|burn||Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.|
|mock||This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.|
|don't||Don't read this book.|
|desert||If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.|
|fan||If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.|
|worth||This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.|
|strongly||I strongly recommend this book|
|amazing||OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.|
Warren Ellis has a weekly newsletter, in which he talks about writing, reading, and things of interest to him. In last week's episode, we found our intrepid hero talking about The Book Of Joan in a way that sounded fairly interesting, so I looked for it in the library.
And there it was!
Well, if this isn't the world telling me to read this book, I don't know what is. Okay, maybe the world is telling me this book isn't in high demand, or that it was at one point and the library has excess copies.
Anyway. Ellis' book description is much better than I would have done. It reads differently than I expected the book to read, but his description is spot on. The way Yuknavitch weaves history into the story (uses history as a template?) is just wonderful.
Trying to figure out where I put it on my scale, it's definitely "fan" or above, but would I recommend it to a friend? It was interesting, so I'd have to say it is worth reading.
How’s that for a cosmic joke of the ruling class? The meek really did inherit the Earth. And the wealthy suck at it like a tit. There’s no telling how many meek are left.
And anyway, I’ve got that gnawing human compulsion to tell what happened.
No one on Earth was ever literally white. But that construct kept race and class wars and myths alive.
Everything in a life has more than one story layer. Like skin does: epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous or hypodermis. My history has a subtext.
We are what happens when the seemingly unthinkable celebrity rises to power. Our existence makes my eyes hurt.
People are forever thinking that the unthinkable can’t happen. If it doesn’t exist in thought, then it can’t exist in life. And then, in the blink of an eye, in a moment of danger, a figure who takes power from our weak desires and failures emerges like a rib from sand.
We consume and become exactly what we create. In all times.
Men are among the loneliest creatures. They lose their mothers and cannot carry children, and have nothing to comfort themselves with but their vestigial cockular appendages.
This is perhaps the reason they move ever warward when they are not moving fuckward.
But people will make belief out of anything, especially if it comes with a good story, and despite my cynicism and age, I want to believe in her. Like the way old people on Earth used to turn to a story we made called god.
But not all legend becomes history, and not all literature deserves to become legend.
His voice and words make my whole body ring. He makes me laugh. Sometimes I think that’s the deepest love of all.
There is no place to hide or run to in a closed system.
I don’t care which careful slice of history you choose to cling to, there is no part of being human that does not include the death spectacle: the resort to killing, through war or “justice” or revenge.
The fastest way to drive living beings mad, then as today, is to confine them to a small, stimulus-less place and deprive them of any interaction with their species.
Maybe we were always meant to come to this part of our own story, where the things we thought we created were revealed to have been within us all along, our brains simply waiting for us to recognize the corresponding forms of space and technology “out there” that we dumbly misread as distinctly human organs.
Joan took her T-shirt off. Her jeans. “You’re gonna freeze your ass off!” Her brother laughed, but his clothes came off, too. They were siblings, after all.
There wasn’t time to educate the children. As in medieval times, and during other world wars, children simply had to learn to live within the miasma of violence. Pick up this weapon. Don’t think. Act.
When the first nuclear drone attacks erupted, for a while, and counterpart drones returned fire, the War was waged almost without soldiers. But all agon eventually reduces itself to human violence. It was almost as if humans couldn’t bear their distance from the killing. The drama. The theater of war.
The rhetoric of protecting children from war, shielding those most vulnerable from our most horrific truths, was always a hypocrisy designed to protect the illusions that adults carry that we care more about our children than we do about ourselves, until finally that pretense, too, fell.
To be human, the film suggested, was to step into the full flurry and motion of all humanity: to bear the weight of circumstances without flinching, to surrender to the crucible—to admit that history was not something in the past but something you consciously step into. Living a life meant knowing you might be killed instantly, like one who wanders into the path of a runaway train.
Inside of war, or dream, or memory, a warrior emerges.
If we look at history—those of us who study it, who can remember it—we understand the reason why those who come to power swiftly, amid extreme national crises, are so dangerous: during such crises, we all turn into children aching for a good father. And the truth is, in our fear and despair, we’ll take any father. Even if his furor is dangerous. It’s as if humans can’t understand how to function without a father.
But Joan knew one thing we never learned: to end war meant to end its maker, to marry creation and destruction rather than hold them in false opposition.
Terrorists, she thought, laughing inside. When they own languages, she thought, we are terrorists. When we own them, we are revolutionaries. People who turn over the earth.
On his side, there lived a hatred for what humanity represented with its diversities and differences, and his pathological desire to abandon the planet, to re-create humankind in a different image. His own.
On her side, there was a hatred there, too, if she was being honest with herself: for what we had made of ourselves, for the fictions we consistently chose that forced our own undoing; for our fear of otherness; for our inability to conquer ego, our seemingly tsunami-like thirst for never-ending consumption at the price of the planet.
Once there was a girl from France. She heard a song and became a warrior for her country, but her country lost its shape and aim in the Wars, as all countries did, and then there were just combatants and civilians, and then just civilians gone brutal against one another, endless violence. Then the girl made a choice.
In the dark, a person’s shadow is nothing. Like the past losing its light.
She didn’t believe him, but she did believe in letting him have his story. To have a story was to have a self.
In death, adults reveal some of their childhood selves. The eyes and cheek muscles going slack, back in time to a face without history.
It isn’t that love died. It’s that we storied it poorly. We tried too hard to contain it and make it something to have and to hold.
Love was never meant to be less than electrical impulse and the energy of matter, but that was no small thing.
The stuff of life itself. Life in the universe, cosmic or as small as an atom. But we wanted it to be ours. Between us. For us. We made it small and private so that we’d be above all other living things.
At the heart of torture there is a brutality beyond inflicting pain. It is the brutality of stealing an identity, a sense of self, a soul. The pain-wracked body is only a symbol of a deeper struggle that is bodiless. It is the struggle to be. Not just to cling to consciousness, but a kind of radical compassion to exist as a self in relation to others. The torturer attempts to murder that desire for compassionate relationship. To erase even its possibility. The tortured body is the opposite of the newborn. Instead of a will toward life and the stretch to bond with an other, there is a brutal will toward death and the end of that longing. When torture succeeds, that is.
ree > Page
To be human. What if being human did not mean to discover, to conquer. What if it meant rejoining everything we are made from.
x > Page
"One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are, and to live without belief—that is a fate more terrible than dying."
ven > Page
I’m weeping again.
o > Page
Always crying. It has become a state of being rather than an emotionally isolated experience.
o > Page
Why did I pick up this book? It's book two of the Deanna Madden series (there are currently three books in the series).
I didn't think I liked the first one enough to warrant reading the second one, but the GoodReads reviews were consistently "This one is better!" so I went with it. That, and, other than the sex part, I like the Madden character.
This one still doesn't have any suspense. We know all the actions of all the characters. It does, as the first one, have a fast moving plot. There's an attempt at suspense, but it lasts like 4 pages, so it wasn't a great success. Again, a fast moving plot.
Nothing to write home about, nothing to rave about. If you're looking for a mindless distraction, this'll do.
Never had the hot, wet sensation, vibrating suction, the delicate play of a talented tongue against pleasure-packed bundles of nerves.
I am like my clients—on the edge of danger, playing with the fire of fantasy and hoping I don’t slip. Hoping I don’t fall over that dangerous edge and act out on my desires.
VILLAINS COME IN all shapes and forms.
I bet he’s a good hugger. A good, responsible hugger who makes you feel like he is taking some of your worry with the embrace.
A lot about human nature, how caged humans, despite our upbringing, drug habits, or skin color, are all the same. We want to fuck, to eat, to live. We want freedom, we enjoy control, we want to kill.
She stands, a twinge of jealousy moving through her. Realizing, as she stares into his eyes, that he, by kicking her out, by closing the laptop, is protecting Deanna more than her.
He doesn’t know why he loves her. But does anyone know why they love? We don’t love people for their traits—traits are common. We love them for their unique ability to tug at our soul, to connect to us in a way that no other person can. Love
I am being hunted. And, in the face of that danger, am releasing all constraints. War has no room for indecision.
We don’t love people for their traits — traits are common. We love them for their unique ability to tug at our soul, to connect to us in a way that no other person can. Love is unexplainable, unpredictable, and often unreasonable. It doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t care to explain to us its thought process. He hears is unexplainable, unpredictable, and often unreasonable. It doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t care to explain to us its thought process.
His eyes squint a bit as he focuses on me. “Just because we are in love doesn’t mean you have to share all your secrets.”
“You might not love me if you knew all of them.” I smile sadly.
He pulls at my hand, tugs my mouth to his. “I will always love you,” he whispers.
Okay, much like The Girl in 6E, I picked this book up because it was the listed on-sale in the Audible "First In A Series" Sale for $5 a book. I checked the book out from the library instead of purchasing the book (yay saving those funds for priorities), and read it that way.
This book is pretty much take Kay Scarpetta or Kinsey Milhone or any other rough and tumble PI, and age her thirty years. Add in the Case that Broke Her, and and you have this book. While the book says "age her twenty years," Brigid Quinn is in her late fifties, I have to say age her thirty years, because anyone who has the history that Quinn has is not going to be the aged woman described in this book. The only way the late fifties woman could be that frail is if she stopped being who she was, and the rest of the book indicates she had not.
Clearly, the book wasn't written by someone active in her late fifties (just checked, yes, late fifties, so maybe not an athlete, not an active person, whatevs).
I sorta enjoyed the book. It was a fun read, but one I'd prefer to do on the beach or on a long plane ride, not one I'd devote any serious time to reading. The book wasn't bad, not at all, just not my style. I enjoyed this one, but won't be reading any further in the series.
Keeping secrets, telling lies, they require the same skill. Both become a habit, almost an addiction, that’s hard to break even with the people closest to you, out of the business.
“You shouldn’t have been there,” I said again, at the same time stalling and wanting to go, like the last friend at a wake.
He didn’t have to explain about going to the bottom. I understood, and knew I couldn’t follow him there.
She was right. You convicted someone for their crimes, not their nature.
I’m sure there are other people who have experienced The Moment themselves. The kind where you’ve been one sort of person up to this point in your life. Then you’re in a doctor’s office, or at home, or at work, and someone, someone you might have always trusted, walks into the room and makes what is likely an offhand remark they’ll never remember, but the comment rocks you at your deepest, unhinging whatever you had been. You think you’re so tough, never realizing how fragile you are until you break. It happens that easily, that quickly. Paul was one of the moments.
“You don’t look like FBI,” he said, explaining his shotgun. Privately I disagreed; I would have thought Coleman looked like FBI even if she wasn’t. But we both did that little side head tic that gets past the allusion to our not being male, and Coleman shot me an arch look that said, “I should have worn the black suit.”
Always tell as much truth as possible, but no more than necessary. Liars always want to embellish and it gets them into trouble.
Carlo listened without speaking, without trying to quick-fix things.
“I don’t think of myself as a Pollyanna, but I have to say I’ve seen blessing come out of pain before.”
“Trying to derive meaning from hardship isn’t exclusively Christian. There’s Viktor Frankl. And I like what someone once said: ‘there’s a crack in everything, and that’s how the light gets in.’”
“Sure. Sure, Mom.” I hung up, trying to get back the several decades of maturity I’d misplaced during our few minutes of conversation.
Always and forever my parents' daughter.
When someone has a temper, like my father for instance, you get used to the slamming and the shouting. It’s the calm and controlled people who unnerve you.
