Title: Mansfield Park
by: Jane Austen
Fanny Price is the dearest female protagonist in this story & her aunt Bertram becomes quite fond of her and even dependent on her. Her uncle, Sir Thomas, grows fond of her as well until she rejects a suitor whom he thinks is quite fitting for her. He sends Fanny back to her family for a visit, but it ends up being a torturous visit to a family whom she hasn't seen or been around for almost 10 years.
Her family had too many kids & her father hardly took notice of her, so she got to grow up with her cousins at Mansfield Park. She becomes closest with her cousin Edmund, who is always careful & loving towards her from the very beginning. Even though she has female cousins (Julia & Maria) she is closest to Edmund.
Henry & Mary Crawford enter the scene when they come to visit one summer, and they bring with them all the airs of the theater & convince the eldest, Tom, to arrange for them to perform a play (in Sir Thomas' absence.) Henry pursues Fanny's engaged cousin (the future Mrs. Rushworth) & earns the title of soundrel as he continues to flirt with her despite her engagement (and later, he disregards her marriage too and convinces her to run away with him.) After Mrs. Rushworth got married, however, Henry decides he wants a challenge & pursues Fanny, who shows no interest in him whatsoever. Poor Fanny feels strange & does not return his love or attention & she is right & determined to refuse him, since he ends up running away with her cousin in the end. There is another love story, too, in between Mary Crawford & the beloved Edmund, but Mary mocks Edward once he studies at the parsonage and then after the scandal between her brother & Edmund's married sister, she feels they need to end their connection entirely. This then prompts Edmund to get over her & learn who he truly loves, and has loved, all along. It was quite the story!
"That you seemed almost as fearful of notice & praise as other women were of neglect."
"You will think me rhapsodising; but when I am out of doors, especially when I am sitting out of doors, I am very apt to get into this sort of wondering strain. One cannot fix one's eye on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy."
"Never met with a girl who looked so grave on me! I must try to get the better of this. Her looks say, 'I will not like you, I am determined not to like you,' & I say she shall.'
Foolish fellow! And so this is her attraction after all! This it is, her not caring about you, which gives her a soft skin & makes her so much taller & produces all these charms & graces."
'It was a love which, operating on an active, sanguine spirit, of more warmth than delicacy, made her affection appear of greater consequence because it was withheld & determine him to have the glory of forcing her to love him."
My Rating: 4 stars/5
Title: Black Like Me
by: John Howard Griffin
A memoir set back in the 1950's about a Caucasian journalist named John Howard Griffin who decided to change his skin pigmentation (by darkening it) and live as a black man in the deep south (New Orleans, Alabama, Georgia) for almost 2 months. His experiment was to see how people would treat him, even people who knew him, but didn't know he'd undergone this experiment. He became close to and worked with other black men, got forced to use other restrooms, soda fountains, etc. right along with his fellow black men.
He would sometimes see signs like this hanging around:
DESEGREGATE THE BUSES WITH THESE 7 POINTS:
1. Pray for guidance.
2.Be courteous & friendly.
3. Be neat & clean.
4. Avoid loud talk.
5. Do not argue.
6. Report incidents immediately.
7. Overcome evil with good
Griffin learned quickly of how evil racism was; how the hate and prejudice ran deep for the race more than for an individual, even when he switched back to his life as a white man. He was rejected by most of his community and he was considered an exclusive lover of blacks and a hater of whites. But he had undergone the change because he wanted to better things for black people, and felt a study in racism of a country that vehemently denied it would be the best way to bring attention to the issues in the United States. Sadly, his family was bullied and mistreated as a result of his work and they had to move away from Texas, but it was inspiring how dedicated he was to living a life in another man's shoes, and how he continued to answer questions and appear at councils to try to unify communities after his experiment concluded.
*"The transformation was total & shocking. I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with who I felt no kinship. All traces of the John Griffin I had been were wiped from existence."
*"The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs and to sob would be to realize and to realize would be to despair."
*"My deepest shock came with the gradual realization that this was not a matter of 'inconvenience' but rather a total change in living."
