Philosophy? Yes. And, as if often the case, I didn't really "get" it. But I adored the pooh stories and so endured the lectures to hear more of the ad...morePhilosophy? Yes. And, as if often the case, I didn't really "get" it. But I adored the pooh stories and so endured the lectures to hear more of the adventures of a bear of little intellect.(less)
Quick witted and charming, Tina had me laughing out loud through most of this audiobook. It almost made me wish I watched television. Almost. She's go...moreQuick witted and charming, Tina had me laughing out loud through most of this audiobook. It almost made me wish I watched television. Almost. She's got the comedic timing down.(less)
A very quick read. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but I loved the way he captured running, the different temperaments of runners, and race...moreA very quick read. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but I loved the way he captured running, the different temperaments of runners, and race strategy. I got it via interlibrary loan and spent a very happy Sunday zipping right through it. A great read for runners and not a bad story for everyone else.(less)
“Love is the spirit that motivates the artist's journey.” - Eric Maisel
As anyone who reads my blog or receives the newsletter knows, I suffer from var...more“Love is the spirit that motivates the artist's journey.” - Eric Maisel
As anyone who reads my blog or receives the newsletter knows, I suffer from various forms of malaise that might be called "writer's block." As soon as I read the title Mastering Creative Anxiety, I knew this book would help. I ordered the book and began using the lessons immediately.
Why this book? First, the title alone properly identified the problem. According to creativity coach, Eric Maisel, I don't actually have a block. What I have is anxiety around creating. I also grow anxious around some non-writing activities, but this was the first time I'd named what went on in my head when I sat down to write as anxiety.
Second, the book is practical. It offers twenty-two specific tools and examples of how to use them. I appreciate that Maisel gets to the solution quickly so I'm not muddling around. I already know I've got a problem. I want to know what to do about it.
Third, Maisel's tone and strategies are both firm and kind. There's no shame in this book and no slacking either. Gently, yet clearly, he explains that success depends on applying the suggestions.
Fourth, and possibly most important, Maisel addresses all the different aspects of the creative life and the appropriate tool for that stage in the process. One day I'm tackling the rough draft. One or two tools (including a technique very similar to writing practice) works for that. Another day I'm in the revision process. A different tool helps there. In the promotion process, still another method is offered. Realistically, the book approaches different aspects of creativity in different ways.
The jury is still out, of course. I am working on, but have not yet finished the current revisions nor once again taken up promotion which I set aside awhile back. I'll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, do you recognize anxiety in your process? If so, what techniques work for you in the various stages of the writing life? I'd love to hear about it on my blog, Bum Glue.
Fluff. Funny fluff, but fluff just the same. I had hoped for a glimpse into her life, but alas, no such thing in this book. Just surface stuff and jok...moreFluff. Funny fluff, but fluff just the same. I had hoped for a glimpse into her life, but alas, no such thing in this book. Just surface stuff and jokes. It was like watching her monologues, but without the best parts.(less)
**spoiler alert** I chose this CD because I thought it might help me with the essays on my monthly email newsletter or the blog articles I write. I li...more**spoiler alert** I chose this CD because I thought it might help me with the essays on my monthly email newsletter or the blog articles I write. I listened to it on CD. It wasn't as rah, rah, rah sell, sell, sell as I feared it would be. I saw it on an endcap at the library and I didn't have a book on CD just then so I picked it up. Really liked the way he kept coming back to giving the customer something of value and the importance of being of service. Not what you typically hear from a motivational speaker (aka expert). He's wildly enthusiastic and since he reads the book himself, it is a bit much at times. I think I might have liked reading the book better than listening to it on CD. There were many tips that would be useful to a person who had a message they wanted to get out to the world. It unmasks the whole marketing, sales and promotion angles of the current internet saavy world. What it lacked, however, was a thorough explanation of how to refine your message. I suppose the point of the book is to hook you into his "expert institute" to get you to buy that stuff and take his seminars, etc. and it will teach you that. But I went to that webpage and it asked for an email address before it would even let you in the door so I closed the page and moved on. So, his pitch was not entirely effective. If I did believe I had a message, however, it would be a different story. He really did give enough content that I could figure out much of what he suggested just from the book (which I got from the library) without having to purchase anything else. So, in that vein, it was helpful.(less)
I'm a running geek and a writer and I loved THE PERFECT MILE. I listened to it on CD.
