Today’s Parent was lucky enough to sit down with the Most Awesome author around, Toronto writer Neil Pasricha.
Available September 29, Awesome is Everywhere is a heartwarming story that highlights the bright joys in life that we too often forget to notice. From appreciating the wispy white clouds in the sky, to admiring the sparkling blue waters of the ocean, Pasricha’s book teaches readers of all ages the importance of remembering all of the awesome this world brings.
We asked Pasricha about the inspiration behind his new book, his lifelong passion for reading, and his awesome new gig—fatherhood. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: Many of your awesome things revolve around books. Am I right to assume you’re somewhat of a book nerd?
A: I love, love, love, LOVE books so much.
Q: Where did your love of books come from?
A: My mom took me to the Oshawa Public Library every Saturday morning as a kid. Our entire childhood, my sister and I memorized the Dewey decimal system. I can still tell you that 741.59 is where I would find the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and I developed a gigantic love affair with reading. And it came in really handy because I was also a really very poor sleeper.
Q: How did reading help with your poor sleeping as a kid?
A: As a baby, I would basically stand up in my crib and cry all night—that’s what I hear, anyways, from my parents. And then as I developed into age 5, 6, 7, 8... I would lie awake in my bed. I remember it vividly still, looking at the clock all night until I eventually fell asleep at like midnight or 1 a.m. So when I finally learned to read, I started reading kids' books by myself every night, and it got to the point where I was reading series. So I read every single Hardy Boys, every single Babysitters Club, every single Nancy Drew, every single Encyclopedia Brown, every single thing, because I had nothing else to do and there was no Internet or cellphones!
Q: You’ve written multiple books for adults: The Book of Awesome, The Book of (even more) Awesome, and The Book of Holiday Awesome. What prompted you to write a kids' book now?
A: The short answer is really simple—I had a kid. I really wanted a way to share and teach him the principles of attitude awareness and authenticity—which are the ones I try to live my life around.
Q: Why does the book mainly focus on the feeling of being at the beach?
A: I was on my honeymoon on the beach and I was putting my finger in the sand and blowing on the water—I was doing what you do when you’re lying on the beach and you're really kind of meditating and falling into this kind of awe and awareness of the world, and an appreciation for everything around, and I was just like: “This is it, this is the book!”
Q: How did you translate that feeling into the book?
A: How do you physically make that come to life? The cool thing about living in the world in 2015 is that you can do it. We hired Discovery Channel's studios to animate the images. Each of those images is 20-plus composite photos merged together, so that when you blow on the wave, it looks like it's moving. I was really keen on trying to get the concept of having a day on the beach come to life in a really tactile way so that a child can use their fingers and actually mentally be somewhere else.
Q: This book is all about interacting, from tilting it around to blowing on it. Why did you do that?
A: I just think the concept of imagination is so important for kids. I want your small little baby head to sort of physically be under water. And I wanted you to be able to do things you can't do. You can't sit in outer space and tap the earth and zoom into it, and then end up in West Africa. And then you get into the waves and blow on them and flip them up over your head—you can't do that stuff physically, whether you’re a child or an adult. The point of the book is to create imagination in a way that comes together and tries as best as possible to physically and psychologically transport you to another place. And the byproduct of that is you end up learning—without me preaching to you—concepts of meditation, mindfulness, appreciation, and environmentalism.
Q: Do you think parents are going to enjoy the book as much as kids?
A: You know, I’ve been really surprised by the feedback. I wrote the book originally for children, but what I’m hearing from people who are reading advance copies is: “Oh my gosh, I loved it! Who cares about kids—I liked it, because it gave me a five- or 10-minute meditative break.”
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