Here was Kitty (really Kitty, not Kathryn) Vaught, found June 30, 2001.
We didn’t speak much, hardly even looked each other in the eye; two people being alone in the same house only intensified the loneliness.
With more sadness than anger Carlo said, “Please put down your defenses, dear. Our marriage hangs in the balance,” and opened the door for me to go first.
If this was his show, let him talk. I was too depressed and tired to help him.
“What I mean to say is, when you’ve lived with lies for so long, it’s hard to know how to express things so that they can be trusted. It’s hard to know what the truth is.”
“You never wanted to know,” I said, hating the whine in my voice. “I just did what you wanted me to do.”
At first I hardly knew I was shot. There was that numbness that comes before the pain, when everything drains out of you in your shock.
“This is not a healthy relationship.”
“I’m beginning to see that, but in my defense, I’ve never had any other kind.”
“Maybe with a lot of honesty I think there’s a strong probability that I will not leave you, yes.”
Oh, to hear those words.
“Listen, we can go slowly on this, but for starters—and forgive the aphorism, but for the past twenty-four hours I haven’t been able to come up with a different way to say it—you have to trust the people you love. And you have to trust their love for you."
The raw exposure of a man in love is frightening, even to me.
“After young men see you they dream dreams without realizing why."
Okay, this is the book that goes with the YNAB budgeting website. Kristin recommended the site to me at some point in the last year or so, strongly recommended, and I have since recommended it to other people who have had some level of monetary stress (where "some level" is greater than zero). This book came out in December of last year, though I hadn't picked it up from the library until last week.
So, you know that I'm not giving anything away by saying YNAB has four rules (since they are right on the website):
1. Starting with the money you have right now (not the paycheck coming up, not the invoice you sent, what you have right now), Give Every Dollar A Job.
2. Don't be all wishful thinking and hopeful and "this month I will be good with my money," Embrace Your True Expenses
3. Accept that you are human and that life is unpredictable, Roll With The Punches
4. See how long you can hold on to your money, make it a game, and Age Your Money.
The shift in thinking is goooooooooood. Doing the exercises, setting all of this up, is haaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrd. . I believe the process is worth it. I liked the chapters on budgeting as a couple and teaching kids how to budget, which is more than a bit ironic.
This book is everything that I expected to be, which is awesome. I believe adopting the strategies in the book will change your life. If you can't check the book out from the library (my library had a 14 week waiting list), let me buy you a copy.
You haven’t failed at budgeting, you’ve adapted with the best of them.
That cruise is a pipe dream if you don’t know where you stand with the basics that make you a functioning member of society.
Write down all of the places your money needs to go. Focus on payments you’re obligated to make to keep your life running. Think food and shelter, loans, school payments, and any necessary work expenses(for example, an Internet connection if you work from home, commuting costs, etc.).
To start, make sure you’re separating honest-to-goodness obligations from habits disguised as necessities. It can be hard to distinguish between the two at times.
So try this: Imagine your future self having done each thing on your list. Which feels better? Seeing the kids and their friends enjoying the yard? Bike riding through Amsterdam as a family?
The sense of security knowing you’re helping with college? Or imagine your future self explaining to a good friend why you chose one over the other. Does it feel right?
Maybe you spend more than the “recommended percentage” on rent, but you also don’t own a car and you bike to work. Boom: car insurance, car payments, fuel, and gym memberships have no place in your budget. This is just one way that cookie-cutter advice rarely works.
Lifestyle creep is when the cost of your lifestyle rises in tandem with your income.
Once a year (I like to do this in January), question every one of your expenses. Question the “givens” like housing, transportation, and insurance. Question the vacations you always take, the gifts you always buy, and the food you always eat. Every single item should be on the table.
Rule One hierarchy: Take care of your immediate obligations first — a roof over your head, food, for you and your family, and bills like electric and heat that mean bad things if you don’t pay them.
Then move to the true expenses. These are large, irregular expenses that surprise you(you know the feeling) but really shouldn’t.
What are your highest priorities after your obligations?
The question stops being "Can I afford this?" You can likely afford lots of things if you have the cash on hand, but that’s not the point. You’re now asking yourself, “Does this move me closer to my goal(s)?”
You may not like the truth, but you’ll be better off.
Budgeting forces you to make decisions you’d otherwise avoid when you think you’re steeped in cash. You need this clarity on a variable income, or else the agony of your low-income months will be so much worse than the joy that comes with big payments.
Predictable expenses aren’t frequent but we know exactly when they’ll hit and how much they’ll cost.
Unpredictable but inevitable expenses are things like car repairs, impulse donations,
Whether you’re dodging blows or coming up with your game plan, you’re always strategizing, adapting, and working to accomplish a big goal. You wouldn’t think of just standing there. And like any challenging activity, you’ll do your best only if you take care of yourself in the process. That means being kind to yourself when you need it, sticking to your values, and staying focused on the big picture.
If a budget sounds worse to you than talking about money on its own, hang with me. It really does help. On a very basic level, it’s much easier to talk about your money when it’s through the lens of a budget. Now it’s not about your debt or my debt, my spending or your spending. It’s about how it all works within the budget. The budget is like a neutral third party that keeps the conversation grounded in reality.
If you’re struggling to convince your partner that budgeting is important, be sure you’re very clear on what you mean by “budgeting.” Nobody will be micromanaged or put on a leash. The point is to actually feel free and empowered. Budgeting together will mean you’re working together to achieve your shared goals — not your goals for your partner. You’re asking him to budget with you because you want him to have a voice in what happens with your money. Not the other way around.
Your idea of peace may involve freedom to order takeout most nights so you don’t have to worry about cooking. Your partner may look forward to cooking each evening as a way to unwind.
You can use your first budget date to explore Rule Zero in three ways: what’s most important to you as an individual, what’s important to your partner, and what you value together as a couple. These will evolve into your budget priorities, because when you’re budgeting as a couple, your budget will have three sets of priorities: yours, mine, and ours.
The only way to reveal all those priorities is to talk. Think big. Be open. Share your hopes and concerns. These conversations do end up looking a lot like first date material, only now you don’t have to worry as much about scaring the other person away.
Assumptions will get in the way if you aren’t clear with each other about what’s important to you as an individual, and which goals you share as a couple. It’s too easy to assume that your priorities are the same as mine. Or that our priorities are always more important than mine. These quiet assumptions are what make budgeting as a couple stressful when it absolutely doesn’t have to be.
You need these sessions to be a safe space where you can talk openly, listen to your partner, and compromise.
Before each of them started on their debt paydown journey, reaching the end seemed impossible. But they set their goals and put in the work every day, consistently, for a long time.
The hardest part of teaching my kids to budget was teaching myself to let go. Once the money is theirs I fiercely believe we should not try to manage or control it for them.
Usually a restart just involves putting away your old budget and starting a new one. Simply looking at all of your money as a clean slate, nothing attached to any jobs, is a powerful exercise.
I want to say I don't recall where I picked this one up from, but, in reality, I recall that Audible was having a "First Book In A Series On Sale For Five Dollars" sale, and I looked through 54 pages of first-book-in-a-series books to see if any were interesting or of interest. This one, and Rage Against The Dying caught my attention, so I checked them out of the library.
For the record, I didn't know this was going to erotic suspense. Had I known, I likely would not have picked it up to read, and I really wouldn't have checked it out from the library.
That said, I read it in one sitting.
THAT said, I read it in one sitting partly because I was a captive audience. It was the only book I had with me on a four hour flight. I know, I know. How the hell do I have ONLY one book with me on a flight? Poor planning and frazzled attention, that's how.
So, how about this book? Well, "Dexter meets Fifty Shades" is the blurb. Having not read Fifty Shades, I can't comment on that part. The Dexter part, yes. The overt sex parts were, well, jolting. Upside of being able to read quickly? Being able to read even faster over the parts that are eyerolling.
If you are a fan of this genre, I suspect this is a good book. It's a fast read, to be sure. There is no mystery in the book, but there is plot and it is fast paced. The sex parts, well, they are anatomically well described, and the swooning parts well absurd.
It’s amazing how much people give away on their way from the elevator to their apartment. Sometimes people step out of their apartment for “privacy,” a fact I find hilarious. From my doorside seat, I hear the fights, the secret phone conversations, and the everyday normalcy that gives away so much about a person.
For some reason, men feel more comfortable divulging their secrets when they are invisible.
I’ve taken those drugs, and I don’t want the life they would bring. To have a free body but a caged mind? To stumble through the world in a zombielike state, never feeling anything, never conscious enough to really know anyone? I’d rather live my life as it is. Where I experience everything, even the horrific fantasies of my psychotic mind.
I hate my former self; hate her selfishness and her lack of appreciation for her perfect suburban life. I had everything in the palm of my perfect, lazy hand and didn’t even realize it.
He didn’t understand that despite her actions toward my family, despite the fact that she took away everything good in my life, I love her. She is my mother, and one night of hell doesn’t take away the seventeen years of memories.
Self-pity. Millicent Fenwick describes it as a terrible squirrel cage of self. For me, it is a futile waste of time.
Lonely? Yes. Miserable? At times. But that is what being content is. Comfortable enough with the situation not to prompt change.
Thinking about a return to society is as dangerous as holding on to that scrapbook. Hope, in general, is dangerous. Hope can be the loose thread that pulls apart your sanity.
“I haven’t asked anyone about this. You know this kind of thing, Carolyn. Once you throw it out there, the thoughts, the suspicion, never goes away.
I am not afraid of justice. Justice is a good thing, even if I am on the losing end of it.
Hope is dangerous. Hope leads to expectations, which lead to disappointment. Disappointment in others is tough. But disappointment in yourself is far worse. I’m not expecting others to disappoint me. No—I am my own dream killer.
It is the first time, in as far as I can remember, feeling fear. When you are the darkest presence in the room, there is very little to fear.
I have no idea how this book came to my awareness. If I had to guess, it was mentioned a number of times on Bookriot, causing me to go, "Hey, science fiction recommended by several people? Okay!" Or something like that.
I enjoyed this book. It had a number of eye-rolling technology descriptions, most notibly the "I can debug things that take mere mortals three weeks to debug, just be unfocusing my eyes and staring at the whole" idea of debugging. Good viruses take weeks if not years to decode, making the idea that someone can unfocus her vision and See The Bad Guy™ an absurd notion.
That said, I love the whole Black Swan aspect of the plot: that someone can glitch into the system with a hack, and end up being invited to the big leagues. I love the idea that merit is worth notice, that it isn't who you know or what hands you've bribed to get to the top. It appeals to the 12 year old girl in me.
I enjoyed the book. The ending, however, had me crying out, "No!" with its abruptness. I'll read the sequel, no way I'll be left hanging on this one. It's a cute Sci-Fi / Virtual Reality book.
Death has a terrible habit of cutting straight through every careful line you’ve drawn between your present and your future.
Everyone has a different way of escaping the dark stillness of their mind.
My contented mood wavers, and abruptly I have a sensation of unbelonging.
“I thought that was just some science fiction myth.” “Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact,” Hideo says.
I bet I’ll be the last one picked.” Ziggy just gives me a good-hearted laugh and pats my shoulder. “What is that saying? Never say never?” she replies. “Besides. Do you remember one year when that player—Leeroy something—actually got drafted into the Stormchasers, even though he always just charged in and messed up his entire team’s play? My God, he was terrible.”
And no one goes into the Dark World unless they’re doing something illegal.
Hideo shakes his head. “I like to keep my home real. It’s too easy to lose yourself in an illusion,” he replies, nodding at his physical book.
