Archive for June, 2015

Review of Read Bottom Up, by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham

Friday, June 19th, 2015

read_bottom_up_largeRead Bottom Up

by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

Dey St. (William Morrow), 2015. 239 pages.

I’m reading like crazy for the 48-Hour Book Challenge, and this book is a fluffy romance that was a fun diversion. Okay, it’s not exactly a romance, since the Authors’ Note at the front pretty clearly indicated that the relationship is doomed.

This book is the story of a modern relationship — told through emails and texts, not only between the principals themselves, but also with their best friends.

And yes, that rings true! In a relationship don’t we go over everything with our friends? Okay, this book was nice to assure me it’s not just me who does that. I loved the way Madeline analyzes everything including the speed or lack of speed with which Elliot answers her emails.

Another fun thing about the book is that the co-authors only shared with each other what the characters shared with each other — the discussion of the relationship with the respective best friends was totally written separately.

Here’s how they put it in the Authors’ Note:

Somewhere deep in your Sent Items graveyard are the emails you wrote to your former flame along with the emails you wrote about those emails to your best friend. It’s all right there — a partial record of your relationship. But what if you could see the whole picture? Not just your side of it. After all, somewhere in the pixelated part of the world is your ex’s inbox. Therein lies all sorts of analysis to which you were never privy. What if you could read the whole funny, tragic, wincing train wreck of it all, if you could finally open up your relationship like a dollhouse (or, say, a cadaver) and know the truth of what happened?

This book is fun and a quick read. And as someone theoretically facing the whole dating world, it made me feel not alone.

hc.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/read_bottom_up.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia

Friday, June 19th, 2015

gone_crazy_in_alabama_largeGone Crazy in Alabama

by Rita Williams-Garcia

Amistad (HarperCollins), 2015. 293 pages.
Starred Review

This is Rita Williams-Garcia’s third book about the Gaither sisters, growing up in 1960s America. The first book, One Crazy Summer, had them in Oakland, with their mother who left them when they were small. The second book, P. S. Be Eleven, saw them back home in Brooklyn, as their father was falling in love with a new woman. This book has them visiting their grandmother Big Ma in Alabama, where she lives in the home of Ma Charles, their great-grandmother, across the creek from their great-great aunt Miss Trotter.

I loved the first book, but wasn’t as enamored with the second. I think I love this book best of all, and have been completely won over again by these sisters.

Gone Crazy in Alabama is a family story, a sisters story. As Delphine and her two younger sisters squabble, so does Ma Charles squabble with her half-sister. The two haven’t spoken to each other in years, but they exchange barbs through the words of a willing Vonetta.

The girls learn about their messy heritage, getting a different slant as their great grandmother and great-great-aunt each tell it. They’ve got a handsome cousin living across the creek, a cousin who tends cows and dreams of being a pilot and has lived through his own horrible tragedy.

I still love the way Rita Williams-Garcia portrays the sisters. Delphine, the responsible one, is always trying to look out for her younger sisters, but the ways she does that are not often welcome. Each girl has her own distinctly lovable personality, though there’s plenty of realistic rivalry between the sisters.

And lots of laughter — this novel is infused with humor throughout, mainly by the crazy and realistic quirks of human nature.

When a great crisis occurs at the end of the book, it pulls everyone in Delphine’s big crazy family together.

I love the overall theme of walking through the storm.

Such a wonderful book! You can get away with reading this book without reading its predecessors, but a history with Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern will make it all the better.

ritawg.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/gone_crazy_in_alabama.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

48-Hour Book Challenge Starting Line 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015

48hbcWoo-hoo! The 48-Hour Book Challenge is here again!

The basic idea: Choose a 48-hour period of the weekend, and see how many hours of that time you can spend reading, reviewing, and bookish connecting.

I don’t know why on earth I didn’t participate last year, but I found my records from participation 2009 through 2013:

2009: 23 hours, 30 minutes; 5 books finished; 1120 pages; 5 books reviewed
2010: 26 hours, 40 minutes; 3 books finished; 995 pages; 4 books reviewed
2011: 30 hours, 30 minutes; 3 books finished; 1606 pages; 4 books reviewed
2012: 27 hours, 30 minutes; 3 books finished; 758 pages; 3 books reviewed; 5778 words written
2013: 20 hours; 3 books finished; 518 pages; 2 books reviewed; 3472 words written; 4 reviews posted

This weekend, alas, I have to work on Saturday. However, today is beautifully clear. (I don’t feel as guilty about cancelling with my Friday night gaming group as I used to feel cancelling my Friday night Home Fellowship group. I used to work around it.) So my goal will be 24 hours — of course if I have extra energy and find it possible to do without sleep (probably not possible; probably not a good idea), it would be fun to try to set a new record and go for 31 hours.

