The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons Learned From Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric

Couric Cover ShotThis compilation by Katie Couric is a delightful and inspirational book – and depending on the reader, it may be completely life changing, or just make the day a little brighter. Either way, it’s not all that surprising, given the book’s obvious title – it’s the best advice she’s ever gotten. Coming from a woman who has spent years interviewing hundreds of notable figures from around the world, she has her pick of thoughtful, successful people to choose from.

Each section of the book contains essays on a theme like “On Passion and Dreams” or “On Rejection and Resilience,” with an introductory piece written by Couric. While the individual essays are heart-warming, inspiring, and moving in all the ways you’d expect, the chapter introductions contained the most substantial content – Couric gives personal anecdotes about the chapter’s theme, and her plucky yet sincere attitude is infectious. The advice pieces are all separate first-person accounts, many of which have been culled from previous publications or speeches. Other, more cynical reviews have said the entries are too pat, too predictable. Well sure, good advice is sometimes like that. The essays are entertaining not necessarily for any sage wisdom, but for their tone and temperament. As though this head of State or Oscar-winning actor has written the reader a nice letter, giving off a “we’re all in this together” as one human family kind of feel.

The book lends itself to highlighting and note taking; each reader will take away something different, find something poignant for their particular place in life.

I’ll leave you with one gem I particularly enjoyed, from Ina Garten:

“You can’t figure out what you want to do from the sidelines. You need to jump into the pond and splash around to see what the water feels like. You might like that pond, or it might lead to another pond, but you need to figure it out in the pond.”