26 Following

Introverted Bear

Tracking the books I've read.

Currently reading

Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition)
Ayn Rand

How to Succeed in 12 Months: Creating the Life You Love

How to Succeed in 12 Months: Creating the Life You Love - Serena Star-Leonard Dear author, do not read this review. If are not the author, please continue.

This book is dripping in privilege and lacks nuance. It seems really gimmicky. I gave up after chapter 2, and then I started skimming and skipping around.

"Our attitudes to money directly define whether we are wealthy or just getting by." Yeah. It has nothing to do with the fact that businesses constantly screw over the working class so they can make more profits to give to the shareholders. Yeah. Okay, makes sense.

"Money has a magically fluid way of flowing towards those who are the most creative, positive and persistent about getting it and ebbing from those who are not." Yeah, okay. Has nothing to do with inheritable wealth. Cool. Donald Trump went to University of Pennsylvania because he had a dream and not because his dad paid off the school with a huge donation.

"In these situations, opportunities for money just seem to show up without the same sort of grind."FAIRY MONEY CAT IS REAL. REBLOG TO GET MONEY. image

I've looked up her social media, website, and fivepointfive.org, and I've gone to the websites of people in her case studies. I'm generally unimpressed because it seems like a lot of these projects have been abandoned. How can it be a success if it's not active?

This book is full of misplaced hope that isn't useful in the practical sense. The author does provide some very basic, black-and-white checklists, but I don't think these checklists are very useful.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking - Oliver Burkeman This book is fantastic. A few of these things I had already sussed out for myself as a teenager; existential depression will do that to a person. I was the teenager who was afraid to sleep at night because I was terrified I wouldn't wake up in the morning.

I really appreciate the structure of the book and how the author brought everything together. It's given me a lot to think about, and I also now have more books on my to read list.

I don't think his short description of Santa Muerte did the saint full justification. It's a much older religion than he mentioned. I realize this is a bit funny coming from me, someone who does not believe in Santa Muerte, but I believe the history of religion is important for understanding human nature and behavior.

My other huge complaint is that there is no bibliography. I understand that this is a book geared toward general readers, but the author did a lot of research for it and mentions tons of written works in the book. There should have been a bibliography or at least a further reading section so that readers can more readily find the books that he's mentioned.

I am probably one of the least happiest people I know (Besides my dad. He is much, much worse), and my coworkers frequently don't understand my emotional reactions. I think happiness is overrated, and that it means nothing without a significant understanding of the other emotions in the human spectrum as well. I'm happy to have read a book that I can relate to, and I'm thankful for the author's work and research that he put into this. I feel more relaxed and at ease with my rejection of the cult of optimism. I suppose at this point I must admit that I love this book because it confirms my biases.

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives - Gary Younge I would like to begin by saying that the designer of the jacket did a fantastic job. It's eye catching and also very profound and simple at the same time.

Gary Younge clearly did his research, and he did it well. Each chapter of the book focuses on a child that was murdered by someone with a gun within a 24-hour period. Within each chapter, he weaves in themes that concur with gun violence, such as domestic disputes, accidental shootings, and gangs. I thought it was very beautifully done. I don't know much about the statistics that he mentioned, but I was aware of most of the information already, except for the information about the gangs.

I have not researched gun violence myself, but from reading local newspapers, I am aware that tons of people die due to domestic violence and negligence. The Louisiana newspapers report on multiple occasions where children find guns and accidentally end up killing themselves or a relative. It happens more often than it should. When I lived in Baton Rouge, there used to be at least one domestic violence shooting per week in the Advocate, the Baton Rouge newspaper, and yes, most of them were black. Shootings in Baton Rouge were so common that only one article was written on each incident. On the other hand, shootings are so uncommon in my current community in Pennsylvania that that the reporters wrote 5-6 articles on one domestic violence shooting, even following the ordeal in the courts. There's a stark difference in response when your community is used to shootings happening almost daily.

Something really intrigued me in the last chapter of the book. The dad, Greg, wanted his kid to be in the house before 10pm. My mom was the same, and I grew up in a white middle class neighborhood. The safest place to my parents was their house with the doors double locked (Now that I think about it . . . none of the doors that I've seen in Pennsylvania double lock!). All parents want to keep their children safe, but sometimes that's impossible. I feel like it would be much easier to keep their children safe if there weren't so many guns in the US. I wish for once that we would choose people's right to bodily safety over someone's right to own a gun. I believe guns are inherently dangerous because it's too easy to make mistakes with them, even if you have taken a safety course and have used them all your life. It's just too easy to forget one little detail and cause an accident.

