A few years back, the University of Tennessee’s Class of 2009 had the opportunity of a lifetime. Dolly Parton was their commencement speaker. I honestly can’t think of a single living person who I would be more excited to hear give an inspirational speech (I admire her so much, my friend Irit and I once shared a Dolly Parton-themed birthday party). The speech she gave to this graduating class not only inspired the audience and web viewers, but also inspired her latest book Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, in which she elaborates on the four main hopes that she introduced in her commencement speech, also the basis of the mission of her Dollywood Foundation. Her hope for us all is that we dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.
As a physical book, like Ms. Parton herself, Dream More is a tiny little thing at just 128 pages. As an audio-recording, which is how I enjoyed this book, it is a slim two-disc set. While Dolly fans will surely enjoy this book in any format, I highly suggest listening to the audiobook. While they are her words either way, it is an absolute pleasure to hear them shared in her own voice. She’s warm, inviting, thoughtful, and funny. She even breaks into song now and again. While I found the first half of the book/audiobook to be more focused, her messages are clear and sincere and inspiring throughout. It was a pleasure to listen to the full audio recording. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’ve listened to it twice already.
There’s also a significant focus on the importance of reading and in particular on encouraging reading at a young age. Dolly Parton talks about her work with her Imagination Library and how proud she is to be known as “The Book Lady.” In her words, “If I’m remembered 100 years from now, I hope it will not be for looks but for books. I don’t want the responsibility of any boobs in the future! I had to get that off my chest.”
Dolly Parton is an amazing woman with a lot of life experiences to share. While Dream More will be of most interest to her fans, those unfamiliar with her aside from her popular hits or her famous physique or her Dollywood theme park will find much to love here too.
On a side note, this book brought to my mind Nas’s “I Can“, with his lyric “Read more. Learn more. Change the globe.” Worth a listen if you haven’t heard it (recently or ever)!