*"This attitude cropped up often. Many otherwise decent men & women could find no other solution. They are willing to degrade themselves to their basest levels to prevent the traditional laborer from rising in status or, to put it bluntly from 'winning,' even though what he wins has been rightfully his from the moment he was born into the human race."
*"Night coming tenderly
Black like me."
*"One can scarcely conceive the full horror of it unless one is a parent who takes a close look at his children and then asks himself how he would feel if a group of men should come to his door & tell him they had decided--- for reasons of convenience to them-- that his children's lives would henceforth be restricted, their world smaller, their educational opportunities less, their future mutilated."
*"Let us be peaceful, but the only way to do this is first to assure justice; by keeping peaceful in this instance, we end up consenting to the destruction of all peace--for so long as we condone injustice by a small but powerful group, we condone the destruction of all social stability, all real peace, & all trust in man's good intentions toward his fellow man."
4/5 (mainly because it was such heavy material and used a fair amount of language.)
Title: How to Win Friends & Influence People
by: Dale Carnegie
Still one of the most successful how-to books out there for teaching you how to take any situation & make it work for you. There are 6 ways to encourage people to like you better, &
9 ways to change people without arousing resentment in them:
1.Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders; it's easier to take in.
5. Let the other person "save face" & try to do a better job.
6. Be *lavish* in your praise of good behavior.
7. Give the other person a GOOD reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement! Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy at doing the things you suggest.
12 ways to to win people to your way of thinking.
1. The way to get the best out of an argument is to avoid it entirely.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinions; never outright say "you're wrong."
3. If you are wrong, admit your mistake immediately & emphatically. Exonerate your errors!
4. Begin in a friendly/amiable way.
5.Get the other person to say "yes, yes" quickly.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person think the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see the things from the other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas.
10. Appeal to nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas!
12. Throw Down a Challenge!
"If I've done good I've never heard it-- but if I've done wrong, I hear it twice."
"You can make more friends in in two months, by being interested in them rather than making them interested in us."
"Don't fear being misunderstood by others. Picture the able person you wish to be."
"It is always nicer to hear/handle criticism after being praised, first."
"Do not criticize others-- when dealing with people, remember you are dealing with emotional beings, not logical ones."
Title: The Hiding Place
by: Corrie Ten Boom
This is a book that reminds us to be Christ-like & "grateful in every circumstance." The Ten Boom family, a Christian family living in Holland, take it upon themselves to help the Jews trying to escape the oppressive Nazi occupation during World War II. Corrie & her sister Betsie teach some of the most tender lessons about how to love & forgive our enemies, and how to show gratitude for every little thing. Also, there isn't any language in this book, & although it's a wartime book, it has such a positive spin on it that it differs greatly from many other WWII books.
"God's viewpoint is sometimes different from ours-- so different that we could not even guess at it unless HE had given us a Book that tells us such things. God values us not for our strength or our brains, but simply because he has made us."
This psalm lends credence to the title- "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, & a light unto my path... Thou art my hiding place & my shield."
"Happiness isn't something that depends on our surroundings..it is something we make inside of ourselves."
"This was evil's hour; we could not run away from it. Perhaps only when human effort had done its best & failed, would God's power alone be free to work."
"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety."
"If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love!"
Lale The Tattooist of Auschwitz
by: Heather Morris
The horrors of concentration camp life (from imprisonment, physical & sexual abuse, manual labor to illnesses & death in the crematoriums) during World War II are adequately portrayed in this historical fiction. We follow the lives of Lale & Gita most closely, although most of the third person point of view details Lale's life. Lale & Gita fall in love at the concentration camp, where life is not a guaranteed certainty from day to day. They both suffer illnesses, (typhoid) but are spared from the death wagon. As Lale points out, they all do what they have to do to survive; he becomes the camp Tattooist or "Tatowierer," even though it pains him to defile the skin of his fellow Jews (especially the women.) Lale is a good, determined man, though, & he is very resourceful; that is what allows him to make his escape from the Vienna camp.
"Work makes you free."
"Choosing to live is an act of defiance, a form of heroism."