This may be a controversial opinion, but I think it's rather disturbing how Americans worship their guns. I've only heard of one person who's mom used a gun to defend herself, but I think most people who own guns in Louisiana own them for hunting. Or at least, my uncles and cousins owned them for hunting. But I honestly wish that there were fewer guns in the US, and I don't think we will be safe as a country until they are restricted.

Hope and Help for Your Nerves

Hope and Help for Your Nerves - Claire Weekes I picked up this book since Lisa over at The Worry Games recommended it. After reading it, I can see where Lisa got her view of anxiety from.

The best part of this book is that it shows you that you're not alone and what you're experiencing is your body's normal reaction to adrenaline.

The worst part of this book is how repetitive it is.

Weekes includes a general treatment plan that includes accepting the physical symptoms of anxiety, letting go of your fear that something bad is about to happen, not giving the feelings any importance, and then repeat for as long as you need. She specifically encourages patients to keep the hope because anxiety attacks are only temporary. You can't die from a panic attack (but long term anxiety that lasts for years can cause health problems).

After she describes the treatment plan. she gives us case studies of her previous patients. Many of the women are house wives, but at least she advocates that the family have compassion for the wife because your body becomes exhausted from being sensitized all the time.

I like that Weekes advocates self compassion and patience. As the saying goes, it always gets worse before it gets better. Although the use of medication is controversial in the public's eye, after reading Weekes book, I became more compliant with my doctor's suggestions and took the gosh dang benzos, and they helped. Granted, one made me feel terrible but the second one was decent. The most important thing is to not fight your doctor and to let them help you. Trust them, and if you don't trust them, find another doctor. Your body is screaming bloody murder that something is wrong, and the thing that's wrong is that it's under so much stress that it's kicking off your flight or fight system. Anxiety is like a fire alarm that warns you of danger, but it becomes a disorder when your fire alarm keeps going off when there is no fire.

I thought it was funny that Weekes said no one ever experiences all the symptoms, the heart racing, headaches, stomach problems, weakness. She has clearly never meant me, cause I got all of them.

The book is outdated but it would be a great resource for someone writing about the history of mental health treatments. Just the historical aspects of Weekes work are fascinating for me.

I think the hardest part of having anxiety is accepting it and accepting to be treated for it. Your fire alarm is going off and the fireman, the doctor, tries to tell you it's a false alarm, there's nothing wrong. But if there's nothing wrong, why does it keep going off? And to some extent, we still don't know why it keeps going off. Weekes suggests it's due to an over heightened sense of everything due to adrenaline. Some people think it's due to genetics. It's probably a combination of both, but in the end it does not matter how you got this disorder. What matters is believing that it can be treated.

I am doubtful that you can use Weekes techniques to essentially banish your anxiety and never have another episode again. However, I think following her suggestions may at least reduce the intensity of the anxiety.

Like all mental health issues, it takes time, practice of healthy habits and thoughts, and the help of those around you.

Revising Herself: The Story of Women's Identity from College to Midlife

Revising Herself: The Story of Women's Identity from College to Midlife - Ruthellen Josselson There isn't a written review of this book yet on Goodreads, so I'll take a crack at it.

In Revising Herself, Josselson compiles data from 3 sets of interviews with 30 or so college-educated middle and upper class white women. The diversity of the sample was not particularly great. The three interviews were set approximately 10 years apart: once at the end of college, another at age 33, and a final interview at age 43. The interviews were very detailed, and Josselson gives us snippets from some of the interviews. She doesn't recount every single detail and doesn't tell a story for every single woman. She tells parts of their stories. For its time, this book would have been considered groundbreaking work, especially since studies frequently just assumed that if men followed a pattern, then women must follow that same one too.

Josselon placed the 30 women within 4 categories, and these women tended to experience different identity "crises" at different ages, depending on how they started their identity journey in college. The four categories included the Guardians, the Pathfinders, the Searchers, and the Drifters. I didn't find myself particularly drawn or described by any of these categories, but if I had to guess, I would be somewhere between a Pathfinder and Searcher. I am definitely not a Guardian.

