A wonderful book I used as a text for a Creative Writing class I taught. Don't have time to write a review now, but I'll quote one of my favorite them...moreA wonderful book I used as a text for a Creative Writing class I taught. Don't have time to write a review now, but I'll quote one of my favorite themes in her work:
"With so much reading ahead of you, the temptation might be to speed up. But in fact it’s essential to slow down and read every word. Because one important thing that can be learned by reading slowly is the seemingly obvious but oddly underappreciated fact that language is the medium we use in much the same way a composer uses notes, the way a painter uses paint. . . . it’s surprising how easily we lose sight of the fact that words are the raw material out of which literature is crafted.
Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices."(less)
Was given this book to read by a friend for a curriculum we are devising. I finished it yesterday- or rather, I finished two-thirds of it yesterday. T...moreWas given this book to read by a friend for a curriculum we are devising. I finished it yesterday- or rather, I finished two-thirds of it yesterday. This is really two books: the compelling story of Ken and Treya Wilber, who discovered that she had stage 4 breast cancer 10 days after their wedding, and an academic-even arcane- discourse on the world's different contemplative/spiritual disciplines. In his introduction, Wilber confesses that "the MAIN PURPOSE of this book is to provide and introduction to just those topics."
Here's an example of this so-called introduction, chosen totally at random: "It's not a union, it's an indissociation. A union is two separate things brought together in a higher integration. In infantile fusion, there are not two things to begin with, just a global in differentiation. You cannot integrate that which is not first undifferentiated. Besides, even IF we say that this infantile state is a union of subject and object, let me repeat that the SUBJECT here is merely a SENSORIMOTOR subject undifferentiated from a sensorimotor world, it is NOT a total integrated subject of ALL levels united with ALL higher worlds. In other words, it isn't even a prototype of mystical union, it is rather the precise OPPOSITE of the mystical state. The infantile fusion state is the greatest point of alienation or separation from all of the higher levels and higher worlds whose total integration or union constitutes mysticism."
Not quite my thing. So why the three stars? Because the story he narrates-in between more than a hundred pages of the above- is truthful and inspiring. It's for sure not a feel-good book; he is brutally honest about the toll that Treya's cancer took on both of them and their relationship, and how two years into their five year journey they almost divorced. But the journey of growth and spirituality they took together is compelling. He alternates between his narration and long excerpts from Freya's journals, which are, to me, the heart of the book. Read Grace and Grit just to hear the voice of this extraordinary human being. (less)
First half of the book is fascinating, but the second half-- culminating in an online "survivor's profile" you are supposed to take-- flags. First hal...moreFirst half of the book is fascinating, but the second half-- culminating in an online "survivor's profile" you are supposed to take-- flags. First half deserves a 4, though, and is well worth reading.
Was wavering between a 3 and a 4; Skylar's excellent review (a must read) decided it for me. That said, this book was written when the author was 23;...moreWas wavering between a 3 and a 4; Skylar's excellent review (a must read) decided it for me. That said, this book was written when the author was 23; were she to revise it now, I'm sure her indictment of today's overtly sexualized, anything-goes liberal culture would be considerably more nuanced.
Truly one of the greatest political journalists ever. Her skills as an interviewer and her courage in asking tough questions of heroes and tyrants ali...moreTruly one of the greatest political journalists ever. Her skills as an interviewer and her courage in asking tough questions of heroes and tyrants alike, remain unsurpassed. Though this book is decades old, I recently reread it, and the relevance remains, for figures like Henry Kissinger, Golda Meir, Yassir Arafat, benazair Bhutto, etc., had an extraordinary impact on the world as we know it today. This is a brilliant collection of exceptional interviews by an extraordinary woman. (less)
I just spent more than half an hour responding to La Petite Americaine's review of this book and somehow it got deleted. I will try to repost it in mo...moreI just spent more than half an hour responding to La Petite Americaine's review of this book and somehow it got deleted. I will try to repost it in more detail the next day or so; for now, let me just say that her inexplicably vitriolic review is uninformed, ignorant, and just plain wrong. Her stereotype of anorexics coming from dysfunctional families with overbearing mothers has been discredited for years; family based therapy (of the kind that Harriet Brown recommends) is the ONLY evidence-based therapy used to treat eating disorders, and its success rate is well over 70%, while other programs have dismal rates in the single digits and tremendous recidivism.