If the totals seem small, I should add that I always read many parts of books. I always have a few dozen nonfiction books going at once! This morning in my first hour of reading, I had an extended devotional time, reading parts of five different books, with a page count of 54 pages. (Page count tends to be lower when reading in pieces.)

I also get less read if I use the time writing reviews and posting reviews, which is why I started keeping track of words written and reviews posted as well. Today I have some reviews written and waiting to be posted, so I may break up my reading by posting them.

The totals are much, much less, of course, than I’d like them to be. Oh the ambitious stacks of books I’ve set aside in the past! But regardless of the totals, it’s so much fun putting everything else aside and taking time to READ!

And I always like to post my theme song for the challenge!

And, oh yes, I officially began at 7:45 am on Friday morning. I will finish at 7:45 am on Sunday morning. How many books will I be able to read and review in that time? How many hours will I spend? Stay tuned….

Review of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

lovelace_and_babbage_largeThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage*

*The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

by Sidney Padua

Pantheon Books, New York, 2015. 319 pages.
Starred Review

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like this. It’s based on a web comic. The comic is based on two actual historical geniuses, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. But Sidney Padua invents the existence of pocket universes, where Charles Babbage actually builds his Analytical Engine (In real life, he never built it, always coming up with a better idea before bringing an earlier idea to completion.), and Ada Lovelace actually lived long enough to help him program it.

This book describes their adventures in the pocket universes. Now, in our universe, computers actually got built in the age of electricity, using vacuum tubes and electric current. Babbage designed his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine to run on steam, so that’s what’s drawn here – a grand Difference Engine with cogs and gears and powered by steam.

Other historical figures of the period run through these pages, and some of the most fun to be found here are in the extensive footnotes, endnotes, and appendices. While reading about what never happened, you’ll learn all sorts of facts about what did actually happen. You’ll come to know Lovelace and Babbage, seeing them in action, using words they actually wrote in their real-life lifetimes.

Here’s how Sidney Padua describes beginning to write this comic:

It was in a pub somewhere in London in the spring of 2009 that I undertook to draw a very short comic for the web, to illustrate the very brief life of Ada Lovelace. This was suggested to me by my friend Suw, also in the pub, who was (and still is) the impresario of an annual women-in-technology virtual festival she had named after Lovelace, a historical figure of whom I think I was hazily aware.

As anybody else would do, I looked up “Ada Lovelace” on Wikipedia. There I found the strange tale of how, in the 1830s, an eccentric genius called Charles Babbage only just failed to invent the computer, and how the daughter of Lord Byron wrote imaginary programs for his imaginary computer. It was such an extraordinary story, so full of weird personalities and poetic flourishes that it hardly seemed true; but at the end of it the facts thudded back to dull reality. Lovelace died young. Babbage died a miserable old man. There never was a gigantic steam-powered computer. This seemed an awfully grim ending for my little comic. And so I threw in a couple of drawings at the end, imagining for them another, better, more thrilling comic-book universe to live on in.

She goes on to say, “Almost everybody had failed to realize that my alternate-universe ending was a joke.” And so she began writing these comics.

The result is quirky, full of facts, and a whole lot of fun. I also love the Victorian, over-the-top style used, especially for title pages and diagrams.

And, yes, I will be watching the webpage for more adventures.

And, okay, I’ll admit it. I brought this book to a Book Dating event. It’s like Speed Dating — only everyone brings a book, and you have something to talk about. I thought this book was a nice blend of fiction and nonfiction — and that anyone who thinks it’s cool will be someone I will be able to easily talk with. This turned out to be true.

2dgoggles.com
sydneypadua.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/lovelace_and_babbage.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Book of Forgiving, by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

book_of_forgiving_largeThe Book of Forgiving

The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World

by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

HarperOne, 2014. 229 pages.
Starred Review

I don’t think you can have too many books on forgiveness. Even though it’s now been a long time since my divorce, I’ve been reading this book slowly, trying to absorb it. It articulates things I’d already learned about forgiveness as well as showing me new things to consider and new ways to look at it.