"The twinkling of stars overhead is no longer a comfort. They merely remind him of the chasm between what life can be & what it is now."
My Rating: 4.5 or 5 stars! So good!!!
by: Rainbow Rowell
First of all, you can't help but love the protagonist and main character, Lincoln (the IT guy at a newspaper office) who still lives with his mom, but realizes it's time to move out & get his own place. And he hasn't had a serious girlfriend since college; Sam, who was an interesting, manipulative character comes back into his life after they separate too. He's also the guy that loves playing Dungeons & Dragons most weekends, although he occasionally goes clubbing with his friend Justin (looking for a girl.)
Lincoln doesn't love his job; while he thought he was going to be dealing with firewalls as the IT guy, he instead deals with flagging and reviewing inappropriate emails between coworkers. Checking these emails leads him to virtually meet Jennifer & Beth, and Lincoln ends up falling in love with Beth; he thinks she's so clever and funny. But she has a live-in boyfriend, who plays in a band his friend Justin loves, so Lincoln doesn't think there's a chance he will ever get with Beth. And how could he tell her he fell in love with her because of his writing? Wouldn't it seem like he was snooping on her personal life?
While everything goes a little topsy-turvy towards the end, I would say the story has a happy, albeit a surprising ending.
"Love. Purpose. Those are the things that you can't plan for. Those are the things that just happen. And what if they don't happen? Do you spend your whole life pining for them? Waiting to be happy?
"I didn't know love could leave lights on all the time."
Title: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
by: Lori Gottlieb
A fascinating backstory (Lori goes through broadcasting & medical school before she decides to become a therapist) leads to many insights and a successful practice as a therapist. While Lori's relationship with Boyfriend is how we're introduced to the story, it thankfully is not what the entire book is about & only gets referenced throughout in a relatable way.
The famous stages of grief are shared in the text: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, & acceptance and stand as a reminder of our humanity; everyone suffers grief in their lives. How you tolerate or cope with the grief is what makes you distinct, and some people need a therapist to hear them out and talk them through better life decisions.
She has a lot of interesting anecdotes and quite a few entertaining clients, & it's somewhat enlightening to see her start meeting with a therapist, while she continues her sessions as a therapist to others. I thought it was profound that many presenting issues that come up in a therapy session are rarely the root of the problem.
"There is a continuing decision to be made as to whether to evade pain, or to tolerate it & therefore modify it."
"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." - Einstein
"The opposite of depression isn't happiness, but vitality."
"Regret can go one of two ways: it can either shackle you to the past or serve as an engine for change."
"Sometimes people can't identify their feelings because they were talked out of them as children."
"Avoidance is a simple way of coping by not having to cope."
"You can't mute one emotion without muting the others. You want to mute the pain? You'll also mute the joy."
"Whereas Freud believed that people are driven to seek pleasure & avoid pain, Frankl maintained that people's primary drive isn't toward pleasure but toward finding meaning in their lives. ....
Between stimulus & response there is a space. in that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth & our freedom."
My rating: 3.5 (a pretty raw & real read; some language, especially when quoting her patient John.)
Title: The Happiness Paradox/Paradigm
by: Richard Eyre
Eyre outlines the keys to finding our happiness paradigm and on the flip side (there are two sides to the book) identifies those factors that keep us from finding true happiness. He presents control, ownership & independence are the three deceivers & the alternatives: serendipity, stewardship, & synergicity.
I like the idea that you start with the negative (paradox) side & then switch to the other side & end on a positive note, learning about how to create a happiness paradigm. It's one of the best self-help books I've read in a long time! And I love his tips for creating an anti-planner to combat the need to always stay busy & achieving.
"The deceiver of ownership refers tot he prideful form that forgets both the source and the nature of our gifts. The term stewardship is the accurate acknowledgement of where it all came from and whose it all is."
"The problem is that,in the big game of life, we try to control timing, but actually have so little ability to manage it. A whole, giant industry has grown up called "time management." But we don't actually manage time-- we only hope to manage ourselves within time, trying to make good use of our time & to spend it on important things."
