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I now belong to two book clubs, and one of them read The Circle by Dave Eggers as this month's book. I disliked it so much that I had to stop reading several times to say, "I hate this book," out loud even though I live alone and there was no one to hear me. I also tweeted about it as I went along. (The irony is not lost on me.) One of my friends in an email said she read the Wikipedia summary and asked what I didn't like about the book. My answer got long, so here it is edited into a post. Note that this includes spoilers for the entire book all the way through the ending.

Spoilers/Ranting )
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I read either 40 or 44 books in 2016, depending on whether you count unique books read or instances of reading a book. Of those, a little more than half (23) are things I read for the first time. (Methodology note: this only considers books finished; I left out the one I gave up on halfway through.)

Top 5 books/series I read for the first time in 2016
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst - YA mystery/thriller with magic that does some amazing things with point of view and verb tense.

The Graces by Laure Eve - YA, witchcraft, mysterious/charismatic family, new girl in town, somewhat reminiscent of The Craft.

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson - YA dystopia with magic that I both enjoyed and kept thinking about for days afterwards.

His Fair Assassins trilogy (Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart) by Robin LaFevers - This is the medieval assassin nuns of the god of death YA trilogy I never knew my life needed.

The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte - I found this very inspiring, even taking into account that parts of it are more directed at entrepreneurs.

Top 5 books/series I re-read in 2016
The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy - By far my favorite Maeve Binchy novel.

Chalion series (The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, The Hallowed Hunt) by Lois McMaster Bujold - Good fantasy novels with a fascinating theology and people with intense feelings.

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold - Sci fi, interesting politics, including the gender politics. The only scene I vividly remembered is on page 563. The book is 590 pages long.

The Labyrinth Gate by Alys Rasmussen - This is my second favorite fantasy novel built around a Tarot-style card deck, and I enjoyed rereading it.

Attolia series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings) by Megan Whalen Turner - This is another excellent fantasy series with an interesting fictional religion.
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Happy Halloween! Welcome to the eighth annual edition of virtual trick-or-treating.

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Knock or ring the bell by leaving me a comment, and I'll reply with a treat of some sort. It might be a fic snippet, a picture, a song, or something else I come up with in the moment. My intention is to post all treats before I go to bed on Halloween. Lurkers and anonymous trick-or-treaters are welcome! (But if you're posting anonymously or with an LJ account that is completely friends-locked and you want a treat specific to your interests, let me know something about why you know me.)

(Not my actual door. Photo by Flickr user Nick Stanley, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.)
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When I mentioned that I loved Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia, two different friends suggested I try out the Kushiel's Legacy series. I'd heard of them before, at a Wiscon kink panel where I remember somebody disliking some aspect of them, which is part of why I'd never read them. But with recommendations from friends, I went to the library and picked up the first book. Then the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth. I had to pause in the middle to read Saints Astray, which came in on interlibrary loan, and there was another pause at the end as I had to wait for the ninth book to arrive, also on interlibrary loan.

Spoilers/Review )

If you're into sex positive epic fantasy novels and twists on European history and theology, I definitely recommend at least the first two trilogies. If you're interested in sex scenes and kink, I recommend you find something else to read.
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I loved Santa Olivia so much that I promptly put in an interlibrary loan request for the sequel, Saints Astray. Again, I don't have a lot to say about it. If you liked Santa Olivia, you'll probably also like Saints Astray. If you didn't read Santa Olivia, Saints Astray might stand alone, but you'll miss the backstory. Review/mild spoilers )
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Andrew Conte's Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Rebirth arrived in my house as part of a hockey-themed gift from [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl. I read the first two chapters, and then it lingered by the couch waiting for me to get back to it. One afternoon, I decided I was going to read at least one more chapter. A couple of hours later, I'd finished the whole thing. (It helps that chapter three is about Sidney Crosby, and you know I'm fond of him.)

Parts of the book cover players - Sid, Geno, Marian Hossa - and Conte gives time to Ray Shero changing the culture of the team to one that does its best to provide comforts to both players and their families, but the central story is about how the Penguins got Consol Energy Center. The path to a new arena is mostly politics and financing, and yet Conte makes it absolutely riveting. I knew that the Penguins stayed in Pittsburgh and got a new arena, although I didn't know all the details, and I was still in suspense for the last couple of chapters wondering what would happen.

