Famous sports journalists Jason Gay brings his witty and sarcastic advice that readers get from his Wall Street Journal “Rules” column into his first book Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living. Gay says his purpose for writing this book was to create a parody of stereotypical self-help books, which include promises such as losing 10 pounds in one week or a quick fix to de-stress life. However, once his dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the purpose of his book changed and he ended up thinking of actual advice.
Gay believes that little victories are the things that make people happy and are an unrecognized necessity to everyday life. Also, as Gay mentions in his introduction, this is a book of rules for people who do not like to follow rules.
Before we discuss the book, let’s introduce Jason Gay. Gay is known for his sports coverage in The Wall Street Journal, as well as his “Rules” column, where he gives nontraditional and amusing advice for everyday life. Topics include Thanksgiving touch football, Super Bowl parties, 4th of July whiffle ball, going to the gym, and office holiday parties. Fun fact: Gay is the last known magazine writer to interview Beyoncé. Despite all of this, he still believes that the little things matter.
Gay argues that while daily accomplishments like making it through the holiday’s with the in-laws may seem unimportant, it is the little victories that decide whether you win the game or not. Gay applies his sports mentality when he states on radio’s Steven Maggi Show, “Games are not always won in final mode, it is an accumulation of small events, and accomplishments and life are very much the same way.”
According to Publishers Weekly, Gay framed his rules around two major events in his life: his father’s death and the fertilization birth of his two children, Jessie, and Josie.
Gay states in the introduction, “I believe it is possible to find, at any age, a new appreciation for what you have and what you do not have, as well as for the people closest to you.”
Gay’s conversational, witty humor and sports stories are still there, as he tries to give useful advice and make readers laugh at the same time. Gay says, “Your average sports TV show resembles two people hitting each other over the head with a fish.” Other quotes include “don’t serve soup at a dinner party,” “spend a little more money on flowers,” and “you really should listen to more Stevie Wonder.”
Speaking of music, Gay argues that it is a never ending cycle for adults to despise teenage pop music, and instead of continuing this cycle, he suggest a new approach to appreciating the genius of super cheesy pop. Gay believes that as we get older, we tend to hang on to the music that we grew up with and believe that mainstream music has gone downhill. This cycle is the reason for the cherished genres of oldies and classic rock.
“Why are we so obsessed with being cool?” Gay asks. Cool used to be a domain for teenagers, pop stars, and actors, but now the advertising culture has brought this mentality to adults as well. He adds, “Somewhere between 19 and 20 trillion hours are lost every year trying to be cool. Moreover, yet by and large, none of us are cool. I am not cool.”
Gay also puts stress in a series of categories. These include “actual stress” (getting fired or having a relative die), “perceived stress” (bear attack, hawk attack, or bobcat attack), and “not stress” (Netflix is buffering or anything to do with fantasy football). His suggested stress reliever? “There is no downside to throwing the 2-pound bag of flour against a wall—it feels totally fantastic.”
Whether you are married and have kids, lost a close relative, have attended an office holiday party, can’t stand mainstream pop music, feel like you are losing your “cool’, or are a big fan of Gay’s sports columns, you will get a kick out of this book. It is an easy read and an amazing and sincere guide to modern day life.