Friday, March 11, 2016

Sage advice from "The Phantom Tollbooth"

Today I finished rereading the excellent "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster, which I first read only in 2013 at the age of 24.

Here was my quick Goodreads review after that first read:
"I can't believe I never read/heard about this book when I was younger. So much delightful word play and sage advice laced throughout."

And here's what my younger brother wrote after he read the book that same year:
"Loved the endless wordplay and the playful use of language. It was a great reminder that there are countless exciting, rewarding, enlightening adventures out there, if we just keep our minds open to that possibility."

It's a children's novel—think Roahl Dahl books—which is why I was so surprised to never have encountered it growing up.

And as noted above, there's tons of great life advice throughout the book, which can be appreciated and used at any age. So I'd like to share with you the passages that stuck out for me during this most recent read:

"My goodness," thought Milo, "everybody is so terribly sensitive about the things they know best."

"Think of all the trouble it saves," the man explained, and his face looked as if he'd be grinning an evil grin – if he could grin at all. "If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won't have the time. For there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren't for that dreadful magic staff, you'd never know how much time you were wasting."

“It has been a long trip," said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; "but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn't made so many mistakes. I'm afraid it's all my fault." 
"You must never feel badly about making mistakes," explained Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.” 
“But there's so much to learn," he said, with a thoughtful frown. 
"Yes, that's true," admitted Rhyme; "but it's not just learning things that's important. It's learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things at all that matters." 
"That's just what I mean," explained Milo as Tock and the exhausted bug drifted quietly off to sleep. "Many of the things I'm supposed to know seem so useless that I can't see the purpose in learning them at all." 
"You may not see it now," said the Princess of Pure Reason, looking knowingly at Milo's puzzled face, "but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way.”

 “..., so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible.”
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