Anorexia is a serious mental illness (and the one with the highest mortality rate) so uneducated people with their own agendas like LPA should defer to those with more experience. Brown spends chapter after chapter in Brave Girl Eating detailing the latest science and studies about anorexia (they have recently found a genetic link between people with autism and people with anorexia), so how the reviewer can make the unwarranted claims that she does is unfathomable to me.
Her ad hominen attack on the courageous Harriet Brown ( she claims Brown is out "whoring" her daughter to make a buck) is disgusting, as is the entire tenor of her review. Far from sounding compassionate about people who suffer from eating disorders, LPA comes across as an angry, hate-filled, paranoid person. When, in the comments, a medical doctor refutes her claims, she challenges him to produce his credentials- why would he bother to lie? Another reader who defended FBT and Brown is dismissed by LPA as not credible, simply because she had never posted on Goodreads before. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
I, too, am new to Goodreads. I am also a medical researcher, having collaborated with a team of Cleveland Clinic doctors on a recently published book about the heart. I am a high school teacher who has taught and mentored- and cared about- scores of girls with anorexia who have spent years in and out of the inpatient facilities that LPA lauds. Finally, I have personally spent agonizing months doing Maudsley with a family member who might not be alive were it not for the treatment described in Brave Girl Eating.
I wish that I could have written this book, but Harriet Brown did a much better job than I could have dreamed of doing. So my job will be to crusade to see that this important book makes it into every school library and onto the shelves of every parent whose child is being stolen away by this awful disease. And while talk of "karma" clearly upsets our esteemed reviewer, she had better pray that no parent decides not to buy this book which could save her child's life based on this vitriolic review.
One final note: my son is 25 years old, married, has 2 gorgeous daughters, and lives on the other side of the country from me. And he still calls me "Mommy." Can't imagine why that's a crime or evidence of serious dysfunction; La Petite Americaine must be carrying around some serious baggage. (less)
Illuminating portrait of a fascinating personality, but to my mind, not nearly as good as his bios of Einstein or Franklin. Despite his claims to obje...moreIlluminating portrait of a fascinating personality, but to my mind, not nearly as good as his bios of Einstein or Franklin. Despite his claims to objectivity, I think in many instances Isaacson lets Jobs' evaluation of himself stand without any scrutiny, however far-fetched those claims may be, i.e., the assertion that his having been put up for adoption had no effect on him or the way he chose to treat HIS daughter out of wedlock. Perhaps not enough time has passed to write a reasoned biography of the man, or perhaps Isaacson also succumbed, at least a little, to Jobs' famous reality distortion field.
Still, Jobs was fascinating enough to make this book well worth reading, and despite coming away with a clear realization of what an awful person Steve Jobs was, I also came away inspired by the man and how he never, ever stopped dreaming big dreams...and making them come true. (less)
What an unfortunate title! The author admits that the publisher chose the self-help sounding title to sell more books; this is not a self- help book a...moreWhat an unfortunate title! The author admits that the publisher chose the self-help sounding title to sell more books; this is not a self- help book at all! Instead, Thea Singer "takes us into the labs and minds of scientists across the globe" as she explains the latest science on the relationship between stress and aging: (hint: it's the shortened telomeres!)
I don't usually quote entire passages from books, but she lays out her approach in her introduction, and this approach informs the whole book, which is really scholarly work couched in an engaging and accessible format.
Driving this approach is my own understanding of the mind-set of so many midlife women like me: The how-tos of combatting stress are not enough-and not only because we are, constitutionally, it seems, dedicated to understanding the whys of things, avidly researching our own health concerns both online and in print. It's also because, for us, meaning begets action. We act not blindly but with definite intention based on reliable, concrete information we've dug up ourselves. We are knowledge SEEKERS. Our old mantra, "Don't trust anyone over thirty," has become, "Don't trust the experts alone to tell us what we need to know."
This is a fascinating scientific examination that explores the biological effects of stress (those shortened telomeres!) and explains the latest studies on how we can control them through diet, exercise, sleep, social support and the like.
If you are too young to feel that you need this book (and it is never too early to learn how to manage stress) then buy it for your mother. But before you give it to her, read it yourself. (less)