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IC Blog: Book Review: Inspired to Inspire - Holistic Inspirational Inspiration by Jacquie Gilson

30 Mar 2021 8:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Book Review by Interpretation Canada

Inspired to Inspire - Holistic Inspirational Inspiration by Dr. Jacquie Gilson offers a fresh approach to interpretation. It’s contemporary, filled with practical information, and it’s Canadian. This book should find a space in your everyday practice. The Interpretation Canada review team gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Brief summary of the book

Inspired to Inspire is a practical guide that explores more holistic ways to approach interpretation. It provides an overview of where the field of interpretation has been and the direction that it is moving towards in a way that is accessible and enjoyable to read. It is full of examples from the field and grounded in research that provide news ways of thinking about engagement and inspiration.

As interpreters, we aim to inspire others. Dr. Gilson provides a framework in which to do that more effectively.


Inspired to Inspire belongs on every interpreter's bookshelf.

Evaluation of the book

The IC review team read the book and then met as a group to discuss their thoughts and impressions of the book and its content. After comparing and compiling notes, the team then wrote a review summarizing their discussions and overall thoughts on Inspired to Inspire. Here is their review:

It isn’t often that you see an interpretive text actually using interpretive theory in the way it is presented, but Dr. Gilson’s book does exactly that. One of our reviewers mentioned “The way the book is written hits all the letters of the POETRY model, so much of Dr. Gilson’s voice comes through”.

Inspired to Inspire is written in a purposeful and thematic manner, is organized so that you can read it cover to cover or skip to a relevant section, is written in a voice that is accessible and enjoyable, and speaks to the changes happening in the field today. One cannot ignore Dr. Gilson’s passion for the subject; it shines through from the very first page to the last one. Throughout the book, Dr. Gilson asks questions that help you to create the connections between the ideas being presented and your own interpretive practice. As the reader, you are encouraged to write down your answers within the book, thus making each copy unique.

One of the strengths of this book is that it encourages us to change the language we use to describe interpretation, such as in Dr. Gilson’s discussion of provocation vs. inspiration. One of our reviewers mentioned “I would never advertise a program by promising ‘provocation’ to the audience, but I promise inspiration in my program descriptions all the time.” The shift from provocation to inspiration when describing what we do instantly makes interpretation more appealing and understandable to managers, visitors... and anyone who hasn’t read Tilden. Ideas like this may seem subtle, but are incredibly beneficial to our profession as we strive to become less insular and more relevant to the agencies that employ us, and this book is full of such ideas.

The book is written in an engaging and approachable voice and clearly explains the theoretical foundations of the work. It does assume the reader has some experience in interpretation, but is still accessible to someone new to the field. The Interpretation Canada review team noted that this book may be especially useful for visitor experience professionals outside of interpretation who wish to understand our profession better, as it takes the time to explain the psychological theory behind inspiration and how it connects to interpretation.

Review team members took different approaches to reading the book. Some read from cover to cover, while others jumped in between chapters. The team appreciated that the book offered this flexibility and that it could be used as a reference as well as a more all-encompassing text. When reading the book yourself, find the method that works best for you.

Inspired to Inspire is full of ideas grounded in research and practice. It is filled with examples from the field and ideas that you can put into practice right away. It is moving the field forward by challenging and inspiring us to re-think how effective our interpretation can be and the approaches that we use.

This is a book that everyone should have in their interpretive library. We hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired us.

This book review was written collaboratively by Interpretation Canada board members Pam Murray (Chair), Jennifer Dick (Secretary), Sarah Rauh (Awards Chair), Nicole Cann, Sylvie Binette, and David Lloyd. On behalf of Interpretation Canada, we highly recommend this book as a resource for everyone working in heritage interpretation and visitor experience.



Interpretation Canada c/o Kerry Wood Nature Centre 6300 45th Ave Red Deer, AB, Canada  T4N 3M4

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