Forgiving isn’t a journey you’ll ever completely finish, but Desmond and Mpho Tutu present a Fourfold Path that will help you deal with those who have wronged you and people you have wronged as well.

This book doesn’t come from a trivial place. Here’s some of the background Desmond Tutu gives in the Introduction:

As chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I have often been asked how the people of South Africa were able to forgive the atrocities and injustices they suffered under apartheid. Our journey in South Africa was quite long and treacherous. Today it is hard to believe that, up until our first democratic election in 1994, ours was a country that institutionalized racism, inequality, and oppression. In apartheid South Africa only white people could vote, earn a high-quality education, and expect advancement or opportunity. There were decades of protest and violence. Much blood was shed during our long march to freedom. When, at last, our leaders were released from prison, it was feared that our transition to democracy would become a bloodbath of revenge and retaliation. Miraculously we chose another future. We chose forgiveness. At the time, we knew that telling the truth and healing our history was the only way to save our country from certain destruction. We did not know where this choice would lead us. The process we embarked on through the TRC was, as all real growth proves to be, astoundingly painful and profoundly beautiful….

I would like to share with you two simple truths: there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness. When you can see and understand that we are all bound to one another – whether by birth, by circumstance, or simply by our shared humanity – then you will know this to be true. I have often said that in South Africa there would have been no future without forgiveness. Our rage and our quest for revenge would have been our destruction. This is as true for us individually as it is for us globally.

There have been times when each and every one of us has needed to forgive. There have also been times when each and every one of us has needed to be forgiven. And there will be many times again. In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again.

The book begins by laying the groundwork. The authors explain why we need to forgive for our own sakes. It explains what forgiveness is and is not. (Forgiveness is not weakness, is not a subversion of justice, and is not forgetting. Forgiveness is also not easy.) Then it explains the Fourfold Path of Forgiveness, an alternative to the cycle of Revenge.

The first step on the Fourfold Path is Telling the Story.

Telling the story is how we get our dignity back after we have been harmed. It is how we begin to take back what was taken from us, and how we begin to understand and make meaning out of our hurting….

It is not always easy to tell your story, but it is the first critical step on the path to freedom and forgiveness. We saw this so palpably in the TRC, when the victims of apartheid were able to come forward to tell their stories. They were relieved to have a place of safety and affirmation in which to share their experiences. They were also relieved of the ongoing victimization they suffered from believing that no one would ever truly know what they had endured or believe the stories they had to tell. When you tell your story, you no longer have to carry your burden alone….

We may need to tell our stories many times over, to many different people, and in many different forms before we are ready to move forward in the forgiveness process. We also may find that just telling our stories relieves a burden we have carried. When we tell our stories, we are practicing a form of acceptance. When we tell our stories, we are saying, “This horrible thing has happened. I cannot go back and change it, but I can refuse to stay trapped in the past forever.” We have reached acceptance when we finally recognize that paying back someone in kind will never make us feel better or undo what has been done. To quote the comedian Lily Tomlin, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

The second step on the Fourfold Path is Naming the Hurt.

Every one of us has a story to tell of when we were hurt. Once we are done telling our stories – the technical details of who, when, where, and what was done to us – we must name the hurt. Giving the emotion a name is the way we come to understand how what happened affected us. After we’ve told the facts of what happened, we must face our feelings. We are each hurt in our own unique ways, and when we give voice to this pain, we begin to heal it….

Often it can seem easier or safer to simply dismiss a hurt, stuff it down, push it away, pretend it didn’t happen, or rationalize it, telling ourselves we really shouldn’t feel the way we do. But a hurt is a hurt. A loss is a loss. And a harm felt but denied will always find a way to express itself. When I bury my hurt in shame or silence, it begins to fester from the inside out. I feel the pain more acutely, and I suffer even more because of it….

If you cannot, or choose not to, name your hurt to the perpetrator, then you can talk to a trusted friend or family member, a spiritual advisor, a counselor, another who has experienced the same kind of harm, or anyone who will not judge you and who will be able to listen with love and empathy. Just as in telling the story, you can write your hurt down in a letter or journal. The most important thing is to share with someone who is able to receive your feelings without judging or shaming you for having them. Indeed, because it is never easy to confront the one who has harmed us directly, I strongly encourage you to name the hurt to others first.

