August 30, 2013
By Robert Galbraith bka J.K. Rowling
I placed a hold on this book as soon as news broke it was written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym. Maybe fair, maybe not. Rowling explores and masters the different genre and her characters. I love mysteries & I really enjoyed this one. Looking forward to more from this series:
“Strike was used to playing archaeologist among the ruins of people’s traumatised memories.”
“He had hoped to spot the flickering shadow of a murderer as he turned the file's pages, but instead it was the ghost of Lula herself who emerged, gazing up at him, as victims of violent crimes sometimes did, through the detritus of their interrupted lives.”
“How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.”
August 21, 2013
So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.
Why I Write
By George Orwell
"What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and I do not want, completely to abandon the world-view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us." (pp. 8-9)
August 20, 2013
This evening I noticed I've been receiving traffic from a BuzzFeed article titled 65 Books You Need To Read In Your 20s written by executive editor Doree Shafrir in May. I wondered why and realized she credited me for #7, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (excerpt here). I'm not sure why, to be honest. But what really struck me was the similarity between her hed and the words I've written up top. (OFTEN WHILE I'M READING I COME ACROSS A PASSAGE THAT MOVES ME. IT EITHER INSPIRES ME, TEACHES ME, MAKES ME THINK, MAKES ME CRY, OR MAKES ME LAUGH.) I mean, those aren't revolutionary words or anything but still, you'd think there might have been a little more of an effort on her part to make them different. This may seem petty but I guess this little post is to say that despite this being a tiny blog that pretty much no one reads, those words were here first.
August 19, 2013
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
By Susan Cain
"Your sweet spot is the place where you're optimally stimulated. You probably seek it out already without being aware that you're doing so. Imagine that you're lying contentedly in a hammock reading a great novel. This is a sweet spot. But after half an hour you realize that you've read the same sentence five times; now you're understimulated. So you call a friend and go out for brunch--in other words, you ratchet up your stimulation level--and as you laugh and gossip over blueberry pancakes, you're back, thank goodness, inside your sweet spot. But this agreeable state lasts only until your friend--an extrovert who needs much more stimulation than you do--persuades you to accompany her to a block party, where you're now confronted by loud music and a sea of strangers.
Your friend's neighbors seem affable enough, but you feel pressured to make small talk above the din of music. Now--bang, just like that--you've fallen out of your sweet spot, except this time you're overstimulated. And you'll probably feel that way until you pair off with someone on the periphery of the party for an in-depth conversation, or bow out altogether and return to your novel.
Imagine how much better you'll be at this sweet-spot game once you're aware of playing it. You can set up your work, your hobbies, and your social life so that you spend as much time inside your sweet spot as possible."
August 18, 2013
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
By Susan Cain
I've spent a lot of time in my life wishing I could be a different kind of person. More extroverted, more talkative, more outgoing, more uninhibited, etc etc. When I was younger, I hated that I was so shy & quiet. I hated when people called me out on it, and I hated that it was sometimes mistaken for not having anything to say. I hated that I just naturally didn't have a loud voice nor felt comfortable projecting it. I still hate all of the above sometimes. I don't know if shy is even a word that fits me; I have often used it as one of the go-to adjectives to describe myself but I think doing so is doing myself a disservice. I like interacting with others and I embrace the opportunity to meet new people. I have good friends. I think that maybe I see myself as more awkward than I actually am and I don't hate social gatherings but actually really enjoy them most of the time. Regardless, if one could only choose either introvert or extrovert to describe oneself, I'm definitely an introvert. I'm--we're--all more complex than that but yeah, if it came down to those two terms. As a preteen I had really low self-esteem, the lowest it'd ever been until a few months ago when I'd gone through mostly positive transitions in my life and yet still started to feel pretty shitty about myself. I hadn't felt that low about myself in so long and the self-loathing had a lot to do with how I felt about my personality. I've been able to pull myself out of that slump and am again learning to love what I previously thought were the weirdest parts of me and wanting less to be like someone else.
What I like about this book is that it acknowledges a person can only change so much while also encouraging growth. I'm so glad this book was written because there are so many things Cain says where I'm like 'Oh my god, there's an explanation for why I do that!' and 'Yes! I'm not being weird and anti-social, I just need space sometimes!' A couple excerpts:
"But we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly. Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions--from the theory of evolution to van Gogh's sunflowers to the personal computer--came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there. Without introverts, the world would be devoid of:
the theory of gravity
the theory of relativity
W.B. Yeats's "The Second Coming"
Proust's In Search of Lost Time
Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm
The Cat in the Hat
Schindler's List, E.T., and Close Encounters of the Third Kind
"Schwartz's research suggests something important: we can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. A sizable part of who we are is ordained by our genes, by our brains, by our nervous systems. And yet the elasticity that Schwartz found in some of the high-reactive teens also suggests the converse: we have free will and can use it to shape our personalities.
These seem like contradictory principles, but they are not. Free will can take us far, suggests Dr. Schwartz's research, but it cannot carry us infinitely beyond our genetic limits. Bill Gates is never going to be Bill Clinton, no matter how he polishes his social skills, and Bill Clinton can never be Bill Gates, no matter how much time he spends alone with a computer.
We might call this the "rubber band theory" of personality. We are like rubber bands at rest. We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much."
August 08, 2013
The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1
By hitRECord & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The other day Joseph Gordon-Levitt tweeted about the Tiny Book of Tiny Stories series and it intrigued me so I bought the first book. Quite lovely and took me all of 20 minutes to read on my way to work yesterday. People are so wonderfully creative.
The one that really hit me from this edition was:
I like this one too:
And the following image accompanied by:
His hands were weak and shaking from carrying far too many books from the bookshop. It was the best feeling.