The book is well written and inspires thoughtful reflection, even if I didn't learn many new things. I read this book because I wanted to know how my experiences fit in with others' experiences, but I didn't find what I was looking for. Instead, Josselson encourages the readers to recognize that all women's experiences are somewhat unique. Despite the uniqueness, women of the time tended to form their identities by locating themselves in relation to others. It's a frustrating concept to accept. With all the progress that women had made in the work world, political world, and cultural world, they still primarily referred to themselves in relation to others. I can't quite decide if Josselson's work reinforces the stereotype that women are primarily relational creatures or if the culture of America still at that point held women down by their bonds. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I haven't seen data for people in the 2000s and later yet, so it's hard to tell. My biggest concern with this book is that some people may use Josselson's research to reinforce gender stereotypes. However, it's important to remember that not all of the women depicted in Josselson's research were mothers, and some of them had high status careers.

Josselson's most important work is not the women's gender experiences. Her most important work actually comes in the last section where she describes the women's identity growth. Growth is essentially the process of collecting your sense of place and revising your identity based on your past and present, or as Josselson puts it so well, "Growth is a process of rewriting, revising, and interweaving these narratives" (256). The growth in identity occurs when a woman takes her past and reworks it to fit her present narrative of herself. This shows that basically human memory is not reliable, but also that humans tell themselves whatever stories help them get through the day. They resolve cognitive dissonance by revising the definition of themselves.

I admire Josselson's work for this book, and I hope to see future works like this, but her findings are a little disappointing, to be honest. That even during and after the feminist movement, women still primarily define themselves by their relationships rather than their achievements. Maybe these women are wiser than I am and know something that I don't. Humans are social creatures, after all, but I just wish that these women would have defined themselves in terms of their aspirations, work, and ambitions as equally as they defined themselves in terms of relationships.

Open and Shut

Open and Shut - David Rosenfelt The first time I started this book, I thought it was unengaging, and I gave up after the first few pages. The thing that killed it was his talk about Laurie's body. The second time I started it, I was able to finish the whole thing.

Andy Carpenter is a bit irritating and sometimes lacks a backbone. He is rather well-rounded and does have courage sometimes, but he largely tries to make up for his strengths with tricks or other people's strengths. Even though I disliked him at first, I later found myself empathizing with him as the book progressed. His sarcasm and witty responses were the most entertaining parts of his personality for me. Though I do wish he would stop being sarcastic about his arrogance.

The latter half of the book was much more engaging and fun than the beginning. I found myself cheering for them in the courtroom, and that scene was probably the best part for me. It's a fun light read, despite the fact that the main character can be annoying. He's someone who is probably fun to hang out with only in small doses.

The Neon Rain

The Neon Rain - James Lee Burke I first must confess that New Iberia is my hometown, and New Iberia also hosted a Dave Robicheaux festival last year, which they hoped to turn into an annual event. I read this book because I wanted a taste of home, but I did not get that. I got a taste of New Orleans, which is all fine and dandy, but it's no New Iberia.

The prose is wonderful, and it reads very quickly. James Lee Burke is a great writer linguistically, but this story sucked.

My biggest complaint is the women. They're either prostitutes or a mothering angel like Annie. I am so, so highly disappointed that Robicheaux's love interest is a Midwestern blonde, blue-eyed woman. Why not a Cajun? Why an outsider? And you know why? It's because Cajun women don't put up with this kind of nonsense. Annie needs to get some sense and leave Dave immediately. Annie was shown doing high class women things, such as playing a cello and her eyes watering while barbecuing. She is the ultimate projection of femininity: caring, motherly, forgiving, and completely disappointing. Annie mentions she has a job, but we never see her at that job, and she never really discusses it either. She is an ideal woman on a pedal stool that exists essentially for emotional labor and sex, not a real well-rounded character.

Yet with Dave, he gets to be well-rounded. Oh, yes, he struggles with alcoholism, his role in the Vietnam War, and murder, but the author still makes him seem emotional and gives him a sensibility. Dave doesn't engage with the explicit racism of the city, but he definitely engages with the implicit racism.I thought Dave was a decent character, if not somewhat irritating as the book progressed.

I wish Annie would have had an abortion. It would have made her a much more interesting character. Why does she have to be a saint while Robicheaux doesn't?

To further complicate matters, blacks are shown as prostitutes and servants, essentially, and are thrown in with poor whites. This is supposed to be New Orleans, and historically, New Orleans had rich, high class black people. Why are the high class blacks?

The ending sucks, and it makes me dislike the book more. It's relatively happy, but it's also annoying for some reason I can't quite figure out. He just quits and goes off into the sunset. Really? Really, dude? I'm considering classifying Robicheaux as an annoying character, but I'm not quite there yet. He's impulsive and does stuff that he knows is wrong, but somehow it turns out alright in the end because his actions are "honorable."

