I received this book as a birthday present, after having been astonished to see a whole display of this author's books inside a major bookstore. I'm (almost) ashamed to say I had not heard his name before - as a result, I was curious to see what I could discover; the fact that he's a Gestalt psychotherapist only added fuel to my expectations!
In the back cover of Stories to think about, Bucay declares that his books "provide material for the brain, they help the reader to think about the world and himself".
After reading the 28 short stories, I have to agree I thought about me – why on Earth did I spend half a day to read this book? (because that's how long it takes. Really). Aren't there enough – good - books around me to choose from instead? (Yes.)
"Novel" ideas are told through allegories, wise men, gold coins, servants, horses. All fine in a literature work of art, but not for the purposes of a "therapeutic" book (the author's words, not my own). If I'm paying for a book (or a friend pays for me), I expect there to be an added value to what I read. I also do not want the same, simple idea to be repeated 3 or 4 times throughout the book. That narrows the (already limited) 28 stories down to even less original material…
The content is far from novel: the author explains that one needs to accept the others as they are, i.e. not as they would want the others to be. My question: what if the other actually is as I want them to be? I also had a problem accepting the notion that I deserve whatever good is happening to me (but not whatever bad is happening…). I believe this is very dangerous: the appreciation and the joy of good things is, for me, lost – if we take all good things for granted because we deserve them ("we have already paid for them") where is the magic? All good things would be status quo, so de facto they would be average, usual, common things. That's not what life is supposed to be…
The majority of the stories relate to interpersonal relationships and the obstacles we put to ourselves, that the author tries to introduce as his own – No. They've been around for ages, and I would even go further to say that most have been told much better. The proposals are also not new – carpe diem, believe in yourself, change the inside/not the outside… A discussion with good friends would, I think, yield the same effect.
So, what's the verdict? Well, the author was right – I did think about myself and the world (more about the former than the latter, though). My conclusions: I have the chance to discuss important issues in my life with family/good friends; I've reached a point in my life where my experience tells me who I am and what I am, and I'm in a wonderful situation to have read many books, especially classics, to know how old some of these "novel" ideas really are.
(I am sure there is an audience for books such as Stories to think about. It was just not the right type for me…)