Title: The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing
Author: Gavin Edwards
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Great for: Movie lovers (and of course, Bill Murray fans)
Themes: Humor, dealing with fame, living life to the fullest, philosophy
Review: Now, I’m not a huge movie buff. I probably couldn’t even name you two Bill Murray films (before or after reading this book), but that said, I still enjoyed ‘The Tao of Bill Murray’ a lot. His antics are famous. The philosophical aspect of his own self-made religion with its 10 commandments really drew me in, because there’s something so addicting about people who seem to understand how to live life to the fullest when the rest of us are just struggling day-to-day.
The book starts out with what’s become an urban legend about Bill Murray: that he interacts with common people in everyday environments (covering their eyes and playing “Guess Who,” stealing a French fry off someone’s plate), only to say to them, “No one will every believe you.” This immediately starts to color Murray for you, because it seems he’s as fascinated with the power of his own fame as non-famous people are with the power fame in general. Instead of being able to take a selfie with him and show your friends and family, your interaction with Murray is forced to stay as a little special moment between the two of you only. It’s not shareable on Facebook. He has all the power.
After that’s got your brain whirring, you move along into an easy-to-read little backstory on Murray’s life and career, which really helps set the stage for the rest of the book because it gives you a solid understanding of why he is the way he is. And then comes my absolute favorite part of the book: The 10 Principles of Bill. Some of them make perfect sense (“The Seventh Principle: Be persistent, be persistent, be persistent”), but others, not so much (“The Ninth Principle: Your spirit will follow your body”). According to the book, Bill isn’t very forthcoming when explaining the meaning behind his principles, leaving them up for interpretation.
The next part of the book consists of secondhand accounts of encounters with Murray broken down by which principle they fall under, which better help you to understand The 10 Principles of Bill (especially, in my opinion, “The Third Principle: Invite yourself to the party”). When you stop and think about how many people have had run-ins with him, it’s almost hard to believe you haven’t had one yourself.
After The 10 Principles of Bill, the book goes on to move through Murray’s films chronologically. It discusses the story behind each film and as well as Murray’s involvement, focusing more on his career than any stories about him. For a film lover, the philosophical part about the principles might not be the best, but this section will win them over.
Overall, this book has four great components: the thought-provoking questions about the power of fame, the unbelievable amount of stories about encounters with Bill Murray, the story behind his upbringing and his career, and of course, his Tao. It’s a wholly unique blend of biography, autobiography, and book of philosophy.