I liked the idea of a meditation book that avoided some of the self-help spirituality elements that are often packaged with it. This is more of a memoI liked the idea of a meditation book that avoided some of the self-help spirituality elements that are often packaged with it. This is more of a memoir than I was expecting though.
It probably didn't help my opinion that Harris comes across as unsympathetic. His tone ranges from smug bro to appropriately chastened, but there's this running thread beneath the whole thing making it clear that he's very, very aware of how his every word and anecdote might be perceived. His ego looms large even when admitting to mistakes; the point of these stories is to show us his amazing progress after he went through a rough patch at work or had unkind thoughts about someone. Large swaths of this book follow a similar pattern: we hear about some snap judgment Harris made, follow his experience with it, and are then presented with an "I learned something today" moment. It's kind of dull.
The book might be a good fit if someone's interested in ABC News personalities or is dubious about the mere concept of meditating. But I was looking for something more meaty and helpful....more
I love old accounts like this; they're a good reminder that there have always been women who challenged the arbitrary notions of society.
The style ofI love old accounts like this; they're a good reminder that there have always been women who challenged the arbitrary notions of society.
The style of this one can feel a bit dry to a modern reader, but the chapters are short and it's an easy read. I especially enjoyed the amused tone Henritte took on when she talked about how friends (and even strangers) tried to talk her out of making her climb....more
I liked this memoir's honest, plain-spoken style, and reading about a published author's writing insecurities always makes my own seem a little easierI liked this memoir's honest, plain-spoken style, and reading about a published author's writing insecurities always makes my own seem a little easier to bear....more
This is the memoir of Jennifer Sey, a gymnast who competed at the elite level in the 80s. She shares her triumphs as well as frank depictions of thingThis is the memoir of Jennifer Sey, a gymnast who competed at the elite level in the 80s. She shares her triumphs as well as frank depictions of things like emotionally manipulative coaches, rushed recoveries, and self-harm.
The writing style is fairly simple, which makes the parts about her harmful reaction to stress and her obsession with losing weight even more disturbing to read. Descriptions of the wear and tear that the endless practices caused to her young body kept making me put the book down for a bit.
Sey comes across as fair despite her issues with the sport, she's careful to make distinctions between things that she directly witnessed and those she only suspected or heard. (One coach that she mentioned rumors about has since been accused of taking advantage of several of the girls he worked with.)
She also emphasizes that pursuing gymnastics was her dream and her choice, and claims to have hidden a lot of the more negative repercussions from her parents. It's reassuring to learn that she wasn't pushed into that life, but I left this book feeling as if her parents bore a little more fault for her troubles than she assigned to them.
I've noticed some reviewers saying that she sounded whiny, ungrateful, or should have quit if she wasn't happy, like she should have taken more responsibility over her own situation. As adults looking back over her words and her career, it's easy to say. But preteens and teenagers don't always make the healthiest decisions under pressure. Young girls who push themselves to the edge for perfection should have a network of family and coaches looking out for them as people, not just performers, and I think a lot of us might seem whiny or bitter if we'd been in Jennifer Sey's shoes....more
This memoir about working in domestic service was written in a conversational tone that, while occasionally rambling, made it a fast, easy read.
The auThis memoir about working in domestic service was written in a conversational tone that, while occasionally rambling, made it a fast, easy read.
The author worked as a kitchen maid and cook, and tells frank stories about hard work, employers, and coworkers. Many of the anecdotes focus on the unfair ways that servants were treated or viewed. For example, she makes several mentions of how it bothered her that employers were always shocked to learn that she enjoyed reading (presumably because they assumed that type of pursuit was beyond a servant).
There's also plenty of gossip about sex, though some of that was about who wasn't having it and why. Much of it will probably seem tame by today's standards, but Margaret Powell speaks out against the double standards she encountered as a woman in domestic service.
Though it felt a little disorganized, the book was a fun first-hand look into another time, and I'd certainly recommend it to people interested in the period.
I got a copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program....more
Fey tells stories about her life, outlook, and career, but she goes about it in a scattered way that feels more like a collection of comedy bits thanFey tells stories about her life, outlook, and career, but she goes about it in a scattered way that feels more like a collection of comedy bits than a cohesive book.
Some sections are laugh-out-loud funny, I just didn't care for the "obligatory celebrity memoir" tone. I may know more facts about her life now, but I don't have any better handle on her as a person than before I read it....more
John Singleton Copley was a Boston man who began his art career before the Revolutionary War. He was a highly successful portraitist, but his ambitionJohn Singleton Copley was a Boston man who began his art career before the Revolutionary War. He was a highly successful portraitist, but his ambition to become a great painter led him to Europe and he eventually settled in London.
The structure was sometimes too melodramatic, and it wasn't necessary to remind me for the fiftieth time that Copley tried his hardest to avoid politics. This book was at its best when it placed Copley in the middle of the tensions leading up to the Declaration of Independence, and its description of the financial and artistic decline of his final years was genuinely sad.
I was excited to see that there was an entire chapter named for my favorite painting, Watson and the Shark, so it was a bit of a let down to find that the chapter had only a couple of pages on that subject. While I'd have preferred to read more about Watson, my disappointment was somewhat tempered by the author's use of the word "highfalutin."...more
I don't have much interest in the theater world, but I loved 84, Charing Cross Road so I jumped on this one when I spotted it in a local used shop. HaI don't have much interest in the theater world, but I loved 84, Charing Cross Road so I jumped on this one when I spotted it in a local used shop. Hanff's breezy style seems to make just about anything funny, whether it's meeting producers, wrangling agents, or just telling stories about daily life.
This is a quick read, and very worth the time....more
This is the firsthand account of an educated young man who, in 1836, signed up as a sailor on a merchant ship. He traveled around Cape Horn to the CalThis is the firsthand account of an educated young man who, in 1836, signed up as a sailor on a merchant ship. He traveled around Cape Horn to the California coast, worked to cure and collect hides, and then made the return trip to Boston.
The nautical details might seem dense to those of us who aren't sailing experts, but I still preferred the sections about shipboard life to the ones on California. Some of the California details were interesting enough, especially Dana's time living with a group of native Hawaiians. But it didn't take long for the drudgery of the hide trade to feel repetitive.
The book is full of great descriptions. This most stands out when the sailors are rounding Cape Horn at the end, dodging icebergs, constantly cold and wet, and struggling to work in their ship's ice-encrusted rigging. The biggest weakness in Dana's writing is the way he presents other people. He introduces them, tells us nearly everything he knows about their situation and history, and then barely mentions them again unless they play a key role in something else he does.
Dana himself comes across as a complicated figure. He made sharp observations and didn't hold back from criticism, especially if he thought his target was unfair or foolish. His sympathies can sound uneven to a modern reader, though.
He often seems judgmental. Dana clearly had a strong work ethic and tried to get along with people, but as an educated man from a well-off background, he also seemed to hold himself apart from most of his fellow sailors. At one point he expressed surprise that, while reading to a group of sailors, they were interested in subjects that he thought would be beyond them.
Dana had a lot of impressive qualities, but his story is not exactly that of a typical sailor. It's interesting as a tale of a man expanding his horizons, but a conflict towards the end was an important reminder that Dana could go home and rejoin his upper class life.
He went on to become an abolitionist and an advocate for the legal rights of sailors. My edition included an essay that he wrote about revisiting California twenty-four years later, but it spent too much time on who he met and how he was received....more