The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

The_Tao_of_Pooh(book)_coverTitle: The Tao of Pooh
Author: Benjamin Hoff
Pages: 158
Year: 1982
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin)
Time taken to read: 3 days
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads synopsisIs there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist’s favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl. Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.

I have owned this book for a very long time, and I did with it what I normally do with books I own, which is that I put off reading it because once it’s read, it’s over, and I have no use for it anymore. However, I would not be surprised to find myself reading this multiple times. I also think it was really important for me to read it now, because I just started therapy for my depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia (among many other issues), and this book has really helped me to relax over the past few days. It gives the message of Taoism: chill out, stop trying so hard, and let nature do its thing. And it gives ideas on how to follow this message through one of my all-time favorite Disney characters, Winnie the Pooh. I carried a stuffed Pooh Bear around with me from the time I was born until I was in middle school, so he really means a lot to me. That’s what sparked my interest in this book, but now I’m interested in reading more about Taoism because it seems to promote nothing but peace.

Now, I don’t see myself converting to the Taoist religion, but this book made me want to incorporate Taoist ideas into my life as much as a 21st century girl can do. Yet, I’m still a little skeptical. It would be nice to just chill out and enjoy “doing Nothing” and appreciate what I have in life, but it’s not that easy (hence my suffering from anxiety). Hoff makes it sound like we can drop everything and change the way we think just like that. The thing is, that’s how he makes it sound, but I’m sure that, if prompted, he would say that he doesn’t mean it like that, and that of course it takes time to change your thinking patterns. I also thought that some of his arguments for why Pooh is a symbol of Taoism were a bit of a stretch. He often says that Pooh solves problems best because he has a clear mind, but I think that Pooh just happens to be at the right place at the right time in order to solve the problems that he does. But then again, I understand his point that if your mind is too cluttered, you may not see the obvious solution. I think it’s very difficult to analyze Winnie-the-Pooh in this way because it is fiction, and Pooh is the hero, so of course he solves all the problems. That leads Hoff to his idea that Pooh was chosen as the hero for his simple-mindedness, but as we are not the author of Winnie-the-Pooh, we can never know for sure. Despite all this, I felt that The Tao of Pooh moved me, whether I agree with Hoff 100% or not. For that reason, I give this 5 out of 5 stars, and I am very interested in reading the sequel to this book.

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