Book Review: ‘The World According to Tom Hanks’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

World According Tom HanksTwo years ago, I reviewed a book by Gavin Edwards titled The Tao of Bill Murray. I am such a huge fan of the man, the myth, and the legend… and this book kept me entertained with more stories of Mr. Murray and his unique outlook on life and fans and just… his being. It was a well-done commemoration of the man and his life.

Well, Mr. Edwards has been hard at work on another book that, honestly, I believe I would have asked him to write if asked to name another person of interest to me. But I didn’t have to ask.

The World According to Tom Hanks is THE book that fans of the actor deserve.

I have seen just about every film that Tom Hanks has starred in… as well as that first TV show, Bosom Buddies. (I still remember laughing out loud when he and Peter Scollari, dressing up as women, are shaving and preparing for their day while singing Macho Man.) I imagine there are a LOT of geeks out there who cannot get enough of Tom Hanks; if you’re like me, whenever you’re flipping channels, you automatically stop and watch whatever time remains for Apollo 13 or Saving Private Ryan or Forrest Gump. (Apollo 13 gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.)

While I’m a huge fan of Mr. Hanks and his movies, I honestly didn’t know much about him personally before reading this book. I knew about his marriage to Rita Wilson and his fascination with World War II and the space program, but that’s about it. His upbringing, his early days as an actor, and his personal life… this was all new information, but all of it helped cement my respect for the man.

Edwards has organized his book in a similar manner to The Tao of Bill Murray, offering up The Ten Commandments of Tom Hanks (compared to The Ten Principles of Bill) that include Honor the sacrifices your elders made in the service of a seemingly impossible goal (2nd Commandment) and Worship in the church of baseball (5th Commandment) and Don’t dwell on the road not taken (7th Commandment). Each of the commandments share words of wisdom from Mr. Hanks, as well as stories of those who have had the good fortune to know and/or work with him and see how he reacts to the world around him. The stories are funny and sad and inspiring… and often all three at once. And truly… his outlooks on home, work and play in general could be worth emulating.

Following the Commandments sections is a fairly comprehensive coverage of his most important films, complete with more behind-the-scenes stories that will have any Hanks fan smiling ear to ear. Pick your favorite Hanks film and I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy the 2-3 pages that each film gets in coverage.

And before you begin to think that Tom Hanks has been an angel his entire life… you’ll discover that he’s just as human as the next person. The World According to Tom Hanks covers the good and the bad, but with Tom Hanks… the bad is seen more as a teaching/learning lesson and less of a blemish on his image as an icon. (I tend to think that Tom Hanks could body-slam a nun and we’d try and understand the message he was trying to get us to understand rather than hold it against him.)

The World According to Tom Hanks is a 300+ page nod to one seriously solid guy; the book will also serve as the evidence fans can provide to anyone arguing that Tom Hanks doesn’t deserve the title of Nicest Guy in Hollywood.

Note: I was provided with a review copy of this book.

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