Firstly, I always plan but never do, finish a book when I take a trip. Reading “Word Awakening” was a first. Which in itself should prove how awesome this book is.’

[Watch me read the review here:]

Watch this review here:

Secondly, I haven’t written a “book review” since the 7th grade, so bear with me, as this will make sense by the end.

Patience is a virtue… not saying it’s mine… just saying it is.

Last week I was at a safe and socially distant gathering (a seemingly necessary disclaimer nowadays) when posed with THE ULTIMATE QUESTION.

You know the one I’m talking about.

The extraordinarily unoriginal one that everyone asks … “What do you do?” … Finally fed up with hearing both the question and my regurgitated response, which was starting to taste like when you throw up in your mouth, I paused …

… and shouted… I AM A WRITER!! I seemed to be just as taken aback by my exclamation as the charming woman with whom I was speaking and who first posed the question.

Just within earshot, and like an awkward owl with an uncontrollable neck spasm, my friend’s head suddenly swiveled in my direction. Mind you, he was in mid-conversation, with someone else, who was reflexively reciting their own dumb drab and rehearsed answer. Which I think only further supports the lack of originality in the question.

I understood the puzzled look on his face, and in similar owl-like fashion, the big wondrous eyes that accompanied his expression. He was thinking, “How was Akshay going to justify being a writer? Doesn’t he direct marketing and business development for a healthcare technology start-up!”

You see, the assumed answer or idea THE ULTIMATE QUESTION is supposed to get at is the “thing” or “activity” that generates the financial income you need to keep the lights on, food on the table, and gas in the car.

Or in more depressing terms, gives your lonely bulb just enough spark so you can crack open a beer and numb yet another boring day, directs just enough electricity needed to reheat your TV dinner, and power on the TV in front of which you’ll eat it, and puts just enough gas to keep that blinking low fuel red light indicator off, until tomorrow.

But the question, answer, and what’s on your business card is not you and falls light-years short of encompassing the expansiveness of who you are. It couldn’t be a more limiting view of what you do. Hell, the flimsy quasi cardboard paper your institution issued you

barely has your name, title, and email. And it draws more attention to the corporate logo than provides any indication of your true value and contribution to the organization. PS: Title’s don’t mean shit. But that’s a conversation for another day.

While inappropriate and out of context, I could say “I eat, poop, and sleep”. That technically would address the query as to what it is I do. Additionally, it would be a good segue way to sharing what is among my other favorite books “Everyone Poops.” A fantastic read that sends children and frankly more needed by adults, the message that we are all the same. You are human. I am human. What “you do” and your title makes you no different than I or anyone else. In any capacity. At any time. I poop. And you poop. Now lets all scream for ice cream.

SO!!! Let’s bring our attention back to the real subject of this here write-up, review, and my preferred designation, a confidently written column. THE BOOK!

The book is called “Word Awakening” by Alison Tugwell. Let me preface the praise to come with the fact that I firmly don’t believe in flattery.

I just call it as I see it. If she’s beautiful, so I say. If she’s smart, witty, with a dash of deviousness and a splash of sexy, I usually stop the conversation and stare….but eventually so I say as well.

And if an author has, as Alison has in this case, profoundly moved me to action, well then, I must give credit where it’s clearly due.

So when I say this book, “Word Awakening” has actually awakened words within, and brought to my attention the power of puns, the awesomeness of analogies, and inspired me to actually put pen to paper… well it has. In no uncertain terms, I feel that I owe it first to myself, then to my audience, and lastly to the author, to create a writing sanctuary and find a calming candle, to commit myself to write regularly and imperfectly, and to express myself in a manner that is vulnerable, authentic, and real.

If you, like me, which you are, given you probably poop too, have stirring within a sensation that something needs to get out (we are now leaving the anatomical analogy) a voice, sound, message, opinion, or constructive criticism (emphasis on the constructive) this book is a MUST READ.

However boring your job, and whatever lame title has been slapped on your shirt, you too are a writer. You too have words within you. In fact, you probably use some of them every day. But I am going to take a wild guess, a champion league-like swing, and say that when you do go to write, you either whiff completely and drop the bat, or fear stepping up to the plate altogether. With that whole episode defining the beginning and end of your creative career.