Of course, the questionable thing about my reading this book is that I was reading it the day before the last Pens-Flyers game and I was worried that I might be overcome with Pens feelings and unable to properly cheer for the Flyers. But then, at the very end of the book, the Flyers appeared. The book ends with the first game played at Consol, which was a game against the Flyers:

Moments later, Lemieux and Bettman walked across a red carpet toward center ice. Burkle was supposed to be with them, but his plane had been delayed. They dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff between Crosby and Mike Richards, captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, the first opponents to play in the arena.

...

As the game started, Crosby won the first faceoff, passing the puck to defenseman Brooks Orpik. Fans had little to cheer about after that, with the home team missing opportunities and the Flyers' Danny Briere scoring the Consol Energy Center's first goal at 2:51 in the second period. The Flyers went on to win 3 to 2.

On a not about the content note, I really like the physical aspects of the book. It has a dust jacket with pretty color photos, but the under the dust jacket is a book with the binding, paper, smell, and questionable book design of an academic work.

If you're interested in the Penguins, hockey history, Pennsylvania politics, or accounts of political deal making, I highly recommend the book.
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I read Santa Olivia without knowing anything about it based on a strong recommendation from [livejournal.com profile] allegram, and I'm very glad I listened to her. I don't have much to say about it. It has a semi-dystopian feel with a female superhero of sorts, it has destined for each other type romances (fangirls and others who like werewolf mating stories will probably like it), and it has a supportive community around the main character.

There are two things I didn't like about the book, enough to make them worth mentioning. First of all, the lesbian sex is much less explicit than the heterosexual sex. I was actually surprised by the explicitness of the heterosexual sex given that I'm pretty sure I've seen the book on YA shelves at Barnes & Noble, and then disappointed that the lesbian sex scenes didn't receive equal treatment. Secondly, Carey uses "could of," "would of," and "should of." Unless she and her editor are completely incompetent - which is not a theory supported by the rest of the book - that's a deliberate style choice, and I found it annoying.
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I read about M+O 4EVR in a [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc review that made a point not to spoil it. I went and read the summary at Amazon so I would be spoiled, and then put off reading it because I thought it was likely to be the kind of YA novel that would make me cry. I didn't cry and other spoilers. )
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Like I said when I talked about the last of Michelle Sagara's books, it's getting hard to say much about them. Cast in Peril is the eighth book in her Chronicles of Elantra series. If you're not already reading them, this book probably won't make sense to you. If you are reading them, keep going! This book is just as engaging and engrossing as the previous seven. Minor spoilers/thought about the structure/ending. )
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Best of the Year

Here are the five best books I read last year, alphabetical by author's last name, with first lines. I'm cheating again by including two separate series as one book each, and by including a series whose first book made this list last year. (And which will probably make the 2013 list again if the third book is as good as the first two.)

  • The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, The House on Durrow Street, and The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett.
    It was generally held knowledge among the people who lived on Whitward Street that the eldest of the three Miss Lockwells had a peculiar habit of reading while walking.
  • A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce.
    When my father died, I thought the world would come to an end.
  • Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta.
    A long time ago, in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere.
  • Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.
    A "happiness project" is an approach to the practice of everyday life.
  • Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara.
    The worst thing about near-world-ending disasters according to Sergeant Marcus Kassan - at least the ones that had miraculously done very little damage - was the paperwork they generated.
All of the Year

A decade ago, I decided that I would keep a list of all the books I read. It would be, I thought, interesting to see how much, and what, I actually read. So when I read a book, I wrote it down in my notebook. I liked the whole project so much that I've been doing it again each year.

What's here:
  • Books I read in 2012.

  • Authors of the books.

  • Dates I read the books.

  • Short notes about each book or links to my reviews if I did one. Note: reviews all contain spoilers.

  • Approximately how many times I've read the book.
What's not here:
  • Magazine and newspaper articles.

  • Fan fiction.