When we give voice to our hurt, it loses its stranglehold on our lives and our identities. It stops being the central character in our stories. Ultimately, as we will discuss in the next chapter, the act of forgiving helps us create a new story. Forgiveness lets us become the author of our own future, unfettered by the past. But in order to begin to tell a new story, we must first have the courage to speak…. It is human to want to retaliate, to feel anger, and to feel a profound sense of resentment toward those who have harmed us. When we share these feelings, however, when we give voice to our desire for revenge, our rage, and the many ways we feel our dignity has been violated, the desire for revenge lessens. There is relief. Feeling this relief does not mean that there is no justice, or that it was okay for someone to hurt us. It simply means we don’t have to let our suffering make us perpetual victims. When we name the hurt, just as when we tell the story, we are in the process of reclaiming our dignity and building something new from the wreckage of what was lost.

The third step on the Fourfold Path is Granting Forgiveness.

I like this observation: “Raising children has sometimes felt like training for a forgiveness marathon.”

As our own children grew, they found new (and remarkably creative) ways of testing our patience, our resolve, and our rules and limits. We learned time and again to use the teaching moments their transgressions offered. But mostly we learned to forgive them over and over again, and fold them back into our embrace. We know our children are so much more than the sum of everything they have done wrong. Their stories are more than rehearsals of their repeated need for forgiveness. We know that even the things they did wrong were opportunities for us to teach them to be citizens of the world. We have been able to forgive them because we have known their humanity. We have seen the good in them. We have prayed for them. It was easy to pray for them. They are our children. It is easy to want the best for them.

But I also pray for other people who may irk or hurt me. When my heart holds anger or resentment toward someone, I pray for that person’s well-being. It is a powerful practice and has often opened the doorway to finding forgiveness.

It might be obvious that this step is crucial, but he reiterates why that is so.

We choose forgiveness because it is how we find freedom and keep from remaining trapped in an endless loop of telling our stories and naming our hurts. It is how we move from victim to hero. A victim is in a position of weakness and subject to the whims of others. Heroes are people who determine their own fate and their own future. A victim has nothing to give and no choices to make. A hero has the strength and ability to be generous and forgiving, and the power and freedom that come from being able to make the choice to grant forgiveness.

The final step on the Fourfold Path is Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.

Forgiveness is not the end of the Fourfold Path, because the granting of forgiveness is not the end of the process of healing. We all live in a delicate web of community, visible and invisible, and time and again the connecting threads get damaged and must be repaired. Once you have been able to forgive, the final step is to either renew or release the relationship you have with the one who has harmed you. Indeed, even if you never speak to the person again, even if you never see them again, even if they are dead, they live on in ways that affect your life profoundly. To finish the forgiveness journey and create the wholeness and peace you crave, you must choose whether to renew or release the relationship. After this final step in the Fourfold Path, you wipe the slate clean of all that caused a breach in the past. No more debts are owed. No more resentments fester. Only when you renew or release the relationship can you have a future unfettered by the past.

This scratches the surface of what’s in this book. There are examples and exercises to help you along the way. Concluding chapters talk about when you are the one who needs forgiveness and about forgiving yourself.

This is a beautiful book on a life-giving topic. I’ve got to admit, I’d like to wish readers a life where they never have to forgive anyone. But come to think of it, that would not be as rich a life. When you do find yourself needing to forgive, this book is a wonderful resource.

tutu.org.za
humanjourney.com/forgiveness
harperone.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/book_of_forgiving.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Jinx und der magische Urwald

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

This week, I’ve got the third book of the Jinx trilogy waiting for me to read it, so in the spirit of anticipation, today I’m going to look again at the translation of the first book, Jinx und der magische Urwald.

Jinx

When I started looking at Jinx, we left off on page 6 in the English version, Seite 12 in German.

It’s all in the name of handy-dandy phrases to know:

“valuable curse” = wertvollen Fluch

“the fear was ripply with greed” = seine Angst kräuselte sich vor Gier

“a crunching sound” = ein Knacken zu hören

“terrifying gloom” = schaurige Finsternis

“a rotten cabbage leaf” = ein verfaultes Kohlblatt

“the hollow scrabble of clawed feet on the forest earth”
= das dumpfe Scharren von Tatzen auf dem Waldboden

“Several things happened at once.”
= In diesem Moment passierten mehrere Dinge gleichzeitig.
(“In this moment passed more things at the same time.”)

