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review 2017-07-22 01:09
Review of The Meaning of Michelle by Veronica Chambers
The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own - Veronica Chambers

This was a bit disappointing to be honest.  Maybe I was not truly aware of what I would be reading, but most of the essays in this book were written by authors who had either never met Michelle Obama, or had simply been introduced to her.  While the themes of the essay were interesting and socially important in our time, none of them were very deep and many had very little if anything to do with Mrs. Obama.  I am a big fan of the Obamas, and I was hoping for more insight into their lives.

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text 2017-07-16 13:03
Nattiness on page 259
Don't Cry Now - Joy Fielding



Am I the only one who didn't know this word? I've never heard it before. I thought it rhymes with ratty so it must be bad but that didn't make sense with the context.  Natty makes me think of how my hair looks when I wake up in the morning after I've tossed and turned all night.


I asked my son when he passed through and he didn't know either. He looked it up.


adjective: natty; comparative adjective: nattier; superlative adjective: nattiest
  1. (especially of a person or an article of clothing) smart and fashionable.
    "a natty blue blazer and designer jeans"
    synonyms: smartstylishfashionabledapperdebonairdashing, spruced up, well dressedchiceleganttrimMore
    antonyms: scruffy


    P.s. I have to finish this book quickly.  The third book in the Shetland Island series by Ann Cleeves in coming soon to a mailbox near me. Once it gets here I won't be able to stick to this one.  

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review 2017-03-22 14:25
An inspiring book that will make you reconsider what life is about
The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters - Emily Esfahani Smith

Thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily chose to read and review.

I don’t read many inspirational books so I cannot share a deep analysis of how original the book might be or where it sits in regards to the topic. The book covers a variety of subjects, and it is classed under psychology and health, philosophy and self-help, and I agree it does touch on all those.

I’m a psychiatrist and I must admit I have never studied Positive Psychology as part of my degree but this book doesn’t require an in-depth knowledge of any of the disciplines to benefit from it.

The author opens the book by introducing herself, her background, and questioning the current focus on happiness. Is happiness sufficient to lead a satisfying life? She goes on to discuss many of the studies that show that having a sense of meaning can make a big difference to the outcomes of people at a time of crisis, be it a life-threatening illness or students going through exams, and grounds the readers in the subject. She uses one of the pillars she identifies as important to creating meaning, story-telling, to hook the readers into the topic of the book. If somebody came to you and asked you to give him (her) a reason not to kill him/herself, what would you say? That’s what happened to Will Durant and what set him off asking his colleagues and trying to understand what brings meaning to people’s lives. From there, and using positive psychology, Emily Esfahani Smith, defines the four pillars that bring meaning to people’s lives: belonging, purpose, story-telling and transcendence. The author illustrates each one of these topics with individual stories that help make the points more accessible. We have a young man who was only interested in money, became a drug dealer, and when he went to prison discovered his lifestyle was literally killing him. There he changed his habits and ended up not only becoming fit but also helping others to become healthier. We have a woman who loves animals and finds her purpose in looking after the animals in the zoo, ensuring their lives can be interesting there too. I learned about dream directors who help young people find purpose and meaning; I read about projects that help people in the final stages of life to find a purpose, other projects that help individuals tell their stories and record their experiences, groups that bring people who’ve lost somebody together… The author achieves this and more, all the while providing sources for her findings and reminders of how the issues discussed relate to philosophers and historical figures past and current. We might discover belonging by joining a society that enacts battles or find transcendence walking in nature or attending a special service at church. Ultimately, this is not a prescriptive book, and the process of discovery of meaning is an individual one.

I loved the stories, which go from individual experiences to projects that have grown and become important to many people, and the theoretical reflections that underpin the concepts, which are clearly explained and will also encourage readers new to the topic to explore further. The author succeeds in preserving the unique voices of the people whose experiences she shares and her own writing is seamlessly and beautifully achieved.  The book made me think and rethink life and its priorities and I suspect it will have a similar effect on many people.

A book on an important topic, written in an easily-accessible manner, illuminating and inspiring. Although I read it quickly for the review, this is a book that can be savoured and returned to as needed, and it will provide new discoveries and insights with every new reading.

A final note: Although the book appears quite long, the notes at the end occupy a 33% of the e-book (although they are easily accessible) and it does not feel like a long read.


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review 2017-02-09 03:51
The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters - Emily Esfahani Smith
I received a copy of this book through Bookstr/The Reading Room in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautifully written book. Uplifting and inspirational, Smith focuses on how meaning is derived from four pillars and how a person can gain a sense of purpose in his or her life.

I really enjoyed that Smith uses anecdotes as well as scientific research studies to demonstrate the four pillars. It makes the reading interesting as well as informative. She also draws upon other sources such as philosophy, literature, and religion to give a brief history of how meaning has been perceived by humans throughout time.

This is a wonderful book and a fascinating read. There is a great deal of information regarding how to make life more meaningful and develop a purpose in life.
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review 2017-01-19 00:00
The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an
The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an - Moh... The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an - Mohammed Marmaduke Picthall Moses is a major character in the narrative. The other messengers of God, Adam, Noah, Jesus, Abraham, John the Baptist, Mohammad and some others are entwined in the story. St. Paul is not. Particularly anything that gives credence to Jesus as being the Son of God or God or any credence to the Trinity is completely shot down. This are things that I did not realize about the Koran.

There are also sections that deal with how to vanquish your enemy and how to fairly treat them afterwards, some basic beliefs necessary for being a Muslim, and how important it is to be kind to others (orphans, the poor, the less fortunate and basically everyone else). God is all knowing, all forgiving, all wise, all just and other 'omnis'. There is a more clear cut nature to God than there is within Christianity. There are also statements on rights for women and inheritances and by 7th century standards not too bad. Though, slavery is allowed in some forms.

Clearly, from the book itself, there is more insistence on orthopraxy than orthodox behavior. Christianity can go either way depending on how you settle on the belief verse works question. I saw this interesting article recently in the New York Times where they interviewed an Evangelist who clearly sided on the side of belief such that he would say the only thing that matter for your salvation is that you believed that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and you accept that belief. The article Kristoff New York Times Column on what makes a Christian The Koran sides mostly on the works side of the debate. The protestant revolution (at least Luther and Calvin) lean towards the belief side of the equation. They go back to the Necessary God of Augustine with his made up 'free will' and negate Pelagius (or later on Erasmus) with his prayer or works making a difference for ones salvation. The Doctor of the Church St. Thomas Aquinas allows for a God who cares about the individual and works can make a difference because God necessarily created this world with a certain set of natural laws.

I know I went astray in the last paragraph and lost focus of the Koran itself. The New Testament itself can be read either way depending on the parts you want to emphasize. Mostly, if you ignore Paul and his letters, and focus on Jesus and his words you'll think our behavior matters more than our beliefs. There is an appeal that the Koran would have for someone who is not a big fan of St. Paul or for some one who never understood the Trinity, or for someone who beliefs that there is only one God and God would never have a Son (or as mentioned in the Koran God could have a son since he is all powerful but never would).

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