  • Short stories and individual chapters I read to remind myself of what the book was about.
This year, I read 43 books. For those of you playing along at home, that's 3 fewer than last year. 36 of those, or 84%, are books I read for the first time. 21, or 49%, were Young Adult novels. 9, or 21%, were nonfiction. 4 were written by a PoC author; 38 were written by a female author. Of the 34 books for which I counted protagonists, 3 had a PoC protagonist; 29 had a female protagonist.

The List )
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I've had The New Bottoming Book and The New Topping Book, both by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy, on my to-read list for years, and sometime in the recent past, I bought both of them, and I finally got around to reading them.

I need to put a disclaimer on this review so you know where I'm coming from: I have an interest in kink - I read these partly out of personal interest and partly for writing research - but I'm not part of the kink community and I've never actually done anything kinky.

I read The New Bottoming Book first, and I sped through it. If you know anything about my interest in kink, that shouldn't be surprising. The New Topping Book took longer to read, and I found myself more and more annoyed with Easton and Hardy as the book went on. I'm not sure if that's because I was reading it with a more analytical eye or if that's because their biases really are more obvious in The New Topping Book than in The New Bottoming Book.

I think there's a lot of good information in both books, and there's a lot of opportunity for you to notice things you might like or dislike. (For example, they mention earplugs at one point, and I had a very visceral hell no reaction to that, which isn't something I ever would have thought of as a limit.) The books are complementary - each book covers different things, and each perspective would be useful to people whose interest lies with the other side of things - and I would suggest reading both if you're going to read one. The books are also very much from Easton and Hardy's perspective, and, despite their disclaimers that different people do kink differently, seem to be about their idea of what kink is. Some examples:

Complaints )

It's also worth noting that the books are several years old - The New Bottoming Book was published in 2001 and The New Topping Book in 2003 - and that means some of their information, particularly concerning the internet, is quite out of date just because the world has changed so much in the intervening years. I found myself laughing at their explanation of websites: "These sites resemble magazines in many ways; they may feature pictures, text, and sometimes even video and audio, and they allow you to move from one page to another as your interests dictate."

Like I said, there is good information in both these books, but I'm not sure I'm glad I read them. I've occasionally thought about seeking out the local kink community, but by the time I finished The New Topping Book, I thought that if Easton and Hardy really are representative of the kink community at large, then finding that community is the last thing I want to do.
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Writing
Making yearly writing goals is always an iffy proposition because I always end up writing a lot, but not being able to predict what it will be. (Case in point: hockey RPF.) This year I want to sell at least one book and finish writing book three. I'm back in the habit of working on book three every day (well, six days a week), and if I can also get back in the habit of editing every day, surely I can do both of these things by the end of the year. Plus, of course, my usual fic writing.

Midwest Trip
I really wanted to go visit [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl in particular in October, and it just didn't happen. So assuming I have a job, I want to visit her and Team Chicago sometime in that late-April to mid-October time period when I can be there without freezing to death. (I am a wimp about the cold.) [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl also mentioned possibly coming to visit me here, which would also be awesome. Either way, visiting with friends.

Reading
I read a lot of books in the last two months. I think I forgot how much I love that. I'd like to finish the seven or so books still in my unfinished pile, and figure out how to read more once I have a job again. I have a problem with stopping in the middle of a book, which means if I start reading in the evening, I'll keep reading just one more chapter until I'm done with the book and it's two hours past my bedtime, so maybe Saturday afternoon could be book reading time.

Physical Environment
My house is already very much designed to be comfortable for me, but reading Happier at Home made me think about what needs to be rearranged and tweaked:
  • Clean out the closet.

  • Figure out if I want to keep any of my belly dance stuff and what to do with the stuff I don't want anymore.

  • Give away/sell the manga I'm never going to read again and subsequently rearrange the bookshelf.

  • Replace the poster I no longer want hanging in my bedroom.

  • Make the wall across from my desk an inspiration wall. (I already have most of the things I want on there. I just need to frame them and also make a nice version of the "temporary" thing that's been there for a couple of years.)
Food
If I eat eat sugar, eat only small/controlled amounts. I haven't figured out what the limit is yet, but I stopped buying sugary things in July or so and discovered in September that my body doesn't handle very much sugar well anymore. If I could figure out the limit, that would be helpful, but it seems easier and less painful to just stick to no sugar most of the time and only very small amounts when I do have it.

