Read This:

Have you read a great book?  Did it make you think about the world a little differently?  Did it show you something old in a new light?  Did it open your eyes to another possibility?  Did it make you THINK?

Tell us about it here.  This is your space to help spread ideas that might be unpopular, controversial, groundbreaking, innovative, uplifting, educational, eye-opening, shocking or otherwise mind-bending.

I’ll be adding my voice to the rest as I discover new wonderful topics and discussions happening in the world of words.

6 responses to “Read This:

  1. thinkbannedthoughts

    Let me just start by saying that Nurture Shock is available in stores right now. So, if you haven’t already gone out to buy Dan Brown’s latest (which if you’ve been following the publishing industry’s news sites is apparently The Only Reason anyone is going into bookstores) then pick this up while you’re at the store.

    If you’ve already got your Dan Brown, then please, make a special trip out.

    If, like me, you don’t care about Dan Brown and *gasp* go into bookstores to buy Other Books, then check this out while you’re there!

    Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and AshleyMerryman turns modern parenting “wisdom” on its ears. It is a well research very timely book that takes on such difficult topics as racism in young children, especially those raised in homes that are striving for a “color blind” world. They talk about “The Inverse Power of Praise”. Which for me was perhaps the most enlightening chapter. I have a wicked smart 5-year-old. She has already jumped one grade at school, yet we struggle to get her to try new things. Why? We’ve been praising her “wrong”. By just telling her that she is wicked smart we are leading her to believe that her intelligence is innate and thus out of her control. Instead we need to praise her for her effort, for her work, for her willingness to try and we need to remind her that no one gets it right the first time, everyone needs to practice, hard work and effort are what make people brilliant. Well, that and luck, and genetics and imagination, and daringness – the ability to take a leap of faith and trust your reason, logic and powers of deduction to create a parachute before you hit the ground!

    We’ve started this new type of praise with her and are already seeing changes in how she responds to criticism, new challenges and tasks that used to frustrate her because she wasn’t good at them the very first time around.

    Other topics covered in Nurture Shock include; why children lie, why kids need more sleep, why siblings are horrible to each other, and what can be done about it. There is so much amazing material in this book, for parents, for grandparents, for teachers and school administrators – YES, the teens are right, we do need to start high school later in the day. They are not just whining, they really do need to sleep in!!

    I can not recommend this book highly enough. And I want to make a point of thanking Jonathan Karp, and his awesome crew at Twelve, an imprint of The Hachette Book Group for their amazing work on this book. If you’re a non-fiction reader I highly recommend that you check out their list here. They have a great line of books that cover a broad range of topics.

    (Who says readers don’t have brand loyalty to great publishers!!)

  2. thinkbannedthoughts

    A friend recently loaned me a copy of Ignore Everybody; And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod. I had never heard of him or his special talent for doodling cartoons on the backs of business cards. Nor had I ever heard of his blog: gapingvoid, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I flipped through the book and glanced at a few of the cartoons. Some of them seemed witty enough so I figured, “What the heck, I need a little creative kick in the pants, I’ll read it.”

    One of the best things I can say about the book is that it’s a quick read. Now at first glance that sounds like a back-handed compliment. But really, it helps make the point, as in “What are you doing reading a book about being creative when you should be Out There actually BEING creative?”

    This is a book not so much about finding success in your creativity, but about finding happiness in your creativity. Hugh MacLeod talks a lot about writing/drawing/living for yourself, instead of for the market. As he says, “You can’t sell out if no one has bought in”. So before you start selling your soul for the market, which, by the way, changes second to second, try doing what you love for the love of it alone.

    I used to have a Southern Comfort ad that I had torn out of a snowboard magazine in high school. (Who says the liquor companies aren’t marketing to kids?!) The tag line was “Do what you love. The rest comes. Take it easy.” And while I still didn’t drink SoCo, I did put the poster up on my wall where I could see it every day. At some point I even framed it. For a long time it was the first thing I unpacked whenever I moved, which used to be a lot!

    I think ultimately Ignore Everybody can be summed up by that one catch phrase.

    Do what you love.

    On the other hand, Hugh MacLeod also talks about the need to separate your hobby/passion from your day job. I’m not 100% sure I agree. I understand that if you turn your hobby into work, it often becomes less fun. Especially for creative types. Can you really force yourself to sit at a desk and be creative, right now, for pay? Some people can.

    Isaac Asimov is, in my opinion, one of the best, most amazing and creative minds of the last century. He treated his writing like a regular job – 8am to 5pm with a half hour for lunch. On the other hand he was also always juggling multiple projects often across genres, so if he got bored with book A, he worked on book B or C.

    Clive Barker, another of my all time favorite authors (At least until Mister B. Gone hit the shelves. Sorry Clive, you lost major points with that one. Redeem yourself, get the third Abarat book out and all will be forgiven.) also keeps multiple projects going in order to stay fresh and not burn out.

    There are ways of waking up every day and loving what you do. Even better there are ways to make that love pay your rent or mortgage! If you’re floundering, unsure, thinking about chucking it all and working for The Man, check out MacLeod’s blog. Maybe it’ll inspire you to take a leap of faith and shoot for the stars.

  3. thinkbannedthoughts

    Last night I watched Touching the Void for the third or fourth time. I have to say, I think it actually gets harder to watch with repetition because you know what is coming and so you stop breathing in anticipation and then forget to start again as the story unfolds.

    I admit, I have never read the book. I should. I have read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer twice. I’m a Colorado mountain woman who, in second grade, told the entire class that I was going to summit Mt. Everest before I died. Siula Grande would be an even more epic conquest since you can’t buy your way to the top and there are no Sherpas lining up to carry your bags for you. Not to mention that the only two people to have summited and lived are Joe Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates.

