Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Summer of the Re-Read

I've found myself re-reading some books, and am re-discovering the pleasure of re-reading books. I don't re-read books that much because I check so many books out from the library, that I am usually reading books that are new to me. And then with the three-week deadline, I need to focus on the library books, not the books from my own personal library.

I recently re-read Comfort and Bringing Up Bebe, and enjoyed them both once again. Especially with Bringing Up Bebe, it was like reading it for the first time as there were lots of things that I had forgotten about.

This summer, I'm gonna re-read some books. I'm gonna decrease the number of books from the library and choose some books off of my shelves that I'd like to read again. I will keep you all posted.

Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son by Richard Lischer

This is the most heartbreaking book that I've read this year. Sigh.

Lischer's son, Adam, is diagnosed with cancer and dies about three months later. What makes this even more devastating is that he was only in his early 30s, and his wife was pregnant with their daughter.

Lischer writes how Adam faced his death and the spiritual practices that sustained him and his wife through the summer as his health declined.

This is a sad, sad book, but it was also beautiful at the same time. To read about Adam's life, the honesty of him and his family throughout the process, and the conversations and comments that make up life, grief, and loss was really an honor, just to get a glimpse into this family's most intimate and heartbreaking moments.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating by Kiera Van Gelder

Borderline Personality Disorder is listed as one of the Axis II disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It's defined as "a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts."

I have read some about Borderline Personality Disorder, but this is the first memoir and first-hand account that I've read. It gave me a much better understanding of what might go on in the head of someone with this personality disorder.

The author struggled with addictions, depression, self-harm (cutting), suicidal ideation, and chaotic relationships until she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in her early 30s.

She tries various therapies until she finds a dialectical behavior therapy program that proves to be quite effective in stabilizing her life and emotions.

This book was a great introduction to dialectical behavior therapy (a dialectic is defined as "what happens when opposites combine to create something new") which includes a team of professionals including a therapist who can be paged 24/7 in order to help the client with in-the-moment emotional regulation and lots of group work.

This book was a great introduction to both Borderline Personality Disorder and the basics of dialectical behavior therapy, and would be a great read for anyone of you out there interested in either of these topics.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

I read about this book because it has just come out in movie form starring Kate Hudson (as the love interest, not the reluctant fundamentalist).

This is a very deceivingly simple book.

The main character, Changez, is speaking to an American at a cafe in Lahore. He tells about how he immigrated to the US as a student at Princeton, and how he was very successful at the elite valuation firm, Underwood Samson. He also speaks of his relationship with Erica. And then September 11th happens, and everything changes.

This is a pretty short book, simple, with no extra words added. And the ending. OMG. (Have I ever written OMG in this blog before?) That's how to describe the ending. I love ambiguous endings, but those of you who need things tidied up, may not like it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

White Jacket Required: A Culinary Coming-of-Age Story by Jenna Weber

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I am a sucker for cooking memoirs. Well, here's another one.

Jenna writes the blog Eat, Live, Run. In White Jacket Required, she writes about how after she graduated from college, she decided to attend culinary school. She didn't want to be a chef. Rather, she wanted to have the knowledge and experience in order to write well about food.

She writes about some difficulties she has during culinary school, but the difficulties don't seem to have affected her too much. She does, at one point, decide to switch from the Culinary Program to the Baking & Pastry Program.

Jenna also writes about the sudden and unexpected death of her younger brother, her long-term and long-distance with her boyfriend, and how she ended up moving out to California.

This was an easy book to read, but it also seemed cheesy, shallow, and trite in some parts. Some depth comes when she writes about her brother and her boyfriend, but I think she could have gone a bit deeper to make this book seem more real and flow more smoothly.

Like most blog to book deals, this book includes recipes at the end of most chapters. I'm looking forward to trying the recipe for Mexican Cheesecake.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I've never read a book like this one.

It takes place over five courses at a trendy restaurant. The narrator, Paul, is dining with his wife. Joining them is Paul's brother, an aspiring prime minister, and his brother's wife. They are there to discuss a crime committed by their sons. Over the course of the dinner we learn more about each of them and the crime. We also begin to think that the narrator, Paul, may not be so reliable....

I found this book to be chilling and disturbing. It was also quite the page-turner as I finished it in a 24-hour period.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh

I listened to this audio book just in time for spring cleaning!

Walsh's premise is that you need to figure out what kind of life you want to live, and then clear up your house so that you're able to live that life.

He goes room by room and offers hints about how to organize and how to sort through things. I liked that he confronts typical excuses for holding onto items and suggests different ways to approach the excuses.

An easy-to-listen audio book and quite helpful if you're looking to de-clutter.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is a high school girl with flaming red hair and a unique sense of style. Park is a 16-year-old high school boy who is  half-Korean and who likes to read comic books. This is the story of their high school romance. They each have problems at home and they both are a bit hesitant to like the other.

Ah, this was painful to read. It hit too close to those unresolved feelings I have from high school still lurking inside of me. One day, when I feel brave, I should really go and dig around there and bring some stuff out into the light.

I can only mildly recommend this book to you. I liked the premise, but some parts seemed to drag, and I think the ending was a bit too tidy and neat. I actually would have liked a more ambiguous ending.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Berger writes about why certain stories, videos, products, and ideas spread and why others don't. He describes six principles that cause things to spread: Social Currency (does it make us look smart? cool?), Triggers (are we prompted to think about a product?), Emotion (do we care?), Public (can people see us using this product?), Practical Value (is it useful?), and Stories (what's the narrative around this idea or product?).

I listened to this book as an audio book. I've never read a book on marketing, so this was my first introduction to how to think about spreading the word about an idea or product. I thought more about the influence of word of mouth recommendations.

Overall, I liked listening to this audio book. It was fun and educational.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In a dystopian future, a young 16-year-old girl searches for her place in a divided society while still trying to remain true to her family.

My neighbor who recommended this book to me warned me that it could be consuming. She was right! I had taken several days off of work, and besides washing a couple loads of laundry, most of what I did was read this book. I then passed it onto Boomer who read it in about a day.

This is book #1 of a trilogy. I am #2 on the library wait list for the second book!