With millions of books in print (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It), Robert Fulghum is securely situated as one of the top simple sages on the bestseller lists. Intent on having modern society find the sacred in the commonplace, his fifth book takes a look at rituals, big and little. Taking showers, for example.
But he's sincere, and his message feels good. Revealing his own considerable heartaches (giving up an illegitimate child, his parents dying estranged from him) with unabashed honesty, he implores us to celebrate the passages—the weddings, the birth of a child, the first sexual experience—and to forgive ourselves for the bad marriages and all those other awful mistakes.
A parish minister for 22 years, Fulghum offers prayers and services for life's momentous events, as well as suggestions for everyday ceremonies. He aptly recognizes their importance in today's age of fragmented families and communities. Sure, Fulghum is overbearing, oversimplified and saccharine. But he's also touching, practical and wise. (Villard, $20)