His emotions crash against mine, roiling into one, and he is undone in this moment, the reserved, distant, proper version of him stripped away to reveal the part that is unthinking and savage.
I nod, as if in a dream, as if I can’t stop taking this drug. “Yes.”
“You remind me of myself from several years ago,” she says. “I always offered help—but I refused to accept any. My mother scolded me about that. Do you know what she told me? When you refuse to ask for help, it tells others that they also shouldn’t ask for help from you. That you look down on them for needing your help. That you like feeling superior to them. It’s an insult, Emi, to your friends and peers. So don’t be like that. Let us in.”
Why would anyone give up the perfect fantasy reality just because they have to give up their freedom? What’s the point of freedom if you’re just living in a miserable reality?
I started reading this book because Caltech had a new alumni book club starting up, and this was the first book to be discussed. My timing in the reading, however, wasn't so great. I was all SQUEEEEEEEE about reading this book, and placed a hold on the book from the library. The book club started on February 22nd, my loan was due on February 24th. Which is to say, I read the book on the 23rd. As I do.
This book is about the math women at what would become, and is, Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. The people who computed. The computers.
Of this story, of their tales, I have mixed feelings.
The strongest feeling I have is of anger that smart, well-educated, ambitious women can't be engineers because, and only because, they are women. "Let me do all these amazing calculations, but I'm not allowed to design these things, or if I can contribute, my contributions aren't even a footnote in history." Every part of the book about this, about the history of this, is rage-inducing.
A close second to this feeling is appreciation. That I would go to college was never a question, of course I would. The question was always, "Which one?" That I was able to go to Caltech is to me these days, somewhat stunning. At the time, my thought was "of course," but that's the arrogance of youth and my ignorance of the world. Probably a good thing on the latter, not so much on the former, because it leads to the third feeling.
Sadness. Sadness that this rich history was there, that these women had blazed the path I so obliviously walked. I wish this book had existed when I was at Tech. I might have appreciated where I was an the opportunities in front of me more.
Or maybe not. Arrogance of youth and all.
I enjoyed this book a lot. The girlie parts, however, were REALLY CONFUSING TO ME. So much so, I had to write notes down about them as I read. My first note was about all the fashion stuff. It bugged me. Is this a book about the girls or the rockets or what? I wanted the history of the rockets. And THIS, ladies and gentleman, is a defining feature of Kitt. And one of the reasons I ended up at Tech, and not, say, Pomona.
I found much of the random details strange. The fireworks fire was weird. At one point, we hear about the chocolate shake and croissant one of the "girls" had for lunch. Because you remember that detail for a specific day? Did the woman keep a food journal, and have it tucked away in case she was interviewed 40 years later about that day and could tell the author exactly what she had for lunch that day of that one event? Those details pulled me out of the narration a bit.
That said, this was a fun read. I am glad this book exists. I am glad these women were able to use their intelligence, interests, and education; that they were able to walk the path, even if they couldn't soar in the skies. This book is worth reading.
It seemed incredible that in the midst of her crumbling existence, the world kept spinning and people went on with their daily lives.
I understand this. The hardest part about death is that life keeps going.
JPL was used to hard-won success born from repeated failure.
It didn’t feel like a job; it was more like being part of a secret society.
One of the features of the teams I like to build and be on is this element, that you are part of a high-functioning team working towards a common goal, without ego.
Careers were rarely a topic of discussion among the women. Their importance was seen as marginal in comparison to their social lives.
They couldn’t help but feel that if they were using their own rocket, they would have better luck with it, or would at least be in control of their failures.
Employers argued that too many women vanished after taking a leave. Instead, she would use her saved vacation time and sick leave to be home with the baby. When those ran out, she’d come back to the lab.
F'ing short-sided asshats. If you'd provide child-care and flexible hours, HEY, they would stay. See above, secret society.
The engineers viewed the IBMs with suspicion, while the women embraced the new technology, largely because of their hands-on experience in using the machines. The world of programming kept drawing them in, expanding in both complexity and scope.
Yep. Why did we ever relinguish control over this amazing technology?
Janet Davis was about to leave too. Fulfilling Dr. Gates’s prophecy, she was eight months pregnant and knew she would have to quit soon. She hid the pregnancy as best she could, wanting to work right up to the end.
When a person enjoys what she does, she'll endure a lot to keep doing it.
As Carl Sagan said, “Observation: I can’t see a thing. Conclusion: Dinosaurs.”
When the news anchor announced that Kennedy was dead, they held one another, in shock and sobbing. They knew that neither the country nor the fledgling space program they belonged to would ever be the same.
Debugging a program at JPL in the 1960s simply meant talking through the problems. Margie would sit with Barbara, and they would run through the programs one command at a time.
Each equation, each string of text, was thought through logically. As Margie described the program aloud step-by-step she would usually come across the error herself. Even if she didn’t catch it, her friend Barbara was there listening and would be sure to spot it. But while
So, rubber ducky debugging? This process still exists, btw.
Meanwhile, a manufacturing flaw meant that structural panels began to fall off the lunar module adapter.
Sylvia had always loved to travel. Even as a child she felt the lure of leaving familiar places.
Returning to JPL and her friends, she was thankful to have no feelings of guilt at leaving her children. Her psychologist had told her this was a medical necessity, and it also helped that so many of her colleagues were working mothers.
When Margie struggled with some parts of the program, she did what she had always done—asked the other women. She loved having her friends to rely on.
O. M. G. What is this craziness? An environment where YOU CAN ASK FOR HELP? Where you aren't shamed because you're human? What the f, people, can we have one of these f'ing everywhere please?
Helen enjoyed being a mentor to the women in her group and wanted more for them, so she came up with a simple plan. She would find intelligent women and get them in the door by hiring them as programmers. Then she would encourage them to get advanced degrees in engineering. While they went to night school, she’d teach them to succeed within the framework of JPL.
And this is how you keep women in STEM.
Between their aptitude and her guidance, a generation of female engineers would emerge in the lab.
Muller was a complainer. He whined that the women monopolized Cora, the IBM 1620.
Asshattery knows no gender, btw.
Unfortunately for Muller, the women had priority on Cora since they were responsible for 90 percent of the lab’s computer programming. The men were just beginning to dip their toes into the technology, and they lagged behind their female colleagues.
Writing the program was so much fun that Sylvia could hardly call it work. She came into the lab each morning excited to get started.
Sylvia’s programming made sure the ship swung in line with the movement of the planets it passed, so that instead of using fuel, it would simply be thrown from one planet’s gravitational field to the next. Each step of the elegant dance was carefully choreographed.
When Macie hired new women she had often told them, “In this job you need to look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, and work like a dog.” In some ways, her advice still rang true.
"In some ways" I eyerolled here. In pretty much all ways, unfortunately.
While it was a mild day in Pasadena, in Florida the weather was unusually cold. However, after six delays, everyone was eager for the launch to go forward.
This whole incident is rage inducing, too, by the way.
After the craft had spent five years in storage, no one had thought to check the lubrication and coating on the antenna’s rib apparatus.
No one had thought...
“They’re always focused on the control room at JPL. The people really doing the work don’t get on TV,” she remarks.
In 2008, the fiftieth anniversary of her starting at the lab, JPL changed the rules and dictated that all engineers were required to hold advanced degrees. Because Sue never finished college, they took away her salaried position and switched her to an hourly rate. However, once administrators saw how much overtime she was getting, they made an exception and switched her back.
Dying laughing here.
Why am I reading this book?
Eh, this is not Larsson's Salander. The names of the characters and locations are the same as the previous Lisbeth Salander books, but this is a fan fiction book. It takes all the interesting things about the characters, and smoothes out the rough spots, as if Lagercrantz is apologizing for Larsson's previous works, and wants to make the characters normal. The interpersonal dynamics between Berger and Blomkvist are "oh, woe is me I feel guilty for this thing I've been doing for the last thirty years, and which a part of my core, but woe" and apologies for it. The personality that gives Salander her edges are all "oh, woe is me, I'm a cola-guzzling, junk-food eating hacker who binge drinks alcohol and feels like crap" blandness.
The plot could have been good, but, geez, the writing and character destruction, blech.
Okay, apparently my review is going to be full of my groans I've been having while reading the book. Do we really need a description of the RSA encryption's origins? Or the dropping of the dragon tattoo? Really? This is such a crap fan fiction book. The origin of the book (Larsson's will wasn't honored so his thieving family stole his fortune and commissioned this piece of crap) also sucks.
Yeargh, and then Lagercrantz turns her into a comic book character? Gah!
This book is not worth reading, even if you're a Lisbeth Salander fan.
“They’re Grant’s recipe for creativity. By tolerance he means that you need to be open to unconventional ideas and unconventional people. Talent—it doesn’t just achieve results, it attracts other gifted people and helps create an environment that people want to be in. And all these talents have to form a team."
You do know what the campaign against you is all about, don’t you? Your uncompromising attitude makes people feel pathetic. Your very existence reminds them just how much they’ve sold out, and the more you’re acclaimed, the punier they themselves appear. When it’s like that the only way they can fight back is by dragging you down.
Most of them are just ordinary businessmen. They despise all talk of standing up for things that matter.
Was it worth it, just to be able to say a few words? No, Balder wanted to shout out, possibly because he had always been prepared to do whatever it took to become a genius in his field. Anything but the ordinary!
Almost absentmindedly he said to himself, “They’re after me.” He could see that it was not unreasonable, even though he had always refused to believe that it would actually come to violence.
He had lost count of the number of criminal gangs in his home country that had gone under because they had resorted too often to violence. Violence can command respect. Violence can silence and intimidate, and ward off risks and threats. But violence can also cause chaos and a whole chain of unwanted consequences.
Once, before he got to know her, he had suggested that she take up competitive boxing. The derisive snort he got in response stopped him from asking again, though he had never understood why she trained so hard. Not that he really needed to know—one could train hard for no reason at all. It was better than drinking hard. It was better than lots of things.
She did not do grief, not in the conventional way at least. Anger, on the other hand, yes, a cold ticking rage.
“Surely the great thing about life is that every now and then it springs a surprise on us.”
“Ha, no, that it’s always the wrong people who have the guilty conscience. Those who are really responsible for suffering in the world couldn’t care less. It’s the ones fighting for good who are consumed by remorse.
... all the jealous, twisted souls came crawling out of the woodwork again, spewing their bile on Twitter and online forums and in e-mails.
With that tendency, if you operate in an unhealthy culture you risk becoming just as unhealthy yourself. Who knows, perhaps the will to please leads people to crime as often as evil or greed does. People want to fit in and do well, and they do indescribably stupid things because of it. Is that what happened here?
He was reminded of an old riddle his mischievous cousin Samuel liked to put to his friends in synagogue. It was a paradox: If God is indeed omnipotent, is he then capable of creating something more intelligent than himself?
"... no matter how highly our superiors rate our new mobile phone system.”
“They think it’s great because it cost so much to install,” Holmberg said.
Hello, Psychology of Economics.
"We have many different loyalties, don’t we? There’s the obvious one, to the law. There’s a loyalty to the public, and to one’s colleagues, but also to our bosses, and to ourselves and our careers. Sometimes, as you all know, these interests end up competing with each other. We might choose to protect a colleague at work and thereby fail in our duty to the public, or we might be given orders from higher up, like Hans Faste was, and then that conflicts with the loyalty he should have had to us."
Blomkvist was so worried about the boy and Salander that he had hardly slept.
