The Garden of Life


Non-Fiction - Self Help
76 Pages
Reviewed on 12/31/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Garden of Life is an inspirational non-fiction book written by Todd Michael Putnam. This self-help book is composed of dialogues between the Young Gardener and his neighbor, the Old Man. The two of them discuss their opposing viewpoints on topics such as weeding their gardens, criticizing their neighbors' gardening efforts, dealing with losing their plants in a major storm and picking up the pieces afterward among other topics. Each is a metaphor for life and is followed by Gardening Tips and a focus question for thought. While The Garden of Life is an inspirational book, the author does not espouse any one religious belief system, and the parables contained within are accessible to all.

Todd Michael Putnam's motivational self-help book, The Garden of Life, is a marvelous little handbook on the care and feeding of your inner being. The Young Gardener is never judgmental or harsh when dealing with the Old Man, and his responses are inspirational indeed. From the very first parable on weeding one's Garden of Life, I found myself challenged and intrigued. The Young Gardener's response to the devastation caused by the storm and the loss of his beloved Blossom Tree is marvelous and very moving. There's a lot to think about in this deceptively slim book, and I suspect readers will find themselves pondering long and deeply about some of the wisdom found within -- I know I will be. Simple, yet profound truths are to be found on almost every page of The Garden of Life, and it's most highly recommended.

K.C. Finn

The Garden Of Life is a motivational self-help book by Todd Michael Putnam. Its innovative narrative style arranges each chapter in the form of a short but meaningful story of two neighbours and their gardens, which then expands into a wider, more general message about good habits to keep in life. The metaphor of the garden is used in many different ways to illustrate the problems, pitfalls and tragedies that can befall us in our lives, and the Young Gardener and Old Man personas convey the positive and negative attitudes that one can adopt when addressing these issues. At the heart of this short but inspirational guide is a message about positive thinking and keeping hold of your faith at difficult times.

I’m not a practising Christian, but Todd Michael Putnam’s references to God were not made in a way that attempted to force Christian values upon the reader, and I found that I was able to substitute my own beliefs in place of those mentioned and still engage with his ultra-positive message. I immensely enjoyed the simple-but-effective parables that were included in The Garden Of Life and I’m sure that any reader from any background would be able to take something meaningful and uplifting away from reading this book. I was also impressed by the emphasis Putnam puts on actively participating in your life, and the idea that you have to work hard at ‘sowing the seeds’ of joy in order to achieve the things that will bring you happiness. Overall, it was a quick and delightful read that offers many thoughtful lessons to those who need them most.

Jane Allen Petrick

Mindfulness. Acceptance. Emotional Intelligence. All tools we are increasingly being told are essential for peace, fulfillment and productivity in our lives. Usually, however, acquiring these tools comes with a hefty price tag: spending several thousand dollars to sit in some dimly lit, over-chilled hotel ballroom listening to the latest neuro-science guru drone on using big words you don't understand while displaying complicated diagrams you can't see. But now there is a road to mindfulness for the rest of us: The Garden of Life by Todd Michael Putnam.

In The Garden of Life, Michael Todd Putnam, an IT professional from Florida, presents us with a concise, accessible, practical guide to a mindful life. Written as a parable, each chapter of the book contains gems of practical wisdom, easy to understood and palatable to absorb. For example, "He (the Young Gardener, the main character in the fable) didn’t pull the weeds out of his garden hoping that they will never grow back again. He pulled them out to give the things that he had planted on purpose the time and resources that they need to grow."

Michael Todd Putnam offers no easy answers, no lock-step formulas. Rather, through the kinds of stories that have helped educate humankind since time immemorial (Aesop's Fables come to mind), The Garden of Life reminds us of universal wisdom often lost in the rush of our modern lives. For example, in reflecting on reactions after a storm wrecks your garden, Putnam proposes, "Emotional healing from overwhelming loss is an act of acceptance and choosing to move forward. And move forward you will. It is the choice that you will make because you owe it to yourself, to the people you love that you still have in your life, and to those who love you."

As I said at the beginning of this review, this is emotional intelligence for the rest of us. I am so glad I have come upon this book as I enter a new decade in my own life; you may find this little read helpful as well. Or as Putnam himself puts it, "If you or anyone that you know of feels lost or is going through a difficult time in their lives, The Garden of Life is the perfect little book to help you through!"

Faridah Nassozi

Starting with the concept of two gardens, one well tended and the other not so much, the book portrays the attitude that we go through life with and how this affects the achievement of well-rounded life goals. On one side of the fence sits the old man's garden that he has more or less given up on because no matter what he does, the weeds just keep coming up. On the other side of the fence, however, sits a beautiful garden with a variety of thriving plants. The two neighbors face the same challenge of the weeds, but one garden has no hope of survival while the other is flourishing. The only difference here is in how the two neighbors have decided to tackle the challenge of the weeds. From the concept of the weeds in the first chapter, Todd Michael Putnam in The Garden of Life utilizes a different concept in each of the following chapters to bring out an important example on how to win in life.

The old man and the young gardener represent the two different types of people in life. The way the old man saw those weeds in his garden represented life's endless challenges and misgivings; you solve one today, tomorrow another one pops up. So does this mean you stop trying and just give up? The old man sure was ready to do just that. The young gardener on the other hand represents the attitude we should all live our lives with; the never give up mentality with the focus and drive to lead us to a fulfilled life. The challenges are endless and so should be your efforts. Eventually you will have that very much-deserved breakthrough. We all face essentially the same challenges in life. The only difference comes from how we handle these challenges. Many times we give up, lose focus of what is important and just let life's bottlenecks win; but if we focus, learn from the past and put in more effort in tackling these bottlenecks, we will eventually achieve our targets. Each chapter of The Garden Of Life represents an important life lesson and Todd Michael Putnam brought these lessons out brilliantly and in an easy to relate to style of writing, making the book a pleasure to read.

Jane Finch

The Garden of Life by Todd Michael Putnam is a thought-provoking journey with the two main protagonists being The Old Man and The Young Gardener. The gentle story examines the way both men look upon their experiences. The first examines the weeds in the garden and whereas The Old Man looks on these as a menace and is totally defeated by them, The Young Gardener takes a different and more enlightening view. The author then examines similarities between the weeds and aspects of everyday life. Another story encourages others to – in the writer’s own words – follow the courage of his convictions instead of the will of the crowd. It’s about taking a journey that knowingly goes in the wrong direction, but having the courage to turn away. There are nine stories in all, each comparing the differing viewpoints to everyday situations.

This is a very soothing book that subtly gives advice on how to look at various aspects of life in a different way. It shows how the way we look at things can be positive or negative and encourages a new way to examine life. The language of the stories is almost like a fable, which lulls the reader into considering the suggestions rather than rejecting them. This is down to the author’s writing skills and approach. Todd Michael Putnam has done a good job of taking the stress and strain, anxiety and anger away from everyday situations and giving them a whole new meaning. Using the gardening theme gives this book a secret weapon, because it will perhaps appeal to the older generation who might not normally read such work. Reading this book could be a life-changing experience.