Book Review: “The Zen of Oz” by Joey Green

How I Came Across this Book

Like most of you bibliophiles, my favorite part of visiting a town is finding the used book store.

My honey and I recently took a trip to a small town in the Pocono Mountains and the one place I had visited many times was the book store right on the main drag.  However, I was not expecting to find a new used book store later that evening further from all the hustle and bustle of tourists.

I let myself be overwhelmed by the mounds of books on the dusty shelves. The dark entryway led me to the heart of the store, illuminated by lamp light. Sitting behind a counter was a gruff man with a long gray beard and a bandana around his head. He glanced up at me from behind his glasses which were sneaking further down his nose.

After my regular bookstore inquiry of Oz books, he rummaged through a box of ‘new arrivals’ and produced this gem. I had never heard of it before but knew there were many theories around the Oz story. For only $4, you bet I was adding it to my collection!

What to Expect

Many people are only familiar with the movie, which is epic in it’s own right. The original series actually has thirteen books, not to mention the books added generations later by avid fans and descendants of the author, L. Frank Baum.

I have always found it fascinating to research different religions and have read a few books on Zen and Taoism. Therefore, I was thrilled to find a combination of Zen and the Oz movie. As it does focus on the movie version, you do not have to be a super-Oz-book-dork like me to appreciate what this book has to offer.

Although most points regarding the characters’ actions were backed up well within the Zen philosophy, there were a few that seemed random and flimsy. This caused the book to drag a bit in the middle. Despite this, there is a big chunk of good stuff between the covers and well worth the read.

Summary

I loved how the author broke down basic Zen principles within the background of this modern American folk tale. The illustrations (by Cathy Pavia) were beautiful and apropos to the subject matter. And, you can fill your pockets full of all the wonderful one-liners throughout this quick read! Ultimately, I give it a four star rating.

I have head of other Wizard of Oz/religion books out there. Perhaps it would be worth giving those a read in the future to have a nice comparison.

Since the movie especially, there have been a lot of analysis of this fairy tale. Although I enjoy them, I honestly believe that L. Frank Baum was just trying to give the world a good story. I bet he would be super amused that we are all still so fascinated with Oz 100 years later.

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