I only wish I had read this in old-fashioned goody-smelly book format, as the sterile digital endnote back-and-forth on a kindle felHa! This was good!
I only wish I had read this in old-fashioned goody-smelly book format, as the sterile digital endnote back-and-forth on a kindle felt like I was being deprived of the more sensuous work-for-your-enlightenment postmodern experience intended here....more
I confess: I only read this book because I LOVED the movie. And I loved the movie mainly because of Wizard Howl (major anime crush, ahem, high-waist pI confess: I only read this book because I LOVED the movie. And I loved the movie mainly because of Wizard Howl (major anime crush, ahem, high-waist pants and all). There were a few plot intricacies that I didn't quite catch when watching the movie, and I thought reading the book might clarify them.
Well. It turns out that halfway through the story, the movie leaves the book plot and makes up its own. Both plots are quite lovely and end up in about the same place at the end.
The book is about Sophie, the eldest of three girls, who is turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste. She sets out to find someone to lift the curse and ends up in the castle of the notorious Wizard Howl (he eats girls' hearts, they say). Much like Howl himself, the castle moves about, semi-settling in four places at the same time, and moving on when danger (read commitment) strikes.
It is here that I really enjoyed the story. Howl is a fascinating, mysterious, rich character. He is impossible, he is vain, he has his faults, but he is also incredibly sweet-natured (something that comes across through his actions, rarely his words). He is very 20-something male, indeed. I enjoyed the bickering between him and Sophie. Sophie is a muttering, strong, feisty, unlikely heroine. Diana Wynne Jones seems to be a genius at observing human relationships and writing them down, effortlessly, and without judging.
I didn't quite enjoy the ending, which felt rushed and also quite unnecessarily action-packed. It must be some sort of fantasy-genre commandment, to squeeze that last fight with the villain, a few headless people, its resolution, and also a love story in the last four pages of the novel.
Still, I think this is pretty much the perfect novel for the 12-year old me. Too bad I didn't know it then....more
what a special, intricate, well-documented yet never tiring, non-judgmental story of two cultures that clash over one little girl. Every biography showhat a special, intricate, well-documented yet never tiring, non-judgmental story of two cultures that clash over one little girl. Every biography should be as empathic, as unbiased, as this one. I loved it completely.
This was excellent. I loved all the references to Cambridge and Boston at the beginning (Filene's Basement 😭), the settings and relationships in IndiaThis was excellent. I loved all the references to Cambridge and Boston at the beginning (Filene's Basement 😭), the settings and relationships in India. Loved the middle part, in which the main character, Gogol, lives it up in a fancy Manhattan brownstone and concludes, at the end of it, that immersing himself in another family is a betrayal of his own. I was confused during certain episodes of the last third, felt jolted a bit outside the story (I don't want to give anything away so I won't say anything, just that his behavior seemed out of character), but it all came back together again at the end.
More than anything I loved the feeling of rootlessness, isolation, and displacement throughout the novel. I just really related to the theme of cultural estrangement throughout - (living in a place that's home but not home, leaving a place that's home but no longer home the longer you're gone) - and it was done in such a subtle, evocative way. Longing, belonging. Lovely.
An example: There is a passage where two Indian-Americans are trying to cook coq au vin for the first time. The way Lahiri describes the scene is frilly on the surface: easy, superficial. But the way she belabors the point that the dinner is French (French music playing, one of them setting out olives, goat cheese coated with ash, a pretentious reference to Julia Child) evokes that sense of strain, the playing of a part, the trying to fit in, the thing that should be natural (to Americans with Ivy League educations) but isn't, not really, not fully.
I enjoyed the insights the author provided into the history of learned helplessness theory, as well as bits and pieces about the beginnings of cognitiI enjoyed the insights the author provided into the history of learned helplessness theory, as well as bits and pieces about the beginnings of cognitive behavioral therapy. This book has a lot of research and quite a bit of psychology in it, some of it boring to me, some of it fascinating, some of it convincing, some of it unconvincing.
It is not just a self-help guide to positive thinking. In fact, the author decries positive thinking, making the point that chanting inflated mantras to oneself daily is ineffective in the long run.
Instead, he says, we must learn to rationally dispute our pessimistic thoughts the way we would dispute a verbal attack on us by a rival. There are three chapters teaching how to do just that, with one chapter focusing specifically on how to teach children those same skills. Children seem to be on Seligman's mind a lot, as a good portion of his research focuses on them. I agreed with everything he had to say about children, and about the effect divorce has on them (basically he says, don't divorce!, and, don't fight in front of them!, and in this day and age, that's a brave thing to say. I love him for that).
He says many brave things, and I agree with most of them. Some of his statements are over-simplified and unconvincing, however. I am not satisfied with his reasoning as to why women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression (it's their tendency to ruminate, he says). And while I generally agree with his theory that the epidemic of depression has hit us because of our increased focus on the "I" and individual rights, coupled with a decrease in the "We" (ie community, country, duty, God, meaning), it leaves unexplained why groups such as stay-at-home mothers, one of those last valiant troops left fighting in the "We" battlefield, are at particular risk for depression. Are they more pessimistic as a group? Do they ruminate even more than working mothers? Unlikely.
To be fair, his research isn't concerned with the why of depression, but rather with the how to beat it in the long-run. Given that, I wish he had focused a bit more on actual skill teaching (in the end, what he actually teaches is only a few pages long), or at the least provided a work book to accompany his main book.
In either case, this was certainly an interesting read. And as I agree with him that depression will be the thing to beat for future generations, I can't wait to read his "The Optimistic Child: Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience."
I downloaded this right after finishing Stephen King's On Writing, only to realize I had read it before (though forgotten many of its lessons). AlongI downloaded this right after finishing Stephen King's On Writing, only to realize I had read it before (though forgotten many of its lessons). Along with an old Pons vocabulary book, I used this beautiful little thing to teach myself English when I was 17. Fond memories.
And by the way, it's hilarious. You wouldn't think so, it being about American English grammar, but believe me. It takes about an hour to get through and I laughed out loud at least 6 times. Oh the joys of somebody else's grammar nerdiness. ...more
Anne Morrow Lindbergh ponders womanhood while on vacation, drawing some beautiful conclusions about the inner life, peace, relationships, and love. HeAnne Morrow Lindbergh ponders womanhood while on vacation, drawing some beautiful conclusions about the inner life, peace, relationships, and love. Her personal reflections reveal a struggle, the struggle most mothers know, a "Zerrissenheit," the being torn-into-pieces by too many competing demands for our attention. She finds shells at the beach and seems determined to learn what they could teach her. Simplify life, the gifts from the sea teach, find time for solitude. Accept the intermittency of life. Patience, patience, patience, the waves hum.
While some of what she writes feels dated and unnecessarily gendered (it was written almost 60 years ago, before the Women's Liberation Movement etc), a lot of it is either prophetic or still very much valid to women (and men) today.
I absolutely loved her thoughts on the marriage relationship. Quoting Rilke, she writes: "... And this more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle, and good and clear in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are with struggle and endeavor preparing, the love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other." And she continues in her own words: "But this new relationship of persons as persons... can only follow a long development in the history of human civilization... It cannot be reached until woman -- individually and as sex -- has herself come of age."
There is much wisdom to be found in this collection of essays. I have a bunch of quotes underlined or marked and I did scribble quite a few things in the margins. A lovely little book! ...more