I asked a trusted hospice doctor to recommend a good book about the beauty of life, love, death, and hospice care. The FourWow. What a touching book.
I asked a trusted hospice doctor to recommend a good book about the beauty of life, love, death, and hospice care. The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living, was just what I was hoping for, and more.
The book emphasizes the importance of four healing phrases in any relationship, even when each person is well and thriving. The phrases, I love you, I forgive you, please forgive me, and thank you, have allowed the patients of Ira Byock, palliative care MD, to heal their souls and complete (not end) their relationships. At first, I was concerned that the explanations of each phrase would be long-winded and redundant, but Byock illustrated each one beautifully with tender stories of patients who experienced tranquility, joy, and forgiveness after using these phrases with their loved one.
Oh, did I cry.
Being in critical health care, I witness death, regret, love, pain - all and any of the above. I have always been somewhat overly empathetic and the thought of losing my loved ones can feel unbearable. Reading this book and working in healthcare have each helped me to come to terms with the (often unspoken) mortality of life. Byock gracefully highlights the miracle of life, even the end, in a way that brought me peace and filled my heart.
I really liked Veronika Decides to Die, but I think it's because I have a strange combination of life experiences in nursing and mental health situatiI really liked Veronika Decides to Die, but I think it's because I have a strange combination of life experiences in nursing and mental health situations. I am very empathetic toward, and connecting easily with, people who suffer from mental illness.
Veronika is a young woman who, one day, because nothing new is happening in her life, decides to end it. It's hard to feel sorry for Veronika because she hasn't experienced any misfortune, but that is her (very common) story.
After attempting to end her life, she wakes up in a mental institution and is told she only has about a week to live due to irreversible heart damage.
(view spoiler)[ I had already guessed that this was a set-up; a way to help her learn to appreciate what she has, but that's okay. One review I read wrote that it would have been more meaningful if Veronika did actually die at the end of the story, and for a while I agreed. The way Coelho wrote this story was not realistic. For me though, the story was more about the discoveries each character made. (hide spoiler)]
As Veronika lives out her last days, she is inspired by residents at the psych ward, and they are inspired by her. As with all Paulo Coelho books, the writing is simple but artistic and full of meaning. Coelho's stories are near-spiritual in nature, and I enjoy what he teaches.
And so for a simple book, I will leave a simple review. This book was a pleasure for me to read, but is definitely not for everyone.
This book fulfills the "originally written in a different language" category of the Pop Sugar 2015 Ultimate Reading Challenge. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Shack is a best-seller with over 10,000,000 copies sold. Its basis is Christian fiction, which has been highly controversial.
Mild spoilers aboutThe Shack is a best-seller with over 10,000,000 copies sold. Its basis is Christian fiction, which has been highly controversial.
Mild spoilers about the premise of the book: (view spoiler)[ In the story, Mack's daughter is tragically kidnapped during a lake vacation. Several years pass and Mack receives a letter from God asking him to meet at the shack where Missy's dress was found. God/the Trinity then proceeds to aid Mack in his emotional recovery while explaining part of Missy's disappearance. (hide spoiler)]
My Grandparents gave me this book. Not really claiming a faith, but being open to God, I thought this would be an interesting read. Really though, as a work of fiction, I recognized that I was not really reading the Christian God's true word (as represented in the bible, per the Christian faith). That's where controvery begins. Many readers reviewed this book 1/5 stars because they felt it misrepresented God - made him too "human" or too laid back. He is represented by a woman with very... current speech patterns.
The author, Wm. Paul Young, however, makes it clear in the (also fictional) foreward, that this story is only someone's explanation of who God may be. So, at best it is a human interpretation of God. At least, it provides the reader with some therapeutic, loving advice that may or may not follow the word of Jesus.
Admittedly, some of the conversations among the trinity seemed a little forced. Taking a spiritual concept like the trinity and then simplifying it to a (conveniently racially diverse) trio who jokes in the kitchen and bakes food together, is relatable, but also near-insulting, it seems. The concept is made too friendly at the expense of its greatness. But, who am I to judge? I have no basis of honest truth behind my judgment.
I received a loving feeling from The Shack, and it made me more curious about God. The message of this book is, God is love.
This book fulfills the "A book a friend recommended" (Grandma) category on the Pop Sugar 2015 Ultimate Reading Challenge. http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Troll: Book 1: The boy with the sliver of ice in his heart, is part one of a trilogy written by Nicola Monaghan. I first took an interest in her wThe Troll: Book 1: The boy with the sliver of ice in his heart, is part one of a trilogy written by Nicola Monaghan. I first took an interest in her writing after randomly picking up "The Killing Jar," one of her earlier books, and I immediately falling in love.
