Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

by Maya Angelou

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553569070
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1994
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 57,117
Product dimensions: 4.17(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.38(d)

About the Author

Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas. In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Heart of a Woman, she wrote numerous volumes of poetry, among them Phenomenal Woman, And Still I Rise, On the Pulse of Morning, and Mother. Maya Angelou died in 2014.


Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Date of Birth:

April 4, 1928

Place of Birth:

St. Louis, Missouri


High school in Atlanta and San Francisco

Read an Excerpt

In All Ways a Woman
In my young years I took pride in the fact that luck was called a lady. In fact, there were so few public acknowledgments of the female presence that I felt personally honored whenever nature and large ships were referred to as feminine. But as I matured, I began to resent being considered a sister to a changeling as fickle as luck, as aloof as an ocean, and as frivolous as nature.
The phrase “A woman always has the right to change her mind” played so aptly into the negative image of the female that I made myself a victim to an unwavering decision. Even if I made an inane and stupid choice, I stuck by it rather than “be like a woman and change my mind.”
Being a woman is hard work. Not without joy and even ecstasy, but still relentless, unending work. Becoming an old female may require only being born with certain genitalia, inheriting long-living genes and the fortune not to be run over by an out-of-control truck, but to become and remain a woman command the existence and employment of genius.
The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important. In a time and world where males hold sway and control, the pressure upon women to yield their rights-of-way is tremendous. And it is under those very circumstances that the woman’s toughness must be in evidence.
She must resist considering herself a lesser version of her male counterpart. She is not a sculptress, poetess, authoress, Jewess, Negress, or even (now rare) in university parlance a rectoress. If she is the thing, then for her own sense of self and for the education of the ill-informed she must insist with rectitude in being the thing and in being called the thing.
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a woman called by a devaluing name will only be weakened by the misnomer.
She will need to prize her tenderness and be able to display it at appropriate times in order to prevent toughness from gaining total authority and to avoid becoming a mirror image of those men who value power above life, and control over love.
It is imperative that a woman keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready. She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as being the most absurd world of all times.
It has been said that laughter is therapeutic and amiability lengthens the life span.
Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives. The struggle for equality continues unabated, and the woman warrior who is armed with wit and courage will be among the first to celebrate victory.
Passports to Understanding
Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure.
It is necessary, especially for Americans, to see other lands and experience other cultures. The American, living in this vast country and able to traverse three thousand miles east to west using the same language, needs to hear languages as they collide in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
A tourist, browsing in a Paris shop, eating in an Italian ristorante, or idling along a Hong Kong street, will encounter three or four languages as she negotiates the buying of a blouse, the paying of a check, or the choosing of a trinket. I do not mean to suggest that simply overhearing a foreign tongue adds to one’s understanding of that language. I do know, however, that being exposed to the existence of other languages increases the perception that the world is populated by people who not only speak differently from oneself but whose cultures and philosophies are other than one’s own.
Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try to understand each other, we may even become friends.
The Sweetness of Charity
The New Testament informs the reader that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. The size and substance of the gift should be important to the recipient, but not to the donor save that the best thing one can give is that which is appreciated. The giver is as enriched as is the recipient, and more important, that intangible but very real psychic force of good in the world is increased.
When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor’s gift.
Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence—neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish—it is an imponderably valuable gift. Each of us has a few minutes a day or a few hours a week which we could donate to an old folks’ home or a children’s hospital ward. The elderly whose pillows we plump or whose water pitchers we refill may or may not thank us for our gift, but the gift is upholding the foundation of the universe. The children to whom we read simple stories may or may not show gratitude, but each boon we give strengthens the pillars of the world.
While our gifts and the recipients should be considered, our bounty, once decided upon, should be without concern, overflowing one minute and forgotten the next.
Recently I was asked to speak before a group of philanthropists and was astonished at their self-consciousness. The gathered donors give tens of millions of dollars annually to medical research, educational development, art support, and social reform. Yet to a person they seemed a little, just a little, ashamed of themselves. I pondered their behavior and realized that someone had told someone that not only was it degrading to accept charity but it was equally debasing to give it. And sad to say, someone had believed that statement. Hence, many preferred to have it known that they dispense philanthropy rather than charity.
I like charitable people and like to think of myself as charitable, as being of a generous heart and a giving nature—of being a friend indeed to anyone in need. Why, I pondered, did the benefactors not feel as I?
Some benefactors may desire distance from the recipients of their largess because there is a separation between themselves and the resources they distribute. As inheritors or managers of fortune rather than direct earners, perhaps they feel exiled from the gifts; then it follows that they feel exiled from the recipient.
It is sad when people who give to the needy feel estranged from the objects of their generosity. They can take little, if any, relish from their acts of charity; therefore, are generous out of duty rather than delight.
If we change the way we think of charity, our personal lives will be richer and the larger world will be improved. When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. “Charity … is kind;… envieth not;… vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”