Okay, this is an example of the crappy writing in the book. Rather than show us the ways that Blomkvist is worried, demonstrate how he acts, what he does, what's changed in his behaviour, Lagercrantz just states it. Much of this book is like this, let me just tell you something instead of showing you the something.
Blomkvist knew better than anyone that if you dig deep enough into a story, you will always find links. Life is constantly treating us to illusory connections.
“Powerlessness, Mikael, can be a devastating force."
Finally, a book I know exactly from where I have a recommendation, even if I can't find the exact moment Patrick recommended it. I placed a hold on the book from the library, and had three days to read it before I needed to return it, as the other books I was reading needed finishing first.
And so, from start to finish, less than 24 hours. That in and of itself is an indication that it is an engaging book.
The book has the quirk of the Observer character, the mentioning of which is a non-spoiler about the book, as it shows up in the first ten pages or so. I guess in the perspective of things (first person, third person, third person omniscient, and such), the explicit Observer isn't unusual, but being called out and personified is puzzling. I wanted something to happen with the Observer, some explanation beyond a vehicle for explaining different location and context switching.
I was also weirded out by the father's constant male references to his female family, "dude," "man," and the like. Don't call a woman "Dude."
It was a fun, fast read.
In an act of evident ecstatic abandon, the woman turns a slow circle in the living room, then strips off her clothes. Does the man appear reluctant at first? Alarmed, even? Never mind. He is soon naked as well, and they make love pressed against one of the freshly painted plaster walls. With this act, their faces and bodies seem to assert, we hereby claim this house as ours.
...and if a day arrives when the idea of removing all your clothes in someone else’s presence does not horrify her, she thinks that she will not feel compelled to limit herself to one lover.
There is also a spiral kitchen staircase with tiny steps you can’t even fit your entire foot onto, and Irina habitually uses it instead of the main one because it is weird.
I understand doing things because they are weird.
She is discovering that, with a man’s name, she does not get talked to like the twelve-year-old girl she actually is. She just gets talked to.
Which I love. I try very hard to do this, having learned years ago with Kim Wasson's kid. Don't. Talk. Down.
Why? Is this irrational? Is she just being moody? From inside the emotion, it’s impossible to tell.
When potential customers walk in, see the crowd, frown, and march back out, Eleanor feels responsible. She wants to leave now in order to accommodate what she perceives as other people’s more pressing needs. But she has identified this quality in herself as a personality flaw, and she doesn’t wish to pass it on to her daughter. So she pretends she belongs here and deserves this table.
I understand this need. I often consider it as "thinking wholistically" when really it becomes the subjugation of the self.
Irina lets out a noisy sigh and theatrically slams her book shut. She says, “I don’t think I’m good at reading.”
“That’s silly,” Eleanor replies, with a reflexive strenuousness that unpleasantly reminds her, every time, of her own mother. “You’re a great reader.”
“I start reading a paragraph and then something reminds me of something and by the time I get to the end I realize that I’ve been thinking of the thing in my head and not the thing I just read, and I have to start over!”
Her instinct is to reassure, but the truth is that she agrees with Irina, she feels the same way about books: about everything, really. Your favorite things are never good enough. They’re idealized by nature; their favoriteness is derived from Platonic forms, perfect realizations that existed only once, usually the first time, if at all. No book, no meal, no sunny day ever equals the one in your head.
He took two steps and gathered her into his arms. The feeling was extraordinary: like being picked up by a warm gust and deposited on some sunny, grassy hilltop.
She figured one of these days the scans wouldn’t be clean anymore. And she did not want that day to come.
She loves Karl, but her love never wrung her heart out or made her feel like she would die if it weren’t reciprocated. Of course, that kind of love doesn’t last—just read one of her dumb books—but maybe this kind doesn’t, either.
She is aware that all of the things about him that presently vex her—his intensity, amorousness, and imperturbability—are the very things that attracted her to him in the first place.
But Irina has already hitched the guitar up onto her shoulder and is pushing her way out the door and into the overcast and mildly stinky fall day. She feels bad for letting the real world seize and dispirit her so quickly.
She is going to cry! She is looking forward to this aspect of childhood being over—this thing where you can’t control your emotions and they aren’t even about the things you really care about.
The other understanding in her family, usually only spoken under the influence of drink, was that the over-recommended full mastectomy was an instrument of patriarchal domination, a means of controlling the sexual power of women. That in fact breast cancer itself was the world’s response to its poisoning by masculine striving. Men wanted to blame the breasts for getting sick, instead of themselves for polluting them. The full mastectomy was a gendered act of violence, a cowardly expression of projected self-disgust.
“I’m so bored.”
“That’s your problem.” It is a philosophical tenet of their family that boredom is an ailment of a lazy mind and not the result of a lack of provided stimulation. It is the unsavory byproduct of bourgeois society.
After a moment, Irina says, surprising herself, “Is this what life is going to be like now?”
It is into the chalice of his cupped hands that he mumbles the words “I sure as fuck hope not, dude.”
Perhaps it can, in fact, influence events and objects: but how? And what actions might result in which outcomes? The Observer understands this as a problem of equal import and difficulty for the humans: the unpredictability of cause and effect.
None of it matters—the coincidences, the connections. Things look connected because everything is connected in a place like Broken River. That’s why people want to leave small towns. Everything reminds them of some stupid shit they did or that was done to them. These people aren’t part of some grand conspiracy. They’re just some fucking losers living in a shit town, like pretty much everybody else on earth.
Those are her thoughts. But she keeps them to herself, and Craig goes on talking, as men do.
She can imagine how she must look to him right now—fatigued, depleted, disagreeable. Desperate. She doesn’t want to be this way, and neither does he. But here they are.
She isn’t sure why she cares. Eleanor does not want to be the kind of person who can become unhinged by jealousy, never imagined that she could be. But maybe when somebody is ready, any available stimulus will do to effect the unhinging.
But reading a book, man, that was work. Hours and hours, sitting in a chair or lying in bed, the eyeballs darting back and forth, line after line after line. It would have been an insane mental and physical endurance test.
This. Is. Not. Me.
Reading is a joy.
Now, though, the excitement of midnight was gone. It just felt lonely here, lying in bed, being awake for no reason when the rest of world was asleep.
“I had these ideas!” she cried; it was late and Father was out in the studio and Mother seemed uncharacteristically happy and relaxed there in her office, with a glass of wine. “And now I don’t like them anymore!”
“That’s because your book grew up while you were writing it.”
“But what do I do?” Irina asked, drawing out the ooooo in dramatic fashion.
“You fix it in the rewrites.”
“How long does that take?”
“Longer than the writing part, usually,” Mother said. “For me.”
Irina whispered, “But I worked so hard.”
“You needed to work hard, to get to the good ideas. The old ideas weren’t bad, they just weren’t what the book wanted to be. It’s okay to write a rough draft. That’s why they’re called that.”
“If you’re going to be a writer,” Mother replied, “you’ll learn. Because the thing is, all of the stories we tell ourselves are wrong. All of them.”
People come and go and do things impulsively, and they hurt each other and themselves. The outside world doesn’t understand. Do you get that?”
“Life is very messy,” Rachel said, “and sometimes it is lonely and painful, but sometimes it is exciting and beautiful. You’re in a lonely part.”
It is not necessary to be the way I’ve been, she thinks, as the nurses and doctors swarm and confer, as they ask her questions she hasn’t the slightest idea how to answer. I can be different.
I can be different.
Over and over they come together, and if they fail to derive pleasure from these encounters, they find satisfaction in suffering. They are more attached, perhaps, to their suffering than to their pleasure. This stands in direct contradiction to their stated goals, which are those of comity, happiness, calm. But it is pain that gives their lives meaning.
The beauty of Craig was that he appreciated everything that happened as it was happening and never betrayed any disappointment when it ended, whether it was a good meal or a professional relationship with one of his writers or half an hour in bed with a woman half his age.
But it has understood for some time the folly of wishing to soothe the humans; they are built to feel, and there are feelings they crave, and no amount of information can suppress the emotions they torment themselves with.
I wish I recalled where this book was recommended to me. I don't recall. Likely Tim Ferris, seems like something he'd be into, a shortcut to realizing human potential. I don't mean that in a bad way.
The fundamental theme in this book is that we are all pretty much attempting some sort of mind-alternation. The objective of the mind-alternation can be achievement or escape, depending on the person and the circumstances. And the "we" is pretty much all living, mobile creatures ("mobile" only because we don't have any meaningful way to communicate with the non-mobile living creatures).
The mind-alternation is an alternate state of consciousness where we are connected. And in the connection are we whole.
I really liked the writing in the book. I loved the idea of the book, that we can achieve more with less, even as I cringed at the points where my mind screamed, "But they didn't EARN that, they didn't suffer!" Is that really any different than the students in my classes being frustrated at my blowing the grade curve, again in elementary school, before I was lumped with the people who enjoyed learning? I don't think so, but the difference is that I recognize that "that's not fair" attitude, and accept that while we might be (on paper) equal under the law, we are most definitely not equal.
I read this book quickly. I recommended it to several people before I had even finished it. While achievement is important to me, it might not be to other people, so I'm not sure it was actually received with the enthusiasm I had for it. I strongly recommend this book, though I do wish it had more of the how (besides taking LSD).
Plato described ecstasis as an altered state where our normal waking consciousness vanishes completely, replaced by an intense euphoria and a powerful connection to a greater intelligence.
“Grit” is the term psychologists use to describe that mental toughness—a catch-all for passion, persistency, resiliency, and, to a certain extent, ability to suffer.
But researchers now know that the center of that target actually correlates to changes in brain function—like brainwaves in the low-alpha, high-theta range—and this unlocks all kinds of new training options.
Instead of following the breath (or chanting a mantra or puzzling out a koan), meditators can be hooked up to neurofeedback devices that steer the brain directly toward that alpha/ theta range. It’s a fairly straightforward adjustment to electrical activity, but it can accelerate learning, letting practitioners achieve in months what used to take years.
By using the tanks to eliminate all distraction, entrain specific brainwaves, and regulate heart rate frequency, the SEALs are able to cut the
time it takes to learn a foreign language from six months to six weeks. For a specialized unit
Without all the badgering, we get a real sense of peace. “This peacefulness may result from the fact,” continues Leary, that “without self-talk to stir up negative emotions, the mystical experience is free of tension.” And with tension out of the way, we often discover a better version of ourselves, more confident and clear.
The pale that Valentine ventured beyond, call it the Pale of the Church, is an age-old barrier for the spiritually curious. It’s a divide between those who believe that direct access to God should be moderated by a learned elite and those who believe direct access should be available to anyone at any time. Top-down versus bottom-up.
They’re suffering from apophenia, “the tendency to be overwhelmed by meaningful coincidence,” and detecting patterns where others see none.
“I care not a whit for a man’s religion,” Abraham Lincoln once quipped, “unless his dog is the better for it.”
Namely, there’s no
escaping the human condition. We’re born, we die, and figuring out the in between can be brutal. As Hemingway reminds us, 25 “the world breaks everyone.”
“[Ecstasis] is absolutely ruthless and highly indifferent,” wrote John Lilly. “It teaches its lessons whether you like them or not.”
It’s in our brokenness, not in spite of our brokenness, that we discover what’s possible.
