For the Love of Books

Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression

What I’m Reading: Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help Strategies for Happiness, Inner Strength and Well-Being by Miriam Akhtar

I’m familiar with the workings of positive psychology, but this would be a great introductory book for someone who isn’t.  It approaches strengthening our positivity muscles in a direct and accessible type of way.  & the writing and brainstorming exercises are practical but not too textbook-y.  It isn’t a cure (& doesn’t claim to be one).  But what it will assist with is building up your resilience to potentially prevent a downward spiral.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

What I’m Reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and dirt, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in awhile, you have to scrub it up and get the works going, or else you’ll never be brave again.”

This will be the book I have up my sleeve as a cool auntie to gift to the young people in my life (when they’re a little older) who have a penchant for escapism, dreams, & strange creatures.  It features a preteen named September (born in May, if you must know) during what she thinks will be a great escape to a wondrous land.  But in this new place there is still pain, heartbreak, and violence.  A little Lewis Carroll & a little Neil Gaiman.

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Womanthology: Heroic

by Allison on June 26, 2012

in For the Love of Books

womanthology-cover

Womanthology: Heroic provides 300 pages filled with short comics all written & drawn by women. Thematically, the focus is on the heroism and strength.  It also includes some instruction and advice on creating comics and making it within the industry.

There was quite a range of skill levels & I liked that not all of it was super-chique or professional.  While not all the art or stories appealed to my own aesthetics, I was drawn in by the variety of stories featuring strength of all different types.  (Personal, professional, emotional, family…)  There were quite a few stories that made me shed a few tears.  I totally recommend this to anyone who needs a power boost in re: inspiration, art, or the power of collaboration.

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Writing through the Darkness

by Allison on April 9, 2012

in For the Love of Books

Writing Through Darkness

What I’m Reading: Writing Through the Darkness: Easing Your Depression with Paper & Pen by Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, Ph. D.

This was a great book for me because it was both personal & academic in nature.  The author describes her own experience with depression, provides writing prompts throughout along with a great bibliography/resource list in the back.  I found her discussion of why she went ‘public’ with her own story & the why or why not behind doing the same with your own memoirs to be insightful.  It did leave out a fair bit of the subtleties of mental health stigma.  Of course, that wasn’t this book’s main focus.

Writing can be so therapeutic & it was great to see it treated as an adjunct form of treatment for depression.

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The Gifts of Imperfection

What I’m Reading: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be & Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

When we can let go of what other people think & own our story, we gain access to our worthiness-the feeling that we are enough just as we are & that we are worthy of love & belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story & hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness – that critically importance piece that gives us access to love & belonging – lives inside of our story.

This book was recommended to me ages ago.  My ‘to-read’ list is a bit lengthy so it fell by the wayside until somewhat recently, when it finally arrived via hold at my local library branch.  Perfect timing, public library.

It is divided into ten ‘guideposts’ that are meant to assist us in letting go of unhealthy traits & embrace new (healthier) ones.  Brené Brown discusses how it is our imperfections & vulnerabilities that are the factor that connect us all as human beings.  & come on, the whole thing about “Who I Am” vs. “Who I’m Supposed to Be” hits home.  Big time.

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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.

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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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