Tanner’s (Igniting Innovation through the Power of Creative Thinking, 2008, etc.) latest book provides detailed histories and poignant behavioral applications of dozens of proverbs.
The author describes his inspiration for compiling the many sayings in this book with an anecdote about his grandson, whose choice to swear at a girl landed him in the principal’s office. Tanner told his grandson that “[f]or every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” which subsequently helped the boy successfully modify his behavior. “This wisdom, expressed by a proverb, had a forceful impact on his thinking…and kept him out of future trouble,” Tanner writes. In another particularly enjoyable example, the author uses the saying, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” to relate an amusing tale of how Japanese farmers created techniques to grow square watermelons, in order to decrease the amount of shelf space they took up in grocery stores. The compact nature of each tale makes this work ideal for selected readings, but it may become tiresome if attempted all in one sitting. The majority of the book is taken up with various proverbs, explanations of their origins, and stories of how they’ve helped people in the real world. Its last section, however, is given over to poems, such as “Xmas Complaint,” which reads, in part: “But alas! Alack! And also woe! / For progress, chimneys had to go. / And Santa’s fame will soon be fleeting; / He cannot fit through central heating!” The choice to suddenly shift into a jokey, poetic vein at the very end of the work detracts from its straightforward, if somewhat on-the-nose, thematic concept. Overall, however, the author’s execution is admirably detailed, visually engaging and emotionally involving.
An often amusing collection of linguistic anecdotes, and a light, informative read.