Impressions From Every Year, One to One Hundred

100-years-book-prager

100 Years: Wisdom From Famous Writers on Every Year of Your Life is a book that has short quotations about every year of life from birth through age 100. I had flipped through it a few times, checking out the selections for my current age and the ages of some of the people I know and some ages that seemed to be important milestones in my life. But this morning I sat down and read it from cover to cover and discovered that there is something in the reading of it this way that offers more than the sum of its parts.

Joshua Prager carefully curated the selections in this book to meet the criteria that each passage directly state the age it is describing and have information about being that age. Each author in the book is represented only once. In the introduction, he describes how some ages were, of course, easy to find many sayings about and others much more difficult. He also describes how the overall collection reveals the passages of life we all go through, despite individual differences in experience.

Having sat and read through all of the quotations, I saw that clearly. Two passages that sit side-by-side in age may be very different from one another (affected by gender, the era of the author’s life, and individual experience), but taken as a whole, there are clear trends and similarities to what most of us experience in any given age range. We see the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence and twenties and thirties and into eighties and nineties … and we struggle with the same human issues. We struggle with those issues in new ways at seventy compared to forty or twenty, and we have a different understanding of them, and there is a commonality among the shifts between perspectives of different ages.

One thing I thought was interesting was that the selections are all very individual reflections on the experience of being a specific age, without a lot of significant reference to loved ones. Interesting because I think certain ages tend to be equated with family; youth with the impact of parents and middle age with the concern over children, for example. Being 36 and without children myself, seeing so many of the people my age attending to their kids as their primary focus, it struck me that the book reflected individual inner experience rather than an outer concern that may or may not be universal. Either approach would have been suitable; this one struck me as an intentional choice and one that offers broad appeal because the parent could still relate to the thoughts and experiences of the individual inner world.

The book is a beautiful book. It’s got a coffee table book feeling to the design even though it is the size and shape of a hardback novel. There are different colored pages throughout the book. It’s not that each section is a certain color (blue for example can be seen throughout, and each decade has different colors within it) but there is a trend across all of the pages towards certain colors for certain phases of life. Lighter in some areas, brighter in others, black reserved for the very eldest years that are closest to death. There is a lot of white space on each page, a different font/ design for the beginning of each decade (as compared to the years that do not mark decades), and a slight shifting of word placement towards the end of the book. This all leaves an emotional impression about aging that, as I said before, offers more than the sum of the parts.

We all have feelings about aging, feelings that change and shift as we do age, and this book reflects that very human experience in a ways both direct and subtle.

Share

5 Awesome Reasons You Might Want to Read Wind Catcher

wind catcher novel

This fantasy adventure series is steeped in American Indian culture and so much more.

Winner: Mom’s Choice Award — Silver Metal
Winner: Awesome Indies — Seal of Approval
Recipient: Readers’ Favorite — 5 Star Review

Today is the release date for a new YA novel called Wind Catcher that I had the chance to read in advance and want to recommend. Here are the five key reasons you might want to read this book:

1. Father / Daughter Author Team

The book is co-authored by Jeff and Erynn Altabef, a father/ daughter writing team. That’s just cool. It’s rare, it’s unique, it’s special and it leads an original perspective to the novel. Both authors’ voices are incorporated into the story without weakening the plot line in any way.

2. Native American Fantasy

This book is considered a Native American YA Fantasy. It incorporates history and culture from Native American belief systems with fantasy writing and contemporary young adult issues. I’ve never read anything quite like it before, although in a tangential way it reminds me of one of my favorite books, Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. I think it’s because of the way that spiritual/ psychological issues are tackled through a lens of mystery and fantasy. What’s spirit? What’s fantasy? What’s “crazy”?

wind catcher novel

3. It’s About Choosing

The main character faces a series of choices about where to go with her life, choices that reflect the decisions that teens face when teetering between childhood and adulthood. That’s something that I find super relatable. After all, we all made choices as teens and young adults that shaped a lot of what followed.

WC Release

4. It’s a Good, Fast Read

True to YA format, it’s a book that you can read quickly. I love to immerse myself in a story for a few hours and read it from beginning to end (although admittedly I read quickly). I love to finish a book while traveling on a plane or when I can’t sleep one night. But I don’t want to compromise quality for quickness.