I wanted and want to like this book. Ursula Le Guin is this famous female science fiction author, and oh so many people like and love her writing and... and... and, well, I just don't. I recall reading other books of hers a number of years, okay, fine, decades ago, as a kid, and I didn't like those books then, and I'm not a fan of The Left Hand of Darkness now. I think Susan or Claire or both really like this book, which made me want even more to like it. I didn't. I am not a Le Guin fan, it seems. Even now, I wish I recalled what the other books were, so that I don't read them again. They were either A Wrinkle In Time or the Earthsea Trilogy, because, hey, they are considered Le Guin's kids books and I was a kid when I read them. Maybe I read both. I don't know, I don't recall. I do recall not being a fan of the story I had read, and that's fine.
So, this book.
Lots of terms that the reader is supposed to pick up from context (or, let's be realistic, search for the term on the Intarwebs these days) began to annoy me. There's a level of explanation required to properly world-build, and, eh, Le Guin errored on the too vague side. With an entirely foreign Envoy, surely explanations could be easier.
And the required suspension of disbelief that any sufficiently advanced planet wouldn't capture and kill any being who landed on their planet from the Void just boggles the mind. Consider our history, and, say, the Inquisition or the witch hunts or the level of blind violence in the last century? No, no interplanetary human, single or otherwise, would be allowed to live, much less have the freedom in the book.
Upside, the plot moves quickly, and is interesting. If only the words hadn't gotten in the way.
So, if a Le Guin fan, this book is worth reading. If a classic science fiction fan (this is the book that put Le Guin on the science-fiction map), this book is worth reading. If you're neither, eh, go ahead and skip, read Wrinkle or Earthsea instead.
But the very use of the pronoun in my thoughts leads me continually to forget that the Karhider I am with is not a man, but a manwoman.
Okay, why must an entity who is both a man and a woman in our classically defined gender roles be a manwoman? Why is she not a womanman? I'm more than a little annoyed that the male gender comes first, even from a woman author.
Here man has a crueler enemy even than himself.
An enemy, in Karhide, is not a stranger, an invader. The stranger who comes unknown is a guest. Your enemy is your neighbor.
“I didn’t expect to see you here, Lord Estraven.”
“The unexpected is what makes life possible,” he said.
... small cups of a fierce liquor were served, lifewater they called it, as men often do, and they asked me questions.
Yep. Alcohol. Totally life water. :eyeroll:
If you play against your own side you’ll lose the whole game. That’s what these fellows with no patriotism, only self-love, can’t see.
To be an atheist is to maintain God. His existence or his nonexistence, it amounts to much the same, on the plane of proof. Thus proof is a word not often used among the Handdarata, who have chosen not to treat God as a fact, subject either to proof or to belief: and they have broken the circle, and go free.
To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.
Here, the government can check not only act but thought. Surely no men should have such power over others.
I felt that the truck was going east, and couldn’t get rid of this impression even when it became plain that it was going west, farther and farther into Orgoreyn. One’s magnetic and directional subsenses are all wrong on other planets; when the intellect won’t or can’t compensate for that wrongness, the result is a profound bewilderment, a feeling that everything, literally, has come loose.
It is a terrible thing, this kindness that human beings do not lose. Terrible, because when we are finally naked in the dark and cold, it is all we have. We who are so rich, so full of strength, we end up with that small change. We have nothing else to give.
Kindness there was and endurance, but in silence, always in silence.
I was extremely ill after the last examination; the other, a middle-aged fellow, had some disorder or disease of the kidney, and was dying. As he could not die all at once, he was allowed to spend some time at it, on the sleeping-shelf.
Imagine that. Someone dying, allowed to die.
I never had a gift but one, to know when the great wheel gives to a touch, to know and act. I had thought that foresight lost, last year in Erhenrang, and never to be regained. A great delight it was to feel that certainty again, to know that I could steer my fortune and the world’s chance like a bobsled down the steep, dangerous hour.
Estraven asleep looked a little stupid, like everyone asleep: a round, strong face relaxed and remote, small drops of sweat on the upper lip and over the heavy eyebrows.
I giggled at this one.
He lay in the tent, writing in a little notebook in his small, rapid, vertical-cursive Karhidish hand. He hadn’t been able to keep up his journal during the past month, and that annoyed him; he was pretty methodical about that journal. Its writing was, I think, both an obligation to and a link with his family, the Hearth of Estre.
"You hate Orgoreyn, don’t you?”
“Very few Orgota know how to cook. Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one’s country; is it hate of one’s uncountry? Then it’s not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That’s a good thing, but one mustn’t make a virtue of it, or a profession. . . . Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope.”
Ignorant, in the Handdara sense: to ignore the abstraction, to hold fast to the thing.
“A man who doesn’t detest a bad government is a fool. And if there were such a thing as a good government on earth, it would be a great joy to serve it.”
“I’m glad I have lived to see this,” he said. I felt as he did. It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
“Fire and fear, good servants, bad lords.” He makes fear serve him. I would have let fear lead me around by the long way. Courage and reason are with him. What good seeking the safe course, on a journey such as this?
Tormer’s Lay had been all day in my mind, and I said the words,
Light is the left hand of darkness
and darkness the right hand of light.
Two are one, life and death,
lying together like lovers in kemmer,
like hands joined together,
like the end and the way.
“We are dualists too. Duality is an essential, isn’t it? So long as there is myself and the other.”
“I and Thou,” he said.
“Yes, it does, after all, go even wider than sex...”
I certainly wasn’t happy. Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can’t earn, and can’t keep, and often don’t even recognize at the time; I mean joy.
Estraven meanwhile engaged in his customary fierce and silent struggle with sleep, as if he wrestled with an angel. Winning, he sat up, stared at me vaguely, shook his head, and woke.
“Why did you come alone—why were you sent alone? Everything, still, will depend upon that ship coming. Why was it made so difficult for you, and for us?”
“It’s the Ekumen’s custom, and there are reasons for it. Though in fact I begin to wonder if I’ve ever understood the reasons. I thought it was for your sake that I came alone, so obviously alone, so vulnerable, that I could in myself post no threat, change no balance: not an invasion, but a mere messenger-boy.
"But there’s more to it than that.
"Alone, I cannot change your world. But I can be changed by it. Alone, I must listen, as well as speak. Alone, the relationship I finally make, if I make one, is not impersonal and not only political: it is individual, it is personal, it is both more and less than political. Not We and They; not I and It; but I and Thou. Not political, not pragmatic, but mystical.
:In a certain sense the Ekumen is not a body politic, but a body mystic. It considers beginnings to be extremely important. Beginnings, and means. Its doctrine is just the reverse of the doctrine that the end justifies the means. It proceeds, therefore, by subtle ways, and slow ones, and queer, risky ones; rather as evolution does, which is in certain senses its model...
"So I was sent alone, for your sake? Or for my own? I don’t know. Yes, it has made things difficult. But I might ask you as profitably why you’ve never seen fit to invent airborne vehicles? One small stolen airplane would have spared you and me a great deal of difficulty!”
“How would it ever occur to a sane man that he could fly?”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” I went on, “except acute chronic fear.”
“Fear’s very useful. Like darkness; like shadows.”
“It’s queer that daylight’s not enough. We need the shadows, in order to walk.”
On the blank leaf glued to the inner back cover I drew the double curve within the circle, and blacked the yin half of the symbol, then pushed it back to my companion. “Do you know that sign?”
He looked at it a long time with a strange look, but he said, “No.”
“It’s found on Earth, and on Hain-Davenant, and on Chiffewar. It is yin and yang. Light is the left hand of darkness... how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow.”
We lay in the tent for three days while the blizzard yelled at us, a three-day-long, wordless, hateful yell from the unbreathing lungs. “It’ll drive me to screaming back,” I said to Estraven in mindspeech, and he, with the hesitant formality that marked his rapport: “No use. It will not listen.”
His loyalty extended without disproportion to things, the patient, obstinate, reliable things that we use and get used to, the things we live by. He missed the sledge.
Hunger can heighten perception, but not when combined with extreme fatigue;
To those fishermen-villagers who live on the edge of the edge, on the extreme habitable limit of a barely habitable continent, honesty is as essential as food. They must play fair with one another; there’s not enough to cheat with.
“Sometimes you must go against the wheel’s turn,”
And I wondered, not for the first time, what patriotism is, what the love of country truly consists of, how that yearning loyalty that had shaken my friend’s voice arises, and how so real a love can become, too often, so foolish and vile a bigotry. Where does it go wrong?
I did not know if I had done right to send it. I had come to accept such uncertainties with a quiet heart.
I had not had in mind when I spoke the contemptibility of suicide to these people. It is not to them, as to us, an option. It is the abdication from option, the act of betrayal itself. To a Karhider reading our canons, the crime of Judas lies not in his betrayal of Christ but in the act that, sealing despair, denies the chance of forgiveness, change, life: his suicide.
“Estraven would be a good man to pull with, on a crazy trek like that. He was tough as iron. And never lost his temper. I’m sorry he’s dead.”
I'm not convinced this book needs a review per-se. It's an itty-bitty book. I picked it up when I was at Powells picking up a book I had already purchased online (mmmmmmmmmm... used books, such a wonderful, wonderful thing). As I was wandering around the bookstore (I think I was in the literature section, looking for nicely bound Hemingways or Fitzgeralds), this one caught my eye. It was on a carousel, along with a number of other small books, clearly set up for an impulse purchase. So I impulsively looked.
And subsequently bought.
I figured at the time that I was purchasing it to signal to the publisher that I wanted books like this to exist. Tonight, however, I needed this book. Today was a f--king crappy day. The score is 5-0, with my score being the zero, and that's a good thing health-wise, but the 5 hurts and it hurts a lot.
If you are in the grip of a depression, or even "just" a depressive episode, or really really sad, this book can help. It reminds you that you can get through this. It recommends ways to get through this. It tells you to keep going, because there's beauty on the other side.
If you are not in the grip of depression, this book is a rah-rah-rah. It reads like a rah-rah-rah-you-can-do-it. And that's okay, this isn't the moment for you to read this book. See the previous paragraph to understand when could be the moment for you to read it.
The book is short, less than a half hour read, even if you read slowly. It's worth reading, however, if you are in the moment of need.
I'm pretty sure I picked up this book during a moment of complete not boredom, but perhaps in a moment of known not doing. The title intrigued me, so I decided to try it.
The book is short, takes maybe two hours to read, but it isn't a fast read. The main message is, "Look, you're filling your life with busy-ness, and with that busy-ness comes anxiety because you aren't giving your brain enough time to process all the short events, enough time to relax. So, take time to relax, to be bored if you will. Here are some ways to do it."
What caught me off-guard was the different definition (than mine) of "bored." To me, bored is the tired feeling one has when one is unoccupied and uninterested in finding a stimulating activity. The book's definition is more the feeling of engagement one feels when in a state of relaxed concentration. Or maybe the nature of slowing down and being. In that state of being, you can still do activities, but you're not in my definition of bored, you're in that relaxed concentration state. In the slowing, you're taking time to let the brain engate with itself instead of being driven by the world.
The book is in three parts: the why of this book, the ways of being (book-defined) bored, and where being bored is important. The why is self-evident for anyone with any level of anxiety surrounding today's ALWAYS ON THE GO life. The ways include writing about the inner-self and reflecting, reading (yay!), going to see artwork and being with the art, not just rushing through to check off yet another box on the accomplishment list, and concentrated contemplation with activities such as painting, bird-watching, fishing. The where is also self-evident, pretty much everywhere in life, work, relationships.
The book has a list of another dozen or so source material and inspirational books to read, going into depth for the topics. I've read Flow, among that list, having been working in a bookstore when it was first published, and being fascinated by it even then.