Financial Security
This feels strange to put on here; it doesn't seem like the same kind of goal as the other things. It feels greedy instead of lofty, and I'm not sure if anyone with retirement accounts really gets to worry that much about finances. But at the end of November, Gretchen Rubin made a post asking, "If, by the end of 2013, you could magically change one aspect of your life, what would you change?" My immediate, no thought needed answer was financial security. My financial situation was actually pretty stable for most of 2012, but I spent at least a third of the year feeling like it was more precarious than it really was (and in some ways it turned out to be not that stable). Specific goals:
  • Find a job with a stable entity that pays more than my last job and has reasonable benefits. A job I love would be awesome, but I'll settle for one I like, or at the very least one I don't hate.

  • Consolidate my retirement accounts.

  • Spend money only on consumables and important things. (Visiting/socializing with friends, a new skirt for summer, and replacing the purse that's literally falling apart all count as important).

  • Once I have a steady income again, set up automatic, regular deposits into my savings account.
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I had high hopes for Malinda Lo's Adaptation. Ash and Huntress were very good with the potential to be great, and I was hoping Lo would be one of those writers who really learns to write by the third book. I did read Adaptation in one quick sitting, but I was disappointed in it, and more so the more I think about it.

Summary )

The basic structural problem with the book is the same as the problem with Ash and Huntress: the story Lo seems to be setting up and the story she tells at the end are not the same story. Spoilers/Review )

I will probably read the sequel when it's published because this was such a fast read, and because the aliens, at least, won't be an unwelcome surprise. I might even like it better because I won't go into it with such high hopes.

I do have a copy of the book, so if anyone wants to read it for themselves, let me know and I will send it to you.
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For the holidays last year, [livejournal.com profile] siryn99 sent me a copy of Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue. It was an interesting sounding book, and the best thing about it was that it meant she'd been paying attention to my talking about wanting to read more lesbian fiction.

Donoghue's premise is that there is a long history of desire between women in literature. She divides the book into six parts, each focusing on a different kind of story:

Travesties: Cross-dressing (whether by a woman or a man) causes the "accident" of same-sex desire.

Inseparables: Two passionate friends defy the forces trying to part them.

Rivals: A man and a woman compete for a woman's heart.

Monsters: A wicked woman tries to seduce and destroy an innocent one.

Detection: The discovery of a crime turns out to be the discovery of same-sex desire.

Out: A woman's life is changed by the realization that she loves her own sex.
Even though the book is arranged around themes and each theme encompasses literature from varying eras, the book also goes somewhat chronologically: "Travesties" starts with a story from Ovid (around 8 C.E.) and "Out" ends with Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet from 1998.

I read the whole book in three sittings, because it is completely engrossing. I've only read a couple of the pieces of literature Donoghue talks about, but she gives enough of a plot overview for each story that you can follow her history/argument even without the literary background. If you do want to read any of them, her selected bibliography includes lists of primary and secondary sources as well as a suggested further reading list: "I warmly recommend the following titles (given in the order of composition), because they are available and highly enjoyable."

Donoghue has enough examples over time that I definitely bought her argument for the long history of desire between women in literature. The part I'm a little iffy on is the way she treats endings. (I will freely admit that I have a bias here; story endings are very important to me.) Sure, there's a history, but in most cases, the women don't end up together at the end. For many of those stories, Donoghue's argument is that the return to the heterosexual norm doesn't logically fit with the rest of the story. For example, the convenient brother in female bridegroom stories (a woman dresses up as a man and another woman falls in love with her) doesn't quite make sense, because the woman fell in love with personality, not looks. That's an interesting argument, and points toward a long history of compulsory heterosexuality, but I thought it also glosses over the fact that there's a long history of thwarted desire between women in literature.

My mother wants to borrow the book next, but if anyone else wants to read it after her, let me know.
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I loved Justina Chen Headley's Girl Overboard, so I put Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) on my PaperBackSwap wishlist, and sat down and read it in one sitting last week.

Patty Ho's mother is Taiwanese; her absent father was white. Her older brother Abe is their mother's smart and athletic darling; Patty bears the brunt of her mother's strict parenting. A fortune teller reads Patty's belly button and predicts she'll end up dating a white guy, which prompts her mother to ship her off to math camp at Stanford for a month.