As a Cajun, it is frustrating to see Dave's alcoholism, mostly because alcoholism runs through Cajun families, and it is undeniably part of our culture. The grittiness? Yeah, that's part of our culture too, but it was still unenjoyable to read about it. It sucks to be reminded that no matter how high you get in life, alcoholism is always there in the background. It seems no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to escape the cruelty of the culture. Tourists might get to see the good and skip the bad, but those of us who grew up in it have few escape paths, except to leave Louisiana. I guess you can't get the good unless you accept the bad.

Even though this book is well written, it is still off-putting, especially because of Burke's portrayal of his female characters, Robicheaux's impulsiveness, and the depictions of blacks (even if it is somewhat historically accurate). I guess I was expecting something else. It's not a terrible book, but I want something different but still Cajun. I won't be continuing with this series, and I'll try to find other books with Cajun characters.

The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response

The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response - Peter Balakian Back in my junior year of college, one of my teachers was a doctoral student of Armenian decent. Her family, in particular, was able to flee Yemen (or perhaps it was Lebanon?), thanks to her dad's work and claim asylum in Canada. Her stories about the pretending to be happy while crossing the most deadly line, where many people were shot, made me wonder who were the Armenians and what were they fleeing. She highlighted the fact that Armenians were hated for being Christian, and that because they were Christian, they were able to exercise more freedoms, such as getting plastic surgery and wearing crazy hair colors. People got plastic surgery just because they could and to flaunt the freedom that they had that Muslims didn't.

I didn't know anything about the Armenian Genocide. I saw this book at an American Association of University Women book sale, and I picked it up, hoping to learn more about why my teacher fled the country that she did, but instead I've opened up a new area that I didn't even knew existed. I will admit that I picked up the book based on the word "Armenian," hoping to learn more about that group of people.

Peter Balakian presents immense details and primary source material in this book. Particularly important is the epilogue, which includes information about Turkey's denial. Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide reminds me of the South's denial of slavery being a factor in the Civil War. Get it together, Turkey and the South! Now I understand why they say Turkey is known for human rights abuses.

Balakian does a great job describing the impact of the Armenian plight on the American people. He includes information from relief efforts, missionaries, generals, and the government, but what he doesn't particularly do is explain how the genocide impacted world events. For example, the Armenian Genocide of 1915 takes place during WWI. I don't think Balakian mentioned WWI at all, except in passing. After reading this book, I am particularly interested in how WWI affected the Genocide or how the Genocide affected WWI. Maybe I just passed over it and don't remember the explanation, but Balakian doesn't really contextualize it, as far as I remember. In our American history classes, we focused more on WWII, so I don't remember much about WWI. Balakian does a better job of contextualizing how the Genocide would affect future events, especially comparing it to the Holocaust, but it's almost as if the genocide was this thing going on in the background that everyone in Europe was trying a blind eye to even though the media reported the events. I understand that the book was specifically about the American response to the Armenian Genocide, but I wish there was more worldwide historical and cultural context. This book shows me that I clearly don't know the history of the Middle East, and I don't know anything about the history of Islam, even though I know Christianity and Islam frequently clashed. Balakian does provide maps, but I often felt like I had no idea what I was looking at, especially since I'm not well-versed in early twentieth century history. This may be more of the fault of the reader rather than the author. I may be asking him to write a completely different book that he had no intention of writing.

I'm left with the questions of how did the Armenians come into existence, and how did they become a part of the Ottoman empire? I mean, heck, where did the Turks come from if that region was historically Armenian? I suppose I should read another book about the Armenians.

Balakian is very repetitive. He uses the same quotes multiple times, particularly from Pat Harrison and Talaat and repeats many facts that he had said just a couple of pages before. I don't remember the first half being very repetitive, but the second half is the worst offender. It's almost as if the book was so big that the copyeditor started slacking and letting things slide.

The book is an eye opener, and I would recommend it to anyone who is curious about the Armenian Genocide and to people who are interested in government corruption and political muscle. If they are like me, they'll ask, "What the heck is Armenian?" Balakian presents a topic that is never taught in American schools but is something that should be included in history lessons.


Scarlet - Marissa Meyer I didn't love this one as much as I loved Cinder. Something about Scarlet seems off-putting. I loved her at first, but then as the story went on, I felt myself surprised at how her character changed. Surely, what happened to her was traumatic, but it felt like the book cut her growth short. Perhaps that was due to word count and publisher issues or perhaps the author wanted to keep us on a cliffhanger.

