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Posts Tagged ‘non fiction’

Title: The Marriage Book

Author: Nicky and Sila Lee

Genre: Self-help

Rating: 4/5

How I’m doing: 37 to go.

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Title: You Don’t Have to be Famous to Have Manic Depression

Author: Jeremy Thomas and Dr Tony Hughes

Genre: Self-help

Rating: 3/5

How I’m doing: 40 to go.

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Title: The Grasmere Journals

Author: Dorothy Wordsworth

Published: 1991

Genre: Journal

Blurb: ‘I went &sate with W & walked backwards & forwards in the Orchard till dinner time – he read me his poem. I broiled Beefsteaks.’

Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals are a unique record of her life with her brother William, at time time when he was at the height of his poetic powers. Invaluable for the insight they give into the daily life of the poet and his friendship with Coleridge, they are also remarkable for their spontaneity and immediacy, and for the vivid descriptions of people, places, and incidents that inspired some of Wordsworth’s best-loved poems.

The Grasmere Journal was begun at Dove Cottage in May 1800 and kept for three years. Dorothy notes  the walks and the weather, the friends, country neighbours and beggars on the road; she sets down accounts of the garden, of Wordsworth’s marriage, their concern for Coleridge, the composition of poetry.

How I came to own it: I bought this from Gower St. Waterstone’s after we decided to read it for book group.

What I thought: Two things in particular struck me about this journal. The first was the lack of introspection. Dorothy’s gaze is fixed firmly on the outside world, on nature and on other people. The second is the contrast between the mundane details recorded, quite unconcerned in the lack of interest – “It rained today,” that sort of thing – with the flashes of brilliant poetic, evocative description that recreates her world so vividly. The two, side by side, combined with the divisive nature of a series of short, daily journal entries, made the book very difficult to ‘get into’ and I struggled to keep attention.

Rating: 3.5/5

How I’m doing: 41 to go.

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Title: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life

Author: Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Published: Zondervan, 1992

Genre: Psychology / Self-help

How I came to own it: Like Integrity (also by Cloud), I bought this on Amazon after it was recommended for me to help me prepare myself for the community work I’m doing.

What I thought: This had some real gems, which have changed my thinking and which I’ve talked to friends about so they’re now forming an orderly queue to borrow the book. The main flaw, besides the irritating case studies and the narrator’s arrogance, is that the book is far too long. So sick am I of boundaries now, this is all I’m going to say!

Rating: 3/5

How I’m doing: 48 to read. At least we’re moving in the right direction again.

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In My Mailbox (8)

“In my mailbox” is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which people share the books that they have acquired that week. Or that random period of time, in my case.

My recent acquisitions from BookMooch:

To-read pile now 49. Oops.

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Title: The Interpretation of Dreams

Author: Sigmund Freud

Published: First Avon Books, 1965

Genre: Psychology

Blurb: This ground-breaking work, which Freud considered his most valuable, forever changed the way we think about our dreams. In it, Freud made this century’s startling discoveries about why we dream, what we dream about, and what dreams really mean.

Now, in this definitive translation by James Strachey, Freud’s timeless exploration of the dream world is clearly and precisely rendered. Including dozens of case histories and detailed analyses of actual dreams, ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ remains an invaluable tool in helping us all discover the truth about ourselves.

How I came to own it: A BookMooch special.

What I thought: At a hefty 664 pages, this was hard work at times, and I did skip the last forty pages or so because it was dragging and I was excited about my next book. The bits that dragged for me were the highly theoretical bits. What I liked best were the case histories and the analyses of Freud’s own dreams and those of his friends and family. This book was most enjoyable when Freud put most of himself into it. He seems to have been a peculiar but ultimately rather endearing man.

As the blurb promised, ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ did change the way I think about dreams. I’ve been able to look over records kept of old dreams with a fresh perspective. What I got most out of it was the idea that dreams are wish fulfilments. I would argue that they are other things too, but I see elements of wish fulfilment in almost all of my dreams. It’s sort of how we reconcile ourselves to the gap between reality and all that we desire. I didn’t accept all of Freud’s claims – I would have been very surprised if I had done. I started the book a bit ironically: Freud is well-known for his theory that everyone wants to shag their parents and pretty much anything else that moves. In short, he’s known for being obsessed with sex. This element of his thinking wasn’t really apparent until about half way through through this book, in which there’s a hilarious chapter on symbolism. Everything represents genitals, apparently: umbrellas, nail-files, boxes, cupboards, ships, keys, staircases, tables, hats, coats, neckties, ploughing, bridges, children, animals, relatives, luggage, all other body parts…  we had a jolly good laugh about this in bed.

Rating: 3/5

How I’m doing: 43 to go. The thought of getting below 40 is a happy one.

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Title: Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality

Author: Dr. Henry Cloud

Published: Collins Business, 2007

Genre: Self-help

Blurb: Integrity – more than simple honesty, it’s the key to success. A person with integrity has the ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances. Drawing on experiences from his work, Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, leadership coach, corporate consultant, and nationally syndicated radio host, shows how our character can keep us from achieving all we want to (or could) be.

In Integrity, Dr. Cloud explores the six qualities of character that define integrity, and how people with integrity:

  • Are able to connect with others and build trust
  • Are oriented toward reality
  • Finish well
  • Embrace the negative
  • Are oriented toward increase
  • Have an understanding of the transcendent

Integrity is not something that you either have or don’t. Instead it is an exciting growth path that all of us can engage in and enjoy.

How I came to own it: I bought this on Amazon after it was recommended to me by a friend. I had asked her for reading suggestions to prepare me for the community work I’m now doing.

What I thought: Initially, I was not impressed. I am unaccustomed to reading self-help books and the style grated. I felt that everything which could have been said in twenty words was instead being said in twenty pages. I felt patronised. By the end of the book, however, I had completely changed my tune. I really benefitted from this book in terms of personal growth: it encouraged me to look at myself and my reactions toward others honestly. In short, the content was excellent, once I was able to see past the style. The culture factor was, I think, the main issue (Henry Cloud is American). My only other niggle would be to suggest that the structure could have been altered slightly: overlaps between the chapters are inevitable, but could perhaps have been handled better. However, here be wisdom. I would recommend it – indeed, I have recommended it.

Rating: 3.5/5

How I’m doing: 44 to go.

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