review about this book. You’ve all read some Chicken Soup for the Soul, (hopefully) so you know the deal. Stories, with themes, designed to lift the spirit and bring about a smile when you need it most.

These stories were all about the people who show unexpected kindness and compassion. They were “the headlines you’ll never read.” The truckers who help a woman change a flat tire. The owner of a charter boat who takes two girls out on the water for free so they can scatter their dad’s ashes. The neighbors who bring food and supplies when a family’s home burns down. The volunteer parent at an elementary school who teaches first graders to recognize acts of kindness, rather than bullying. The stranger who pulls over her car to stop a woman from being assaulted. The one-armed coach who teaches handicapped kids that they can do anything.

Each night before bed, I picked this book up to read a few of the stories. I smiled when the kids learned to be nice to each other, and I cried when a friend lost her battle with cancer. The stories are sweet and sentimental and emotional. But most of all they are real. They are about real people who experienced struggle or loss or insurmountable challenges. And those people were greeted with warmth, welcomed with kindness, given a chance, and shown that they matter.

When life is hard or unfair, there are always people who can pull you up, make you strong, and give you a reason to have hope. Whether, family, friends, neighbors or strangers, it’s people that matter.

The tales recounted in this book renewed my faith in humanity and my hope for the future. As cliche as it may sound to say that, I think we all need a little reminder sometimes. There is compassion and love in everyone, all around us, if we just look for it.

This Christmas season, I’ve been trying to focus less on the materialistic things that don’t matter and remember everything that is truly important. Less shopping, decorating, buying and Instagramming. More family, friends, quality time, and gratitude.

It doesn’t take much time, effort or money to be a good person. It just takes a loving, compassionate heart.

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