From there, the book is, in a lot of ways, your basic summer at camp changes a teenager's perspective on her life story, although the perspective she's changing is largely about coming to terms with her mixed race identity. It's also very good. One of the things I liked about it is the way that, while there are men in her story who make a difference, a lot of what gives Patty strength are her relationships with other women: Jasmine and Anne, who Patty calls Kung Fu Queens and whose friendship and example help her see herself as a Kung Fu Queen and part of their trio that she calls "Asian Mafia Girls"; Auntie Lu, who helps illuminate the past that explains just how strict Patty's mother is; and, of course, her mother, who Patty ultimately comes to understand better.

One warning: Spoilers. )

If you like YA lit, I highly recommend the book.
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Last year when I asked for lesbian fiction suggestions, one friend highly recommended Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet. I'd heard of Tipping the Velvet, but it never sounded interesting to me, and [livejournal.com profile] inlovewithnight had just read it, and the things she didn't like about it (spoilers in her post) made me think I wouldn't like it either. Then the friend who recommended it gave me a copy for my birthday, with the note that even if I ended up not liking it, she thought I should own it.

I took the book - and nothing else to read - with me when I went for jury duty in March, and read the first 48 pages while waiting to be called to a courtroom. Then it went back into the stack of unread books. When I was on vacation in August, I saw a recommendation for it in an independent bookstore that said the sex scenes were hot, so yesterday I finally went back to it and flipped through to find just those parts. One of them is hot, and the others are okay.

I didn't like the book for basically the same reasons I didn't think I was going to: first, because I don't like literary fiction, and secondly, because I don't like historical fiction about queer characters based on real history. I think it's the literary fiction aspect that was the most annoying one to me in this book; nothing in the world can make me care about that much detail about oyster-parlours. Yesterday's skim of the rest of the book somewhat allayed my fears about it as historical fiction; the bad things that happen to Nan aren't quite as dire or as historically-bound as I would have been anxious about. I did pretty much laugh at the ending, though, in which spoilers. )

Anyway, a lot of people have loved Tipping the Velvet, and the writing in the part I read wasn't bad in a technical sense, so if it sounds like your sort of thing, you might like it. If you dislike the kinds of things I dislike, you probably won't like it.

It's been almost a year since my friend gave me the book and I've made a sincere effort to read it, so I feel justified in getting rid of it now. If anyone wants my copy, let me know. If no one claims it in a week, it's going on PaperBackSwap.
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A friend quoted Pema Chodron at me and said Chodron was one of her favorite writers on Buddhism. I'd never heard of her, which led to two things: my mother bought me a copy of the issue of Shambhala Sun with Chodron on the cover, and I checked out The Pema Chodron Collection from the library. The book is actually three of Chodron's books in one volume. I skimmed through bits of the first two and they didn't catch my interest, but the third, When Things Fall Apart, did. I did enjoy it, and I think reading some of it on Thanksgiving helped me enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. I also kept thinking about something Gretchen Rubin often says: that she often learns more from one person's idiosyncratic story than from more general advice.
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When I returned Happier at Home to the library, I skimmed the shelf for its call number and picked up The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul - A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire by Noelle Oxenhandler. I love these kinds of one-year books, and the author bio on the back flap let me know she's a practicing Buddhist, which also appealed to me.

I sat down to read The Wishing Year and couldn't put it down. Oxenhandler starts with two wishes - for a house and for spiritual healing - and adds a third - a man - after a month. Oxenhandler talks throughout the book about her skepticism about wishing, both in that she doesn't know if it will work and in that she is a "wish snob" and has reservations about wishing for material things. Over the course of the year, she learns to wish more readily, which is one of the things that makes it so engrossing. I think the weakest of her wishes is for a man. I'd be interested in knowing if the relationship lasted; she spends a lot of time talking about ways in which he isn't such a great fit for her, particularly with his relationship to money.

