For the Love of Books

Seriously…I’m Kidding

by Allison on March 12, 2012

in For the Love of Books

Seriously...I'm Kidding

What I’m reading: Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

“It’s nice to think we can trust each other. It would be depressing to walk around every day thinking people are lying to us all the time. I prefer to believe people are good and honest and respect me enough to tell me the truth. It’s not easy to find those people all the time, but they’re out there. They’re usually the people who don’t hesitate to tell you when you look tired or that you have broccoli hanging from your lip. They might be blunt and sometimes they might hurt your feelings with their candor, but honestly? You’ll appreciate it.”

I wouldn’t call this a memoir or an autobiography.  It is a collection of musings on a gamut of different topics – things that cross Ellen’s mind with some good advice thrown in here & there. An amusing and poignant read – several moments hit home with me right now.  I chuckled a lot & kept trying to read bits aloud to Robin while he attempted to sleep (partners beware!).

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quiet

What I’m reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting.  For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.  Use your natural powers – of persistence, concentration, insight and sensitivity – to do work you love and work that matters.  Solve problems, make art, think deeply.

I think this is one of the best books I’ve read about the subject of introversion.  Susan Cain tackled the subject matter so thoroughly.  She visits arenas that promote extroversion (Harvard Business School, Wall Street…)  She also interviews psychologists and neurologists to explain concepts like group thinking, the meaning behind being able to delay gratification, and the trait of ‘sensitivity’.

This isn’t a “X is superior to Y” type of book like any of the books on introversion I’ve read. (Thank goodness!)  This is book detailing how we react to and interact with the world in different ways; each of these ways should be treated as equals.  Cain points out how by solely valuing extroverted characteristics, we are doing everyone a great disservice in regards to what we could be accomplishing.

If you love an introvert, or have a child that is an introvert – well, she covers that as well.  Regardless of where on the sliding scale you see yourself, I think this book has a lot to offer for understanding the people around us.

 

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Originally published on my old (now defunct) blog in February 2008 – I thought I would bring this over & update it For the Love of Books.

The Wheel of Time is a bestselling fantasy book series written by Robert Jordan – who passed away in September 2007.

covers

I started reading this series in junior high (grades seven & eight) & was immediately hooked. The series provides an intricate & detailed world, constructed languages, & a dense plot.

I finally heard Robert Jordan speak at the San Diego Comicon several years ago & was completely blown away.  He was eloquent.  He was also as eccentric as I imagined him to be, with a mental card catalog of all the characters and all the places ever named in the books. (If you have read them, you know how impressive this is–)

However, I’ll be the first to admit these books aren’t for everyone.  Especially at this point, they are for people with a love for fantasy novels & a need for *deep* commitment for a long read (putting it lightly).

If you DO happen to be looking for all of the above – then look no further.  This is your series.  I stopped reading somewhere in the middle of high school, determined not to continue until I could see the ‘real end’ in sight.  Now, I have picked up my worn copies again to re-read & read the latest few so I can round out my experience.

Some of my favorite themes & subjects (not surprisingly) of the series are the twisting of gender roles within power structures.  Also, the similarities & linguistic ties to languages in our own world.

The final segment of the series, A Memory of Light, was not completed at the time of Robert Jordan’s death.  His widow & his publishing company chose Brandon Sanderson to complete it.  What was going to be the last installation was adjusted to be released in three segments as it would be far too large to publish in one volume.  Each of these volumes will be as large as, or larger than any previous book in the series.  (Yikes!)

It is odd, because I can count several people I have met who also have read Robert Jordan & upon discovering this, it’s easy to feel a sense of added kinship.  For instance, when I moved in with a room-mate a few years ago & saw a WoT book on her shelf, I knew we would get along just fine.  I look forward to reading the final book & finishing a series very near & dear to my heart.  Eventually…

Additional Links:

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Born to Run

by Allison on January 23, 2012

in For the Love of Books

Born to Run

What I’m Reading: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

“There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time.”

I used to be a runner.  No, really. I know.  I used to love it. At some point, I lost my verve for it, it became less fun & I drifted to other endeavors (ie: hula hoop).  I essentially retired my running shoes.

I was hooked by the storytelling. & being she-who-is-pro-bare-feet, I want to run again.  It was a great book to remind us of the reason behind why we choose to do things.  Choosing for pleasure & process rather than the goal or end point?  Yes please.

It is amazing to read about ultra-marathoners & the athletes that are running 50+ consistently, on trails, on mountains, in the middle of the night…a half marathon was as far as I got & believe me, I felt it in the following days.