In this book, Alison Tugwell, will transform your take on what it means to be a writer, and provide you the necessary perspective you need to get on the field and do, say, think, and feel the things your heart so desires and the send the unique messages your experiences have made for you to share. As humans we need connection. I admittedly often resist connecting with people blaming it on my moodiness or “only-child” syndrome. But writing for me is my most meaningful method of connection to myself and others. It offers me horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and coupled with time to think, the four-dimensional space within which I feel most comfortable, safe, and secure.

In my hay days of high school, I chalked up being creative or artistic to three mediums: drawing, painting, and sculpture. So when my stick figure looked itself like it had a stick up its ass (which would have actually been a massive improvement on what my shaky hands were producing), and my painting a piss poor Picasso, and my cracked and crumbling sculpture soon to be someones smoking ashtray, I had all but given up any hope of “being creative”. Which honestly…. scared the crap out of me. I felt as though I would be forever trapped within a world I couldn’t understand or explain. Thankfully sooner than later, I found photography and shortly thereafter writing as MY modes of artistic expression.

“Word Awakening” brought me back to those moments, to memories long since visited, and shone a light on the very first journal entry I ever wrote. In this entry, written circa February 2007, I explicitly articulate my desire to write and my judgmental frustration with being a “shitty writer.”

Interestingly my SAT writing prompt was one that proclaimed that black and white photography was limited when juxtaposed to something of color. Having found peace in the depths of the darkroom, printing my photos, laying them in the bin, and watching images emerge as the chemical bath washed over the paper, I recall that I had never before felt the rush to take a stand on anything, let alone why if a color picture spoke a thousand words, a black and white one, could speak ten thousand. That in fact, black and white photos could communicate more “color” than those that were actually colorful.

My math and reading scores were sub-par by arduous, irrelevant, and annoying Indian parental standards. Therefore I’ll attribute my acceptance to NYU, my dream school, and my dream life, to writing that essay. I went to high school in Kansas and akin to Dorothy, New York City was to be both my Oz and my home. It was writing that got me there. FYI: Alison Tugwell, author of “Word Awakening” has also called NYC home.

My passion for writing experienced a resurgence while studying in Buenos Aires circa July 2010. An intense and passionate love affair gave birth to the single piece of writing of which I am most proud and has been read aloud to all but an audience of two.

Reading “Word Awakening” has not only inspired penning new work but revisiting what my then Creative Writing professor described as “a long vivid piece on the ephemeral nature of connections one makes while abroad.” A very eloquent way of describing the 20+ graphic pages that poured out about this insanely beautiful girl who had taken a particular interest in me.

In her recommendation letter, my professor also had this to say “Akshay Ramanathan has a refreshingly individual and ingenious approach to literature and writing. He proved to have remarkable talent. His pieces were striking and memorable, ranging from sharp chronicles of local everyday life to a multi-media experiment on travel abroad. Akshay is always experimenting with new forms and yet he also has an inner drive to assure that the result works on its own in the public eye. He revised consistently, listened, and gave critiques constructively, and at bottom was motivated to evolve as a writer. I have complete confidence that Akshay Ramanathan would contribute valuably to any field involving creative thinking and writing.”

I share this with you, to yes, absolutely, and undoubtedly tell you how cool I am, to rave about this accomplishment, to blowtorch my better humble self. NO!! Not for a second!

I share this with you because I was not confident and frankly convinced that even after her recommendation, I was not and could not be a writer. That I couldn’t write. That my moment had come and gone. And that all that was left “was the scent of her perfume on my pillow and forgotten articles of clothes and pieces of jewelry, evidence that she wasn’t just a dream.” I thought that was it, but little did I know it was only the beginning.

Now 10+ years later, “Word Awakening” has stirred my soul in such a manner that leaves me wondering, “What happened to that person? What happened to the younger, gentler, and wider-eyed me that soaked up the world like the sand does the sun?”

I ask you to ask yourself, what words are on your lips but remain latent? What message meets you in the dark, that you are scared to confront? What words must be awakened for you to fulfill who you were meant to be?

I urge, employee, and submit to you that if you take an active approach to read this book, which provides practical writing prompts and directions, within the context of the author's personal journey, you will emerge yourself a different and more matured and evolved human. And with you will come to a story, your story, and your words will be awakened.

Bottom line. Read “Word Awakening: Stop Writer’s Block and Start Creating Impact Now” by Alison Tugwell.