Her relationships with Wolf felt very, very cheesey. At one point, I stopped reading and used a pick up line from the book on my boyfriend because the cheese was just oozing out. I would also say it felt rushed and like more was compacted into this novel than Cinder.

I'm definitely going to continue the series since it's one of the best I've read in a while, but I would like more Cinder and less Scarlet.

Magic Bites

Magic Bites -  Ilona Andrews This was a decent book. Entertaining but not enthralling. I can definitely understand how some people find it boring.

The main heroine is awkward but admirable for her guts. She's not the smartest cookie, but she's still a good cookie. Most of all, she seems very human, which is kinda ironic since the book hints that she's not human.

The middle keeps my attention the most, and I am expecting Crest to become a villain in the future books, but I'll have to read them to discover the truth. I wonder if he has minty fresh breath. The beginning was a bit hard to get into, and I sort of lost interest towards the big final boss scene. However, the ending sort of makes up for the murky boss scene.

The world-building is confusing. It seems like a lot was left out, and it's unclear what exactly magic and tech are. They alternate in waves, but there seems to be an irregular mechanism behind their somewhat unpredictable patterns. Why did the sword have hissy fits after touching a supernatural being? Why did it have to be fed, and how did it survive after only being fed once? There are unanswered questions to say the least. The People's side of the story seems to drop off the map.

And I really did not need to know that much detail about the characters' appearances. Absorbing that much detail became an exasperating chore after a while.

The whole everyone wants to sleep with everyone felt unnecessary. And oh, of course the villain is this unfortunate character who has a masculinity complex. Even Curran seems to have one. I mean, seriously, what even is this? Perhaps Curran and the villain are foils and use their masculinity in different ways. Perhaps this whole situation could have been avoided if they got in touch with their feelings and sang kumbaiyah around a camp fire.

So, yes, decent, my good book.

Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After

Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After - Bella DePaulo I didn't enjoy reading this book, especially the first half. DePaulo frequently does use snide remarks, and those detract from her argument instead of making it funny or entertaining. With all of her snark, it seems like she's an angry, bitter single that has an agenda already set up, and that image only plays into the stereotype of singles. She even admits herself that she does whine about "matrimania."

The book is structured so that each chapter discusses a myth about singlehood. However. I would say that the first half of the book is out to take marriage off its pedalstool, and the second half actually talks about policies that discriminate against singles. I also think the first half of the book has more snark and is less organized. The second half has less snark, seems to flow better, and is definitely more interesting. I almost gave up on this book after the first chapter because she seems obsessed with getting retribution. At times, the book reads like a blog and can get repetitive.

Most of DePaulo's sources come from major media outlets and surveys, and she aims to take down myths that the magazine and newspapers permeate. This was written in 2006, and I definitely think the situation had changed regarding marriage. A lot of younger people think marriage is crap, but they still feel the pressure to be coupled. I personally haven't felt the stigmatism of being single. I don't get asked to work longer hours, I'm not asked to take on unwanted travel, and my coworkers don't isolate me or bring in their spouses. When my friends and cousins get married, they ask for $8 mugs and utensils, not expensive gifts. Yeah, people ask me if I'm dating and when I tell them I'm not, they say "good for you. It's a good idea to build yourself up first." or "That's the way to do it. You can do whatever you want without someone getting in your way." Perhaps I am too young to experience the stigmatism or I just work in a great place, but it seems like DePaulo takes extreme stereotypes and examples (sometimes) as discrimination that every single experiences. I would say that not every single experiences this, and maybe DePaulo has had some unfortunate encounters with closed minded people. In my experience, it seems that the pressure is felt more in certain areas than in others, and DePaulo never talks about that.

I think her analysis of "two-for-one coupons" doesn't tell the whole story. Marketers know that married couples have more money to spend. Two people with a combined income have more purchasing power than someone on a single income, and therefore, companies want couples to spend more money at their restaurants or locations. It's not discrimination so much as it is a marketing ploy, and I think it makes sense to offer them discounts because discounts encourage people to spend more money. Singles can't be milked like couples can, and that's just a fact. One person can't make as big as impact as multiple people. The resources aren't there.

I would also say the same thing about taxes. It makes sense to tax couples less because they have more expenses. If we're comparing singles and married people with the same income, married people have to spend more money on food, clothes, and other daily necessities. Single people only have to spend their incomes on one person, unless they're taking care of someone else. If they are, then it would make sense for that single person to reimbursed or given a tax cut for their services. That we could work on changing.