The Troll is a novella series about four friends with a long history. An unknown event or experience has separated them in some ways, particularly from one of the friends. The other three, years later, begin receiving messages - mostly tweets and Facebook messages - from a screen name "SickMan". This man knows more than they'd like about their darkest secrets, both past and present.
I read this first book in one sitting and really enjoyed the pace. The Troll is a page-turner. Also, because many of the characters drink often, (and then feel terrible the next day,) I feel like I never want another alcoholic beverage for the rest of my life. That's a positive, right? Hahaha.
I really enjoyed Whatever You Do, Don't Run, by Peter Allison. This book was recommended to me by an avid reader friend, Colleen. Like her, I am fasciI really enjoyed Whatever You Do, Don't Run, by Peter Allison. This book was recommended to me by an avid reader friend, Colleen. Like her, I am fascinated by travel, culture, and a well written non-fiction book. (They tend to let me down, honestly).
As I read about Allison's adventures as a safari guide in Botswana I thought a few things:
First, he is a fantastic, fluid storyteller. I never felt like the pace dragged, and by using a combination of humor, passion, and knowledge, he kept me engaged. I appreciate that Allison could balance his deep knowledge of, birds, for example, yet still interest the general public. I found him likable and his passion magnetic.
I also love animals, yet have no experience with animals typically seen in Africa. It was interesting to learn about the ways an expert deals with a buffalo or lion attack, for example. Also, when Allison writes about witnessing an elephant giving birth (and how he was so touched that he teared up,) I admired him even more. What is more beautiful than someone who loves what they do?
Honestly, I can hardly believe the wild, adventurous things Peter Allison got himself into in Botswana, but I'm sure he is an absolutely entertaining guide. The short story format was perfect for this book - both informative and entertaining.
*Some spoilers, which have been removed via HTML link.*
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Never have I felt so conflicted writing a review.
When I fir*Some spoilers, which have been removed via HTML link.*
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Never have I felt so conflicted writing a review.
When I first began reading The Secret, I felt a rush of excitement. We are all familiar with that sensation when opening a book; a this could be one of my favorites feeling. Tartt started writing with words that I could imagine and sense:
"I was confused by this sudden glare of attention; it was if the characters in my favorite painting, absorbed in their own concerns, has looked up out of the canvas and spoken to me" (p. 22).
"I mowed relentlessly over the evening, back and forth, straining to remember exact words, telling inflections, any subtle insults or kindnesses I might have missed, and my mind--quite willingly--supplied various distortions" (p. 69).
Within the first few pages of The Secret History, we know the one member of the classics language group, Bunny, has been killed by his friends. The rest of the book tells us why it happened, how it happened, and what happened afterwards. The novel is always a bit dark, which I can, oddly, gravitate towards. The problem is, (view spoiler)[as it darkened, Tartt seemed to replace her detailed, feeling passages with apathetic, bland, and repetitive drug/alcohol use. The reader had to, for example, read about each time one of the chain-smoking characters picked up a cigarette and how they held it. We had to read that every time a character walked into the room they were completely drunk, or high, or looking for a pill. Sure, I get it. The classics students struggled with Bunny's murder in different ways. Actually, their deepening depression was somewhat gradual and hypnotizing. For that reason, I cannot rate this book any lower than a three. (hide spoiler)]
Some reviewers mention that they didn't witness much characterization, and I disagree. As I finished the book, I had a good sense of how each character developed or regressed. The pace of The Secret History is both slow and dense, and it hyper-focuses on the very isolated classics group, so you can't help but learn how each person behaves. I think the point is, though, that many of the characters lack qualities that most readers can relate to. They are pretentious, spoiled, and self-absorbed, it seems. Regardless, I was, many times, mystified by their sick, strange world. (view spoiler)[ Speaking of strange, like in the incestuous relationship between Charles and Camilla, I felt like as the story line weakened, these details were added for pure shock factor. It didn't flow, for me, (incest usually doesn't). (hide spoiler)]
The Secret History was a strong first 1/3 with a progressively weaker middle and end. Tartt is undoubtedly talented. The more I think about it, I wonder if the fall of these students is actually part of the beauty of this work, and that I should observe it for what is rather than being judgmental. Maybe my thoughts will develop as the days go on.