It's the story of three athletes, Roger Bannister from England, John Landy from Australia, and Wes Santee from Kansas, USA, each of whom wanted to be the first to break the four-minute mile barrier, a feat many thought beyond the capability of any man. Author Neal Bascomb weaved the three men's backgrounds and race histories into a tale with enough tension to keep me listening despite the fact that I knew many of the outcomes beforehand. Without creating cliffhangers that might annoy readers, he left one story and moved onto another at such a place where it left the reader wondering what happened next. He also answered all the reader's questions generated by the story at the place where the question was raised. This helped create smooth transitions among the stories of the three men.
In addition to the skillful storytelling, I was also impressed with the tremendous amount of research that went into this book. Newspaper headlines from each race (and there were many) as well as quotations from individuals pepper the book with authenticity. This is creative nonfiction at its best.
You either love him or you hate him. I loved this audiobook and especially loved hearing him read this "memoir in stories" as he called it since he ch...moreYou either love him or you hate him. I loved this audiobook and especially loved hearing him read this "memoir in stories" as he called it since he changed some of the names. I was also sickened in all the right places. He is a natural storyteller and, as the title promises, a true troublemaker in the best sense of the word.(less)
I adore Dame Judi and Samantha Bond, the reader, did a great job of bringing her to life. It wasn't as deep and revealing as I had hoped, but that did...moreI adore Dame Judi and Samantha Bond, the reader, did a great job of bringing her to life. It wasn't as deep and revealing as I had hoped, but that didn't really surprise me. Instead it was funny and poignant and a good time. (less)
Didn't I swear off self-help books? Well if I didn't, I should have. To be honest, there is some good stuff to ponder in this book. It did not, howeve...moreDidn't I swear off self-help books? Well if I didn't, I should have. To be honest, there is some good stuff to ponder in this book. It did not, however, help me implement any of the suggestions made and left me with that all too familiar feeling of just not quite measuring up to a truly productive person's standard of existence. My issue, of course, but still. Instead of swearing, I'll just go back to swearing off self-help books.(less)
The last book I hated this much that I couldn't stop listening to was EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo. I'm finding it similarly painful to listen to FRE...moreThe last book I hated this much that I couldn't stop listening to was EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo. I'm finding it similarly painful to listen to FREEDOM (I'm on the 11th CD of 19) and yet I want to know what happens to all these unpleasant people. Sigh. I loved THE CORRECTIONS and keep hoping that some of the wit and charm of that book will appear in this one. So far, no go. But I am nothing if not loyal and will continue only because I don't have another book on CD to listen to in my car right now and at least I'm multi-tasking since I'm also driving the car. And just to keep this in perspective, this review is coming from a woman who enjoys Video Solitaire. Yawn. And I have to wonder if Jonathan Franzen is as seriously unhappy as this book leads me to believe. If so, I hope he finds help soon.(less)
Considering how well Mr. Block spins a story, I was a little disappointed in the lack of throughline in his memoir. I can't say it lacked insight, but...moreConsidering how well Mr. Block spins a story, I was a little disappointed in the lack of throughline in his memoir. I can't say it lacked insight, but I'm used to reading memoirs in which the author mines their emotions and I didn't feel that in this book. Racewalking was the central theme, but that alone didn't seem enough. The ending also left me wanting. It was if he tired of writing the book and so he simply ended it. While I can relate to that feeling, abandoning your reader is never a good idea. Still, there was much pleasantness in this book which is part travelogue, part sports diary, part memoir. I related to much of his racing and training experiences and envied his ability to travel anywhere he wanted to run a marathon or an all-day race. I also envied his writing productivity and general ability to simply sit down and finish a book! Then again, he was under contract for most of the books he mentioned and a deadline does wonders for productivity. All in all, I'm glad I read about the many adventures racewalking has brought to his life and I hope he has many more.(less)
GOOD BEHAVIOR, a memoir, by Nate Henry, tells the story of his year in jail for armed robbery. This was an adult jail but Nate was only sixteen. He wa...moreGOOD BEHAVIOR, a memoir, by Nate Henry, tells the story of his year in jail for armed robbery. This was an adult jail but Nate was only sixteen. He was no stranger to trouble and in this memoir, he alternates chapters among his year in jail, the year leading up to his crime, and scenes from earlier in his childhood that somewhat explain how a boy from a one stop-light town in rural Indiana finds himself in this predicament. It is gritty, graphic, and often disturbing. I found parts of it nearly impossible to read, but was drawn through it by the hope that he would find a way out. I won't spoil it, but let's just say that the jail librarian is instrumental.
