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29 Gifts

How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

Non-member price: $25.35

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Publisher's Summary

At age 35, Cami Walker was burdened by a battle with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological condition that made it difficult for her to walk, work, or enjoy her life. Seeking a remedy for her depression after being hospitalized, she received an uncommon prescription from an African medicine woman: give to others for 29 days.

29 Gifts is the insightful story of the author's life change as she embraces and reflects on the naturally reciprocal process of giving and receiving. Many of Walker's gifts were simple - a phone call, spare change, a Kleenex. Yet the acts were transformative. By day 29, not only had Walker's health and happiness improved, but she had created a worldwide giving movement.

The book also includes personal essays from others whose lives changed for the better by giving, plus pages for the reader to record their own journey. More than a memoir, 29 Gifts offers inspiring lessons on how a simple daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world.

©2009 Brightside Communications, Inc. (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Walker's a plucky writer, and it's hard not to be inspired by her story." ( Boston Globe)

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Profile Image for Elizabeth
  • Elizabeth
  • 27-11-2016

A Gift

Relatable, grounding, compassionate, real. Well worth the read. Highly recommended. It will change your outlook.

14 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Cindy
  • 13-06-2017

Nope

I don't agree with the other reviews. Not much substance and not uplifting, maybe I was expecting more based on the other reviews. As for the narrator, her narration with her normal voice was good, but her accents for the other characters was pretty bad.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 01-06-2017

Generosity, Grace, Gratitude As States Of Being!

I generally don't have much, but compared to the rest of the world? I am definitely a "Have". The only thing is, I suffer from chronic crippling depression, and that can sometimes make life and my outlook really, really bleak.
"29 Gifts" was a truly remarkable book that changed the way I maneuver my way through life and through the world. What starts as Cami's desperate way to change her illness, turns into a full-blown movement. Here you'll witness as she goes through euphoria when things start taking a turn for the better, her confusion when life STILL throws her curve balls and low points, and her complete determination to continue when no matter what, life, her spirit, changes for the absolute best.
Giving is about a mindful communion with other people, and I, as an Oblivious Git Extraordinaire, need that reminder that I'm not alone but am here on a planet filled with people just struggling to get along, people who need a kind word, a flower, a few bucks or a cup of coffee. You'll learn to give with joy, and you'll even learn how to give when you feel scarcity in your life (probably the MOST important time to give if ever there was one!).
What I liked best about the book is when Cami feels too freaked out by life and by scarcity to continue on the silly "giving" thing but does it anyway. What a gift to those of us listening to that struggle, living it.
But the most important thing is: Giving somehow, some way, brings us closer to our gratitude for all that life and the universe have bestowed upon us. Some of us have love, some have family and friends, some have security. Some have none of the above but may have the ability to look within and think: The universe has my back; and I'm worth it.
Keep in mind that the last hour or so is not the book, actually, but is a series of stories of people who are working the gifts into their lives and have seen wondrous results, felt wondrous sensations. Also, there's a website: 29gifts.org if you want to share.
I still have chronic depression, am still on meds, but now I look at the symptoms as ways to find the cure. Loneliness and worthlessness?
Give more, share more, tell people I love them more, and for heaven's sake: Be oh so thankful!!!

9 people found this helpful

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  • THoward
  • 14-06-2017

Not what it could be

I wanted to love this book but I can't.

What I love:
- Her description of her illness and what she believes are the causes.
- The idea that giving is an integral part of what we want our communities to be.
- Being a part of a team, showing that we all need a support network.

The items that make me have an extreme distaste:
- The narrator. I felt the narrator brought a tone of 'I'm better than you' to the text that I would not have read into the lines written on a page.
- Apparent lack of empathy. I wanted more of the 'I was overwhelmed and treated my husband horribly but he didn't deserve that terrible behavior.' I wanted her to feel his pain in losing the wife he thought he had. I wanted her to acknowledge that he has been awesome. I received the tension in the relationship but I didn't feel the compassionate healing that needed to come from true giving.
- An epilogue that is over an hour?

I love the idea of giving. I'm walking away from this book with a better idea of why we give and feel this will be the most valuable part. I'm rather disappointed and won't recommend this book to my friends.

