Mother-Daughter Book Club Meeting and Book Review: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Last night Catherine and I went to our mother-daughter book club meeting. We often don’t meet in December, when everyone is pulled in so many different directions, but this year we all wanted to share a little bit of holiday cheer. Show-Ling put us all in a festive mood with an amazing feast of shrimp, spinach pie, meatballs, and lots of yummy sides. Karen brought cookies so we had something sweet to share. A fire in the fireplace made us all feel nice and toasty, especially since it was so cold outside. It was a perfect atmosphere to talk about the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

Word is Hoff wrote this little gem of a book while he was working in Portland’s Japanese Garden in the early 1980s. It’s an interesting introduction to Taoism illustrated through the actions of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Most of us knew nothing about Taoism or its principles, but the Tao of Pooh gives simple explanations that are easy to grasp. It also gives a brief description of the differences Hoff sees between Confusionism, Buddhism and Taoism. Since most of us in the group haven’t had much exposure to Eastern religions, it was interesting to read his point of view.

Hoff uses excerpts from A. A. Milne’s Pooh stories to talk about Tao Te Ching and its creator, Lao Tse. As Hoff assigned each Pooh character a defining characteristic—Owl is wise, Rabbit is clever, Eeyore complains and Piglet frets while Pooh just is—each of us was asked to say which character we are most like and if we would like to change that. We all wanted to be more like Pooh. A little more accepting, a little less stressed, a little more able to sit back, eat some honey and enjoy life. All in all, it was an interesting disucssion.

Next up, we’re headed in a totally different direction. In early February we’ll be talking about The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins. It’s been called “the first and greatest English detective novel,” and it should be an interesting change from our norm. Alannah likes mysteries, and this was her choice, so we’re all excited to dive into it.

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