Summary and book reviews of The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel ben Izzy

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness

By Joel ben Izzy

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2003,
    228 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2005,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

Once upon a time are magic words that cast a spell whether we're young or old. A good tale has a way of holding us captive. To Joel ben Izzy, a professional storyteller for twenty years, stories are not only a way of life but also a way to heal. In this altogether original book, ben Izzy takes us on a journey inside the world of stories and the lessons they teach us through their timeless wisdom.

He begins by telling us the tale of the The Beggar King, in which King Solomon loses his kingdom and is left to wander the land as a beggar. Then, ben Izzy's own tale unfolds--much like a fable--when he unexpectedly loses his voice, the very thing he needs most. No longer able to tell stories, he loses his livelihood along with his hope, until he meets his old mentor, Lenny. Through fables, folktales, and riddles, the wise but cantankerous Lenny teaches him how to see his fate in terms of a larger story and shows him the gifts that can only come from loss.

Each chapter of ben Izzy's journey begins with a tale he's collected from around the world--from The Lost Horse (China) to The Secret of Happiness (Turkey). And each one touches on universal themes-from the quest for truth to how to cope with life's disappointments. He challenges us to find the meaning in our own life stories.

Contents

Prologue: The Beggar King
Ch.1:   The Lost Horse
Ch 2:   The Cricket Who Jumped to the Moon
Ch 3:   Optimism and Pessimism
Ch 4:   The Vow of Silence
Ch 5:   The Search for Truth
Ch 6:   The Border Guard
Ch 7:   The Appointment
Ch 8    The Wisdom of Chelm
Ch 9:   Buried Treasures
Ch 10: The Strawberry
Ch 11: Hersel's Last Laugh
Ch 12: The Happy Man's Shirt
Ch 13: The Fox in the Garden
Ch 14: The Secret of Happiness

Epilogue: The Beggar King
About The Stories
Acknowledgements



Prologue

Let me tell you a tale of long ago, from the old city of Jerusalem, back in the days when Solomon was king. He had reached the height of his power and was known throughout the world for his wisdom. With it, he had brought Jerusalem to a golden age. He was the happiest of men and might well have remained so, had it not been for a strange dream.

It came to him, one ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Ben Izzy successfully translates the best elements of oral storytelling to the page; his memoir shines with brisk suspense as well as his unerring, precise eye for including only the elements of his hard-won wisdom that matter the most.

Library Journal - Katherine Koenig

Told with humor and the wisdom that comes only through suffering, this is a story not just for storytellers but for anyone who has faced tragedy.

Author Blurb Grace Paley, author
This is a beautiful book full of old tales—from China, India, Persia, Jerusalem—that help storyteller Joel ben Izzy through dark times of silence and back into light and sound once more. Wonderful!

Author Blurb Anne Lamott, author
It's really the only important story there is— a story about finding light within darkness. That Joel ben Izzy is fantastic! What a gift, what a blessing; brilliant, funny, wise...

Author Blurb Dorothy Law Nolte, co-author of Children Learn What They Live
Storyteller Joel ben Izzy brings us a powerful message. I found myself bursting into laughter and wonderment over a bike and sharing a tear of joy and insight over a pancake!

Author Blurb Ira Glass, host of Public Radio's This American Life
Who knew people like Joel ben Izzy still existed in today's world? He deploys ancient stories gracefully to illuminate his own story.

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