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by Barbara Berger
New American Library, 2002
Review by April Chase on Feb 11th 2003

Fast Food for the Soul

I am not sure why Barbara Berger decided to name her book "Fast Food For the Soul." She doesn't mention a reason anywhere in the book. And I must admit, I started reading this book with a really bad attitude, because of that title. Fast food for the soul - what exactly does the author mean by that, I wondered. Will it clog my mental arteries like grease from a cheeseburger?  Will I have to work off excess soul calories like doing extra aerobics to make up for eating half a cheese pizza? I found it to be an interesting and unfortunate choice of names, to say the least.

After reading the book, I am still not too sure about the name, but the actual contents were really more like macrobiotics for the soul. Definitely good for you, and pretty spare; more nouvelle cuisine than gravy-topped or chicken-fried.

Subtitled "The Road to Power," this book deals heavily with affirmations, and reads like an extremely long one. "We are what we think. We become what we believe. Our life is what we visualize. Our life is what we say it is." Thus begins our journey to self-realization, and every chapter of the book is full of similar cosmic sound bites. Perhaps the fast food part refers to the feel-good effect these pearls of wisdom may have on readers. French fries, after all, are pretty satisfying, and so is this if you pay attention.

Berger notes that the power of affirmations or mantras has long been recognized. "The Bible and other ancient scriptures all speak of the power of the word. They teach that our words are the creative force of the universe, alive with power for good or evil." Many branches of psychology likewise recognize the immense power of words, phrases, and voice.  Berger supplies affirmations, as well as suggestions on how to create your own effective versions, on just about every topic you can think of, from releasing the negatives in your life, to eating less. These, too, are often short, catchy, memorable phrases along the lines of, "Everything in the universe is energy and energy doesn't like to be trapped or to stagnate. Energy likes to circulate," and "Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to come and save you from your life. You are going to have to do it all by yourself."

Fast Food for the Soul is not a very long book, only 152 pages, but there is a lot of wisdom packed in those pages. Although the language is deceptively simple - no flowery adjectives, complicated phrasing, dramatic monologues or other distractions here - give it a chance. It took me a couple of chapters to decide that Berger is not talking down to her readers. She is just putting everything as simply as possible, so everybody gets it and the maximum amount actually sticks. And there are lessons here that everyone could benefit from, with the possible exception of those few people already as positive and motivated as Mary Poppins. Give it a shot!

 

© 2003 April Chase

 

 April Chase is a freelance journalist and book reviewer who lives in Western Colorado. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications, including The Business Times of Western Colorado and Dream Network Journal.