The brilliance of the Phantom Tollbooth

This is a bit outta my norm, posting on a Friday. But those who know me know I love wordplay–perhaps a bit too much. And one book I keep reading and re-reading is none other than Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth”. Seriously, this book freakin’ ROCKS! From the very first page, Juster slaps the reader in the face with metaphor after metaphor as if he were a circus clown attacking a sad child with a herring. They don’t stop. The wisdom in the dialogue is almost immediately balanced out with a simple, yet effective joke. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s surprisingly relatable for a 52 year old satirical work.

Because that’s what it is.

It might be packaged as a children’s book, but just like Disney movies are full double entendres, so is this book filled with far more intellectual ones. Simply put, reading this book as a young adult–or as an adult of any age, it’s easy to link our current lives to Milo’s experiences in the Kingdom of Wisdom.


Especially at our age, the words of wisdom that come almost literally spewing out of every page in this book have been one of the most succinct ways to state many self-improvement, personal growth, and inner peace ideals. Simply put:

Whether or not you find your own way, you’re bound to find some way. If you happen to find my way, please return it, as it was lost years ago. I imagine by now it’s quite rusty.

–Norton Juster | The Phantom Tollbooth

These and many more gems await us inside these pages. Sure, it might be a kid’s book. But it’s probably one of the best gosh darn books for grown-ups I’ve ever picked up.  It’s one of the quickest reads you can ever pick up, too–the entire book is a mere 272 pages with nice, big, serif font. You will FLY past this book. And with any luck, you won’t even realize the wisdom you’re picking up until you put the book down and think about what you just read.

I’ll leave you now to enjoy your weekend!

For instance,” said the boy again, “if Christmas trees were people and people were Christmas trees, we’d all be chopped down, put up in the living room, and covered in tinsel, while the trees opened our presents.”
“What does that have to do with it?” asked Milo.
“Nothing at all,” he answered, “but it’s an interesting possibility, don’t you think?

–Norton Juster | The Phantom Tollbooth



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