5. It’s a Series

This is the first book in a series called Chosen. That means that if you like this book, you can look forward to the ones that follow. The second book is due out in November 2015.

And Now for the Prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share

Soul Sessions: A Book About Soulmates, Serendipity and Life After Death

Soul Sessions image

As soon as I saw the campaign for this book, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Soul Sessions just looked like something that was unique from the other books that are out there and it piqued my interest. I quickly ordered it on Amazon and I began to read it as soon as it was delivered to my doorstep. It’s a quick and compelling read that I sat down and devoured in one sitting, pausing to make more tea and eventually to pour a glass of wine but otherwise staying glued to my couch, beneath my favorite crochet blanket, turning page after page.

About Soul Sessions

Soul Sessions is the story of a man who goes through a tragedy and struggles with suicidal depression. However, he meets a psychologist who uses past-life regression to help him understand what is happening with him. Through this, he discovers that there’s a woman he has been partnered with in many other lifetimes and he becomes compelled to find her again in the current life. It’s a love story and it’s a story about the bigger question of what happens to our souls when our bodies die.

What I Loved

  • I really appreciate stories that look at depression in an honest way.
  • I also appreciate that there are many different ways to get out of depression and I think this one – the potential to find a lost love in this life time – is an intriguing one.
  • It’s a love story. How can I not love a good love story? But it’s not a traditional love story in any sense of the word.
  • It’s thought-provoking. It’s really more than  love story. It’s a story about spiritual growth.

soul sessions book

Food For Thought

Although the book is a simple read, Soul Sessions is filled with complex ideas and offers a lot of food for thought. Mulling over some of the questions that the book poses challenge me to think about my own belief system. I’ve always had this push-pull feeling about past lives. Sometimes I believe that we’ve been here before and will be here again. Sometimes I believe this is true only in the sense that the star stuff in our bodies will come and go in different incarnations. And sometimes a series of past lives that we can understand in this lifetime is just beyond my grasp and I doubt it. But what do I really believe, when all of the doubts and questions fade away? I still don’t know but the book has my mind wrapping itself around and around these questions. It’s inspiring in that way.

You Might Like Soul Sessions If:

  • You like quick-read stories.
  • You’re looking for something different to read.
  • You believe in soul mates.
  • You are curious about life after death.
  • You love a good love story but want to experience one that’s different.
  • You are inspired by spiritual growth stories. One reviewer said that reading this book was like getting a spiritual hug!

Learn More

Learn more about Soul Sessions and author Carson Gage here.

sponsored-blog-post

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Share

Isolation When Working From Home

I just received my copy of the new book Out of Office: How to Work from Home, Telecommute, or Workshift Successfully  by Simon Salt. I purchased this book not just because it interested me but also because I’m quoted in it!

work from home book

Isolation

My quote is on page 62, in the section on “isolation” when working from home. I shared:

“The single biggest challenge for me has been that there is isolation when working alone at home. This is how I work best and tends to be what I prefer. However, it gets to a point where you are spending way too much time alone and this is not only a negative thing socially but also ends up being bad for your work because you just don’t get the creativity and stimulation that you need to be pushing yourself forward in the job.”

What To Do About It

The author goes on to write in paragraph form about ways to deal with this issue when working from home. He incorporates some of the ideas that I shared with him as well as some thoughts of his own.

Here’s what I’d shared (that isn’t in the book specifically in this way):

  • Get involved in collaborative projects. I seek out short-term projects that I can do in collaboration with others. These often aren’t the most lucrative in terms of payment but they are creaively fulfilling and intellectually stimulating. These can be online or in-person projects and both seem to work equally well even though with online projects I’m still working from home.
  • Attend networking events. This is a great way to meet people from a variety of different backgrounds and be challenged to think in new ways about my work. Conferences and small business classes offer something comparable.
  • Actively engage in an out-of-home social life. This links to another problem I’ve had which is that I tend to be something of a workaholic who doesn’t take enough downtime since work is always there at home to be done. Making sure that I’m social out of the house gives me downtime and ends theisolation so that I can be fresh for work the next day.

