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Book Review: Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life by Stephen R. Covey, compiled by David K. Katch

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Sixty-three of the best stories from the Reader’s Digest archives, organized into chapters which address twenty-one essential components of character – that’s what you have in Everyday Greatness.

What was the point of resurrecting and reprinting these stories? For David K. Hatch, who pulled the collection together, it began as a search for stories and anecdotes he could use in public speaking but soon morphed into something far bigger. For Stephen R. Covey, who introduces each chapter and links the stories with insights and observations, the book’s purpose is to help the reader understand what makes a person great – not only in public but also in private life.

Chapters titled Charity, Courage, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, etc. (21 in all) explore the topic subject with three stories, a few questions (called “Reflections”), and a section of quotes, all stitched together with commentary by Covey. Covey’s lifelong emphasis on principle-centered living makes him the perfect choice as the book’s moderator. His clear and to-the-point writing style gives the book unity. His reputation and international recognition (his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 15 million copies) lends the book authority.

The stories themselves are by a variety of authors, new and old, from Henry David Thoreau to Reba McEntire. They’re short, easy to read, interesting, and illustrate the subject under discussion more efficiently than a lecture twice their length would.

My hardcover copy was sturdy enough to stand the wear and tear it would receive if it were used to its potential – not only for one read-through, but as a reference book for quotes and illustrations.

Every chapter gave me a lot to think about. There’s enough good stuff here to overwhelm. That’s where the “Afterword” section at the end of the book comes in. It lists ways the reader can begin putting the principles explored into practice. The book ends with an index of story titles and quote authors.

For a book that will encourage and inspire in literally hundreds of ways (there are around 600 quotes), I’d highly recommend Everyday Greatness.

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