This book is an easy read, in largish type. I mention that, because, frankly, if you're ill or taking pain meds, in my experience, books in small or d...moreThis book is an easy read, in largish type. I mention that, because, frankly, if you're ill or taking pain meds, in my experience, books in small or dense type can be very daunting.
There are two strands in this book; one is Fr. Groeschel's account of his accident and recovery (the book was, I believe, written before his most recent stroke). The other is a general discussion of redemptive suffering, the Catholic idea that any unavoidable suffering can be united to the sufferings of Christ for one's own spiritual benefit, or that of others.
Fr. Groschel makes points that I think bear repeating. He says there is no sin in seeking pain relief. You may think this is obvious, but I have known tender-hearted Catholics who were reluctant to seek reliable pain control because they believed God wanted them to suffer. There may be people who are called to physical mortifications, but this is DECIDEDLY not something to be sought without the counsel of a regular confessor or spiritual director.
He also says there is some merit in offering suffering even when we suffer badly, that is to say when we complain become irritable. I don't think I need to explain why this is a comforting thought. If it were not for the ability to offer poorly-handled suffering, I probably wouldn't have any to offer. (less)
**spoiler alert** I really wanted to like this book much more than I did. Perhaps it takes a really great novelist's to write an engaging book about a...more**spoiler alert** I really wanted to like this book much more than I did. Perhaps it takes a really great novelist's to write an engaging book about a disengaged person. Lisa Grunwald attempts this In the Irresistible Henry House – but the results are ultimately disappointing. Grunwald starts out with a fascinating premise. Henry is "practice baby;" an orphaned infant who is cared for by a rotating succession of undergraduate home economics majors (one of whom is actually his natural mother).
Henry's fate is different; rather than being given to an adopted family. When he reaches the age of two years, he's raised by Martha Gaines, director of the practice house, ostensibly a widow, but portrayed as a blend of Mommie Dearest and the spinster from Central Casting. Martha clings to Henry, smothering him with the oppressive love she warns her students against. When Henry discovers that Martha has lied about his parentage, and after his natural mother has claimed him and then abandoned him in a sort of drive-by parenting attack, Henry withdraws into elective mutism. Sent away to residential school, he attempts there to build an ideal family, only to have that, too, fall apart. He leaves the school to go forth into the world.
The first part of the book is the most interesting and successful, showing how Henry's odd upbringing has scarred him. Keenly attuned to others expectations, Henry adapts to please all the females around him and is both baffled and in rage when girls (and later, women) expect him not to treat them all the same.
The book breaks down badly in its second half where Henry, like Zelig and Forrest Gump before him, is in all the right places at all the right times to be a sort of Baby Boomer archetype. We see Henry's reaction (or lack of it) when Kennedy was shot. Henry meets Julie Andrews on the set of Mary Poppins. Henry is in London working on "Yellow Submarine," and John Lennon picks Henry's art table to doodle at! His girlfriend is in the first London cast of Hair! The girl he left behind back home is an activist at Berkeley. I suppose it's just as well that the book ends where it does; poor Henry might've been shot dead at Kent State.
And to top it all off the book ends with a Hallmark Channel epiphany when Henry and a small child play together while sharing crayons. In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up. It's true that Grunwald has tried to set us up with a picture of Henry's impending redemption, and deepening sense of self, but it's not convincing, and so neither is the sudden insight.(less)
My mother used to threaten me into cleaning my room with stories of the Collyer brothers, well-to-do hoa...moreThis is a good book, but a disappointing one.
My mother used to threaten me into cleaning my room with stories of the Collyer brothers, well-to-do hoarders who crammed a multi-story brownstone with their belongings, and died when a pile of newspapers fell on one brother, leaving the other, blind and unable to negotiate the limited paths of the house, to die more slowly.
Doctorow begins with the real Collyers, but changes certain things to serve his story (and his rhetorical ends), using Homer, the blind brother, as the narrator. We observe the slow deterioration of the Collyers' house and lives through the blur of the brothers' denial and rationalizations. Only when we see the reaction of outsiders (first occasional visitors, then firemen, police, and other legal authorities) do we get glimpses of the actual situation. The interior picture of the rationalizations and obsessions of the hoarders is a strong point in the book. If only Doctorow had stopped there, it would be a stronger book.