My Experience

Finally, I added (also not quoted):

“I have tried co-work spaces, working at coffee shops, etc. and that never really works for me. When I am working on my own projects I really need to be at home, in my space, in my routine, doing my thing. By adding in additional projects and activities I’m able to meet my own social/intellectual needs without sacrificing my work.”

The Book

Salt’s book is a practical guide for working from home. It’s especially for people who haven’t done this before or who are fairly new to it as it provides a pretty step-by-step description of the ups and downs. I haven’t read through it all yet, just flipped through it, but it looks like there are also a few gems that us longtime stay-at-home-workers can also enjoy. I appreciate that he took the time to consult a lot of us about our own real life experiences and I think that this is especially adds to the book.

Share

Book Review: Antiphony

I’ve gotten the opportunity to participate in a lovely book tour for the book Antiphony by Chris Katsaropoulos so I’m happy to share that book here with you today.

antiphony book

About the Book

“What if the Universe is really a giant thought?”

This is the question posed by a leading theoretician in String Theory physics at the start of this book. The book doesn’t so much answer the philosophical question as explore the ramifications of being someone in a field who radically changes the perspective that field has long taken. Powerful!

What I Loved Most

I enjoyed this book a lot. Here are some of the main reasons:

  • It’s super smart but also accessible. It delves deep into scientific theory as well as philosophy and some psychology but it uses layperson language and felt really accessible to me.
  • The writing style reminds me of Milan Kundera. I’m a huge fan of Kundera’s work, particularly the book Identity: A Novel
    so this is a big compliment. I think Kundera has a really unique voice and style that I never really see anywhere and Katsaropoulos has a similar quality that lent some magic to the reading for me.
  • It’s fiction but I’m sure it’s rooted in some history/biography. At least in the sense that the major game-changers in the world, especially in science, have often faced difficulty in their fields (and their lives) when they turn accepted ideas on their heads. It really gives pause for thought and appreciation when it comes to the innovators of our world.
  • It blends reality and non-reality in a fabulous way. There are dreams and visions, there’s science and of course the piece itself is fiction but could be a real story theoretically. Interesting!

About the Author

I actually wasn’t familiar with Chris Katsaropoulos before now but it turns out that he’d written another novel called Fragile and has also authored a number of non-fiction titles and poetry.

About the Publisher

luminis booksLuminis Books is a proud independent publisher located in Indiana. Learn more at www.luminisbooks.com.

Share

Recently Read: Coming Clean … and Thoughts on Memoirs/ Reality TV

A few weeks ago I rediscovered the joy of reading. It’s not that I’d exactly forgotten it. And I certainly hadn’t stopped doing it. But mostly lately I’ve been reading for work or for school so when I was looking to do something “relaxing” as downtime I’d turn on the TV. I got pretty TV-obsessed for awhile there. But then the school semester ended, I didn’t have my new textbooks for the Spring yet and I remembered that I actually really like just taking a few hours, shutting out the world and immersing myself in a book. Since then, I’ve been reading a lot.

coming clean memoir hoarding

One of my recent reads was Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller. It’s the story of a girl who grew up in a home with parents who were hoarders. It’s her story of getting away from that in her own life and yet having it always kind of trail her. It’s the story of having secrets in your family and learning to share those secrets with the world. It’s the story of having fallible parents that you love anyway, parents you learn to set boundaries with and then cross your own boundaries for because life shifts things sometimes. It’s a sad story but a story of strength and a touching story with what basically amounts to a happy ending. I liked it.

I love memoirs. I could read nothing but memoirs for the rest of my life and probably be satisfied with my reading world. Of course I do read other things but there’s something about memoirs that just capture me. I like the first person story. I continue to believe that we each have a really unique experience and perspective of the world. And yet there is also something that ties us each together as humans no matter how disparate our experiences. And so I believe that in the sharing and telling and hearing of stories something magical happens, a sort of growth of the collective unconscious. Through reading memoirs I understand others better and understand myself better as well.