Excerpted from "Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now"
by .
Copyright © 1993 Maya Angelou.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
jacobforman57 More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now by Maya Angelou is a perfect book that is extremely inspirational. In this book Maya talks about basically anything that a woman could go through. She uses past experiences to connect with the reader on a different level then most readers. This book explains what it means to truly live well. She talks about sprituality and how to incorperate it into your everyday life, how it can shape your life, and the power of spirituality. I beileve this book is great for whoever feels like they might need a little advice or guidance. Maya Angelou in this book hits the nail right on the head she talks about exaclty what you want to hear. the book is inspirational and hits on a personal note. Many people might think Maya is to striaght foward which she is but thats exactly how she gets her points across especially the ones that have the most meaning. If you want to read a great book pick this one up off the shelf, it's not that long but the meaning behind it is extremly moving even for men. So please take this reconmendation into consideration I highly reconmend this book!
Geebaw More than 1 year ago
I love this book and buy it often as a gift (as was this purchase!). The short little essays make the perfect bedtime read...or ideal for taking along on a trip. Maya is one of my heroes and inspirations!
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Wouldn¿t Take Nothing for my Journey Now,¿ is a collection of poems and short stories, which makes it very difficult to summarize. Each poem addresses a different topic which is why I cannot summarize the book. But, I enjoyed the book very much and the topics which it addressed were interesting. They were stimulating because it made the reader take a look at themselves and their lives and examine their behavior. Mrs. Angelou plays with her words and expresses her thoughts in a unique way. Which, is why I think I find her literature interesting and easy to read. Since, this was the first book I read, I didn¿t know anything about Ms. Angelou. But, by the end of the book I felt like I knew her. By reading the book I got an idea of the topics which were important to her and how she felt about them. Some of the topics give the reader clues as to the kind of environment she grew up in and the life she lived. This book allows the reader to get to know the author and her innermost thoughts (some of which you might not find in her biographies). I truly enjoyed reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book lets you inhale a new life, but at the same time keep you balanced. Words of wisdom walk you though that fine line of where were you then and what are you today.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I understand that Maya Angelou is a word smith. I understand that she writes good poetry, witty prose, and insightful observations.I understand all this. But I don¿t like what she produces.In Wouldn¿t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Maya Angelou writes several essays. Some are reflections from her youth, others experiences from recent memory, and others observations of the world as a whole.While I have absolutely no experience being a single, black mother trying to make ends meet in an era before civil rights were considered rights, and as such, cannot possibly understand the toil and hardship one goes through in that pursuit, I feel that some of the observations she makes are either ill conceived or totally wrong.In one essay, she wonders why modern comedians resort to ¿gross¿ humor, and why television depicts families as dysfunctional in order to get a laugh. While I have no proof that she¿s referencing The Simpsons, which features a family as she¿s described, I can¿t help but note, with a sense of irony in my thoughts, that she herself was a celebrity guest voice on that show. The essay, disregarding what show or shows in particular she meant, seems narrow-minded or just ill conceived. The shows that show us a dysfunctional family are funny because everybody has a dysfunctional family. If we don¿t laugh about it, what are we to do?Another essay that bugged me was one in which she was talking to a well-off white guy who accidentally let slip words indicating that there were black American soldiers, and ¿our boys¿--the white ones. Angelou accused him of subconscious racism, and then wanted to talk about it in a nonthreatening manner. While I agree that people tend to have issues that may seem ¿racist,¿ I¿m no surprised that her attempts to talk to this man about it were met by embarrassment, shame, and eventually never speaking to her again. If somebody accused me of being racist, or otherwise prejudiced, based on a slip of the tongue, and then wanted to talk about it, I¿d feel terrible myself, as I¿m not a racist, nor am I prejudiced against anybody for circumstances that are beyond their control, and to call me otherwise would be off putting, and make me feel that future interactions with that person would require me to tread lightly, so as to not have them think I¿m racists, etc.While Angelou has done much more living than I have, in Wouldn¿t Take Nothing, she comes off as one of those annoying people who believes that everything they believe is right, and to disagree is to be wrong. This may not be what she actually believes, and it¿s beyond my authority to make such a claim. However, this book left a bad feeling in my literary mouth, turning me off of any future sessions with Angelou.
sisaruus on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Insipid Oprahisms. Angelou had nothing to say but was going to say it anyway.
Venqat65 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Many short stories which touch on life. We read this for book club and it was amazing how long we discussed some of these short works. It seemed that everyone had a lot to say about one of the stories or another. Quite thought provoking.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing 26 days ago
An inspirational account of the authors life.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Opened my mind - she is a great author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the fact that Nook took the time to post the books that I like to read. Love Kimberly Lawson and Maya Angelou, books of color. I just love reading and with Nook I can do that. So thank you for keeping me updated and up to date with your listings!!!
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TheCE More than 1 year ago
Maya Angelou's Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now is an insightful read. It is a great way to get a view into the mind of Maya Angelou. The book contains her inner thoughts on issues such as style: "Style is unique and nontransferable." and complaints: "Whining is not only graceless, but can be deadly." Maya Angelou has distinct views on life based on her family members that she brings up in the book, as well as her upbringing in a town in Arkansas. Based on the life lessons she learns from her strong female relatives give a view into the culture of a strong black women. As insightful as the book is, it can sometimes be incredibly tedious to read. The book sometimes has very tedious parts to read that offer very little view into her culture. The book also offers little advancement at a time. It can also be rather boring. When reading at night I fell asleep often, and I often would take breaks from reading this book to do other activities. I would also sometimes find myself making excuses not to finish reading the book. Despite all the drawbacks, Maya Angelou's Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now is an insightful read for anyone interested in the culture of a black woman.