“heavy, ragged breathing” = schwerem, keuchendem Atem

“a smell like rotting meat” = Verwesungsgeruch
(I like that there’s a single word for this. “Decay-smell”)

“they were so big and tusky”
= sie waren riesig und hatten gewaltige Stoßzähne
(“they were giant and had huge tusks”)

This is more dramatic in German:
“The wizard reached out and grabbed Jinx.”
= Blitzschnell packte der Zauberer Jinx.
(“Lightning-fast grabbed the magician Jinx.”)

And here’s another cool single word:
“cloud of calm” = Ruhewolke

And again:
“howled with glee” = johlten

But then this takes more:
“and danced about” = und vollführten einen Freudentanz
(“and performed a joy-dance”)

“breeze” = Luftzug

“swallowed up” = verschluckt

This time the translation seems slightly stronger:
“the smell of rotting meat” = der Verwesungsgestank

“a very small thing” = eine Winzigkeit

Interesting! The translator completely left out a sentence: “He assumed that everyone did this and that everyone could see what he saw.” Then again, I’m using an Advance Review Copy of the book, and it’s quite possible that sentence was left out of the final version of the book.

A sonder-sentence:
“I don’t expect you’ll miss him very much”
= Du wirst ihn bestimmt nicht sonderlich vermissen
(“You will him certainly not especially miss”)

“a red cloud of anger” = eine rote Wutwolke

“But now what?” = Aber was nun?

“clearings” = Lichtungen

“stealthy rustlings” = verstohlene Geräusche

“I have some bad habits.”
= Ich habe ein paar schlecte Angewohnheiten

There! That finishes Chapter One of Jinx

Aber was nun? Here’s hoping this week you encounter more Ruhewolken than Wutwolken.

Review of The Unmapped Sea, by Maryrose Wood

Friday, June 5th, 2015

unmapped_sea_largeThe Unmapped Sea

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 5

by Maryrose Wood

illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2015. 404 pages.

Aaugh! The story is still not finished! Yes, I love spending time with the Incorrigibles and their dauntless governess Penelope Lumley, but when will the story end?

The plot has progressed, so you really should read these books in order. We now know the exact words of the curse on the Ashton family – but we don’t know how to break it. Penelope’s fate has taken a dramatic turn, and the Incorrigibles are in danger.

Meanwhile, we’ve got the usual silliness. Lady Ashton is expecting a baby, and when a doctor suggests a holiday by the sea, they go to Brighton in the middle of winter. Lady Ashton is sure that her Frederick actually intends to take her to Italy, which starts a long and silly charade by the staff. Penelope gets in educational moments throughout, and they meet a family of badly-behaved Russians also vacationing in Brighton.

I decided that I should have patiently waited until my library purchased the audio version of this book. I listened to most of the books, and I’m much more patient with audio. The narrator reading the books in a perfectly serious way milks the silliness and makes it much more fun. As it was, though by now I hear the narrator’s voice in my head, I got a little impatient with the pace when I was simply reading it myself. So any future books, I will try to restrain my eagerness (not sure I can – I really am interested in Penelope’s fate!) and wait for the audio version.

maryrosewood.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/unmapped_sea.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Four Ways to Click, by Amy Banks

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

4_ways_to_click_largeFour Ways to Click

Rewire Your Brain for Stronger, More Rewarding Relationships

by Amy Banks, M.D.
with Leigh Ann Hirschman

Tarcher, 2015. 320 pages.
Starred Review

The premise of this book is an easy one to believe: We are wired for connection. Connection with people is good for us. However, the authors point out that this seemingly obvious truth goes against accepted wisdom about mental health.

The book begins like this:

Boundaries are overrated.

If you want healthier, more mature relationships; if you want to stop repeating old patterns that cause you pain; if you are tired of feeling emotionally disconnected from the people you spend your time with; if you want to grow your inner life, you can begin by questioning the idea that there is a clear, crisp line between you and the people you interact with most frequently.

The authors expand on that idea further in the introductory chapter:

This book is going to show you a different way of thinking about your emotional needs and what it means to be a healthy, mature adult. A new field of scientific study, one I call relational neuroscience, has shown us that there is hardwiring throughout our brains and bodies designed to help us engage in satisfying emotional connection with others. This hardwiring includes four primary neural pathways that are featured in this book. Relational neuroscience has also shown that when we are cut off from others, these neural pathways suffer. The result is a neurological cascade that can result in chronic irritability and anger, depression, addiction, and chronic physical illness. We are just not as healthy when we try to stand on our own, and that’s because the human brain is built to operate within a network of caring human relationships. How do we reach our personal and professional potential? By being warmly, safely connected to partners, friends, coworkers, and family. Only then do our neural pathways get the stimulation they need to make our brains calmer, more tolerant, more resonant, and more productive.

