A.J. Jacobs is grateful. Very. Very. Grateful. Hence, the title of his latest effort, “Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey” (Simon & Schuster/TED, 160 pp., ★★★ out of four) – a sweet, slender and simple exploration of positivity that begins with a cup of coffee.
Jacobs is, clearly, trying to be a better man.
That’s quite evident in “Thanks a Thousand,” a book that’s blissfully absent of pontification and full of self-deprecating humor. It starts on a dare from the author’s son and swiftly proceeds to an uplifting journey along a so-called “gratitude trail,” as Jacobs (“Drop Dead Healthy,” “The Year of Living Biblically”) attempts to thank every single person with a role in the making and delivery of his morning Joe.
The thank-you list swells in no time to somewhat unwieldly proportions and unexpected dimensions. Jacobs begins, naturally, by thanking the oft-ignored neighborhood barista. Soon he’s with farmers in Colombia, talking to the inventors of the “Java Jacket” that keeps millions from scorching their fingers, safety inspectors, artists, and the people who keep our water safe.
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