This book did give me some food for thought (don’t they all?) The author notes that people didn’t ever used to know what hoarders were; there wasn’t a recognized name for it. Now we all know and it’s due in part to the popularity of reality TV series like the show Hoarders on AETV. It’s a show I’ve watched a lot; I’m fascinated by the stories of the lives that play out there and how they do and do not relate to my own experience of life. The author at first couldn’t bring herself to watch those shows. Then she sat down and watched them and felt pain, knowing that a lot of the people watching the show were just voyeurs who couldn’t possibly understand. I find that I think about reality TV shows like this the same way that I do about reading memoirs, as a way to get insight into the stories of others to better understand the human world around me. But of course the shows are sensationalized and short and I wonder if there is a large difference between my experience of learning about people through TV vs. learning through memoirs. I’m still gnawing on this thought …

What memoirs have you read and loved? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Share

50% Discount: Learn How Crochet Saves Lives

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I wanted to kick things off right this year with a big sale on my book, Crochet Saved My Life. I’m offering the steepest discount I’ve ever offered on the book – a full 50% off of the title when you purchase it this week.

About Crochet Saved My Life

If you aren’t yet familiar with my book, it is all about the health benefits of crochet including the benefits of crafting to heal from mental health issues and to cope with the symptoms of a variety of physical health issues.

Crochet Saved My Life includes my own story of crocheting to heal through depression. It also includes the stories of two dozen other amazing women who crafted to heal.

This book has received terrific press and reviews that can also tell you a little bit more about why people are enjoying this book.

Help Spread the Word

I am hoping that this big discount will stimulate sales and get the word about the book going strong again in 2013. If you support the book, please help me out by spreading the word about this sale through your blogs, social networks and other word of mouth! Every little bit helps and is so appreciated by this indie author!!

How to Get the Discount

To get your 50% discount code, visit the main sales page. Add the book(s) you want to your cart. Before checking out, enter the discount code A2MH8FQU in the “apply discount” box.

This sale starts immediately and runs through midnight PST on Sunday, 1/6/13.

Share

SmartChick’s Book of the Day: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

There are a lot of different types of books that I read. I like fiction and non-fiction. I like tough-to-read and easy-to-read. But the type of book that I read most often is the inspirational book. Almost every morning, I pick up a book and just read for a few minutes. The book is one that inspires me to live simply or to be better at my relationships or to otherwise do things a little bit better than I’ve been doing them.

One of the most well-known books that is on my shelf of easy-to-read inspirational books is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The book serves to remind us that life may seem complicated but the important things in life are actually really simple. It does this through a series of essays that are short and succinct. You don’t need a lot of words to remember the basics about life.

At the core of this book is the belief that taking care of yourself and being kind to others are all that we really need to know in life. The rest of the suggestions are just tips to be added on to the core two tips to live a full and happy life. Although I do think that there are times when more complex thought is required of us, I love the easy inspiration of a book like this one.

In fact, I’d really like to check out the most up-to-date version of the book which has Twenty-Five New Essays that I haven’t had the opportunity to read yet. I’ll have to get that one from the library. If you’re interested in the original version of the book, you can get it from Amazon through the link above or you can get it through Paperback Swap here.

Share

Plain and Simple

I have just finished reading an interesting book called Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish. It’s one of those books that is really simple and quick to read but which takes a little bit of time to digest. I’m not even really sure that I liked the book exactly although I did think it was thought-provoking.

The story is a first-person tale of a female artist who fell in love with the “folk art” of the Amish community. She decided to pursue this interest by working her way into the hearts and homes of a small group of Amish people. The story is her story of the experience of living temporarily with this group of people and what she learned from doing so.

I’m not sure that I liked the book per se. I got the impression that either the facts of the story were exaggerated or the truth was played with a bit or maybe things just weren’t explained clearly enough to make them seem believable. I’m not saying that the author was lying but that a lack of direct truth was conveyed in the writing somehow.

Despite this, I do think that the concept of the book is interesting. It’s basically a look at how many of us in modern society idealize a simpler way of life and think that its what we want. Indeed, we do want parts of it – the sense of community and the appreciation of daily tasks – but we don’t truly want to give up our modern lives. The book looks at how to combine the best of both worlds if that’s possible. Interesting and worth a quick read to see what you think of it.

Share