Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Build a Piano Bench

I should probably be clear right now and tell you that not only do I not know how to build a piano bench, I only passed eighth grade shop class by stealing a project from a previous student and turning it in as my own.

I feel better just putting that out there. But now you also know I won't be telling you how to build a piano bench. I'm certain you can buy one that'll do just fine. Ha! 

A Humble Philosophy for Great Success

“Get an education, get off Petain Street, and amount to something.” These are the words that Ruthi Postow Birch’s father said to her when she was a little girl living on a red-dirt road in Pritchard, Alabama, a town that straddled the poverty line. And that is exactly what she did. How to Build a Piano Bench is Ruthi’s humorous and heart-warming story about growing up in southern Alabama, the life lessons she learned there, and how she applied that knowledge to build a successful business in Washington, DC. Full of anecdotes and advice on how to use both your strengths and weaknesses to work to your advantage, this wonderful story will inspire and delight anyone who has ever had a dream to be something bigger than what they are.
Normally not a book that I would pick up if I'm walking through a book store, mostly because I feel like these are so hit and miss as far as taking something away from it. Also, once you read it, you read it, it just sits on my shelf and I never pick it up again. I have seen this show up in my recommended reads list, I've seen it on review lists, and each time I thought about it.... so finally I figured a book that keeps showing up places is showing up for a reason, I'll give it a try. I'm at a point in my life where I will take anything that can help me with some self help and reflection, so I gave this a try.

The book starts with young Ruthi, growing up in a seemingly poor community in Alabama. She learns from a young age that if something needs to be done you do it, one step at a time. There is always the right next step to every problem. We get a sense of the family dynamic and how she grew up, which (as described on the cover) heavily shaped who she became as an adult, but also how she grew into her career. All of her challenges aren't unique to her, they are all things many of us encounter, especially if you're a mother trying to develop your career into something you can be proud of and have a sense of accomplishment.

Some things that I found hard to work with is that it is more of a business how to versus a memoir. It's a business how to with memoir touches, if you will. Also, some of the sentences throughout the book feel stunted and choppy, like an entire paragraph could have been reduced to one really well constructed sentence.

Things I loved? I really loved the sentimental connection to the dirt road she grew up. She richly describes it so you can perfectly imagine it. She gives you a picture of her home, her family, all of the interactions and you feel like you're a visitor to the home. I identified with her in that, while it wasn't easy and they weren't rich, she was rich in so many other things. Instead of looking at her childhood and how she grew up as a disadvantage or something to be embarrassed of, she was proud, it shows how far she came by her own work and by making good choices and learning from failure. Easily my favorite part of the book is the last chapter, aptly named Leftovers. It has advice that any of us can use, whether we're in business or not, and it reminded me so much of things the volunteers I used to work with would say. They were all senior citizens and they really loved to give insight and advice, and I learned to listen to them because they knew what they were saying. They had a perspective and a view from an angle I couldn't yet see, one you can only have with time.

Overall? It was a good book, a solid 3/5 stars for me. Is it one that I had some take away from? Yes, absolutely. Is it one I'll pull off the shelf and re-read again and again? Not likely. Is it one I'd recommend for a college graduate? Absolutely. I really think this would make a great graduation gift, or maybe even a "you're starting college- use this to guide you" because so many of these things can apply to them and their older selves. Frankly, we could all use this at some point.

If you hurry, there is a Goodreads Giveaway for this book ending on August 31, 2017 and if you're feeling lucky, go HERE to enter! 

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