Review: Side By Side


What is friendship?  If you were to ask this question in certain parts of the world, the answer would be that a friend is someone you could wake up at 2am and say, “come with me” and they would come, no questions asked.  In still other places a friend is someone you can easily bear your soul to.  Someone who draws out the parts of you that you can’t tell others about because you’re ashamed of them.  Friendship is a bond that knows no bounds.

That’s not what this book is about.  This book wastes no time telling you what a friend is, but instead tells you how you can best help others.  This book provides useful tips on how to create those deep and enduring friendships we all desire.  If gives practical tips on how to engage people in conversation and to move relationships from the common surface level engagements we have today to more meaningful and deep relationships.  It talks about living life together and about how to move conversations to areas of personal growth.  It shows you how to overcome the pride that prevents us from being real with ourselves and others about our innermost thoughts and feelings.  This book is all about how to help your friends become more awesome.

This book is more focused on how to help others be successful in life than it is about you being a better person.  If you can master the skills here you’ll find the people around you are more open and honest with you and with themselves.  And in turn, you’ll get to be more open and honest with them, but the focus is on them opening up and not you.

My main problem with this book is that I’ve read all of this before.  I don’t know if Welch has just combined all these tips from other places and things I’ve read or what, but there was nothing challenging in it.  The book’s language was simple and approachable to all, that is also exactly what I disliked about it.

It’s not that I think I’m a good friend… the truth is I’m not good at employing the principles laid out in this book; even though I do agree that they should be employed.  The kind of person that does what Welch describes will find themselves surrounded by deep and meaningful relationships.  But despite the truth of all of that, I found this book simply a chore to read.  It could be that I read through the book too quickly (the chapters are short and would probably be best served by reading one every few days while you worked to implement the suggestions in your life).  I was reading 2-5 chapters a day so that I could cram it into the last week of March.  So take this review for what it’s worth, the book has great material and possible a boring delivery.

Now, that I’ve spent explaining how boring this book is and only the hardcore readers are still reading, here are two good insights this book made that make it worth while:

1st, we are all helpers.  Welch states that “a young child is most satisfied when helping a parent cook or clean.”  I fact checked this with several families and they all agreed.  (All wanted to clarify that we’re talking about satisfaction and not happiness and a few wanted to clarify that some kids hate certain tasks and are not satisfied or happy to help with them.)  We are designed to help one another and the purpose of this book is to give you tools to be better at it.

2nd, this book really drove home for me just how bad I am at helping my friends be what they want and more importantly need to be.  Perhaps it’s a bit of pessimism, but I suspect that if you read this book you’ll find just how bad you are at helping your friends too.

There are many good reasons to read this book, and if you want to be a good helper of your friends I think it’s worth the effort.

Overall, I give this book three stars.

Next Up: The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling


One thought on “Review: Side By Side

  1. Pingback: Review: The Half-Blood Prince | This Sporadic Life

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