Just finished reading this book in a particularly long period of doldrums where my natural state of joyousness and exuberance seems to have deserted m...moreJust finished reading this book in a particularly long period of doldrums where my natural state of joyousness and exuberance seems to have deserted me a little bit. Though I have very up days, it's stormy. My moods are all over the map. I'm torn between the Pema Chodron variety of attending to and learning from painful emotions … and Gretchen Rubin's "get up and do something to be happier" / "choose happiness" approach. They're certainly not mutually exclusive but it's tough to understand at least in my predominant state of mind recently - restless, anxious, searching -- what day-to-day tactics to employ to regain a sense of peace, balance, deep joy and "rightness." Rubin's book gave me ideas, got me thinking about how I might find a middle way where I don't focus focus focus on negative emotions -- even trying to "just be" with them right now is too much for me sometimes. Sometimes it makes more sense to actively guide myself into happiness. Not fake it necessarily, but choose it…even when it doesn't feel so natural. The question for me now is how to balance between just paying attention to whatever I'm feeling in the moment even if it's not nice (because it may be telling me something about how I got to the low emotional state I'm in) and just trying to distract myself or change my state of mind to something positive.(less)
Tenorio's series of short stories highlights the Filipino American experience through the eyes of characters on the fringes of society. The title stor...moreTenorio's series of short stories highlights the Filipino American experience through the eyes of characters on the fringes of society. The title story features a C-list actress and her film-making longtime lover who make a trip to America to participate in a basement production of a budget sci-fi horror flick. The brother of a recently deceased transgendered man, a disillusioned protege to a quack healer, a teenaged leper exile, all come to life through Tenorio's skillful and compassionate story weaving. The narrative voice is matter-of-fact and non-judgmental, not making any character more than he or she actually is, but getting at the unique and beautiful human experience through attention to the tender details of each character's day-to-day.
Tenorio's stories let the reader in to rich worlds (both exterior places and interior lives) which seem new, but also somehow familiar. He treats all his characters with a deep tenderness that doesn't shy away from either the deep joy or tragedy. This is a very strong collection, well-written, well-edited, beautifully developed characters, clear voice, and a discernible and eloquent point of view on culture, identity, and what it means to be human.(less)
A Fort of Nine Towers describes author Omar's experience as a boy and young adult growing up in Afghanistan in the late 90s and early 2000s during the...moreA Fort of Nine Towers describes author Omar's experience as a boy and young adult growing up in Afghanistan in the late 90s and early 2000s during the period of civil war, through the Taliban occupation, and the arrival of the Americans. The book is told from Omar's point of view, in luminous, lyrical, but never flowery prose. The voice transitions naturally between a more innocent point of view as a young boy and a more adult perspective. Omar's narrative voice maintains a sense of reverence and openness in the face of repeated tragedy and the day-to-day privations of wartime living. Alongside the riveting human story, Omar weaves in history, landscape, culture, family dynamics, and a coming-of-age narrative. Beautifully written, flowing, poetic and clear-eyed, this book takes a complex, violent, heart-wrenching experience of war and distills it into something beautiful and meaningful.(less)
Her words, at once confident and humble, offer courage and nourishment for the weary soul. The book is meant for those facing real shortages in wartim...moreHer words, at once confident and humble, offer courage and nourishment for the weary soul. The book is meant for those facing real shortages in wartime (she wrote it first during the height of WWII, then annotated and republished in 1954); yet its basic lessons in embracing creativity and delighting in our day-to-day lives (even at their most difficult), is a message that can inspire in any era.(less)
A quick, fun read, Reichl's (even in her most obnoxious critic disguises) seems like somebody who is eminently human, loveable, and fallible. Someone...moreA quick, fun read, Reichl's (even in her most obnoxious critic disguises) seems like somebody who is eminently human, loveable, and fallible. Someone you'd like to get to know. I appreciate the kind of story that shows strong women juggling career, family, and personal growth... especially when detailed descriptions of food are involved. One thing that was particularly striking was that this book shows just how much food culture has developed in the US over the past few years. I feel like the things that were edgy or trendy in Reichl's reviews are so... well... 2006 :) I guess that's the point though. As the NY Times food critic in a way, she makes the culture...(less)
Devoured this book in the first two weeks of the new year. I'd like to write a letter to Joanna to thank her for this book. It wove together so many o...moreDevoured this book in the first two weeks of the new year. I'd like to write a letter to Joanna to thank her for this book. It wove together so many of the paths I've been down and so many of the questions I've had in the past five years. I could identify with so many parts of her journey, listening to her was like replaying parts of my own short adult story. I wonder if everyone feels this sort of resonance because Macy herself is so open and vulnerable and human? It seemed like more than that to me... not everything, but many things -- the travel, the exploration of systems theory (in my case network theory), attraction to Buddhism, questioning of cultural standards like monogamy, risk-taking, cooperative endeavors -- and the way all these things fit together for her -- the way she wrote about it made me shiver with recognition. She was blessed with many opportunities, graced with the strength to take advantage of them, the curiosity to learn through her life, and great capacity to love and connect. An inspiration!(less)
Read this on New Year's Day while on retreat at the New Camaldoli Hermitage. This year is a year of exploring my spirituality... and part of that is e...moreRead this on New Year's Day while on retreat at the New Camaldoli Hermitage. This year is a year of exploring my spirituality... and part of that is exploring & making a sort of peace with my Catholic upbringing. I was browsing the retreat kitchen library for a place to start and came across this short, sweet, clear little book. The thing that struck me most was that this book (and the few others I browsed) were very clear on the point that most of the good bits about Catholicism also tend to be the bits that are often squashed by the church as an institution & bureaucracy. "But be Catholic anyway" .... "struggle from the inside" .... is the message I'm hearing. I'm just not sure, especially when I feel I've cobbled together my own spiritual tools (some probably borrowed from my own early experiences with Catholicism) that seem to work well to make meaning in my life and help me be a more loving person. But it feels right to at least be curious and engaged...(less)