This book fulfills the "Book with more than 500 pages" category of the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-... ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked this book. My interest in Far from the Madding Crowd began after seeing the movie last month, which I absolutely loved. I know, I did it backwI liked this book. My interest in Far from the Madding Crowd began after seeing the movie last month, which I absolutely loved. I know, I did it backwards - movie before book!
Classic novels have a mysterious way of making a powerfully romantic storyline seem beautiful and desirable, rather than cliché (even if they are). I have to laugh, because these classic characters really do make women swoon.
In Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy writes about Bathsheba, a beautiful, independent, indecisive spirit who enchants all who meet her. She is a fairly modern woman who cannot be tamed. The novel tells a story of three very different men competing, essentially, for her affection. One is stable and wealthy, another is kind, gentle and loyal, and another is passionate and dangerous.
I loved, loved Bathsheba's character in the movie. She is effortlessly captivating and it is easy to see why people adore her. Her weaknesses (like being flighty, for instance), are depicted as innocent faults, and unintentional. In the book, however, I found her less favorable - colder, weaker, and maybe a little vain. In both, I was fascinated by Bathsheba's development, but the movie had me rooting for her despite her struggles, whereas I feel like she was more obsessed with outside reassurance in the book, and it weakened her best qualities.
So, sorry to compare, but for me that was the biggest disappointment. I'm happy that I saw the movie first, because I was able to imagine the characters as I first saw them.
Where the River Ends. This book was in the "recommended" section at the library. I wanted to put this book down several ti**spoiler alert** *Spoilers*
Where the River Ends. This book was in the "recommended" section at the library. I wanted to put this book down several times, because I felt like it was moving so slowly (and simply). By reading the description, it's easy for a reader to understand where the book is going - that is not the book's appeal, though.
Charles Martin, the author, tells a story about Doss and Abbie. Abbie is dying of cancer and has 10 or so wishes before her death, many of them as simple as "swimming with dolphins". The most challenging wish, though, requires her husband to take her down the river in canoe (which requires him removing her from hospice first). In this trip, she hopes to teach him and instill confidence in his art and inner self. They have a sweet, flirtatious romantic relationship. It is the cookie cutter pre-death, magical story.
Martin alternates between the past, when Doss and Abbie first met, to the current time, as they are paddling down the river. The past scenes, including when Abbie is first diagnosed with cancer, are touching and fun. I really felt a connection to what the author was saying even though I haven't experienced cancer in my own life. The current passages, however, were laden with extraneous detail. So much so, that I found myself wanting to skip full pages. Scenic detail is tough. I appreciate when it's done in a way that enhances the story - John Steinbeck is great at this - but not when the details seem unrelated. I felt like this book was very slow, at times, and not in an enriching way.
I also felt like some of the love scenes were forced. They didn't seem genuine to me.
In the last few chapters, however, when Abbie is dying, the writing touched me. I felt like the characters' story mattered, and I was glad I had finished the book. I struggled between a two or three star rating for this one, just because of how many times I wanted to put it down.
Lindsay is a wonderful mentor for both the vegan/plant-based curious, and the long-term vegan. This book caters to the beginning stages of transition,Lindsay is a wonderful mentor for both the vegan/plant-based curious, and the long-term vegan. This book caters to the beginning stages of transition, as you can imagine, but has some recipes, resources, inspirational stories, and tips that I loved too. I would honestly support anything she wrote, haha.
Oh, and my friends are featured in this book! So proud of their transition and clean bill of health after cancer. ...more
Do really terrible people all just happen to hang out together, often?
I enjoyed this book. A friend of mine at work has given it to a few of us to reaDo really terrible people all just happen to hang out together, often?
I enjoyed this book. A friend of mine at work has given it to a few of us to read, and I actually thought it was the book "Orphan Train". Oops. This was an entirely different train, and a story I had not heard about. Either way, I found it fast-paced, interesting, and easy.
Many have said it in their Good Reads reviews, but I quickly felt the same emotions I felt when I read "Gone Girl" earlier this year, though they are dissimilar in many ways. The Girl on the Train surrounds a "who did it?" premise, and follows the first-person narratives of three disturbed women as their lives unfold and intertwine. Like always, I wasn't sure which direction the twists would go, but I was mostly incorrect. (I'm actually glad I can't predict twists - it makes for better reading).
The one element that kept me from rating The Girl on the Train higher was the frequent "nothing is as it seems" concept. Used too frequently, an author can take their story from exciting and surprising to phony and forced. I'm not saying Paula Hawkins did this, but almost. Overall, I think she handled the twists and characters well.