Try Some 'Chicken Soup'

<B>Columnist Bill Geist</B> On These Popular Feel-Good Books For The Soul

This week's commentary is by 60 Minutes Wednesday Columnist Bill Geist.
Former President Bill Clinton's new book weighs too much for me to lug it back and forth to the beach. In summer, people want lighter fare, like chicken soup. And not the stuff in the can.

Of course, "Chicken Soup" is available in a handy, over-the-counter, book form, which has sold a staggering 80 million copies in its various forms, and comes in 39 languages.

They're not exactly "literature," these "Chicken Soup" books, but then what is anymore -- what with our bestsellers being written by talk show hosts and pro-wrestlers?

They're more like 300-page greeting cards, really, easily ingested and chock full of short, uplifting, inspiring, and largely true tales of dreams fulfilled and adversities overcome. It's kind of a printed Prozac.

The first and most popular of the series contained stories such as "I Like Myself Now," "I Think I Can," "The Magic of Believing," "Follow Your Dream" and "Puppies for Sale."

Ten years hence, "Chicken Soup" now comes in more variations on the original recipe than Colonel Sanders' chicken. There are 82 books in all.

Several fit my profile: "Chicken Soup for the Father's Soul," "Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan's Soul," and "Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover's Soul." I was hoping there'd be something hopeful like "Angels Over the Litter Box."

There's "Chicken Soup" for just about anybody's soul: gardeners, horse lovers, NASCAR fans and prisoners.

There's "Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul," which actually makes sense. They need something warm and comforting. But "Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul" -- is being Canadian really that much of an affliction?

They seem to be running out of categories. How about "Chicken Soup for Vegetarians," "Chicken Soup for Those Who've Temporarily Lost Their Cell Phone Connections Souls," or "Chicken Soup for the Residents of Seoul"?

It's women who seem to love "Chicken Soup" the best. There's "Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul," "Chicken Soup for the Working Woman's Soul," and "Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul."

There still is no "Chicken Soup for the Man's Soul." Men still don't seem to have totally bought into all this touch-feely stuff. Or maybe men don't like chicken soup.

Instead of "Chicken Soup for the Man's Soul," they might want to try a double-stuffed pizza with everything, large fries, and a six-pack for the man's soul.