That I exceeded the 10% limit of quotes from the book tells me that the book made a stronger impact than I realized it would when I read it. For this, I have to say, the book is worth reading.
Related: we are the first generation to banish boredom. This does not bode well for society.
Again, I don't know why this book was on my reading list, or what motivated me to put it in my library request queue, but I'm glad I did. It is a well written, hauntingly beautiful retelling of the Achilles story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
With this book, I made the mistake of waiting until the last possible moment to start reading it. Most books take me three days to find enough time among Life™ to finish a book, at most a week. This book read slowly, so it took me the full three days to read, when I expected it to take me a day (which is about 4 hours of actual reading time, tops).
When I started reading, however, I didn't want to go my usual pace. I slowed down, because I wanted this book to move slowly. I wanted to be in the beauty of story-telling, to allow the story to unravel at its pace not mine. I stopped many times to look up characters, discover their story, learn a little more about Greek mythology.
Once I slowed down (threw my reading schedule out the window, actually), I really enjoyed this book. I strongly recommend it.
A hundred servants work for twenty days beating out the racing track and clearing it of stones. My father is determined to have the finest games of his generation.
Our ragged alliances prevailed only when no man was allowed to be too much more powerful than another.
“Yet other boys will be envious that you have chosen such a one. What will you tell them?”
“I will tell them nothing.” The answer came with no hesitation, clear and crisp. “It is not for them to say what I will do.”
I stopped watching for ridicule, the scorpion’s tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not.
I can smell him. The oils that he uses on his feet, pomegranate and sandalwood; the salt of clean sweat; the hyacinths we had walked through, their scent crushed against our ankles.
Thetis sees many faults, some that are and some that are not.”
The beginning of our studies, if it is possible to call them that. For Chiron liked to teach, not in set lessons, but in opportunities.
“There is no law that gods must be fair, Achilles,” Chiron said. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone. Do you think?”
“What will you answer?”
“I do not know,” Achilles said.
“That is an answer for now. It will not be good enough later,” Chiron said.
Had she really thought I would not know him? I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.
She did not know that I almost asked him, a hundred times, to be a little kinder to her. You do not have to humiliate her so thoroughly, I thought. But it was not kindness he lacked; it was interest. His gaze passed over her as if she were not there.
“The sons of Troy are known for their skill in battle, and their deaths will lift your name to the stars. If you miss it, you will miss your chance at immortality. You will stay behind, unknown. You will grow old, and older in obscurity.”
And here we have the motivation in meaning. All of life is fleeting. Very, very, very few people are remembered even mere decades after their deaths. Immortality in the form of a song, a story? It will still die.
“I do not think I could bear it,” he said, at last. His eyes were closed, as if against horrors. I knew he spoke not of his death, but of the nightmare Odysseus had spun, the loss of his brilliance, the withering of his grace. I had seen the joy he took in his own skill, the roaring vitality that was always just beneath the surface. Who was he if not miraculous and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?
The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death.
Even into death.
“It’s not true,” I said. The blood in my face fired my voice. It rang loudly down the beach. Odysseus raised an eyebrow.
“True is what men believe, and they believe this of you. But perhaps they are mistaken."
I watched them marching, rank on cheerful rank. I saw them dreaming of the plunder they would bring home, and the triumph. There was no such dream for us.
"You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”
If there was a rebellion against his authority, now would be the time. The very thought of it seemed to anger him, and his voice grew rougher. This was a frequent fault of his: the more precarious his position, the more unlikable he became.
Our world was one of blood, and the honor it won; only cowards did not fight. For a prince there was no choice. You warred and won, or warred and died.
Chiron had said once that nations were the most foolish of mortal inventions. “No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.”
“But what if he is your friend?” Achilles had asked him, feet kicked up on the wall of the rose-quartz cave. “Or your brother? Should you treat him the same as a stranger?”
“You ask a question that philosophers argue over,” Chiron had said. “He is worth more to you, perhaps. But the stranger is someone else’s friend and brother. So which life is more important?”
Priam’s voice is gentle. “It is right to seek peace for the dead. You and I both know there is no peace for those who live after.”
She wears a cape, and it is this that undoes her—that allows her to be pulled, limbs light and poised as a cat, from her horse.
Do not know why this made it onto my book reading list. Likely from some BookRiot post, if I had to guess. It dropped from the library, so I read it. And enjoyed it.
A large number of other book reviews (which I read when I was trying to figure out why I added the book to my reading list) commented that the ending was weak, which I don't agree with. The ending wasn't a large, hugely climatic, GOOD VERSUS EVIL ending, not at all. It was, honestly, what I would classify as a Life™ ending. Nothing huge, some parts good, some parts bad, all parts uncertain. I'm less interested these days in a nice, happy-ending, all-the-loose-ends-tied-up-with-a-bow type endings anyway. I was satisfied with the ending.
THAT all said, ugh, do I have a mid-book comment (with a slight spoiler, so ignore if you don't want that spoiler):
"Okay, so, you kidnap 10 people, kill one, then death-march the remaining 9, and are SURPRISED when one kills two of your own when escaping your captivity? Really? Really? #whowritesthiscrap?"
The writing / dialog along that part of the story was weird.
I enjoyed the book.
Edie, of course, was practically invisible among these people who saw their financial bounty as proof of their superior intellects and talents.
Now her scalp was bristled with fine hairs, and she couldn’t stop running her hands across it, listening to the rasp against her dry palms.
Love freshly shorn scalps!
He watched his mother and father carefully, listening to their desires and complaints, noting that so much of what seemed to aggrieve them in life was tied to money: how there was never enough of it to live as they wished, and how the culture of its use was abstract and unspoken, with rules that everyone was expected to follow without ever having been taught them.
“It’s not right,” Mickey said. His face shined with tears. “You pay as much I did, you expect some things.”
Why, instead of screwing around with the idea of virtues, hadn’t he been coming up with ways to let money do what it does best: create power? The key was to find the right vessel for that power. That was capitalism at work.
What a pleasure, a luxury, to be carried to bed by someone you loved and trusted, someone with the physical power to move you gently and tenderly, to slide you between cool covers at the exact moment you slid back down into sleep.
Even after you’ve heard Violet’s story, there’s a look in your eyes. I know it well. And all I can say to it is that what you want to hate about her—her ugliness and her meanness—you created. Yes, each of you. You’re complicit in the acts of evil that made her who she is. You’re complicit because you’ve let yourself be comforted by lies. You’re complicit because all of those comforts you have in-zone come at a price, and Violet is one of many of us who’ve paid the bill.
Okay, this idea of original sin has always annoyed me. How can I be responsible for something when I wasn't even alive when it happened?
There's no f'ing way someone is complicit in these "acts of evil" if they didn't know, and had no way of knowing. You can't blame a person for ignorance, they don't know any better.
Willful ignorance, however, that's a different matter entirely. Blame all you want on those.
“Or maybe they’re driven by their ideals,” Edie said, thinking about June’s story. Thinking about Violet.
“That might be worse, honestly,” Wes said. “Ideals make people stupid. Believe me, I know.”
But every so often, for weeks, months at a time, his dissatisfactions coalesced into an impenetrable fog, so that even his anger seemed pointless and small. These fogs had happened enough times that he recognized, from somewhere outside himself, the pattern. He could, for a while, tell himself: This will pass. This isn’t you. This is some stew of chemicals and hormones in your brain, translating stimulus into despair, and if you take these meds or do this exercise or spend this amount of time a day out in the sunshine, the recipe will change, and you’ll see clearly again. Wait for it. Just a little longer.
“Far from it,” said Hakim. “What I’m asking of you is scarier. It would require you to live your life.”
“I don’t think there’s any nobility in misery,” Hakim said. “There’s certainly no nobility in suicide. I was once like you. I saw the world and grieved. I didn’t see any reason for it. For existing. So much pain and so little point. Yet I had a life! This was a fact. It would one day end. This was also a fact. And I could end it whenever I wished. This was my reassurance. ‘I can always end it tomorrow,’ I told myself. And then I discovered something.”
"There was a large garden on the premises and helping with it gave me something to do. When I despaired, I weeded. I lost myself in the physical process, the repetition. I pulled and pulled, and one day I pulled myself out of my sadness.”
Beth had been intrigued by his distance, he knew. More certain she wanted him because she was less certain she was wanted.
Or the job she quit, because she thought she hated it, and she no longer needed it, only to discover that hate is relative—that when you have no money of your own, no outside force shaping your days, you might long for even some low-wage drudgery?
The abortion wasn’t the great loss of her life, but it would probably always be the greatest mystery.
Like many people who derive their sense of goodness from their religious affiliation rather than their actions, Teddy was able to soothe himself with the belief that this was part of God’s plan, and if the child were meant to survive, God would protect her.
"Do you want kids?” “No,” Edie said. “I mean, I’m pretty sure I don’t.”
“Well, you’re young yet. You may change your mind.”
“Women your age always say that.”
Wes felt the moment coming when he’d have to do the decent thing again, the thing he could live with, even if it meant not living.
Edie wouldn’t miss Andy, Berto, Ken. But she could put her arms around each of them, feel their hearts thudding against her own—proof that they all lived, still. Was that the point of a hug? Two human hearts thudding together, testifying?
Mom recommended this book to me after I finished A Man Called Ove. What I didn't understand immediately was why Mom kept recommending to me books where the spouse had recently died. Now, I'm pretty sure she's been recommending them to me because they are light, but they also show how there's more after the sorrow of that parting.
This book smacks of Defending Your Life (1991 movie starring Albert Brooks) with its telling of the life of Harriet Chance nee Nathan. The story-line bounces from current time, back to when she was a year old, and all the way through all the times she failed to choose herself during life. We hear of how again, and again, and again, Harriet's deferment to authority and others causes her to become smaller and smaller.
And you know what? It's is hard not to defer to authority. Some people can. Most people cannot.
The story is about redemption, how one can forgive, and how one can choose a different path, no matter when in life that choice is made. I found out this was the point of the story not through the story, but through the author's note at the end. And the study notes. Why do books include study notes at the end?
The book was cute, but I really couldn't get past the Defending Your Life ("NINE DAYS!") feel of it. I kept waiting for the trial at the end, or the movie screens, or an explanation about the Candidate and Chancellor stuff with Bernard. Didn't happen, seemed odd.
I don't recommend this book. If you're a fan of the author, sure. Otherwise, skip it.
Somebody to commiserate with. Somebody you can complain to. Somebody to listen to you without offering advice. How is it that you’ve so rarely managed to achieve this? Why is female fellowship forever so elusive to you? Are you different from other women?
Sunny Acres promotes health and active living, but it nurtures dependence.
Have you released your independence at long last? Have you finally stopped tracking the progress of that other incarnation of yourself, the one who didn’t bow to the expectations of society, the one who didn’t opt for the easy way out, the one who wasn’t going to have children until she was thirty? Or have you simply lowered your standards?
Why does it always come to this between her and Caroline? As though they’re out of patience before they’ve even begun. It doesn’t seem to matter how firmly they resolve themselves to diplomacy or civil obligation, after the briefest of exchanges their relationship devolves into this prickly state of nervous exhaustion. They’re forever plagued by the same old pettiness, still stung by the same insults, still harboring the same old resentments.
The fruits of self-pity were no less bitter at seventy-eight than they were at sixteen.
And when I began to suggest we break off the association, new qualities emerged in my lover: Jealousy. Possessiveness. He became a tyrant with his opinions. He lowered my opinion of myself. And such was my guilt by then that I began to need this, too. It was as if by punishing myself, I could undo everything that came before. The less respect he paid me, the more I needed him to achieve balance. For here was the love I deserved, the love I had earned.
