Windows Of Hope, from the editors of Reader’s Digest
For those of us who have read a great deal of material from Reader’s Digest over the years, it can be a bit of a struggle to place this particular book within the materials that one can find within their pages. For the most part, what is found in here is not the sort of fragments of larger and better books that the reader can pick up elsewhere or four to a volume. Neither is the material filled with a great sense of humor, as this material is predominantly sentimental in nature. The result is a collection of nonfiction pieces ranging in length from short poems and personal essays  to far longer material that sums up to about 240 pages or so worth of material in total. This is the sort of book that many authors would want their work to end up in, and it manages to strike notes of religious faith as well as patriotism and love of family, all elements that combine in the very sentimental worldview of the Reader’s Digest as a whole, and all of which mark this volume as one that is likely to appeal to a wide audience of readers.
The contents of this book are fairly haphazard in their organization, as it must be freely admitted that this book does not really organize or divide its materials into an obvious scheme of organization except that of convenience. The stories in general tug at the the heartstrings and there are some poems included as well. Hope is taken to include a particularly wide net, including reflections on the loss of parents and children, suffering from cancer or other health woes, near death experiences, the loyalty of a young man to the Marines and the way in which that loyalty was repaid years later, the way in which blacks were finally motivated to serve as potential donors for those struggling to survive leukemia, and other such stories. Those who are so inclined will find many stories that will encourage people either to write about their own life experiences or perhaps shed some tears for the death and loss that are explored here. One hopes that the people who wrote the original stories received some sort of compensation for having their stories repackaged and shared in this volume for encouragement to readers, although it would appear as if few volumes of this kind can be expected now that writing personal essays has become so much more common online than in printed volumes.
Even if this volume ends up being something of a relic in the face of contemporary writing and reading trends, it represents the sort of book that is worth appreciating. There are all kinds of works that are made up of the re-used scraps of the writings of others, and the personal stories of trials and endurance and the persistence of hope against despair that inform these works is well worth appreciating and celebrating. Many people in their own ways do battle bravely against despair for one reason or another, whether it is over health crises or the pull of deep suffering and loss and sorrow, and this book is the kind that provides encouragement to people that their suffering has meaning and that their own struggles are part of a larger story, whether that is the story of a young man with autism trying to rent flowers for his prom date, or whether one is looking at a brave three-legged dog who refuses to back down from a fight despite being somewhat overmatched to the struggle of people for dignity or health against unpleasant circumstances. All in all, these stories affirm a mixture of family, faith, and patriotism that forms the core of what has made Reader’s Digest a trusted source of news and inspiration for generations, and that is something that many readers will treasure even if few volumes like this can be expected in the future given the logistics of contemporary book publishing.
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