I'm just not very convinced that singlism makes a huge impact on single people. If it would make a impact. then we should see more depressed people and more health problems. And DePaulo addresses this in her argument that singlism should be considered as important as classism, racsim, or sexism. I would disagree and say that the evidence isn't there. Moreover. you can choose to be single, but you can't choose your sex, race, or the class you're born into, and I think that makes the biggest difference. Having the power to choose reduces feelings of helplessness that a black person or woman may feel because they never chose to be given the short end of the stick.

DePaulo's argument does have some merit, and we should change the narratives that are told about single people. However, I don't think the way she presented those myths or the way she advocated for change was effective. Her blog, Single at Heart, is more interesting than this book.

Myth of Empowerment: Women and the Therapeutic Culture in America

Myth of Empowerment: Women and the Therapeutic Culture in America - Dana Becker To begin with, I was expecting a completely different book. I thought I was reading something that would dismantle the world of self-help books and self-esteem, but that's not what she focuses on. Her focus is on the history of women being told they're crazy, but it's really society that's holding the back.

It took me a while to get through this book, and I had to reread multiple passages before I finally figured out what she was trying to say. It's much more than just academic style that's the problem. It's her writing style that's confusing. At times, the author can be condescending, especially towards the end of the book, and she only looks at a few sides of the argument.

Most of her argument seems to be based on the philosophical side of psychology and not the medical side. In the nineteenth-century, I wouldn't doubt it if they tried to argue that the philosophical side of human nature was the medical side, but now we know that's not the truth. A good bit of her material is actually from the 1980s, especially the book Habits of the Heart by Bellah. I read that book, and I personally disagree with her interpretations of it, but I suppose to each their own. To me, the people's values reflected the events of their culture, such as the Vietnam War and Korean War, and not necessarily a focus on the individual. I suppose it's actually a mix of multiples things and not just one cause or another.

Becker's focus tends to be on middle class women who are mentally healthy and don't necessarily have mental illnesses. This is not a book discussing mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or compulsive-obsessive disorder. She does touch on depression once or twice, and even mentions PTSD, but only in passing. And I think that's a very important distinction that she doesn't make in her book. This book is about healthy women who society may view as "sick" because they aren't following the stereotype of the healthy woman or at least the "super" woman.

The first part of the book sets up her argument, focusing on the historical view of women in American society, and then the last section, especially the last chapter, finally gets to the meaty part of her argument about therapy essentially telling women that their problems are their fault. She does critique individualism, and America's societal belief that you can be anything that you set your mind to. I agree with her, individualism is overrated and we're not as individualistic as we think we are. As much as we try to become what we want, there are still barriers in our way, especially if we are poor, not the right gender, race, or LGBT.

I don't think she does a good job discussing depression in women. She cherry-picked an article on depression and marriage, which was published in 1998. It's disturbing to me that she only used one scientific article on depression, especially one that was cherry-picked based on something that clearly has female-male gender roles, and worst of all it's from 1998. This book was published in 2005, she could have at least found something from 2000 or 2002. Two-four years can make a big difference in the research world.

I wish she would've found a longitudinal article that looked at rates of depression in women in poverty, and that looked at those same women after they received welfare assistance or escaped poverty. I think the difference between those numbers could show that depression may not have to be located within the individual's psyche, but instead in their individual's circumstances.

I'm not completely convinced that therapy is a political statement, or at least a political act. If it was, it would make more sense to have group therapy and encourage political action. I never went to therapy for political action or to change society, I went so I would be able to function like a normal human being. Of the three counselors that I've seen, none of them have suggested things like, "Maybe you should have less stress" instead they pointed out problems that I could fix or work on. Not all of it was individual. Some of it involved friends or other people. In my opinion, therapists are aware that a human is an individual and also the sum of his or her environments.

Becker didn't touch the idea of an internal locus and external locus. People who have internal loci are more likely to be resilient and face fewer health issues. People who have an external loci tend to develop learned helplessness and sort of sabotage themselves, not on purpose but because they don't believe they have any control over what happens to them. Discussing these loci could possibly have strengthened her argument on empowerment. We know from research that when people believe they have control over their lives, they're usually better off. Perhaps the therapists empower people by making them believe in themselves. This runs into a problem with empowering the individual, but power is dependent on a social context problem. Perhaps people have relationships with themselves and can empower their present selves in regards to their past selves. It's just an idea, but perhaps it relies too much on the individualistic notion again that runs people into problems. We don't exist in social vacuums, and power struggles between people are real things. Furthermore, some therapists act as a social model, so if a person learns how to negotiate power with a therapist, perhaps they can develop skills to negotiate power with other people.