I'm giving an overall of 3 stars because all a reader needs is to try is 29 days of giving without expecting anything in return.

I'm rating the narrator and story 1 star because I feel run over by negative emotions.

I can't finish this book because it lacks sensitivity and compassion, is read without authenticity or vulnerability, and does feel like bragging.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Carlos
  • 15-10-2015

Good book but way ... I mean way to long

Didn't need to be this long . Fell asleep several times . Then wake up and couldn't remember the last thing I heard .... Just way too long

32 people found this helpful

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  • MolPenGrandpa
  • 20-06-2017

Not what you think it is.

I really thought this book was about how her life changed through the giving of these gifts. That is why I bought it. WRONG. It is about giving gifts BUT it also goes into her dealings of occultism. If I had known she was going to go there in her book I would have passed it up. The narrator did a good job so no complaints about her.

4 people found this helpful

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  • gcz
  • 15-12-2015

Loved it!!!

This is an awe inspiring book. I've joined the purpose and am super excited about it. A must read.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Julie Harris
  • 25-04-2017

Beautiful and inspirational

Loved every second and felt so inspired by her journey. She makes you feel part of the story - you really connect with her as a person. It was truly beautiful ❤

10 people found this helpful

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  • Susan
  • 20-07-2017

I really wanted to like this book, but couldn't

I thought the concept was great, to give a gift each day, but I could not stick with the author as she whines and then tells all these crazy New Agey stuff. Don't waste you money.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chad
  • 23-06-2020

Mixed feelings

I definitely have strong mixed feelings about this.

The overall lesson of generosity is good.

There's plenty of wacky woo-woo stuff in here. Although the author did make it clear that professional medical help is important, I still worry that some of the content could cause people to focus on useless alternative treatments and avoid the real medical care they need.

I was also deeply disturbed by how the author was commanded to destroy a set of clothes she loved and couldn't afford to replace as one of these woo-woo rituals.

On the bright side, the author did talk about having to go to multiple doctors in order to find ones that could help. She didn't really make a point of it, but it is quite important for everyone to realize that they need to take their healthcare in their own hands, and that not every doctor is competent. You have to keep searching for the good ones, and even then, stay on top of things and make sure the doctors are taking appropriate actions.

Now, about the giving.

Plenty of authors have talked about the immense value of gratitude, and how beneficial it can be emotionally. Giving feels good and can help us be better people. So a book focused on how we can give in a way that makes us feel better sounds good.

However, apart from "give something to someone every day for 29 days straight, and if you miss one, start over" is not necessarily the best advice.

The author tells an example of how she would get so distracted by trying to do anything she could to fulfill the assignment, that she would miss out on life or being present for people in the way she should be.

There was no discussion of how people can give a gift they feel the other person should be grateful for, regardless of if the other person wanted it, or might be offended by it, perhaps finding it patronizing.

And again, making it a daily chore tends to take the meaning out of it. Instead of being genuine and wholehearted, you're looking for an easy way to get an A on the test, so to speak.

To say nothing of pushing the philosophy that people should be forced to give when they cannot afford to give (time, material possessions, or money). That seems unwise. Where are the boundaries?

And random gifts are not always beneficial. Sure, you can give money to that panhandler on the corner. It's practically certain they'll spend it on alcohol or drugs. Don't believe me? Look it up.

And of course, there was no talk of effective giving. Perhaps donating money to a charity would work better than gifts for random people you run into. Even better if you do your research to see which charities make more effective use of that money. Donating money to causes in less industrialized nations is often even better, as the money can go further and accomplish more.

But I recognize the value of little acts of kindness and of giving locally, as well as the psychological benefit of feeling that you have helped another.

To be clear, I think a regular habit of generosity is a great thing. I donate to multiple charities and have volunteered time in a number of ways in my life. But I think practical strategies for giving, talking about right and wrong ways to give would be very valuable. And I think it's far more important to focus on building a habit of being a giving person in appropriate ways as the right situation arises than it is to set a daily chore of giving.

We need a great book on giving. But it is not this book.