You sometimes wish you could ask the other you for advice, or guidance, or clarity, or at the very least a little perspective on the life you’ve muddled so badly. If only that other you could take you by the hand and walk you back through the misbegotten paths of your life—the botched decisions; the cowardly retreats; the circumstances you might have controlled, avoided, or otherwise been spared—to the very beginning, where it all started going wrong. You sometimes wish the other you could tell your story.
Be honest, Harriet: you don’t even know why you’re crying in the kitchen. You have zero emotional clarity at this moment. Your emotional self has no borders, no shape, no horizons. You can’t tell rage from sadness, anymore. You’re lost at sea emotionally.
And lastly, there’s the truth, plain and shabby as a hobo’s trousers, that you believe yourself to be worthless, though you don’t fully know it yet, at least you haven’t formally acknowledged it.
“What if it’s too late?” “There’s always that possibility. But don’t let it stop you from trying.
It’s amazing the things we can talk ourselves into when we’re desperate for a result.
If we’ve learned one thing digging up all these old bones, dusting them off, and holding them to the light, we’ve learned this: While the days unfold, one after the other, and the numbers all move in one direction, our lives are not linear, Harriet. We are the sum of moments and reflections, actions and decisions, triumphs, failures, and yearnings, all of it held together, inexplicably, miraculously, really, by memory and association.
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is one of four novellas in Stephen King's Different Seasons. The movie The Shawshank Redemption is based on this novella, but to say "based" minimizes how closely the movie follows the book. Given the movie is one of my top five favorites, has one of the best movie lines ever in it, and was watched by me less than two weeks ago, when this book became available from the library, all my other books were pushed aside to make time for this one.
That's all nice, but I'm really not sure how to explain how powerful this book and the movie are. The differences in details are small enough that it doesn't matter which you consume, both are incredible and worth experiencing. I recommend both of them.
And that best movie line ever?
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
“Yes. I suppose it would. I understand, and you don’t need to worry.”
“I never worry,” I said. “In a place like this there’s no percentage in it.”
In spite of the problems he was having, he was going on with his life. There are thousands who don’t or won’t or can’t, and plenty of them aren’t in prison, either.
An alternative to staying simon-pure or bathing in the filth and the slime. It’s the alternative that grown-ups all over the world pick. You balance off your walk through the hog-wallow against what it gains you. You choose the lesser of two evils and try to keep your good intentions in front of you.
I have told you that he had something that most of the other prisoners, myself included, seemed to lack. Call it a sense of equanimity, or a feeling of inner peace, maybe even a constant and unwavering faith that someday the long nightmare would end.
He had a Bible quote for every occasion, did Mr. Sam Norton, and whenever you meet a man like that, my best advice to you would be to grin big and cover up your balls with both hands.
Things come in three major degrees in the human experience, I think. There’s good, bad, and terrible. And as you go down into progressive darkness toward terrible, it gets harder and harder to make subdivisions.
When you take away a man’s freedom and teach him to live in a cell, he seems to lose his ability to think in dimensions.
Andy wasn’t that way, but I was. The idea of seeing the Pacific sounded good, but I was afraid that actually being there would scare me to death—the bigness of it.
So what did he do, I ask you? He searched almost desperately for something to divert his restless mind. Oh, there are all sorts of ways to divert yourself, even in prison; it seems like the human mind is full of an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to diversion.
After all, you can’t lose if you don’t bet.
Andy was the part of me they could never lock up, the part of me that will rejoice when the gates finally open for me and I walk out in my cheap suit with my twenty dollars of mad-money in my pocket. That part of me will rejoice no matter how old and broken and scared the rest of me is. I guess it’s just that Andy had more of that part than me, and used it better.
Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.
Wondering what I should do. But there’s really no question. It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living or get busy dying.
I find I am excited, so excited I can hardly hold the pencil in my trembling hand. I think it is the excitement that only a free man can feel, a free man starting a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
When I had finished Beartown, Mom and I talked about the book, about how I found it difficult to read once The Conflict Event happened. Mom suggested that I read "A Man Called Ove" next, then, as the book was by the same author, Fredrik Backman, and it wasn't as heavy. I had a few other books lined up, but picked it up this week.
To quote Mom, "It's cute."
I enjoyed this book. It made me cry. I was honestly confused why my mom would suggest a book about a man whose wife had passed away and the grief surrounding that, knowing the sorrow and depression and stress I'm having now in my life, but was willing to trust her, because she is my mom, and the world is always going to be okay when your mom is holding you as you cry.
And yes, I cried a few times while reading the book. I wouldn't expect most people to cry when reading it, though. A few moments struck home, and so, yeah, I thought, sure, crying is fine right now, so I did.
A Man Called Ove (pronouced oooo-vay) has been made into a movie. I'll likely watch it, then complain the book was better. Just as Ove would have.
I'm rating this book as "Strongly Recommended" because it's more than worth reading, but it's light-hearted enough not to be necessarily strongly recommended, but rules are rules, and one shouldn't have half rankings, so strongly recommended it is.
Also drives an Audi, Ove has noticed. He might have known. Self-employed people and other idiots all drive Audis.
I giggled at this, but only because my car is an Audi.
It was more an argument where the little disagreements had ended up so entangled that every new word was treacherously booby-trapped, and in the end it wasn’t possible to open one’s mouth at all without setting off at least four unexploded mines from earlier conflicts.
I am sad that this is the way of several of my relationships.
But Sonja would not have been Sonja if she had let the darkness win.
“We can busy ourselves with living or with dying, Ove. We have to move on.”
"Get busy living, or get busy dying." -- Shawshank Redemption
Has never liked the feeling of losing control. He’s come to realize over the years that it’s this very feeling that normal folk like and strive for, but as far as Ove is concerned only a complete bloody airhead could find loss of control a state worth aiming for.
She married him. And now he doesn’t quite know how to carry on without the tip of her nose in the pit between his throat and his shoulder.
In the other direction, I don't quite know how to carry on without the smell of him.
Maybe their sorrow over children that never came should have brought the two men closer. But sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don’t share it there’s a good chance that it will drive them apart instead.
Maybe neither of them forgave themselves for not being able to give the women they loved more than anything what they wanted more than anything.
Sometimes it is difficult to explain why some men suddenly do the things they do. Sometimes, of course, it’s because they know they’ll do them sooner or later anyway, and so they may as well just do them now. And sometimes it’s the pure opposite—because they realize they should have done them long ago. Ove has probably known all along what he has to do, but all people at root are time optimists. We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”
But we are always optimists when it comes to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.
It is difficult to admit that one is wrong. Particularly when one has been wrong for a very long time.
Page 305, repeated on page 309
Something inside a man goes to pieces when he has to bury the only person who ever understood him. There is no time to heal that sort of wound.
And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories, perhaps.
Love is a strange thing. It takes you by surprise.
I picked up the book from the library after reading the Book Riot article , "Why Do You Always Assign Books with Ghost Babies?". I had originally placed the short story books on hold, and checked out Beloved, but pushed the short stories out to "maybe someday" and started in on Beloved.
This is the first Toni Morrison book I have read.
It was a punch in the gut.
It was a punch in the gut in ways that I wasn't expecting. The dominant theme of slavery was the expected punch in the gut. Except my expectations weren't strong enough.
People can be horrible to each other, outright physically and more subtly mentally and emotionally. It is easy in the day-to-day flow of life not to understand the scale of these horrors, both culturally but also individually. That I understood the why of Sethe's actions after her 28th day of freedom was another punch, her story being fiction or not.
With most books, I like to highlight the quotes that are meaningful to me. I quickly realized that I might have to quote 40% of the book if I did it with this one. Which, without the story, seemed... wrong. So, I didn't except for a few that seemed good advice to me in my current state of anxiety.
The book is, of course worth reading. It won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is an incredible book. It is a sad book. It is a punch in the gut book (and if it doesn't punch you in the gut, you're an asshat). I don't recommend reading it when depressed, however. Or when suffering a recent loss. Read it when you're balanced, or surrounded by classmates, or loved ones who will discuss the book with you. Or maybe watch the movie. I'll add it to my movies-to-watch list now.
Having read Predictably Irrational by Ariely, and being fascinated by just how much we are so bad at being "rational," I was excited to read this book, about being irrational with money. I was excited mostly because I expected that Ariely and Kreisler would both show how everyone is weird with money, and suggest ways to counteract our weirdness.
I was not disappointed.
This book is a fantastic explanation of human quirks around money, and a quick summary of ways to combat our quirks.
I recommend this book. For maximum effectiveness, when reading, don't skip to the end.
We decide how much to eat not simply as a function of how much food we actually consume, but by a comparison to its alternatives.
Another place we see this kind of comparison is with quantity (so-called bulk) discounts.
It seems that discounts are a potion for stupidity. They simply dumb down our decision-making process. When an item is “on sale,” we act more quickly and with even less thought than if the product costs the same but is marked at a regular price.
Happiness too often seems to be less a reflection of our actual happiness and more a reflection of the ways in which we compare ourselves to others. In most cases, that comparison is neither healthy nor good.
In some ways, the concept of regret is itself just another version of comparison. With regret, we compare ourselves—our lives, our careers, our wealth, our status—not to other people, but to alternative versions of ourselves.
A curious finding about the way we categorize money is that people who feel guilty about how they got money will often donate part of it to charity. 2 Let that sink in: How we spend money depends upon how we feel about the money.
We’re easily led astray by emotions, selfishness, impulse, lack of planning, short-term thinking, self-deception, outside pressure, self-justification, confusion, and greed. We might consider those the Ten Financial Sins. Not Deadly Sins, but certainly not good.
We could “virtually” end the trip before we get into the unpleasant stuff by, for instance, celebrating the end of the trip the night before we check out.
Another solution would be to prolong the trip. After we get home and deal with reentry into everyday routine, we can make time to talk over memories and experiences, look at the pictures, and write some notes, all while the journey is fresh in our minds. Spending time savoring the vacation brings the experience into our regular lives and this, too, can give us a softer ending.
The pain of paying is, as it sounds, the idea that we experience some version of mental pain when we pay for things.
The term “the pain of paying” was based on the feeling of displeasure and distress caused by spending, but more recently, studies using neuroimaging and MRIs have showed that paying indeed stimulates the same brain regions that are involved in processing physical pain.
When we experience any pain, our first instinct is to try to get rid of it. We want to ease our pain, to control it. When we see pain coming, we flinch, we duck, we avoid it.
Avoiding pain is a powerful motivator and a sly enemy: It causes us to take our eyes off value. We make faulty decisions because we’re focused on the pain we experience in the process of buying, rather than the value of the purchase itself.
The point is, we can increase or decrease the pain of paying that we feel at any time, for any transaction. But we should do so deliberately, based upon how much we want to enjoy or limit our spending, rather than just letting it increase or decrease without our knowledge or control.
When we fill up our car with gas, we watch the dollars spin by on the gas pump. Aware of our spending, we feel the pain of paying and perhaps contemplate buying a more efficient vehicle or finding a carpool group. But at home, the energy meter is usually outside or hidden. We rarely look at it. Moreover, the bill for the usage in any one day or week doesn’t come for a month or more. And then it is often deducted directly from our checking account. Thus it’s impossible to tell what we’re spending at any one moment. So we are not as aware of our spending and we do not feel the associated pain.