“If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.”

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Mindy Kaling

Remember when I mentioned back in the fall how anticipatory I was for the release of Mindy Kaling’s book?  Well, it didn’t disappoint.  I pretty much devoured it.  Also, I now believe that Mindy Kaling has made it onto the list of, “People I Think I Would Be Friends With If I Were Given the Chance” (blog post forthcoming).  If my previous post, other hype (she was on Good Morning America next to Bill Clinton, for goodness sakes), or the next quote doesn’t entice you into reading it…you might be a lost cause.

“Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”

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maphead

So, I like maps.  If you had asked me prior to reading this book, I probably would have replied that I liked maps more than the average person.  Post-reading Maphead, as with so many hobbies, I have quite a journey to go on before feeling like a ‘true’ Maphead.  It is by Ken Jennings, of being-totally-good-at-Jeopardy fame.  His style of writing reminds me a bit of Bill Bryson; it is knowledgeable, humorous, and accessible.

& I know now I’d like to visit Victoria Island in the territory of Nunavut.  It is home to the world’s largest ‘triple island’ – that is, the world’s largest island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island.

Every chapter covered a new angle.  A few of these were: geocaching, road rallies (I’m thinking about signing up for the annual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre race), the National Geography Bee, & how maps are utilized in fantasy & science fiction novels.

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Starfish

by Allison on November 29, 2011

in For the Love of Books

I have this memory of visiting the local tide pools on a school field trip.  & what I carried away from it was being berated for not calling the starfish ‘seastars’.  “They’re not fish.” my teacher pointed out.  It has always stuck in my mind.  Regardless of their non-fish status, their starry nature appeals to me.  & so does this poem.  Enjoy!

**

starStarfish  – by Eleanor Lerman

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,
so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

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Mindy Kaling

You caught me.  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (& Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling isn’t actually out yet.  But you should know I already have it on hold at the library.  I told a friend, “I think it might be even better than Tina Fey’s Bossypants.”  I immediately felt sacrilegious for making it competitive – like they both cannot exist equally on my bookshelf.  (They totally can & are most welcome to live on my bookshelf).  What I meant was – similar to Bossypants – I hope to laugh aloud & enjoy it immensely.  & I already have based on the excerpts released.  So I hope you check out the following audio & print excerpts so I can reference them in person next time we have tea.

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Maps & Cartography

by Allison on October 24, 2011

in For the Love of Books

I love maps.  The beautiful map below by Ellisa Mitchell of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (a series I have been reading since I was a teenager & also one I am determined to finish).  But map making isn’t just for science fiction/fantasy novels.  As this post by Austin Kleon points out, “every tale creates a world in the reader’s mind—and it explored ways that drawing that world can lead to better fiction.”

A lot of my favorite books from childhood include a map.  In fact, a lot of my favorite books in general involve some sort of map (as my Pinterest account demonstrates).  & then there is mind mapping – a type of visual organization of concepts & ideas.

Wheel of Time Map

 

We create little sketches of side streets so we can remind ourselves how to get to our friend’s new apartment.  Sometimes on paper, sometimes on the back of our hand.  My dad once drew a map on a paper napkin to assist my mom in the making of a perfect hamburger.  (note: my mom wasn’t impressed)

It is these maps & diagrams that endear us to others, I think.  We learn how to navigate through our own barriers & how others navigate over their own stumbling blocks.

—–

Links of Note:

Amanda Farquharson’s “Mind Maps to End All Mind Maps”

F*ck Yeah, Fictional Maps

This is the Hand Drawn Map Association

Recommended Reading:

Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi

You Are Here: Personal Geographies & Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi

The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps by Tony Buzan

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Positive Energy

What I’m Reading: Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength & Love by Judith Orloff, M.D.

“Energy isn’t some vague phenomenon…”

Dr. Judith Orloff is a clinical psychiatrist who believes that the future of medicine involves integrating traditional medicine with intuition and energy medicine to achieve a better grasp of total wellness.  She frames intuition as the language of energy – something to be trusted & valued.

While certain sections were a little too new age for my own personal tastes, I took away a lot of helpful ideas.  Her description of intuitive empaths and in turn, the challenges they face as a result was illuminating.  Regardless of whether or not you identify yourself as an empath, her exercises for learning to center & protect yourself against energy vampires are helpful.

“In just the right light, with just the right attitude, you’ll be able to see the soles of your shoes sparkle.  They do.  They will.  Let that wonder in.  Be dazzled by the energies interwoven throughout the day-to-day.”

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