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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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text 2015-03-26 19:01
Info dump
The Princess Bride - William Goldman

While reading Princess Bride I find myself being disengaged. While reading the part where the men in black has to fight the three kidnappers the narrative comes to a halt when the author puts in a whole other story explaining the back story of the kidnappers. This might be something that other readers are use to and enjoy.

It's great to get more information about the Spaniard's hunt for the six fingered man. To know the intense training for ten years where he squeezes rocks was exciting. I just wish it was it's own short story. By placing it in the main narrative took away from the main drama and waiting to see if the man would make it to the top of the cliff.

Old TV sitcoms  had episodes of the high-lights of that season. They where stringed along by a terrible narrative. The clips where out of place. With out context to back them up they just weren't funny.  I cringed every time a big star of the show said something like;

"ohh Cranmer your always getting into trouble. Remember the time.." this would be followed by a wave screen effect that brought in a ton of clips about Cranmer getting in trouble."

This might be because I am use to reading shorter works where the action is direct. Novels are much more complex and adds detail to flesh out the world it takes place in.  


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text SPOILER ALERT! 2015-03-11 19:23
A long time Away (part 2)
The Princess Bride - William Goldman

As stated in my previous post, the forward by William Goldman was a fantastic way of introducing this story to the reading public. I am going to mark this post with a spoiler warning because I will talk about events with in this introduction. 

William Goldman wanted to create some mystery to his book so he created S. Morgenstern or possibly the man exists. (The internet is telling me that the original book that William's abridged story is based on) glad I checked. 

Though if he made up what I originally thought as true events in his life doesn't matter, it only show cases his literary talent for  weaving layers of narrative. 

What I originally thought was wonderful was that he found out the bed time story his farther made into an adventure tale came from a long drawn out satire about Florentine court life. In which he decided to take his dad's edits and create asides to make the reading of this story much like the experience a person gets when being read to.

(spoiler show)

If this was only a literary devise,much like Hawthorn finding the scarlet letter in an old chest, it is well implicated.

The movie, which how I was introduced to this story has the old man read to the Yong sick boy whom would rather play a fantasy inspired choose your own adventure game on a computer running basic DOS doesn't hold the attention of the reader. Yes it allows Goldman to interject with things like; don't worry she isn't eaten by sharks at this point, to alleviate the fears of the small boy he is reading to. Though it doesn't come across the same way in the book. In the book you have the impression he is talking directly to you. The asides are written like author notes trying to stir your mind to think one way or another about the material.

I am unsure the story would have the same weight behind it if  it was presented in less direct point of view like setting up the story with having an opening scene of a father or grand father reading to their child, like seen in the movie.

From the perspective of some one whom saw the movie, loved the movie, told all my friends they most see this film as I am playing around; saying the famous lines "you killed my farther, prepare to die"; what I'm getting from the book is the writers voice over the story. He treats the story not as something he conceived (which may or may not be the case) but something he is improving on. That is what makes the book engaging and what will keep me reading it. 


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text 2015-03-11 18:55
After along Time away Part 1
The Princess Bride - William Goldman

After a good amount away from this book; The Princess Bride which for some reason, unknown to me I keep thinking of as The Prince's Bride, I have come back to it once again. I completely read the book I previously reviewed between the time I read the beginning of this book to now. 

In fact it was last summer early fall. I remember sitting under a tree holding it on my tiny nook reader.  Bee's where buzzing and bird's where chirping. It is quite upsetting to myself how long I been slowly munching away at this story, little by little. 

It has nothing to do with the story, I am very much enjoying it. It more has to do with little things like; video games, life and movies. They just keep on getting in the way. 

In addition, I was never the biggest reader growing up, I have always loved books but reading has provided its own unique challenges to me. First, I suffer from dyslexia. Words run into one another and I need to recheck myself to make sure I read something clearly.

Second My arms are shorter then most people's. My physical condition is abbreviated as TAR, the scientific name is long and complicated. Ultimately I am missing my radius bone, that's the long bone in your arm, commonly refereed to as the funny bone. Even with out this bone I think I retain a sense of humor. 

"So what!" your probably thinking "what difference does that make to your reading?"

The length of my arms made sitting comfortably with a physical book to be tiring. Yes I had book holders though flipping pages became an ordeal. It was hard to turn one page with out having several sneak out and I ended up having to set up the book again, for each page. 

Things like computers and e-books opened the reading world up to me. It was actually comfortable to sit and read a book.

By changing the spacing between lines of text made it easier to follow the words on the page.

Needless to say I am new to the activity of leisure reading. I know there is no editor with a big stick asking me to finish this book to write something about it. This blog acts as a public/personal journal where I can share what ever I feel like around the world of reading.

 After seeing this post become some what long I will share my views on the forward to the Princess Bride as I spent most of my time reading about the story of how the book came to be more then actually reading the book it's self so far. It is in my opinion what makes this addition special and stand out from the movie that followed it.  


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review 2013-04-05 21:41
Epic: The Story God Is Telling and the Role That Is Yours to Play
Epic: The Story God Is Telling and the Role That Is Yours to Play - John Eldredge Epic : The Story God Is Telling and the Role That Is Yours to Play by John Eldredge (?)
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