What I took from this book, more than the story itself, was the way in which it was told. He maintained a primarily chronological structure in the alternating chapters so although the book jumps back and forth in time, the reader always knows where she is because he tells the different stories in a "this happened then this happened" order. Within this framework, there were a few flashbacks, but the story was carried forward by the passage of time. We knew he'd either get out of jail or be sent to prison. We knew he'd eventually be arrested and go to jail. We knew he grew to at least the age of sixteen. All of this pulls the reader along. We are also pulled along by the question of "what exactly happened?" since he teases us by referring to the day he set the school on fire and the night the police chased down he and his friend Phillip before he actually tells the events.
This book is not for the faint of heart, but it's definitely worth the read.(less)
In The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian, an elderly couple, Ella with cancer and her husband John with Alzheimer's, set off from Detroit in their...moreIn The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian, an elderly couple, Ella with cancer and her husband John with Alzheimer's, set off from Detroit in their RV, a 1978 Leisure Seeker, headed down Route 66 to the Pacific Ocean and Disneyland against the wishes of their worried adult children. It's a perilous journey with many mini-adventures along the way, but for a couple deeply in love despite all life can throw at them, what they believe to be their last trip is truly the trip of a lifetime.
The book is structured as a simple roadtrip. Each chapter bears the name of a state through which they travel. Told from Ella's point of view, the story includes few flashbacks, and except for those and the slides the couple views most nights when they stop at an RV park, the story is told in the present and has the immediacy and familiarity of one told by a friend as you sit in an armchair listening.
I fell in love with Ella and John quickly and despite having an inkling of how it all might end, I had trouble putting the book down. A friend who knows Mr. Zadoorian told me that the book was gleaned from Zadoorian's experiences with his aging parents and was written as a way to deal with those losses. The book is fiction, but if his parents were anything like Ella and John, I sure wish I could have met them.(less)
SUMMER AT TIFFANY is a sweet, easy read about the self-proclaimed "best summer" of Marjorie Hart's life. If you adore clothes, jewels and movie stars,...moreSUMMER AT TIFFANY is a sweet, easy read about the self-proclaimed "best summer" of Marjorie Hart's life. If you adore clothes, jewels and movie stars, you'll love this book. These details were mostly lost on me, but I appreciated being transported to 1945 Manhattan and the Tiffany store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street. The author's descriptions of the city and the characters that inhabited it at that time held my attention even if the story line didn't. While I enjoyed the way the author took me back to being a young woman trying to figure out her life, with World War II as the backdrop, the decisions Marjorie faced seemed less important than they might have during some other period in history. Maybe my own life has been marred by too many dark events, but I kept waiting for something bad to happen.
