THE GARDEN OF LIFE          by Todd Michael Putnam


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A concise, elegant self-help book that uses the metaphor of tending a garden to illustrate how to make the best choices in one’s personal and professional life.

With the unalloyed charm of a children’s story, the book begins with two principal characters: the Old Man and the Young Gardener. The Old Man is frustrated by the weeds in his garden, but the Young Gardener urges him to keep weeding. More importantly, he encourages him to accept the fact that he will be weeding for the rest of his life—but that he also has the ability to shape and nurture the exact garden he wishes. Debut author Putnam then embellishes this brief anecdote in a more traditional self-help section. In it, he explains that “[o]nly you can decide which are the Weeds of Meaningless Distraction that you will pull out of your life and which are the Seeds of Positive Purpose that you will choose to grow.” The book continues with this format for another eight chapters, using the Old Man’s and the Young Gardener’s obstacles to illustrate lessons in loss, love and accomplishment. The book outstrips most of its self-help contemporaries in its brevity and excellently matched illustrations. Instead of urging readers to complete a series of exercises or numbered steps, it encourages them to look inward for answers to life’s challenges. This type of thinking doesn’t offer easy answers, but it does foster solidity and growth. Putnam’s direct prose doesn’t seek to impress, but it does succeed in holding readers’ interest while clearly getting its points across. There are an unnervingly high number of capitalized concept names (“Planting the seeds of Respect, Patience, Appreciation and Forgiveness and then nurturing them is often not an easy task”), but it’s no worse than others in the genre. Ultimately, Putnam makes it clear that although true growth is never easy, it’s definitely worthwhile.

A slim yet effective volume on how to live the best possible life in a wide range of circumstances.

Pub Date: June 24th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1478737490
Page count: 76pp
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.
Program: Kirkus Indie
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