My Grandmother Used to Say, by David van Zanten

My Grandmother Used to Say, by David van Zanten (Health & Wellbeing)

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In 1915 my Grandmother had her life turned upside down by the death of her mother. At age 14, with no father to rely on she was left to raise her 4 younger siblings by herself. She came through the school of hard knocks with a caring heart and a tenacious spirit and learned a great many things. Her experiences became the foundation of her wisdom. This wisdom was passed onto me in her sayings which I heard repeatedly throughout my childhood.

My life, like yours, has had many twists and turns. I have grown to learn how wise her words were. The deeper philosophical meaning and message behind them can help transform and repair life paths that may seem broken.

All her sayings are probably well known to you but they are fully expanded and explained in their individual chapters. Together they offer a remarkable insight along with practical and effective ways to truly change, mend and empower your life and your world.

As she would have said: "If a job's worth doing its worth doing well" 


Author interview link:



My Grandmother Used to Say ... 

By David van Zanten

Self-help books abound on the shelves of many a library, bookshop or home, and they offer advice in varying forms and degrees of usefulness. Some relate to religion, some to money, some to esoterica - David van Zanten's book is accessible common sense..

What he has done is use his grandmother's universal sayings to provide solid, useful counsel which can only lead to a better life.

It's not about riches in a material sense, although there's no reason why wealth would not be a by-product of the goals achieved through the guidance offered by this book.

Written in a straightforward, and sometimes humorous way, My Grandmother Used to Say ... delves beneath the obvious face of each saying to discover the real meaning and, therefore, real direction.

It's not a big book, at least not in page numbers, but the message within is huge, gigantic even. Non of it conflicts with any religious beliefs you may hold, nor does it lead you along airy fairy paths of new age mumbo-jumbo, and I say that in a caring way. Some self-help messages are presented in such a manner that, for many people, the flight response is immediately triggered (as David would put it). This book welcomes its reader through the author and his personal approach.

David's understanding of the human condition has permitted him to amass knowledge and information pertinent to the betterment of people. His attitude and insight has enabled him to access that store of wisdom and his teaching skills have allowed him to direct it easily to the reader. By picking up this book you are not embarking on a journey of sharp rocks and fearsome tempests. David gives practical, easy-to-understand insights, written in a way that makes the reading pleasurable. For the reader there is discovery and lots "Oh, I get it!" moments.

 Chapter nine is entitled: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. That does not apply to this book review - I have carte blanche to say what I feel - but I can't find anything off-putting about My Grandmother Used to Say ... at all. Positive is a way to describe a lot of the content. Finding and developing the best in people and helping them to understand things relevant to everyday life.

It's a fine book, this work by David van Zanten, and I'm happy to recommend it. I think his grandmother would concur.

Paul Brooks

Editor, Wanganui Midweek.


It is a common thread amongst us all that we desire to leave something to be remembered for, something positive and empowering when we leave this world.  Each chapter of “My Grandmother Used to Say” took me to such a place of understanding, hope and potential. 

We have all heard the sayings but to read about them in a deeper more profound way allows more thought to their meaning and how it has, or might have, a connection in one’s life path. It is a book that could easily be returned to if an aspect of your life seems to be a little difficult - this is the perfect guide to help find inspiration and a way forward. 

I genuinely recommend reading this delightful book to anyone who has pondered on aspects of their life but hasn’t known where to start.  Some of the wisdom contained in it will seem obvious when you read it, but some will make you say to yourself, of course!  The first step you need to do is get this book; the second step will be to take action. I have done this, and I hope you will do the same. 

Annette Main

Mayor of Wanganui 

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Tags: Health, Wellbeing