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The Book of Qualities presents 74 qualities – including Pleasure, Anger, Terror, Beauty, and Change – as everyday characters who live among us. Both personal and impersonal, the Qualities convey a variety of human emotions in a simple and entertaining manner. The attributes in our lives become characters who visit, make meals, bring us gifts, and interrupt our plans. 

Now in its 61st printing, The Book of Qualities has been excerpted widely in psychological, literary and educational publications, quoted in sermons and speeches, used in classrooms to teach personification and values, and translated into several languages. In Japanese its title is Joy Drinks Pure Water.  In German, Qualites is called The Mirror of the Soul.

Contemplating qualities has proved to be a lively, useful and gentle way to educate the heart and mind. Readers are inspired to reflect on their own qualities and communicate their feelings with new clarity.

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Qualities has also been adapted for theater and dance, most recently at Cornish College in Seattle (April 2017) and as a two act children’s ballet by Visionary Dance Theatre in San Diego (May 2017). In 2007 Lineage Dance Company premiered Beneath the Skin, based on Qualities, at the Pasadena Arts Festival and invited Gendler onstage to draw with the dancers.

"I'm so glad I found this book. It was published 25 years ago and it’s magical. Author J. Ruth Gendler explores all of the emotions and qualities that we know so well and brings them to life. Excitement wears orange socks. Faith lives in the same apartment building as Doubt, and Worry makes lists of everything that could go wrong while she waits for the train. I learned so much about myself as she reintroduced me to these old friends – the ones that have traveled with me since birth."

– Brene Brown, Atlas of the Heart


"Here's one of the few cases in which an author should be complimented for creating one-dimensional characters. J. Ruth Gendler, has personified 73 moods, emotions and traits in this book, composing stories about "Wisdom's long walk in the purple hills" or "Panic's reckless driving." The brief vignettes, as well as the accompanying line drawings, bring new immediacy to familiar words. Gendler in effect freezes time, helping us take a closer look at the emotions that most of us pass through only for fleeting moments."

- Los Angeles Times


"Here is something one doesn't often see – gentle personifications of familiar qualities... Gendler's opening lines often are expanded into graceful metaphors, filled with deep feelings. The author has illustrated her book with witty line drawings which are as fanciful as the impressionistic conceits which are the subjects of her prose. It is a tender, sometimes startling work."

- M.A. Simmons, Peninsula Times Tribune

"The Qualities are wise and whimsical and express truth in a very personal way. "

Jean Bolen, author, Goddesses in Every Woman

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