But he can't resist turning his narrators into symbols, perhaps of the chaos and consumerism of the 20th century. So he gives them about 30 additional years of life, and brings into their limited orbit characters whose only apparent purpose is to be exemplars of certain great events. A Japanese couple comes to help clean during WWII; of course, they are taken to the relocation camps by the FBI. Hippies float in and out of the house. This is the same kind of contrived plotting I decried in Henry House, and it fails similarly here.
Let me say up front that I have this book in all three editions: paper, Kindle, and audio. Does that give you some idea how well Stever resonates with...moreLet me say up front that I have this book in all three editions: paper, Kindle, and audio. Does that give you some idea how well Stever resonates with me?
There really are only so many basic ideas in a time management or personal efficiency book. We even know what they are. Our grandmothers told us. What we don't do is connect the ideas to what we do day-to-day.
Therefore, Stever's 9 steps: Live on purpose; stop procrastinating; conquer technology; beat distractions to cultivate focus; stay organized; stop wasting time; optimize; build stronger relationships; leverage; seem ultimately commonsensical. What Stever does that makes this book worth your time is to use humor and imagery that acts as a mental sticky note to bring the ideas forward to the front of your mind. Zombies, robots, and a cast of demented secondary characters liven the book up and make it fun.
Some of the other reviews ding this book for duplicating material in Stever's blog and podcast. Apparently these people have perfect recall and don't need to use multi-sensory input to reinforce important ideas. But I do!
Added bonus: If you like tables, charts, and worksheets to immediately apply the ideas discussed, the book is full of them. Yes, this is even true of the audiobook -- there's an attached PDF with several documents.
DISCLAIMER: Stever also offers a fee-based program for practicing these ideas intensely. I am a client of that service, but I'm not receiving any kind of compensation for this review. (less)
**spoiler alert** Didn't hate this as much as I expected to, given the reviews I skimmed. Yes, there are plot holes, not all of which are soluble by t...more**spoiler alert** Didn't hate this as much as I expected to, given the reviews I skimmed. Yes, there are plot holes, not all of which are soluble by the time travel/parallel timeline expedient. There is also a particularly shocking development that flips this series out of the fluffy escape category into a darker paranormal romance.
I continue to be intrigued by the character of the devil in this series. Just when you think she's basically a sympathetic character, a revisionist Satan who is just misunderstood, she suddenly does or says something so unexpectedly and unreservedly evil I blink and catch my breath.
Some of the parts of the book I liked best were tiny sidelines, "butterfly effect" changes in the new timeline that can't be explained directly by any of Betsy's actions in the past. (less)
As I've mentioned before, I'm attracted to stories about faith, and how people gain and lose it. This could have been a very sensationalistic book. It...moreAs I've mentioned before, I'm attracted to stories about faith, and how people gain and lose it. This could have been a very sensationalistic book. It's the memoir of one of the children of tent evangelist and Pentecostal Holiness preacher David Terrell. Terrell apparently took upon himself the polygamous prerogatives of the Old Testament figures, as he wandered further and further from a recognizable Christianity. But the book, since it is told mostly from a child's point of view, with limited "I came to understand later" passages, doesn't fall into much prurient detail.
Johnson doesn't try to discount or explain away miraculous healings that she witnessed, nor does she minimize Terrell's affluence, his odd view of himself, or his stockpiling of worldly goods, even as he warned his followers the End of Days was near. She lays all the story out, tangled and messy as it is, and leaves it to the reader to determine its significance. Highly recommended. (less)
This book was my mother's, but I read it as often as she did. It has undoubtedly shaped my attitudes toward the womanly arts forever. And I am gratefu...moreThis book was my mother's, but I read it as often as she did. It has undoubtedly shaped my attitudes toward the womanly arts forever. And I am grateful. (less)
Solid beginning to a series; much attention paid to characterization and setting the backstory (and future key characters) for the protagonist. The pl...moreSolid beginning to a series; much attention paid to characterization and setting the backstory (and future key characters) for the protagonist. The plot, rather weak; the killer, well, just the one *I* expected we'd land at -- but not for the right reasons. Will try more to see if this series grows stronger (and to learn more about the mysterious mind of my cat). (less)