Book 537: The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) – Stephen King

I’m starting to see why people really like this series. I’m only two books in now (with pretty big gaps between the books), but I get it. And even with that crappy film adaptation—so far nothing in the first two books was in the film really—I’m being drawn in.

I’m struggling to write reviews of this as I’ve taken to heart what King writes in the forward that this is one long book/story broken across quite a few books. It’s some how barely moving forward but taking massive steps at the same time. This picks up not long after The Gunslinger and plows steadily forward. I’m still not sure I have any idea what’s going on, and I have no idea where it’s going, but so far I’m enjoying where King is taking me.

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Books, Professional Development

Book 253: The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

Duhigg, Charles - The Power of HabitCharles Duhigg refers to this work as “a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change” (loc. 4405) and, not surprising, that’s exactly what it is. The Power of Habit provides an overview of how people, businesses and social movements have harnessed the processes behind building habits. And there is no doubt that Duhigg is a good writer. I found myself tearing up on multiple occasions, more for the story itself rather than his writing, but his ability to select the examples and write about them in such a way to evoke emotions is undeniable.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’re well aware that I spent 2013 working hard to make progress towards getting healthier physically. What I didn’t take the time on last year was my mental health. I knew coming in to 2014, I wanted to read books about various topics that I think could help me in my future relationships and friendships, my self doubts and even my future career (apparently a lot of the self-help books are found in therapy, business and self-help; odd?). So be forewarned this blog might get more personal than it ever has in the past.

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Book 216: The Velvet Rage – Alan Downs

Downs, Alan - The Velvet RageAs with most pop-psychology books, I’m a little torn: do the benefits of the book outweigh the drawbacks of the book? And, as with any book, I found both good and bad parts. I can say regardless, I am glad I finally read this book. It’s been on my to-be-read list for ages, but the push from my friend Dominic spurred me to move it up my list.

The largest challenge I faced while reading The Velvet Rage was having to constantly remind myself that Downs wrote this book for the “masses” and not for academia or research. And as often as I did this, I still wound up harshly judging Downs’ generic and stereotypical observations, which I do for anyone including my own. His generalizations were not wrong, stereotypes exist for a reason, but I did have to ask how Downs’ feels about this and whether he has since acknowledged this as he does not discuss it in the novel. There is an updated, 20th anniversary, version of this book which would be interesting to read.

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Book 122: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

I need to stop saying I don’t like nonfiction and start saying I enjoy immersive nonfiction. It seems the majority of nonfiction works that I do like are those that delve deeper into societal issues from a different perspective, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

This was a fascinating read and it constantly reminded me of an updated (more micro-focused) version of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man in which he discusses and shows the errors of many scientists whose procedures created ultimately racist data. If you enjoyed Skloot’s work you should definitely check out Gould’s, although it’s not as much about the personal stories behind the family and behind Skloot’s interest in this subject which makes Skloot’s work more approachable to the general public.

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Book 47: The Help – Kathryn Stockett

The Help - Kathryn StockettAfter hearing Emma Donoghue recommend this book, I of course immediately added it to my list of books to read. So I was ecstatic when I flew home to NC for my aunt Miriam’s wedding that another aunt had a copy I could borrow!

The Help is a fascinating snapshot of the lives of three women, Skeeter—a young college educated white socialite (a bit of an outcast), Aibileen—a black maid who specializes in raising white children, and Minny—a spit-fire black maid who has made her fair share of enemies and works for a woman with secrets that would shock anyone.

Told over one year from the alternating perspectives of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny we encounter 1960s Jackson, Mississippi and the myriad connections between ‘the help’ and the bosses. Skeeter an aspiring writer made an editor contact in New York who recommends she write about what bothers her and after spending time with her childhood friends, Skeeter realizes how bad ‘the help’ are treated and what they must know. After a series of events in which Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny are thrust together, the idea to author a book exposing the lives of working black women is born, conveniently also called The Help.

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