If you like year-long memoirs or find wishing interesting, I highly recommend The Wishing Year.
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Today I'm thankful for the Dewey Decimal System. A few weeks ago, when I returned Happier at Home, I noted the call number and browsed the shelf for books that would be filed near it. I ended up picking out The Wishing Year by Noelle Oxenhandler, which I absolutely devoured today.
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Those of you who've been around for a while know that I'm a fan of Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog, and you may further know that I wasn't as excited about her first book on the subject, also titled The Happiness Project. She now has a second book on the topic, Happier at Home, which I was able to request from my local library much faster than I thought was going to be possible.

I liked Happier at Home much more than The Happiness Project. (Keep in mind that I read the first book two years ago, so it is possible this is a change in me more than a change in her.) I thought it was a more useful, concrete book. One of my problems with the first book was that I felt I didn't learn anything I didn't already know from the blog, where I didn't feel that way about this book. I've been reading her blog all the way through the time she implemented the happiness project for Happier at Home, and somehow that worked better for me with this book. I recognized things in the book that I'd read posts about on the blog, but instead of finding that repetitive, I got a thrill out of it, a little like I was an insider. I do still wonder how it would read to people who haven't read the blog - there were places where I could practically see the hyperlinks to previous posts that would explain her basic philosophy (and she did just post about her abstainers vs. moderators distinction in response to a lot of book tour questions about it), and there are patterns to how she talks about things that are familiar if you read the blog - but I think it would still be a useful book even if you aren't a regular reader.

As the title implies, the focus of the book is on being happier at home. As she usually does, Gretchen (side note: proper book review etiquette would involve using her last name, but I feel like I know her too well from her blog for that) breaks her project into several thematic areas that she then focuses on one at a time on a month by month basis. She then has four or five specific resolutions within each thematic area. I found the resolutions for this book much more concrete - and, in many cases, more widely applicable - than the ones in the previous book. I finished the first chapter on "Possessions" and put the book down to reorganize a nearly-unusable cabinet. I also finally threw away my broken umbrella (although I haven't yet replaced it).

There are three of her specific resolutions that I've been thinking about. The first is "give warm greetings and farewells." This is one of those resolutions that doesn't seem particularly applicable to me: I live alone, and I have people over about once every other month. However, we already have mandatory warm greetings at work: when someone comes into the main office area, everyone has to say hello to them before they can fully enter the room, and they have to go around and greet everyone individually (originally, the options were handshake, fist bump, or high five, but it's devolved to everyone just exchanging fist bumps). It really has made a difference in the attitude of our office, and it's exactly what Gretchen talks about: taking a moment out of whatever you're doing to greet someone. I've been trying to do the same thing when people leave for the day, although I have to admit I'm terrible about looking up from what I'm typing to say hello or goodbye.

The second resolution I've been thinking about is "make the positive argument." The idea behind it is what she calls "argumentative reasoning": "When a person takes a position, he or she looks for evidence to support it and then stops, satisfied." Gretchen specifically talks about this in the frame of her marriage: whenever she's upset and tempted to think something like, "Jamie isn't very thoughtful," she then thinks to herself, "Jamie is very thoughtful," and can come up with a lot of evidence to support that argument as well. "Make the positive argument" fits right in with a lot of similar advice about seeing the positive side of things, but it's one of those things that you hear over and over again, and then you're in the right place and it's said in just the right way that it sticks with you.

The third of her resolutions that I find interesting is "enter into the interests of others (within reason)." The basic idea is to take an interest in other people's interests by listening or asking questions: "entering into other people's interests is an important way to show respect and affection." I've been thinking about this in two ways. One is that I've been trying to be a better listener over the past few years, and paying attention to and asking questions about other people's interests (which is not something I'm good at, particularly the asking questions part) is one way to do that. The other is that one of my coworkers, who I don't know very well at all, brought in a craft project for us when it was her turn to lead our weekly teambuilding activity. One of the things I really liked about it as an activity was that she told us that the craft supplies she'd brought for us to use were just a small portion of the supplies she has, and that she has an entire room at home devoted to crafting. Crafting is very much not my kind of thing, but knowing that about her and seeing what kinds of things she brought in for us to use has made me feel much warmer toward her.

I would definitely recommend Happier at Home, and if you read it without having read the blog, I would especially love to know what you think about it. I liked it so much that I might actually buy myself a copy to have on hand for reference when it comes out in paperback.

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