Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Smirnoff for the Soul, by Yakov Smirnoff

In the midst of reading Listening is an Act of Love, I took a brief hiatus to read Smirnoff for the Soul by Russian-American comedian, Yakov Smirnoff. The book was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend Tim's mom. His parents live in Branson, Missouri, and when we visited them this past Thanksgiving, we sat in Yakov's own theater, as part of a packed house, as Yakov gave one of his well-known performances. This comedian, who first came with his parents to America in 1977, has one of the most inspirational success stories I've come across. Reading his anecdotes can cause even the weariest, most bitter American to take heart and see our "Land of the Free" in a better light.

Yakov and his family arrived with barely the clothes on their backs, and now Yakov owns his own theater in Branson, and it's one of the biggest attractions of this destination for many who visit this locale of the Ozarks. Smirnoff for the Soul is truly a shot of "100 Proof Pure Wisdom Gift-Wrapped in Laughter," as the book's cover advertises.

Yakov is more than a comedian. Though the pages of his books are filled with jokes, between the laughter, he imparts wisdom with a personal touch, sharing the lessons that he's learned firsthand from all stages of his life -- from the importance of being humble, to driving on, held together by nothing but the convictions of his own beliefs, pursuing personal goals no matter what others say, and being a good father to his children.

In my opinion, because Yakov comes from the perspective of having been a newcomer to this country, which many of us who were born here sometimes take for granted, he truly has a fresh approach to many of the issues he touches upon. I enjoyed this fast, fun read that also spoke to my soul in a number of ways.

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