Marjorie, writing this memoir when she was in her 70s, captured the voice of her college self. I could feel the bubbly excitement of the two University of Iowa sorority sisters as they began their adventure and could almost taste the chocolate milk and toast on which they survived. And I identified with Marjorie's indecisiveness. Thank goodness for her friend and roommate, Marty. Marjorie wouldn't have lasted a minute without her. Once on her feet, however, Marjorie did fine, despite her knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, a skill I also possess.
The book's structure contribues to its readability. Straightforward chapters with few flashbacks and an occasional letter home made the story roll effortlessly from scene to scene. Short spurts of dialogue also move the reader along. The book opens with the girls gawking at buildings on Fifth Avenue as they ride a city bus headed for Lord & Taylor where they hope to find jobs. The sense of adventure is there from the first few paragraphs. After a few false starts and with some good connections, they land work at Tiffany & Company. After a few dates, they find midshipmen who take them drinking and dancing on a regular basis. This is their life as war rages and atomic bombs are being dropped in the Pacific. In short chapters Marjorie captures the glamour and excitement of she and Marty being Iowa girls in the big city. Several unpleasant events do happen to them and their loved ones and Marjories is faced with an opportunity that presents her with a difficult choice, but these barley seem to dampen the girls' desire for distracting news of the latest fashions and the stars that wore them. I can't fault them. If I'd lived through these difficult times, I too might have needed these escapes.
Overall, I enjoyed the read even if I was disappointed by its lack of depth. Marjorie Hart had a beautiful summer and I'm glad she shared it with us all.(less)
In THE NIGHT CIRCUS which is set in the late 1800's to the early 1900's, two children who will grow up to be magicians are bound to each other in a ch...moreIn THE NIGHT CIRCUS which is set in the late 1800's to the early 1900's, two children who will grow up to be magicians are bound to each other in a challenge placed upon them by a pair of elderly gentlemen. The two contestants do not meet or even know their opponent's identity until they are adults, but their entire childhoods are geared toward the inevitable meeting. The challenge plays out at a mysterious black and white circus that is only open at night, hence the title. The book is filled with colorful characters and, well, magic! And the circus, whoa. I cannot begin to do it justice. The author's imagination and attention to detail left me breathless at times.
I waited to read the reviews until I finished the book because I had my suspicious about how they would read. I was right. Readers are divided into two camps: those who loved the book's world and those who hated the book's plot. I'm in the first category. I've often heard writers cautioned aginst falling too in love with the world they create, especially in science fiction and fantsy. I must admit that Ms. Morgenstern is very much in love with the world of this book, but I don't fault her. I'm in love with it too.
This was not a book I would have normally picked up. A librarian friend suggested this book at a NaNoWriMo Write-in. The author wrote it during National Novel Writing Month and it is her first published novel. While the plot left a bit to be desired and I can see where the critics find it lacking in resolution and conflict, I loved it and did not need to know any more than was told. Besides, I was smitten by the world she'd fashioned! Also, it's a love story, really, and I'm a sucker for a love story. Read it and draw your own conclusions!!!(less)
"I have released myself from a life of sedentary confinement," John Bingham explains in his easy-to-read, short-chaptered, motivational/inspirational...more"I have released myself from a life of sedentary confinement," John Bingham explains in his easy-to-read, short-chaptered, motivational/inspirational memoir, AN ACCIDENTAL ATHLETE.
Bingham has something of a cult following among slow runners like myself. A self-proclaimed, "Penguin," a term he coined in a previous book to capture what he actually looked like when he saw himself in a store window while he was running down a city street, Bingham previously published a column in Runner's World and now is a regular contributor to Competitor. He didn't take up running until he was 43, but when he did, he fell completely in love. In this book he explains how his "adult-onset athleticism," allowed him to make up for being a poor athlete as a child and claim his place in the running world.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read, I was sad to see that he recycled some of the stories he'd told in his previous books. The incidents make excellent points, but I wanted something new. He did deliver that in other chapters, especially regarding the undeniable fact that there will come a day when you realize your best running days are behind you. And, if you really love running, you will continue to run anyway. I needed to hear that!(less)