The good news for those of us whose relationships don’t always feel so warm or safe: it is possible to heal and strengthen those four neural pathways that are weakened when you don’t have strong connections. Relationships and your brain form a virtuous circle, so by strengthening your neural pathways for connection, you will also make it easier to build the healthy relationships that are essential for your psychological and physical health.

This book consists essentially of information about the four main neural pathways and ideas for strengthening each one. There’s a self-assessment at the start to see how your brain and relationships are doing.

The author calls her approach the C.A.R.E. Plan. C. stands for Calm; A. stands for Accepted; R. stands for Resonant; and E. stands for Energetic.

Each of these four pathways is a feedback loop. Supply the loop with good relationships, and most of the time, the pathway will become stronger. Strengthen the pathway, and your relationships become more rewarding. There are plenty of places in each loop to step in and boost the entire system.

I came away from the book feeling that I’m in a pretty good place. This book looks at the relationships to which you give the most time – in terms of thought and energy – so you aren’t counted “down” if you are not in a romantic relationship. Living alone, I wasn’t quite sure if I was cheating by counting the three people I email with daily or almost daily, but I do give them a lot of thought energy, and filling out the questionnaire confirmed that this connection is good for me.

The book did give me things to think about. For example, if I’m feeling a need for a pick-me-up, it might be a good idea to reach for the phone rather than play a game of Candy Crush. If I reinforce getting dopamine by reaching out and connecting, that pathway will become all the stronger.

This book is about all relationships – with family, friends, and coworkers, as well as with a “significant other.” It gives you plenty to think about for strengthening this crucial part of human life.

I’m thinking this might be a great gift for a college graduate. Rather than giving the message, “Okay, time to stand on your own two feet!”, this book reinforces the message that they will need other people in their lives – and will be healthier and happier the more they learn to connect with others.

tarcherbooks.com
penguin.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/4_ways_to_click.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of If . . . by David J. Smith

Monday, June 1st, 2015

if_largeIf . . .

A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

by David J. Smith
illustrated by Steve Adams

Kids Can Press, 2014. 40 pages.

The author of the brilliant If America Were a Village is at it again, using scale to give children a feeling for enormous numbers. Here’s what he says on the first page:

How big is Earth or the Solar System or the Milky Way galaxy? How old is our planet and when did the first animals and people appear on it? Some things are so huge or so old that it’s hard to wrap your mind around them. But what if we took these big, hard-to-imagine objects and events and compared them to things we can see, feel and touch? Instantly, we’d see our world in a whole new way. That’s what this book is about – it scales down, or shrinks, huge events, spaces and times to something we can understand. If you’ve had a doll or a model airplane, you know what scaling down means. A scale model is a small version of a large thing. Every part is reduced equally, so that you don’t end up with a doll with enormous feet or a model plane with giant wings. And when we scale down some really huge things – such as the Solar System or all of human history – some of the results are quite surprising, as you are about to see…

The book goes on to look at such scenarios as:

If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate…
If the planets in the Solar System were shrunk to the size of balls and Earth were the size of a baseball…
If the history of the last 3000 years were condensed into one month…
If the inventions of the last 1000 years were laid out along this ruler…
If all the water on earth were represented by 100 glasses…
If all the wealth in the world were represented by a pile of 100 coins…
If average life expectancy (the number of years people live) were represented by footprints in the sand…
If today’s world population of over 7 billion were represented by a village of 100 people…
If your whole life could be shown as a jumbo pizza, divided into 12 slices…

With each scenario, graphics on a double-page spread show how the hypothetical object would be divided up, with some surprising results.

In the your-life-as-a-pizza example, 4 of the 12 slices would be work and school and 4 of the 12 slices would represent sleeping. In the wealth example, we see one person standing on top of a pile of 40 coins, 9 people on top of the next 45 coins, on down to 50 people standing on the one lone last coin. With footprints in the sand, we see the footprints from some continents don’t go nearly as far as those from others.

The population example may be the most interesting, because the author goes back in time. If today’s population were represented by a village of 100 people, the village in 1900 would only have 32 people, in 1500 only 8 people, and in 1000 BCE, there would have only been 1 person.

kidscanpress.com

You get the idea: These ideas and images give you a grasp of the large proportions between these things and a handle for understanding enormous numbers.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/if.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?