    While I long ago gave up the dream of Everest, I still climb, hike and pit myself against mountains regularly. However, the book that Touching the Void made me want to re-read was not an epic mountain climbing adventure, but instead a hot, sweltering Amazon survival story – and I don’t mean Indie Bookstore vs. the on-line Goliath that is not so slowly taking over the publishing world.

    Jungle, A Harrowing True Story of Survival by Yossi Ghinsberg is not the best written book that I have ever read. But, then again, it wasn’t written by a writer. It was written by a man who survived the most intense, terrifying, literally insane experience I have ever read about. I bought it as a gift for my husband right when it came out in its English edition in 2005. It was my one hardcover book purchase of the year.

    Zach had heard the author talking about his experiences on NPR one morning and came home absolutely on fire about this book. He gave me a brief rundown of the story: A man traveled to the Amazon, got swindled into taking a tour down the Amazon river with an inexperienced guide. There was an accident and he was separated from the rest of the group and had to survive for something like two months in the Amazon, on his own, during flood season.

    So, picture this – you are a desert born Israeli, just a kid really, on an adventure. Now all of a sudden you’re alone in the Amazon, on the banks of the Amazon River, in pouring rain that is going to last three months. The banks of the river are eroding as the river swells from the rain, but you don’t dare leave it or you’ll be lost in the jungle. There are cliffs and pockets of quicksand all along the edge of the river and every now and again just to make things exciting the rain will uproot a massive tree and send it racing down the river at you. Jaguars are lurking, stalking you. At some point the jungle rot sets in, flesh eating parasites slowly nibble away at you. You know that if you can just stay alive, and follow the river downward, you will eventually arrive at a village and be saved.

    In my memory of the book Yossi had a pocket knife, he fashioned tools, found edible fruits to eat, hunted, and at one point I think he made a raft. He also got stuck in quicksand. He was trapped for days and just as he was about to give up and die… Wait, no, I can’t ruin that for you. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. Oh, and whoever I loaned my copy to – if you could return it I would be eternally grateful. I think it’s time I read it again!

  4. thinkbannedthoughts

    Eric Weiner and his publishers at Twelve have produced an amazing account of, “one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world.”

    I picked this book up for my father, a world class grump. “Dad, this is book was written FOR YOU.” I told him. My mom and dad run a non-profit organization, called Thirst-Aid, that operates in Myanmar (aka Burma). They bring safe water technologies to people there and most importantly they teach them how to manufacture, maintain and distribute these life saving tools for themselves, providing industry, jobs and education to people for whom these things would otherwise be out of reach. This is great, wonderful, life-affirming work. So why is my dad a grump? Well, let’s face it, Myanmar is not the happiest place in the world. If it was it probably wouldn’t need someone to come in and teach people how not to die from drinking water! And then there is the fact that my dad has always been a little dark.

    True to form when I proudly presented The Geography of Bliss to my dad he grumped that he was way too busy to read it and that he would not be doing anything pleasurable until at least December, and even that was iffy. Fine, I thought, I’ll read it then, maybe it would help me understand this inherent grumpiness better.

    The book was written by another grump who spent a lot of time living and working in unhappy places. His job was to write about them for the US media machine, because, as we all know, unhappiness sells news. Well, one day Mr. Weiner had enough. Enough with the unhappiness, enough with the strife, enough with the war torn, beat up, unfed, unwashed, oppressed, lost and desolate. Like my dad, Eric Weiner claims genetic predisposition to grumpiness, but certainly living in these places wasn’t helping.

    So, to happiness. It turns out there is now a thriving culture of scholastic research into happiness. Where it forms, how it thrives, what factors in our lives contribute to it. Weiner begins his journey in Iceland where the largest database for the science of happiness resides. He spends days exploring its near infinite resources mapping out the rest of his journey. With him we discover that in Switzerland “happiness is boredom”, in Bhutan it is a national policy. Thailand’s national motto is “The Land of Smiles”, but what makes it so? Weiner also takes a few breaks along the way to reacquaint himself with deep unhappiness. As he points out, to truly appreciate and understand the happy, we must be familiar with its opposite.

    One part travelogue, one part scientific journey and one part personal transformation, Eric Weiner’s Geography of Bliss was a revelation. What makes one nation happy can put another into the dumps. For some outward happiness is seen as flashy and uncalled for, they revel in their funk. For others anything less than total bliss is something to be hidden away, if you are suffering you should simply fake your happiness until it becomes real again. Ultimately the book showed me what complex and adaptable creatures us humans are. We are resilient as well, as a happiness experiment in Great Britain showed. When a team of happiness experts came to an English town to teach them the way and show them the light it proved surprisingly difficult to shift the existing culture of gloom.

    I highly recommend this book to all self described grumps. Even more I recommend it to everyone out there living with a grump. My dad was too grumpy to read this book himself, but after four days of excited calls from me as I traveled down the many paths of bliss, he finally caved. He is now on his own journey through The Geography of Bliss, and I can’t wait to hear what he discovers!

  5. thinkbannedthoughts

    Fragment by Warren Fahy

    At first glance this is a silly book – an island lost by time, untouched, unexplored, undiscovered from the dawn of life until the late 1800’s and then ignored again until today.

    A reality television crew arrives on the island and discovers that life here has taken a very different turn from life elsewhere on the planet. The first dozen people to set foot on the island are destroyed almost instantly by the aggressive and predatory species that fill the island.

    Before you can blink the island is quarantined by the US Navy while scientists begin the search for a single benign species.

    Reminiscent of Charles Pellegrino’s book – Dust – Fragment was an exciting ride through what could have been if evolution had taken a different road.

  6. thinkbannedthoughts

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