Finally, I have a hunch that therapists focus more on the individual because you can't change the world by yourself. It's a romantic notion that the power of one is all it takes to change the world, but that's a lie. It's take collective action to leave a mark in history. One person influences another until you've gotten enough people influenced to take a stand against the status quo. So once again, why should a therapist focus on collective action with a person when all the therapist can influence is the individual patient in his or her office? You can't change someone else, you can only change yourself. Honestly, it may not be the place of a psychologist or psychiatrist to get someone out of poverty or out of inequality situations. That's the role of the government and social organizations in the community. A therapist should be able to help someone get involved in their community, but I don't believe they can actually encourage someone to change the political system or even stereotypes.

I think Becker has a good point, that sometimes it's literally not us and it's the system. However, I don't think she used enough evidence to back up her ideas. It's true we should distinguish the difference between health issues caused by someone's circumstances and health issues caused by someone's biology. Sometimes they may overlap since genes and environments affect each other, but sometimes it really is someone's circumstances, such as stereotypes, holding them back. This is a complex and complicated issue that needs to be explored more.

Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface

Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface - Martha Manning Memoirs are about someone's experiences, someone's feelings. They can't be contested like pop psychology books or pop history books. Mostly, I feel strange trying to articulate how this book makes me feel. It's almost if as I'm imposing my feelings onto the author, which wouldn't be appropriate at all. No matter how I feel about this book, I can't deny the author's experiences, which brings me to the point that everyone experiences emotions differently. Therefore, even if two people are diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, they can still feel different things.

What most surprised me about this memoir is the lack of emotion. The shorter and only barely descriptive entries leave much to the imagination, so much that it is almost disappointing. However, the short entries also show how much depression cuts off the author's feelings, as if she can only spend a small amount of time telling her story because her story hurts so much. I suppose that is to be expected in depression, and it happened in my case too. The more you descend into depression, the less you write even though the dark feelings are swallowing you whole. It's too painful to acknowledge that darkness, and writing about that darkness means you acknowledge it. Some people avoid acknowledging it because they're afraid it's going to take over their lives. As the author starts to come out of depression, the entries get longer and the author expresses more emotions. The short entries could have been a reflection of the author's depressive state. If anything, it seems like the entries about her depression were written after the fact or the author was somehow disconnect in her depressive state so that we don't get the full picture.

The most interesting thing about this memoir is the fact that this is a demonstration that depression is not a result of your habits or actions. Sometimes it just happens and there is nothing you can do about it. Based on the way she describes her family's history, it sounds like her depression is completely biological and genetic. Manning even hints at this with the discussion of her family's alcoholic history and with her sand castle metaphor. Even if she has a million achievements, depression can still come and knock them down. Depression doesn't care if you're a millionaire who has published 100 books and you've been elected president of the United States. Depression will take you down because it's an unfeeling, inanimate illness based on biochemistry. Now, how that biochemistry came about can determine how it needs to be treated. Mostly though, I believe Manning is right. We still don't know what causes depression or how to fix it. For some people, exercise does the trick, but for other people, they need antidepressants and ECT.

I wish our world was a bit more compassionate towards people like Manning. I wish our world was more compassionate to those who suffer from mental illnesses. Then maybe we wouldn't have to hear things like, "Oh, you should exercise more or change your diet." "You have no reason to be depressed because you have a great life." Maybe we wouldn't have to hide mental illness out of fear of stigma. I'm not entirely sure that Manning's book encourages compassion among people who don't have mental illness or who aren't familiar with mental illnesses.

Concerning memoirs about mental illness, I guess it's nice to know you're not alone, yet at the same time, you can feel isolated because your experiences don't match the experiences of the author. It's a precarious situation. I can't necessarily say that this book is good or bad. It has some great sentences that make you think yet they fall short of the "Aha!" moment. What the sentences do instead is help to invoke the existence or being of life. You can influence it but you can't fully control it. Some things are fully out of your grasp and what you don't want or need hits you smack in the face.

Manning's book doesn't offer us happy endings. It doesn't tie up things in ribbons and bows with pretty designs that you envy. If anything, it leaves you standing on the edge. Should I jump or should I not jump? If anything, Manning encourages us not to jump because even though life is difficult and you can't stop the downward spirals, you can at least make it through the painful darkness.