In some cases, it feels almost free right now. We’re not paying until the great, unknowable, optimistic future, when we may be a lottery winner or a movie star or inventor of the solar-powered jetpack.
When we pay for a restaurant meal with a credit card, do we really feel like we’re paying right now? Not really. We’re just signing our name; the payment will be sometime in the future. Similarly, when the bill comes later, do we really feel like we’re paying? Not really. At that point, we feel like we already paid at the restaurant. Not only do credit card companies employ the illusion of time shifting to alleviate the pain of paying, but they do it twice—once by making it feel like we are going to pay later and once by making us feel like we already paid. This way they enable us to enjoy ourselves, and spend our money, more freely.
Credit cards also make us value purchases differently. They seduce us into thinking about the positive aspects of a purchase, in contrast to cash, which makes us also consider the downsides of the purchase and the downside of parting with our cash.
Free is a strange price, and yes, it is a price. When something is free, we tend not to apply a cost-benefit analysis to it. That is, we choose something free over something that’s not, and that may not always be the best choice.
Another effect of free is that once something initially costs us nothing, it becomes very difficult to start paying for it later.
A dollar clearly is not a lot in the scheme of things, particularly for something that enriches our life.
Taking the pain of paying into account, the recommended method for splitting the bill with friends is credit card roulette. When the server drops off the check at the end of a meal, every one puts down their credit card. The server picks one, and that one person pays the entire bill.
ANCHORING occurs when we are drawn to a conclusion by something that should not have any relevance to our decision. It is when we let irrelevant information pollute the decision-making process.
We don’t ever get to doubt decisions that we make unconsciously, that we don’t pay attention to, that we’ve forgotten, or those we’ve been using thoughtlessly forever as a foundation for our lives.
We stand on the shoulders of giants . . . even if those giants are the giant mistakes we ourselves have made.
Investing in anything causes us to increase our sense of ownership, and ownership causes us to value things in ways that have little to do with actual value.
They found that people who held a coffee mug in their hands for more than thirty seconds were willing to pay more to buy that mug than were those who held it for fewer than ten seconds or not at all.
We feel the pain of losses more strongly than we do the same magnitude of pleasure.
If we’re very sensitive to small fluctuations over time, one solution is to simply make a long-term decision and stick to it.
Sunk costs are costs that are permanently in the loss column of our life-ledger. They are ours, we can never get rid of them, we own them. We don’t just see the dollar amount, we see all the choices and efforts and hopes and dreams that went along with those dollars. They become weightier. And since we overvalue these sunk costs, we’re less willing to give them up and we are more likely to dig ourselves deeper into a hole.
too. A friend of Dan’s was conflicted about whether to get divorced. His life was consumed by this decision. At some point, Dan asked him a simple question: “Imagine that right now you were not married to this person, and you knew about her everything you now know, but you’ve just been friends for the last ten years. Would you now propose to her?”
One way to overcome the traps of ownership is to try to separate ourselves psychologically from the things that we own, in order to more accurately assess their value.
When the sender offers less than a third of the total amount, the receiver most often rejects the offer and they both go home with nothing. People actually refuse free money in order to punish someone—someone they don’t know and probably won’t deal with ever again—just for making an unfair offer.
Ultimately the problem is that we have a hard time paying for knowledge and acquired skills. It’s hard for us to account for the years spent learning and honing those skills and factor them into what we’re willing to pay. All we see is that we’re paying a lot for a task that didn’t seem too difficult.
This is what expectations do. Expectations add color to the black-and-white images we hold of our future selves.
Once again, past performance is simply no guarantee of future success. But go tell this to our expectations. Just because something went well in the past, that doesn’t mean it will in the future.
When we pay before we consume something, it reduces the pain we feel at the time of consumption.
Hopefully the rest of us are not jerks, but we are like Vinny sometimes, when we, in our failure to recognize our behavior, rely upon our expectations to evaluate our choices and determine our spending.
Today our reality is clearly defined, with details, emotions, and so on. In the future, it is not. So, in the future we can be wonderful people. We will exercise, diet, and take our medication. We will wake early, save for retirement, and never text and drive. Imagine how enriched the world would be if everyone wrote the great American novels we’ve said we’ll start “any day now.” The problem, of course, is that
That’s what happens when we add emotions to the decision-making mix: Now tempts us, but the future doesn’t.
Much of what makes us so emotionally detached from our future selves is the fact that our future selves are so poorly defined. We often imagine our future selves to be entirely different people than our present selves.
That’s because self-control requires not just a recognition and understanding of the temptations of now, but also the willpower to avoid them. And willpower, by definition, requires effort—the effort to resist temptation, to refuse our instincts, to turn down a free marshmallow or fancy bike gear or anything that has any emotional resonance.
That’s because another important way we value things—a way unrelated to actual value—is by assigning meaning to a price. When we can’t evaluate something directly, as is often the case, we associate price with value.
In Predictably Irrational, Dan showed that we are conditioned to see high price as a stand-in for effectiveness.
While few people consider maximizing frequent-flyer miles to be the key to a life worth living, it’s tempting to maximize anything that’s easily measurable.
Money works the same way. It isn’t the final goal in life, it’s a means to an end. But because money is much more tangible than happiness, well-being, and purpose, we tend to focus our decision-making on money instead of on our ultimate, more meaningful goals.
doing. Well, they didn’t understand what he was doing, but they were not dismissive. They were trying to understand. They were using the money question as a proxy in an attempt to learn. Seeking monetary terms was a bridge for them to reach out, to translate the intangible, incomprehensible steps Jeff was taking into a language they could understand: money.
When it comes to making financial decisions, what should matter are opportunity costs, the true benefit a purchase provides, and the real pleasure we receive from it compared to other ways we could spend our money.
What should not matter in a perfectly rational world? ￼
Sale prices or “savings,” or how much we’re spending at the same time on something else (relativity) ￼
The classification of our money, where it came from, and how we feel about it (mental accounting) ￼
The ease of payment (pain of paying) ￼
The first price we see or previous prices we’ve paid for a purchase (anchoring) ￼
Our sense of ownership (endowment effect and loss aversion) ￼
Whether someone appears to have worked hard (fairness and effort)
What can matter:
￼ Whether we give in to the temptations of the present (self-control) ￼
The ease of comparing the price of a product, experience, or widget (overemphasizing money)
Language, rituals, and expectations are in a different group from the other factors because they can change the experience.
Think about transactions in terms of opportunity costs by considering more explicitly what we’re sacrificing for what we’re getting.
When we see a sale, we shouldn’t consider what the price used to be or how much we’re saving. Rather, we should consider what we’re actually going to spend.
We should try not to think in percentages. When the data is presented to us in percentages (for example, 1 percent of assets under management), we should do the extra work and figure out how much money is really on the line.
Money is fungible. Every dollar is the same. It doesn’t matter where money comes from—our job, an inheritance, a lottery ticket, a bank robbery, or our gig moonlighting as the bassist in a jazz quartet (dare to dream)—the money is all ours and it belongs, in fact, to the general “our money” account.
... remember that using mental accounting to categorize our spending can be a useful budgeting tool for those of us who can’t do constant, instantaneous opportunity cost calculations.
Maintaining some pain of paying helps us at least consider the value of our options and the opportunity costs that lie within. The pain helps us pause before purchasing and consider whether or not we really should spend our money then and there—it helps us consider opportunity
This is why the best solution for the pain of paying may be as simple as “Don’t use credit cards.”
When it comes to spending, trusting our past decisions contributes to the problems of anchoring, herding, and arbitrary coherence. So we should question seemingly “random” numbers, prominently placed MSRPs, and insanely high-priced products.
... question the prices we set ourselves. We should avoid doing something all the time, like getting a $ 4 latte, just because we’ve always done it before. From time to time, let’s stop and question our long-term habits.
We overvalue what we own and what we might lose
We should watch out for trial offers and promotions. Marketers know that once we own something, we will value it more and have a harder time giving it up.
Sunk costs cannot be recovered. If an amount is spent, it’s spent. The past is past. When making decisions, consider only where we are now and where we will be in the future.
The world isn’t fair. Sorry. Let’s not get caught up in whether something is priced fairly; instead, consider what it’s worth to us. We
Let’s also recognize that there is value in knowledge and experience.
Craftspeople have perfected the art of making what they do look effortless, but it’s not. From Picasso to parenting, sometimes the most difficult jobs look easier than they really are.
But let’s be careful not to fall for false effort. We ought to watch out for too much transparency.
If the description of something, or the process of consuming something, is long-winded and overblown, we’re probably paying for that description and process, even if it doesn’t add any real value.
Watch out for irrelevant effort heuristics:
remember that language and rituals can change the quality of our experiences, so we should embrace them to enhance experiences if we so choose.
Expectations give us reason to believe that something will be good—or bad, or delicious, or gross—and they change our perception and experience without altering the true underlying nature of the thing itself. We should be aware of the source of expectations—whether it’s the pleasure of dreams and aspirations or the irrelevant allure of brand names, biases, and presentation.
As with language and ritual, we—Dan and Jeff—want to acknowledge, again, that expectations actually can alter our experiences. We can use such expectations to our advantage or they can be used by others to take advantage of us.
We don’t want to be manipulated unwillingly or unconsciously by someone else, but if we choose to be manipulated or design a system to do so ourselves, that’s okay.
We overemphasize money Prices are just one of the many attributes that signal the value of things.
Consider using other criteria, even when they’re hard to measure.
A price is just a number, and while it can be a powerful part of a decision, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean everything.
When we don’t have any specific idea about an item’s value, we should do some research.
Every time we face a situation where we know less than others and that gap can be used against us—which is the case in much of life and for people of all persuasions—we stand to gain a whole lot from studying up even a little bit. 1
Use simple tools to help us imagine our future self more vividly, specifically, and relatably. 2 It can be as simple as having an imaginary conversation with an older “us.” Or we can write a letter to an elderly version of ourselves. We can also simply think about what our specific needs, desires, greatest joys, and toughest regrets will be when we’re sixty-five, seventy, ninety-five, one hundred.
We can start with self-conversations, but we should also put in place other systems that help us become emotionally invested in our older selves. The more we can make the future defined, vivid, and detailed, the more relatable it becomes, and the more we’ll care, connect, and act in our future selves’ interests, too.
A Ulysses contract is any arrangement by which we create barriers against future temptation. We give ourselves no choice; we eliminate free will.
Common financial Ulysses contracts include things like preset limits on our credit cards or only using prepaid debit cards or even canceling all of those cards and only using cash.
Another way to combat self-control problems is through REWARD SUBSTITUTION.
What if we tried to bypass our inability to be motivated by future reward altogether and replaced it with another kind of present reward?
The gold coin made the act of saving salient by changing what people were thinking about as they were going about their day.
We should react most strongly to the method that maximizes our money—a bonus for saving, which is free money—but we don’t. We are more influenced by something that shapes our memory, attention, and thinking, such as the coin.
There are several ways to use this checking balance rule to our advantage, to use it to trick ourselves into saving. For example, we can move a little bit of money out of our checking and into a savings account. That way, our checking account will be artificially too low and it will get us to think that we’re poorer than we really are.
from ourselves. Yes, if we stop to consider it, we know we’re hiding it and where. But we can take advantage of our cognitive laziness and the fact that we don’t regularly think about how much money is in our other accounts—and we think about it even less if it’s automatic deposit and we don’t move the money ourselves every time. So, tricking ourselves is an easy and useful strategy.
We react differently to “Oh, this coffee is $ 4 a day” than to “Oh, this coffee is $ 1,460 per year.”