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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Loving Ordinary Life by Anastasia Petrenko is a sweet little book whose cover instantly catches your eye and interest. While the sub-title states this is a “self-help” book, it might be more accurate to describe it as a “feel-good” book because it’s as pleasing to the eye as it is to the mind. That’s because of the colourful, cartoon-like illustrations by Rina Kapustina that introduce each short chapter, along with the red swirls and squiggles that brighten the pages or encircle important points presented in large, friendly fonts that appeal to the child in each of us and help us remember the important lessons the book teaches.
Adding to the feel-good enjoyment of this quick read is the large print, making it easy to read whether you are sixteen or sixty. And though the book is geared toward adults, many of the concepts could be used by elementary school teachers in younger grades. For instance, the author encourages us to listen to and not just hear music. Students might explore the difference between the two. She suggests that contrary to the usual advice that one listen to upbeat music when we feel depressed, we might listen to sadder, melancholy music to tune in to how it makes us feel and why.
Loving Ordinary Life encourages people to stop rushing through their days. Petrenko suggests we enjoy the process of working our way through projects or challenges as much as reaching the desired finish. She reminds us to take in the beauties of nature all around us and appreciate that we wouldn’t see them if it weren’t for our gift of sight. It makes one immediately think of those who are blind and never have that wonderful experience. And peppered liberally throughout the book are positive quotations and thoughts that are worth printing out and sticking on our work space as reminders of what matters when life is getting us down. As Anastasia Petrenko points out, Loving Ordinary Life is “designed so you can open any page and find the inspiration to act and improve your life when you’re feeling down.” Well, together with her illustrator, Rina Kapustina, and her mentor and editor, Gregory V. Diehl, that goal has been realized.