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either - Meg Cabot Even though I couldn't put down the book, the way Heather relates to other characters, constantly commenting on their body types or external characteristics, is really off putting.

It was hard to suspend my disbelief, and some of the action seemed silly and extreme.

My favorite part was Reggie and also Heather's dad. Cheryl also seemed pretty cool.

The narrative was entertaining, but sometimes, Heather's thoughts were distasteful.

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe - Lauren Graham The story itself is pretty cliche, and the main character is so spastic and negligent that it's annoying. I don't understand how someone could have that many missed calls. Does she even answer the phone at all? Tell me, Franny, do you even phone? She seems naive at times, but it makes sense since she's trying to find her place in this big world, which can be unmerciful sometimes.

Still, it is somehow entertaining. It's more of a really fluffy read, one where the author makes her characters call out the already somewhat obvious symbolism.

Usually, I rate books like these as a 2, but I though it was a bit more entertaining than that. This is a book, in my opinion, that you read once for funsies, close it, put it aside, and say, "Well, that was fun" with a poker face. Then you move on with your life.

At times, I connect with the characters because I made some of the same mistakes as they did. It pretty much is the story of growing up after college.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change - Stephen R. Covey I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey and loved it in high school, so I thought I'd give this one a try. I'm very disappointed so far...This book is truly frustrating.

Covey's suggestions seem very type A and a little nuts. I don't want to live my life like this. It seems very stressful, and the effort is not worth the results. Acting in a good enough way and practicing self-compassion would be better than stressing myself out to live like he suggests. We're not always self-aware, and sometimes we just have to forgive our mistakes because to err is human. I guess I'm on the low end of all these habits, and I'm okay with that.

His habits do seem to come out of a Puritan discipline tradition. Sorry, I'm Catholic. Can't help it. Must be the Mary worshiping that causes me to lack these habits (yes, that was a joke). If anything, I think his habits are a combination of character and personality ethics, and not solely character ethics.

I'm starting to think that we shouldn't work on ourselves first and then work with others. We can't separate those two things or else we end up missing out on part of our lives. We need to work on both, realizing our traits/actions need changing and also still connecting with others at the same time. If we have one without the other, I feel like we stunt our growth. It's false that we can't work on both at the same time.

Whether or not these habits constitute "effectiveness" probably depends on your personality. It seems like people who are more introverted, more agreeable, more conscientious, and less neurotic will do well with these habits. I'm also willing to bet that those who are introverted, intuitive, feeling, and thinking may also do extremely well. Otherwise, this book is very idealistic and not realistic. Most of these habits will be hard to accomplish, no matter who you are, and I'm just not sure the effort is worth the trouble.

I can't help but think that the quadrants are probably a little related to personality traits. When he described quadrant II as something that you think and prepare for, he reminded me of the description of introverts given by Laurie A. Helgoe. Perhaps some introverts are better suited for working in quadrant II and some extroverts work better in quadrant I. That's not based on time management skills but on personal preferences. This probably has more to do with how you process stimuli in your brain than anything else. Until I see studies on this, I'm going to take Covey's suggestions with a grain of salt.

Covey's book has graphs and questions for you to ponder over if that's your sort of thing. I admit that I didn't read the questions, and I skipped over them because I hated the way the 7 habits were presented. Covey seems pompous, privileged, and at times on a very high horse. The 7 habits are very unrealistic, idealistic, and abstract. They're more based on philosophy, religion, and anecdotes, not on psychological studies. It'd be different if he found psychological theories to support his habits, but I'm not so sure psychology supports them. I think psychology will only support them in certain circumstances, but not always. I don't his habits are necessarily wrong, but I also think there's gotta be a better way or a better explanation than the ones that Covey gives.

Point is, if you don't care for data and don't mind abstract perspectives created from privileged personal experiences, then this book might be for you. I think this book would be great material for a comedy sketch. People who practice the seven habits are sitting on their high horses, going nowhere, because their horses are actually made of statues that represent idealistic horses and aren't real horses that actually move. And yet, he lectures me from atop his high horse, telling me everything that I need to do to live an effective life. I'll just shake my head and keep walking, leaving him behind and up to his own devices.

Then he will turn to his friend on the other high horse besides him. They'll converse and share deep, deep feelings within. "Oh, the feels!" They cling to each other and cry their hearts out! But...one of them leans too far and falls off the horse. We hear a sickening CRACK-- "Uh, a little help here?" His friend calls from the ground. *curtain drops*