"Stewardship is the understanding that we really own nothing & that things merely pass through us & through our lives-- things we can care for, take responsibility for & find joy in."
"Setbacks & failures happen more frequently & are more exposed to others than ever before. Everything we can't control & even everything we have to admit that we need, undermines our self status & can edge us toward discouragement & depression."
"Good askers are good listeners; they are willing to watch and wait."
"And the unfortunate thing is that most of the false paradigms that we carry with us and pattern our lives around were not consciously and analytically figured out personally by each of us; rather, they were adopted from the 'norms' around us."
My rating: 4.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
by: Roxana Robinson
This is a complicated plot; it mostly follows the perspective of Julia, (mother to Steve & Jack & ex-wife of Wendell) who had an affair, divorced her husband for the same reason, & then moved in to take care of her parents in their old age. Her dad, a former neurosurgeon, is the one she's most like & thus she butts heads with him quite a bit & her mother, Katharine, is losing her mind due to Alzeheimer's. She has to be reminded of things, even important events like Jack's intervention. Harriet, Julia's sister, only comes around mid-book; she and Julia were estranged as young girls & have an awkward relationship.
Julia's younger son, Jack, has been living in New York City & he's a heroin addict. He kept asking his parents for large amounts of money, claiming he was in a band. (He used to be a musician but he turns into a total junkie.) When he is really in heroin's clutches, his parents decide to have an intervention & hire a man named Carpenter, who helps bail Jack out of jail for petty crimes once he escapes the hospital, in pain from the withdrawals of heroin.) It's a pretty heavy book; there are some major gems as far as quotes & takeaway messages, but ultimately, it's very heartbreaking what Jack's addiction *costs* the entire family.
"People were so ready now to give up, throw everything away, but divorce was the solution to nothing."
"Now of course, you were taught that any exchange between colonials and indigenous tribes was inequitable, but Julia chose to see the scene as benign. Blankets for furs was not a bad trade, and the blankets were heavy, warm, handsome. She chose to see the exchange through its beauty, and wasn't this the way you defined your vision of the world?"
"You had to create your own balance, your own certainty. You had to find your own faith, you had to stand up for it against the assaults of logic and fear and the articulations of the whole critical world. You had to close your eyes to everything else, repeating your personal creed, reminding yourself of what you were doing, why you were doing it."
"You were judged all the time, by the critics, by your colleagues,your peers, your family. Your work & your life. You were judged as a person as well: there was some code, moral, ethical that underlay everything. She understood that she was always striving to be good, to be virtuous; she could not have said for whom."
My Rating: 3 stars (mostly due to explicit language)
Title: The Shoebox Effect
by: Marcie Keithley
All of us keep shoeboxes of some kind; mental ones or physical ones. Often, they are a key to our past complete with trinkets & symbols ...a Pandora's box, if you will. "The Shoebox Sherpa" (Marcie) asks questions & provides tips at the end of each chapter, based on her experiences. Marcie has some difficult things happen to her in her life; a loveless marriage (which she ends up calling a divorce on), a child out of wedlock who she then gives up for adoption, and a lonely lifestyle.
Marcie chooses to become an advocate for state's having an open birth certificate policy & working against birth mother confidentiality, since it took her & others so long to get in touch with their biological children. While she hadn't been ready for a baby in the moment her lover left her, she spent many years of regret trying to find her daughter, & she eventually did. It's nice that she points out that we all have to face or open our shoeboxes at some point; we cannot run or hide from the truth that is our lives.
"Though our instincts tell us the opposite, gathering courage & honestly dealing with what we've tried to ignore is the secret to lasting freedom from what haunts us. This is true even when our greatest pain comes from choices & situations we brought upon ourselves."
"The shoebox effect starts long before we gather memorabilia to put inside--it begins with the decisions that create our memories."
"Expressing my thoughts & feelings in words 'for my eyes only' did make me feel better. It also made it easier to review my past, process my present, & prepare for my future."
"As close as we were, we never talked about the shoebox effect, and how we'd used ours to try & survive our excruciating situations. We felt desperate to escape it, so we hid instead of healed."